Secondary School Teachers: Become a Primary Teacher

Many Secondary school teachers are making the change to teach in a Primary school but the process can be confusing, not to mention a little daunting. I have worked with many teachers who have changed phase successfully, let me help you get started!

Is your Secondary QTS valid in Primary schools?

Quite simply, yes! Your Qualified Teacher Status is recognised between phases and consequently you don’t have to retrain to move from Secondary to Primary teaching. Subject and phase experience are separate from the actual recognition of QTS so you can be more flexible with your career than you’ve imagined.

can secondary teachers teach primary

Will a Primary School hire Secondary Teachers?

Again, yes! Many Primary Headteachers recognise the opportunity that employing an experienced Secondary teacher can hold. This is probably particularly true if you are experienced in Maths or English but likewise for specialist subjects such as Art or Computing. That’s not to say it will be easy! Your application and interview would need to demonstrate you are able to learn the array of specialist skills that a Primary Teacher is required to have. Your entire pedagogy might need rethinking and you would almost certainly require a broader range of subject understanding. Very few Primary schools have teachers that deliver one subject; you need to become a master of the entire Key Stage!

What skills do you need as a Primary Teacher?

An understanding of the National Curriculum can help you make a successful transition but it’s also crucial that you can teach Science, RE and PSHE. You can teach these subjects in Secondary school but they are not compulsory, at Primary level you can’t afford to miss them out!

So, can I teach the same subjects as in Secondary School?

Many Primary teachers will have a degree or PGCE qualification in their specialist subject area but that’s not to say you can’t teach them. You will find that some schools have Leaders for different subjects including Science, PE, Art and History as well as Key Stage Leaders who support the main English and Maths curriculum.

What Primary School roles might suit a Secondary Teacher?

Many schools value teachers with specialism in the Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 transition and Secondary Teachers are perfect for this role. Someone who can work with Year 6 on the specific skills and knowledge required to help them progress successfully in to Year 7.

You can also teach as a specialist lead teacher, this can be particularly great for Maths and English teachers who can use their experience to deliver outstanding lessons. However, you are likely to be working with members of staff who are not only good at subject knowledge but also have a firm understanding of the context of Primary teaching; in other words, listen to the advice of others!

Leadership can be a great option for Secondary teachers looking to change phase. There are a variety of leadership roles available from Headteacher, Assistant Headteacher and even Deputy Headteachers. This is possibly a rarer route but many Trusts will have schools across the Key Stages and might be crying out for a seasoned Leader to support a new initiative in one of the Primary schools.

Preparing to teaching in Primary School

Get experience of working in a Primary School or at least with children of that age. Use your current network to shadow experienced Primary teachers in their day to day activities. Ask yourself “Do I really want to do this?”. If your school has links to local Primaries, see if you can get involved in transition days; when Year 6 pupils visit , or even if you could act as outreach and visit local primaries to deliver workshops and specialist lessons. This would mean you can network with local schools and even get talking with Headteachers about their level of interest in employing people with your experience. 9 times out of 10 it’s who you know not what you know!

Will you need to take a pay cut to teach Primary?

The National Pay scale isn’t phase specific so you should be able to transfer from Secondary to Primary school at the same salary. However, this might be a bargaining chip if you wanted to negotiate a slightly lower salary given your understanding that your expertise and experience only matters so much in an entirely new work environment.

Can Secondary Teachers teach Primary?

To answer the question can secondary teachers teach primary, it depends on which role you are looking to fill. You can transfer your experience and expertise over with ease. There is less of a need for specialist knowledge in Primary school when compared with Secondary School but there will be more pressure on your teaching skills than ever before due to the National Curriculum being so demanding. Remember, that many schools value someone who can help Year 6 pupils make the transition successfully from Key Stage 2 to 3; this could be what leads them in their search for suitable candidates. Whether they decide you’re right for the job entirely comes down to your interview skills and how you can convince them that you can make a success of yourself.

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