The Transition From Secondary to Primary School Teacher
Teaching is a fundamental aspect of society, whether it be at the primary or secondary level. Both secondary and primary school teachers will help to develop the key skills and knowledge necessary for a child to progress and succeed in life.
For a teacher, it’s possible to switch between the two fairly easily, although there are some key considerations to make along the way. A secondary school teacher can teach primary school children provided that they are willing to move away from teaching a specific subject. A QTS is also required as well as a passion for working with younger children.
What’s Your Reason Behind This Transition?
Before making the switch from secondary school to primary, you need to make sure it’s the right decision for you and your career. Primary schools differ slightly from secondary and the teaching style does too. Teaching younger students requires a more general knowledge of subjects such as basic maths, english and science, and encompasses general life skills. At primary level, you focus more on laying the foundation for a child’s education rather than developing it to a high level.
You should also be comfortable teaching younger children. You must understand fully that a younger child learns in a completely different way and it’s essential to get this approach right. You have to pay special attention to developing the child at the pace that suits them or else you may do more damage than good. Knowing what stimulates a child and keeping them focused on the work is also hugely important at this level.
Teaching younger children comes with other considerations too; their behaviour is of course different to that of an older student. Tantrums and crying are both more common as young children learn how to communicate. As a teacher of primary school children, you will be developing their life skills including how to tidy up after an activity, sharing, and dealing with emotions.
A Broad Curriculum Knowledge
One of the biggest differences between a secondary and primary teacher is the curriculum. Secondary school teachers will traditionally choose a discipline – a subject that they want to focus on. A more in depth knowledge is required here as students are aged between 12 and 18 and require a greater level of knowledge. Students at this level will most likely be taking exams or looking to take their education further at college or university.
To become a primary school teacher you should be knowledgeable and comfortable in teaching every aspect of the curriculum before you make the switch. You won’t be able to go in depth on a subject but you will be able to teach a basic level on a variety of different subjects. This is perfect if you prefer a variation in your workdays.
Primary School Teacher Characteristics
Because you would be dealing with one core group at primary level, you should have clear and strong leadership skills. You will have a far more direct relationship with students because of this so you should have great communication and interpersonal skills to help nurture individual relationships. This also feeds into building relationships with other members of staff and parents.
The same planning and organisation skills required for a secondary teacher are still needed to become a primary school teacher. Lesson planning is a key part of primary school teaching and you will have to make sure each child is enthused and motivated.
Patience and understanding is also required – more so than in a secondary school environment. Younger children may be difficult to teach if they aren’t in the right mindframe and can be unpredictable in their behaviour.
Humour is a great asset to have and it helps to keep young children entertained and focused. You should also be a creative individual who can think outside of the box to keep classrooms fresh and interesting.
Above all else, you should be passionate about what you do. Being a primary teacher is a huge responsibility and many adults still remember the truly special teachers from their childhood. You are laying the foundations for the rest of their educational lives and giving them the skills necessary to succeed in later life. You should be passionate and enthused about what you do to ensure your primary students get the best educational experience they can.
As with any teaching role, experience is key. You could start by joining the staff at a local primary school in a student teacher or intern position. This level of training helps to enhance your skills as an educator and earn some expertise working with children in a classroom environment.
You can partner with an education recruitment company like LTF Recruitment to find opportunities like this. We have a wide range of primary school teaching roles that can be undertaken on a part-time basis, meaning you have the option of dropping your hours at your current position (if possible) and taking up another role.
It’s entirely possible that this isn’t an option for you, so there are some other routes worth looking into. Becoming a transition coordinator is a great option as it will allow you to deal with primary school children looking to make the jump to secondary. This will not only give you a taste of what it is like to interact with younger students, but it also acts as a valuable experience when you come to make the switch.
Another option is to take a return to teaching course aimed at teaching primary school students. These are traditionally used for individuals who are returning to teaching after a break or have qualified outside of the UK. Even still, they offer a great entry point into a different teaching career and allow you to get the support you need along the way.
Thinking of Making The Leap?
If you’re thinking about making the switch to primary teacher then LTF Recruitment can give you the support you need. Begin by uploading your CV and seeing how we can help you achieve your teaching goals.
Use our job finder tool to find your dream primary teaching role if you already have the qualifications you need. Simply filter by nursery and primary roles, choose your location and select either contract, full, part-time or temporary job type.
For any more information about starting your career as a primary school teacher, contact LTF Recruitment today.