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National Careers Week, 2nd-7th March: So you want to be a primary school teacher…

Posted onPosted on 28th Feb

With the Government set to increase teachers’ starting salaries to £26,000 this year and £30,000 from 2022, you’ll be well rewarded for a demanding and highly satisfying career. But navigating the application process can be a headache. Former primary school teacher Oli Ryan, of education experts PlanBee, tells you what you need to know

In 2020, there are more options than ever for those looking to get into teaching. While you must have qualified teacher status (QTS) to work in state schools in England and Wales (and in all special schools), free schools, academies and independent schools can employ unqualified teachers. But to put yourself in the best position to achieve your career ambitions:

Get a degree with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

The most common routes into teaching start with one of the many university courses that lead to QTS, most of which will take four years to complete.

Take the teaching ‘fast track’: complete a PGCE course

The one-year postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) is a fast-track route into teaching for those who already have a degree.

Become a teacher trainee

A growing number of programmes enable prospective teachers (who already have degrees) to train with an apprenticeship. The appeal is that it is ‘hands-on’ (you’ll be working in school straight away) and you’ll be paid a salary as an unqualified teacher. Trainees take two years to achieve Qualified Teacher Status.

Go your own way: train part-time

While it’s not the quickest or necessarily the easiest route into teaching, many superb primary teachers have trained while working as teaching assistants or in other school roles.

What else? You’ll need to pass enhanced background checks

Enhanced background checks are required for those working with children. These will reveal if you have a criminal record (including spent convictions, unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands).

You’ve trained as a teacher, but how do you become a NQT?

Having completed your initial teacher education training via one of the routes described above, you will need to successfully teach in a school or an equivalent teaching job for at least three terms before you officially gain your Newly Qualified Teacher status (NQT).

Decide what age group(s) you would like to teach

As a primary school teacher you have three separate age groups to teach; Early Years Foundation Stage (3-5 years), KS1 (5-7 years) and KS2 (7-11 years). At primary school level, you will be expected to teach all subjects in the primary National Curriculum.

If you are unsure what age group you would prefer to teach it may be a good idea to get some in-school classroom experience before deciding what age group is right for you.

Once qualified, you’ll have to choose which teaching jobs you apply for.

A deciding factor for many is the year group that you’ll be teaching. That’s not to say you’ll always have a choice, though: many employers will advertise for a teacher without specifying a year group for the role, and decide where to place the successful candidate after the application process. Once you’re teaching in a school you may be required to move to another year group after your first year.

How can I find a teaching job?

Some areas in the UK have ‘Talent Pools’ where teachers can submit one application form, have one interview, receive a grade and then wait to be contacted by schools in the local education authority.

Other LEAs and most independent schools advertise for jobs either on their website or through websites like eteach, or through supply agencies.

Prepare for the interviews

There are many online sources which provide examples of questions primary teachers might be asked during their interviews. These 50 sample teacher interview questions and answers by SupplyMe are really useful.

Here are our five quick tips for success:

•Ensure you are up to date with current curriculum changes/education news.
•If you are nervous in interviews why not create a portfolio with examples of annotated plans, marked work, photos of displays, photos of children completing practical tasks?
•Don’t over prep and leave yourself so exhausted on the day that you are not at your best.
•Wear something smart but comfortable – remember you will probably have to teach as part of your interview so you will need to be able to move easily around the classroom.
•Have a few tried and tested ideas up your sleeve that you can fall back on. Remember: you don’t know the children, their levels or their prior learning. Interviewers will be looking to see your rapport with the children, your ability to assess how the lesson is going and adapt if necessary, and your ability to reflect on your teaching during the formal interview.