What do we mean by Primary Teaching?
The primary teaching route covers the age range from 3-11 years old or nursery through to year 6. Institutions will specify whether they cover some or all of this age range. Some institutions will offer a programme with a pathway from 3-7, some 5-11 some 3-11. All will offer some coverage across the range but with more specialism in one or other of the age phases unless you are on a 3-11 pathway. The 3-7 pathway is for those people who really want to work with the youngest children including those in nursery and reception.
Primary teaching all covers all subjects across the primary curriculum. This means that you need to be prepared to teach across twelve different subject areas, developing subject knowledge and understanding the specific teaching strategies linked to each subject. While the bulk of the primary curriculum is focussed on the teaching of English and mathematics you will still also need to be able to teach science and all the Foundation subjects.
The primary teacher has a strong pastoral role. This is one of the draws for teaching in this phase. The class teacher is responsible for a class over a whole year across all aspects of development including social and emotional alongside the academic.
Routes into Primary Teaching
- BA Primary Education with QTS (three year or four year programmes)
For those that do not have a degree and that know that they want to be primary teachers this provides the opportunity to gain both degree and professional qualification in one go. Programmes cover pedagogy, input into all the subjects within the curriculum (to a greater of lesser extent) and school placement (generally one per year). On a three year programme the number of days on placement is 120 and on a four year programme it is 160. In addition some programmes offer the opportunity to develop a subject or age phase specialism.
- PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education) or (Professional Certificate of Education) through Higher Education Institution (HEI)
For those with a degree this is a one year intensive programme focussing on what is needed to in order to gain QTS. Programmes cover pedagogy, input into all the subjects within the curriculum (to a greater of lesser extent) and school placement (at least two over the year). The number of days on placement is 120. Those seeking the postgraduate certificate will complete masters level modules. The professional certificate only grants QTS.
- PGCE School Direct (SD) Salaried or Tuition Fee
For those with a degree this is a one year intensive programme focussing on what is needed to in order to gain QTS. Programmes cover pedagogy, input into all the subjects within the curriculum (to a greater of lesser extent) and school placement (at least two over the year). The number of days on placement is 120
These programmes are similar to those provided by an HEI but here the schools take direct responsibility for recruiting students and providing training.
- Those on the salaried route are provided with a salary by the school and should be employed as a supernumerary teacher in the school. They will have limited input from the HMI.
- Those on the tuition fee route pay fees to the school. They may get training from the school, from the school in tandem with the HEI or by the HEI alongside other PGCE students.
Who is eligible for these different routes?
There are a number of pre-entry criteria that must be met before you can start to train as a teacher. These apply to all wishing to enter primary teaching programmes:
- You must have GCSE (or equivalent) at grade c or above in English, Maths and Science
- You must pass professional skills tests in Maths and English
- You must complete a Declaration of Health
- You must demonstrate an acceptable standard of spoken and written English (this will be assessed at interview)
- You must attend an interview
- You must obtain a disclosure and Barring (DBS) certificate
For undergraduate students you should look at the entry requirements for the university to which you are applying and apply in the usual way through UCAS. Most universities will accept BTec and CACHE diploma’s as well as A levels. Most will have entry requirements for those coming through Access routes.
For post graduate students 2:1 or above qualifications are preferred. You may be considered with a 2:2 degree but are unlikely to be accepted with a third class degree.
All providers will want you to have spent some time in mainstream state primary schools ~ generally a minimum of two weeks.
You should also be aware of what is happening in the world of education and primary education in particular. Watch the news and read education papers such as Times Educational Supplement (TES) so that you are aware of current educational trends and initiatives.
How does the application and interview process work?
Once your application has been accepted you will be called for interview. The interviewers are looking to see if you have the potential to be a teacher by the end of their programme (which for UG could be three or four years away). Dress professionally and prepare for the interview. Try to relax and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The interviewers know that for some of you this will be your first interview. Specific information will be sent to you about what to expect by the institution.
- You can expect a face to face interview with academics and teachers working on your programme. This may be individual or in a group or a mixture of both.
They will want to know about:
- what experiences you have had in school
- what you understand about how children learn
- why you want to teach
- what you know about current issues in teaching
- and generally who you are as a person and what you have to offer as a teacher
- Most institutions have some form of written test. This will focus on spelling, grammar and punctuation along with your ability to write clearly. Some institutions will also have a maths test. (If you have a diagnosed disability this will be taken into account and adjustments will be made).
Applications are processed quickly and you can expect to here if you have been offered a place within a short amount of time particularly on PGCE programmes.
PGCE places for HEI are limited at the moment and so if you wish to take this route you should apply quickly. Similarly places on salaried SD routes are very popular and if you are interested in this route you should again apply early.
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