Primary school teacher

Care

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would teach primary school children and help them enjoy learning. You’d encourage them to take pride in their achievements outside school and be confident in their abilities.

Primary schools in Scotland, following the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), are usually divided into:

 • Nursery and P1 - primary (ages 4-5)
 • P2-4 - primary (ages 6-8 )
 • P5-7 - primary (ages 9-11)

The school you work in could be an independent school funded largely by fees from parents, or a state school funded by the govenrment.

You’d help the children in your class express themselves and play a positive role in school life. It would be up to you ensure they get the knowledge, skills and attributes they will need to flourish at secondary school and beyond.

You would teach all areas of the curriculum:

  • Expressive arts
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Religious and moral education
  • Sciences
  • Social studies
  • Technologies

You would plan your lessons to meet the Curriculum for Excellence national guidance but you’d have a lot of flexibility. So you – and your pupils – could choose what to learn about and how to study that topic.

Interdisciplinary learning is very important, so you’d have to create projects and topics that pull in elements from several curriculum areas.

Your classroom activities should develop the pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills and teach them about health and wellbeing. You’d also connect what the children do in school with the wider world through global citizenship and enterprise projects.

You would:

  • Create lessons and teaching materials
  • Assess the children's progress in the curriculum and help them assess their own work
  • Make sure the children behave and work well together
  • Discuss children's development and progress with parents and carers
  • Organise outings, clubs, social activities and sports events

Sometimes you will need to deal with bad behaviour, comfort children who are upset or help children who find it difficult to learn.

You’d need to attend meetings and training courses. You’d work closely with colleagues to plan the school’s work and with other professionals, such as education psychologists and social workers.

Working conditions

Hours

Full-time teachers work an average 37 hours a week, with typical class times starting between 8.30am and 9.15am and finishing around 3.15pm to 4pm. Teachers will spend more time outside of normal hours, planning lessons, marking work and also taking part in activities, such as parents' evenings and outings.Teachers normally work 39 weeks a year split over three school terms.

Environment

You will have your own classroom, although you may teach elsewhere in the school to cover staff shortages or specialist subjects. You would organise the classroom and learning resources and create displays to encourage a positive learning environment.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Explaining things
  • Caring for people
  • Helping people to learn
  • Being creative
  • Planning and organising
  • Time management

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

You'll need a BA degree (SCQF Level 9/10) in Primary Education. 

If you already have a degree, you can study for the one year Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) - Primary Education (SCQF Level 11).

To enter a BA degree in Primary Education usually requires four to five Highers including English plus Maths and another subject at SCQF level 5 (Standard grade Credit level or Intermediate 2 or National 5 at B).

To enter a PGDE in Primary Education you require a relevant degree. The course will prepare you for teaching children in the 3-12 years age range.

If you do not have the entry requirements for a degree course, you may be able to get into a one year (SWAP) Access course at college. To be eligible as a SWAP student, you must have been out of full-time education for at least three years (or five years if you have an NC or Highers). 

Useful subjects

  • Higher English (required)
  • National 5 Maths (required)
  • Languages
  • Science subjects
  • Social studies such as psychology
  • Expressive subjects like art, drama or music

Gaelic is required for some courses

You will also need

To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

You must normally have studied at least two of the following subjects in your degree or elsewhere:

  • Science
  • Social studies
  • Expressive arts
  • Religious and moral education
  • Technology
  • Modern foreign languages

Helpful to have

You will be expected to have particular strengths in arithmetic, mathematics, reading and writing as these are key elements of a primary teacher’s job.

Experience of working with children in a primary school or similar. 

An up-to-date knowledge of the education system