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How to Become a Nursery / Primary Teacher

Nursery/primary school teachers work with children between the ages of three and eleven, in state or independent schools.

Nursery teachers work in nursery schools and classes with children aged three to five. They use mainly play activities to facilitate children's social, personal, physical and emotional development, creativity, understanding of the world and language, literacy and numeracy skills.

Primary teachers teach children aged five to twelve. Teachers have responsibility for a class, to which they teach all or most areas. They may also have a specialist subject, and may co-ordinate this throughout the school.

In addition to actual teaching, teachers spend a lot of time preparing lessons and teaching materials, marking and assessing work and mounting displays in the classroom. They may be assisted by teaching assistants or nursery nurses, especially in nursery and reception (first year primary) classes.

The work also involves liaising with other professionals, speaking to parents and carers (both informally and at parents' evenings), attending meetings and in-service training, and organising outings, social activities and sporting events.

You can find further information about the work of a primary teacher on the Scottish Executive Education Department website (see Further Information).

What's the working environment like working as a nursery/primary school (SCT)?

Teachers in state schools in Scotland have a standard 35 hours a week and work 195 days a year. School hours vary between schools but are usually 9am to 3.30pm or 4pm. The amount of class contact time has been reduced to 22.5 hours a week. Time outside class is spent preparing lessons, marking work and exams, and attending meetings.

What does it take to become a nursery/primary school (SCT)?

To be a schoolteacher you should:

  • Be interested in the education and welfare of pupils
  • Have enthusiasm for the subjects you teach
  • Be able to build up good relationships with a range of people - pupils, parents and carers, other teachers, classroom assistants, governors and psychologists
  • Be committed to working with pupils, parents and carers of different backgrounds and different levels of ability
  • Enjoy working in a team but be able to use your own initiative
  • Be well organised
  • Be able to manage classes well and deal with difficult behaviour
  • Have excellent communication skills in English
  • Be patient and have a good sense of humour.

Nursery/primary school (SCT) career opportunities

Most teaching jobs are in state schools. There are also many part-time teachers. The number of nursery teaching opportunities is increasing very quickly. The number of primary school teachers is likely to increase because of the move towards smaller class sizes.

Depending on the size of the school promotion may be possible to principal teacher, deputy head teacher and head teacher.

Some experienced teachers specialise in teaching pupils with special educational needs or private tuition. Nursery teachers could set up their own nursery or playgroup.

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Last updated: 18 Feb 2020

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