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How to become a Nursery/Primary Teacher

how to become a nursery teacher

What does a Nursery/Primary Teacher do?

Nursery/primary school teachers work with children between the ages of three and eleven, in state or independent schools.

Nursery teachers work in nursery schools and classes with children aged three to five. They use mainly play activities to facilitate children's social, personal, physical and emotional development, creativity, understanding of the world and language, literacy and numeracy skills.

Primary teachers teach children aged five to eleven. These age groups can be further broken down into lower primary (five to eight) and upper primary (eight to eleven). Teachers have responsibility for a class, to which they teach all or most areas covered by the National Curriculum. They also have a specialist subject, and may co-ordinate this throughout the school.

Some areas of England and Wales have middle schools that take children from ages eight or nine to twelve or thirteen. Teachers in middle schools teach the primary or secondary curriculum appropriate to the age of children in the class.

In addition to actual teaching, teachers spend a lot of time preparing lessons and teaching materials, marking and assessing work and mounting displays in the classroom. They may be assisted by teaching assistants or nursery nurses, especially in nursery and reception (first year primary) classes.

The work also involves liaising with other professionals, speaking to parents and carers (both informally and at parents' evenings, attending meetings and in-service training, and organising outings, social activities and sporting events. You'll need qualifications to pursue this career but an education studies course is a good place to start to get a broad knowledge and ensure you get onto a good postgraduate course.

What's the working environment like working as a Nursery/Primary Teacher?

Teachers in state schools in England and Wales work 39 weeks a year in school. Teaching hours vary between schools but are usually 9am to 3.30pm or 4pm. Teachers also spend a lot of time outside these hours preparing lessons, marking and assessing work and taking part in other activities such as outings.

What does it take to become a Nursery/Primary Teacher?

To be a nursery/primary teacher you should:
  • be interested in the education and welfare of pupils
  • have enthusiasm for the subjects you teach
  • be able to build up good relationships with pupils, parents and carers and colleagues both inside the school and externally
  • be committed to working with pupils and parents/carers of different backgrounds and abilities
  • enjoy working in a team but be able to use your own initiative
  • be well organised
  • be able to manage classes well and deal with challenging behaviour
  • have excellent communication skills in English (and Welsh where appropriate)
  • be patient and have a good sense of humour.

Nursery/Primary Teacher Career Opportunities

Further information

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Courses to help you become a Nursery/Primary Teacher