How to Become a Primary School Teacher | learndirect

How to Become a Primary School Teacher

Posted on 08/07/2020
How to Become a Primary School Teacher

A career in primary school teaching is the opportunity to support children through their learning from the age of four to eleven.

You will get to help teach them about the world, their society, science, English, maths and more.

This means planning lessons to make them as engaging as possible, while balancing different education needs and aptitudes.

You will also provide pastoral care, making sure the children are happy, healthy and that school is a positive experience.

If you’re considering primary school teaching as a career it’s important to know what qualifications, you need to be eligible.

Fortunately, there are different routes to becoming a primary school teacher. So, if you’re concerned that the qualifications you have already won’t help you, you have options.

Learndirect | How to Become a Primary School Teacher | What you need to become a Primary School Teacher

What you need to become a Primary School Teacher

Teachers must be degree educated. The most known qualification is a PGCE, or post-graduate certificate in education.

However, this requires a degree to get onto the course. This is a perfectly acceptable route into teaching. And gives you considerable freedom to pursue your academic interests at degree level.

If you want to get qualified a little quicker than a Bachelor’s in Education will shave a year off your studies and give you all the skills and knowledge you need to shape the minds of tomorrow.

Entry requirements vary from one university to another however there some essential qualifications you need ahead of applying.

The first is GCSEs in both English and maths of grade C/4 or above. This is considered the base line of literacy and numeracy. If you don’t have these then you will need to take (or retake) those qualifications.

Some universities may ask for 5 GCSEs of grade C/4 or above, including English and maths. So, make sure you check each universities requirements as you consider your options.

In addition to GCSEs you will also need at least 2 A Levels at grade C or above. If you plan on going into primary school teaching, then you have quite a lot of freedom in terms of what subjects you can study.

The alternative to A Levels (or the equivalent if you studied elsewhere) is an Access to HE Diploma.

Learndirect | How to Become a Primary School Teacher | What to Study

What to Study

If you don’t have the GCSEs in maths and English then you need to achieve those, first and foremost. While universities are becoming more flexible, some qualifications are simply non-negotiable.

This is because both the university and future employers need to know that you have the basic knowledge required to pass on to your pupils.

This isn’t an unreasonable request.

Beyond that, how you become qualified is largely up to you.

A Levels

Depending on whether you study a standard degree or a Bachelor’s in Education, the requirements may differ. Regardless, in most instances you will need 2 or 3 A Levels to be accepted onto a degree course.

Studying A Levels gives you a huge amount of variety in terms of subjects. If you’re planning on studying a Bachelor of Education degree, then you don’t have to worry about studying a relevant subject.

If you plan on studying a BSc or BA and then going on to study a PGCE, then the A Levels you choose need to be relevant to your undergraduate degree.

By taking A Levels that naturally complement each other you can build a foundation that will help you with your degree studies. Psychology, sociology, and English – for example.

An A Level via a distance learning provider usually take about a year to complete. Although the average is closer to 9 months.

If you need to study two A Levels you can be university ready within 18 months if you really work hard.

The advantage with distance learning is you don’t need to wait until September to start studying, you can just enrol and get going. This means, if you time it right you can get your A Levels, and start university within 2 years.

Access to HE Diploma

The alternative to A Levels is the Access to Higher Education Diploma. The Access to HE Diploma was created specifically to prepare anyone over the age of 18 for university.

The content of the diploma focuses specifically around the degree you want to study. In this case teaching. The diploma gives you strong foundational knowledge in your chosen area of study and essential study skills.

This is especially helpful for anyone who has been out of education for some time and whose essay writing skills may be a tad rusty.

The one thing to note is not all Access to HE Diplomas are the same. An Access to HE Diploma in Chemistry is unlikely to get you on to a teaching degree.

It’s also worth noting that an Access to HE Diploma in Education is slanted towards primary education. This is purely because secondary level teaching requires a foundation of knowledge in a specific subject.

Whereas primary teaching requires you to have a broader understanding as well as a strong grasp of developmental psychology etc.

If you want to be a secondary school teacher, A Levels undoubtedly provides you with a broader range of knowledge. An Access to Higher Education Diploma in Education will specifically cover a range of topics to prepare you for teaching.

This will cover the developing child, the psychology of learning, development of education, developmental psychology, and language acquisition.

You will also learn how to manage behaviour in the classroom, the sociology of education and safeguarding.

By the time you have completed the course you will be ready to take the next step on your journey to becoming a teacher.


The good news is you can study both A Levels and Access to HE Diplomas through distance learning institutes. So, you can fit your studies around your work and personal life.

You just enrol and start your learning at a pace you’re comfortable with. With online learning all the materials are ready and waiting. You get to dictate how and when you study.

Get in touch with our sales team or sign up today online. There are flexible payment terms available to help you spread the cost.

You will also have access to a dedicated tutor who will help you through the process. Check out our blog for useful tips on how to get the most out of your study experience.

Click below to sign up to study your Access to Higher Education Diploma with learndirect today

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