Being a Primary School Teacher is not just a job. To be successful you need to have a passion for working with children, inspiring them to learn, and preparing them with the knowledge and tools they need to achieve their full potential.
Importance of a Primary School Teacher
Good education at the primary level sets you up for the rest of your life. People may take them for granted, but many of the basic skills we have are thanks to our Primary Teachers. Learning the alphabet leads to reading and writing, essential for all further learning; knowing about numbers and how to add them together leads to further maths skills we can use in everyday life. These are just the first steps of our academic journey.
Primary School Teachers play a key role in the early years of a child’s education but are not only responsible for academic skills. Social skills are a critical part of primary education and something that a Primary Teacher must encourage in the classroom through the work and activities they organise. Social skills and behaviours are extremely important parts of learning at this early age, enabling young children to understand how to interact with each other and to know what acceptable behaviour is. Good Primary School Teachers lead to good pupils, so doing well at your job is important for the children, the school and for society.
Read our job description about being a Primary Teacher to find out more about what the role involves, and read Teaching in a Primary School setting to learn about the different types of schools you can work in.
Key attributes of a good Primary School Teacher
Primary Teachers work with children from the ages of 4 to 11, through Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2). Their job is to teach and develop pupils’ academic and social skills whilst also assessing and recording progress and preparing them for SATS. To do this successfully the following attributes are needed:
Qualifications - To be successful as a Teacher you must have the necessary knowledge, skills and qualifications. However, it is also about being competent in putting your training into practice to teach your pupils basic skills, pass on knowledge effectively, and control a class of young children.
Motivation - If you can be enthusiastic and imaginative in your teaching methods, that excitement will encourage pupils to be motivated in their learning. Working as a Teacher each day is different - staying motivated with new ideas, teaching techniques and activities, will keep it interesting for you and your pupils.
Communication - Good communication skills are essential. This is a two-way process: to share your knowledge with your pupils in an appropriate way, and to observe and listen to your pupils so you know their individual needs. You need to be on the same wavelength as the children, to understand how they think, and be able to develop the best ways of teaching new things so they will remember and learn. It is also important to be able to communicate well with colleagues to plan and coordinate work and with parents or carers to provide feedback about their child.
Organisation - Having an organised classroom creates a positive learning environment for your pupils and being well organised with planning enables you to deliver lessons more effectively. Preparation can also help you be more ready to deal with potential problems. Good time management is part of being well organised and is necessary both in the classroom and when completing the various administrative tasks that are part of a Teacher’s responsibility.
Adaptability – A good Teacher must be flexible. You may need to adapt the subject and teaching style depending on the children you are teaching. However much you prepare, things will often happen that mean you have to adjust your plans. Being well organised and keeping a positive attitude will help you to be more open to change.
Patience – Patience is a necessity for Teachers, whether it is teaching a new concept, getting a class of excited children to calm down or dealing with a behavioural issue. A Primary Teacher should be sensitive to the needs of their class and those of each child, developing a good understanding of how each individual learns.
How is the success of a Primary School Teacher measured?
As a Primary School Teacher you will have a degree and qualified teacher status (QTS). As an Early Career Teacher (ECT), previously called Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), you are monitored during the first year and may have to work on specific areas of your own professional development during this period. There are Teachers’ Standards from the Department for Education (DfE) that school leaders and staff must follow when assessing trainees and ECTs. These same standards can continue to be used to assess the performance of Teachers throughout the stages of their careers.
The Teachers’ Standards cover various areas, including planning and teaching skills, subject and curriculum knowledge, pupil progress and outcomes, behaviour management and accurate assessment. The standards also assess the values and behaviours that Teachers must demonstrate in both their personal and professional conduct.
You can read the Teachers’ Standards in full here.
All primary schools have regular Teacher appraisals and there is a legal framework for local authority maintained schools to follow. Appraisals assess a Teacher’s performance with specific objectives set for each Teacher. Assessment is by observation of classroom practice to identify strengths and areas that can be improved. Part of the process involves Teachers receiving constructive feedback to help them progress and receive appropriate support for their professional development.
The Teacher appraisal and capability document from DfE provides more information about the process.
Continuing professional development (CPD) for Primary School Teachers
The world of education is always changing, so continuing professional development is extremely important for Primary Teachers and a necessary part of providing effective teaching. Continuing your own learning will help you to improve and enhance your skills to ensure you keep up-to-date with the latest practices and ideas. You can also train to add new specialist subject areas to your skill set, such as art, drama, music or science. This will provide you with more opportunities for further career progression.
CPD opportunities may be provided by schools, according to their own needs. This can be in-house training or Teachers may go to a regional training centre. It is also possible to look for your own opportunities in professional development. There are many online, remote and in person training options. See the Career Teachers Continuing Professional Development page for more information.
Investing in your own learning can provide you with renewed inspiration and enthusiasm to be a successful Primary School Teacher.
5 Top Tips for being a successful Primary School Teacher
- Develop lesson plans to meet curriculum objectives.
- Keep organised so you are fully prepared.
- Communicate clearly with your pupils, observe and listen to them to understand their needs.
- Establish good relationships with pupils to create a positive learning environment.
- Stay motivated through continuing your own professional development.
Find out about the latest opportunities for Primary School Teachers here.
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