Primary Teacher


Stuck for career inspiration? Three more! readers explain what you need to know to be a class act…

YOUR ROUTE IN: Helen, 25, is a primary school teacher in Bristol
‘I always knew I wanted to be a teacher so after college I enrolled on a three year teaching degree at university as an undergraduate. You get loads of experience in the classroom, which gradually increases through the course, so that by the end you’re teaching full-time. You also learn about things like child psychology and development which is really useful. There are lots of other routes you can take. Lots of my colleagues did  a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education), which is a year long course that you do after your undergraduate degree at uni. Your time is split between assignments for college and teaching placements at several different schools. There’s also a new programme called School Direct, where you learn on the job. You get paid, so don’t need a student loan, and often get taken on as a full – time member by the school at the end too. Like many fields, competition for jobs once you’ve finished training is fierce. I’ve applied for 25-30 jobs and was invited for four interviews, eventually getting an offer last October.’

A DAY IN THE LIFE: Teresa, 26, is a primary school teacher from East London
‘I get up at 6am to be at my desk for 7am. Even though school doesn’t start until 8:55am, I like to get in early to prepare for the day – and have my morning caffeine fix. We have a 20 minute break at 11am, but there’s no time to put my feet up – I’ll either be getting the classroom ready for the next lesson or on the playground duty. At 12:30pm, we get an hour for lunch. I always bring my own lunch, but school dinners aren’t actually that bad. School finishes at 3.15pm, but I don’t leave until 6pm once I’ve finished marking. Sometimes I take work home, so I’ll do that until 9pm. On weeknights I’ll be in bed by 10pm because I’m so worn out! I work really hard during term-time, but I can relax in the holidays, which are great.’

WHAT THE JOB DESCRIPTION WON’T TELL YOU: Amy, 26, is a primary teacher from Manchester
‘In my first year of teaching the biggest shock wasn’t the kids behaving badly, it was their parents. Often they’d blame me, saying it was my fault their child was throwing stuff/punching others/stealing school books. I wasn’t prepared for how little respect parents have for teachers –  especially when you’re in your early 20s and you don’t have a fancy-pants job title like assistant head. On one occasion, a parent looked me in the eye and said they thought I was the “shittest teacher their son ever had”. My school backed me, but it’s hard not to let that knock your confidence. You’ll work harder in your first two years that you ever have before. The planning is exhausting, as you have to cater for every child’s needs. But don’t think you’ll be left alone to just get on with it. Senior managers are always coming around to watch lessons – you feel like you’re on show all the time. On a more positive note, once the first two years are in the bag, you’ll have a job for life. You’ll also have the ability to laminate, photocopy and pritt – stick absolutely anything!

STARTING SALARY: £21,588 (£27,000 in London)
AVERAGE SALARY BY AGE 30: £31,552 (£36,387 in London)
WHATS THE MOST I COULD EARN? Headteachers can earn up to £112,000 a year
KEY QUALITIES: Organisation, creativity and communication skills.
QUALIFICATIONS: You need at least a grade C at GCSE in English, Maths & Science and three A levels at grade C or above.

(Please Note: The information is from the More Magazine article spotlight on Primary Teaching in Issue 25th February 2013, I did not write this!)

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