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How to become a Primary School Teacher

What does a Primary School Teacher do?

Primary school teachers teach young children from the ages of four to 11 (Reception to Year 6 in England and Wales, Primary 1 to Primary 7 in Scotland and Northern Ireland). You’ll ensure children have good numeracy and literacy levels before going to secondary school. You’ll plan lessons and assess work based on standards set out in the curriculum (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all have their own specific curriculum requirements). Communication skills and excellent literacy and numeracy skills are essential for this role.

What qualifications do I need?

To become a primary school teacher, you need:

  1. GCSEs: A*-C (or the new level 4 and up) in maths, English and science.
  2. Experience working in a school.
  3. A check by the Disclosure and Barring Service commonly known as a “DBS check”. That’s to make sure you don’t have a criminal record which could stop you being allowed to work with children.
  4. Although there are a few exceptions, you’ll almost always need a degree to teach:


  1. All state schools (that’s government-run schools like comprehensives) require a degree, except academies and free schools, although most will probably want one.
  2. Independent (or “private”) schools don’t require a degree, but again, most will want one.
  3. To teach at primary level, it doesn’t generally matter what subject your degree is in.


What other skills do I need and how do I learn them?

As well as qualifications you need to develop your softer skills to withstand the daily rigours of the primary classroom. Other skills you might need are:

Critical thinking and problem-solving

Communications skills – being able to write constructive/positive comments on pupils’ work

Cultural intelligence – you may have pupils from all different backgrounds in your class

Emotional intelligence – not only towards the children but in managing your own emotions

Team player – you need to be able to work collaboratively with other teachers, asking for advice, but also to teach children the importance of working together

Social media and the internet – Today’s children are internet savvy from a young age and you need to be able to deal with any issues that arise

More Information:

For more information, advice and guidance about careers in PE, Sport, Training and Fitness and Activity Holiday Jobs, visit our Careers Advice Centre; including job hunting tips,  CV Guide and much more.

Useful Links:

For more information on how to Get into teaching visit the Department for Education.

For more info about how to gain QTS please visit the Department of Education and the  National College for Teaching & Leadership

Visit UCAS to investigate and apply for relevant PE teaching courses, and PGCEs at University.

The Association of Physical Education is the national subject association for PE.

The National Union for Teachers are the major teaching union and can provide you with professional support and guidance throughout your career in teaching.

For information about temporary and supply work, please see the video in the link below:

Thinking about Returning to Teaching after a Career break?  

Schools are often keen to employ qualified teachers who have returned to teaching as they can often bring additional skills, experiences and perspectives to the school environment.  If you are considering returning to teaching there is a lot of help, advice and resources available from Dept of Education’s Get into Teaching – Returning to Teaching website.