A primary school teacher teaches children from the ages of 5 to 11. Their role is to ensure that young children can develop strong mathematical and literacy skills before starting secondary school. Unlike secondary school teachers, primary teachers cover a broad range of topics across the curriculum which means they must be able to teach all subjects effectively.


Becoming a primary school teacher is a rewarding journey that allows you to make a positive impact on the lives of young learners and shape the future of education. To become a qualified primary teacher, you will need a combination or education, qualifications, training, and dedication. The result is a rewarding career that allows you to shape and inspire young children. 


If you’re passionate about teaching young children, this article will guide you through the steps of how to achieve your qualified teacher status (QTS) and start your career as a primary school teacher. Discover whether a career in primary education is right for you. 


If you’re a non-UK citizen, there are more steps to consider. Click here for guidance for non-UK teachers. 

Step 1: Explore your passion


The first step in becoming a primary school teacher is to reflect on your passion for education and your desire to work with children. Teaching is a demanding profession that requires dedication and patience. It’s important to fully understand the commitment involved in becoming a primary teacher, including the long hours, workload and emotional investment required to educate young learners.


Before deciding to start your teaching career, take some time to understand the day-to-day responsibilities involved including lesson planning, classroom management and assessment. Click here to learn more about the duties of a primary teacher.


Consider what motivates you to teach and the impact you hope to make in the lives of your future students. It can be a good idea to take the time to volunteer or gain experience working with children to confirm your passion for teaching.

Step 2: Check your qualifications


Before pursuing a career as a primary teacher, it’s essential to ensure you meet the necessary educational qualifications. You typically need at least a grade 4 (C) or above in English, Maths, and Science at GCSE level (or equivalent).


Additionally, you will need a strong academic background, including 2 to 3 A-levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications. This is essential as most university degrees require this level of education. Some universities and teacher training programs may have other specific entry requirements, so it’s important to research these beforehand.

Step 3: Obtain a bachelor’s degree or enrol in an apprenticeship


To become a primary teacher in the UK, you need a bachelor’s degree in any subject to train to teach in schools. Most primary teachers hold a bachelor’s degree, either in education or a relevant subject area including Bachelor of Education (BEd), Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc). While a degree in education can provide a direct pathway into teaching, degrees in subjects such as English, Maths, Science, or History are also commonly accepted.


It’s important to choose a reputable university and program that is recognised by teaching regulatory bodies. You can undertake a degree course at a university or through distance learning, such as online teaching courses, which can be completed from anywhere and at your own pace. During your degree, consider gaining experience working with children through volunteering, part-time jobs, or placements to strengthen your application.


Full-time degree courses that include QTS typically cost £9,250 per year and can take up to 4 years but you can get funding for your training.


If you do not have a degree, you may be eligible to apply for a Teacher Degree Apprenticeship (TDA). This is a new course that will allow you to work in a school and earn a salary while getting a bachelor’s degree with QTS. Click here to find out more about DTAs.

Step 4: Gain initial teacher training (ITT)


After completing your bachelor’s degree or apprenticeship, you’ll need to undertake Initial Teacher Training (ITT) to gain qualified teacher status (QTS). You can choose between two pathways to achieve QTS:


School-based training:


Apply to a school as an unqualified teacher or teaching assistant and work to achieve QTS through an in-school scheme like School Direct or Teach First. You’ll spend most of your time in school placements with some time dedicated to theoretical learning.


Your training is likely to include a combination of unobserved and observed teaching, seminars and workshops and engagement with academic or professional research. Click here for resources about School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT).

University-based training:


Apply for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course at a university, which will lead to QTS upon completion. A PGCE can give you a better understanding of teaching practices, educational research and theory. You will also get classroom experience by spending time teaching and being trained in at least two schools. Click here to learn more about what a PGCE course entails.


Research the different routes and choose one that aligns with your preferences, learning style, and career goals. ITT programs typically combine academic study with practical teaching experience in schools, allowing you to develop essential teaching skills under the guidance of experienced educators. Click here for Gov.uk guidance on Initial Teacher Training.

Step 5: Pre-application preparation


Before diving into the application process, it’s essential to lay the groundwork for a successful transition into the teaching profession. Here are some key steps to consider during the pre-application phase:


Polish your CV

Your CV serves as your professional snapshot, highlighting your qualifications, experience, and skills. Tailor your CV to emphasise relevant teaching experiences, including any volunteer work, tutoring, or classroom observations. Highlight your academic achievements, extracurricular involvements, and any additional certifications or training related to education. Keep your CV concise, well-organised and relevant. Proofread carefully to eliminate any typos or errors.


Craft a compelling cover letter

Your cover letter provides an opportunity to showcase your passion for education and why you’re the ideal candidate for the role. Personalise each cover letter to the specific school you’re applying to, addressing key requirements outlined in the job description. Use the cover letter to express your enthusiasm for teaching, highlight relevant experiences, and demonstrate your commitment to student success.

Step 6: Apply for teaching jobs


With your QTS obtained or nearing completion, it’s time to start applying for teaching positions. Research schools in your desired area and consider factors such as school ethos, location, and teaching opportunities. Tailor your application materials, including your CV, cover letter, and teaching portfolio, to highlight your relevant skills, experiences, and strengths as a prospective primary teacher. Be prepared for interviews, which may include teaching demonstrations, assessments, and questions about your teaching approach.


There are several different ways to find job opportunities:


  • Online job boards: job boards are a popular starting point, offering a vast array of positions across different educational settings. Some examples include Education Jobs, Indeed, Reed and The Guardian.


  • Networking: leveraging professional connections, both online and offline, can uncover hidden job opportunities and provide valuable insights into the local job market.


  • School websites: many schools post job vacancies directly on their websites, making it easy for candidates to discover openings in their desired area.


  • Working with an agency: by working with an agency like Monarch Education, you will receive support throughout the job search process and it will be easier to apply for multiple roles at once. You can also work around your own schedule as our roles are flexible. Click here to view our latest teaching jobs.


Since you’ll be working with children, you will need to submit an enhanced background check, or DBS check. A DBS check shows information on convictions, cautions, final warnings, reprimands and information held by the police. If you’re working with Monarch Education, we can help process one for you.

Step 7: Complete your ECT induction


Upon securing a teaching position, you’ll typically complete a 2-year induction as an early career teacher (ECT). During these two years, you’ll receive additional support, mentoring, and training to further develop your teaching skills and classroom practice.


You’ll receive training based on the Early Career Framework (ECF) as part of your induction period, referred to as ECF-based training. This training provides a bridge between your initial teacher training (ITT) and your teaching career. It is designed to help you build the skills and knowledge you need to feel confident in the classroom.

Throughout your two-year induction period you will be given a mentor who will provide one-to-one support and feedback as well as arranging mentoring and coaching around specific subject areas.


Your progress throughout the induction years will be managed by a teacher responsible for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) within your school, usually an Assistant or Deputy Head. Your progress will be assessed against the relevant standards, and upon successful completion of the two induction years, you’ll be awarded full QTS.


Embrace the opportunities for growth and learning during your induction years and celebrate your achievement as you start your rewarding career as a primary teacher!


Are you an ECT looking for supply work? Find a job as a teacher through our job search or email our ECT specialist team at ect@affinityworkforce.com. 

You’re all set!


Following your ECT induction year, you can choose to retain your current position if you have made a good impression on the employer that you have trained under. Alternatively, you can move on and start applying to other positions. You can find primary school teacher jobs on school websites under vacancies or you can sign up with an agency.


Monarch Education has a range of teaching roles to suit you. Best of all, our roles are fully flexible which means you can work around your schedule. If you’re interested in starting your journey as a primary teacher, get in touch with your local branch or view our latest roles by clicking below. 


View latest primary teacher roles