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Should you Become a Primary School Teacher or Secondary School Teacher?

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secondary school teacher with children at their desks

Secondary or Primary School Teacher?

Whether you choose to embark on becoming a primary school teacher, or a secondary school teacher, you’re onto achieving fantastic things. Teaching is a rewarding career all the same, but which school is right for you?

One of the big decisions you may have to make is whether you would like a primary school teaching job or a secondary school teaching job.

While these two types of teaching jobs might look similar on paper, the reality is they both offer vastly different experiences and require diverse skill sets. How do you know which one will suit you?

When you complete your teacher training course, you will be awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS); therefore, you are authorised to teach in primary schools and secondary schools in the UK. With QTS, you can apply for numerousteaching vacancies, and stand a higher chance of landing one successfully.

Key Differences between Primary and Secondary School Teaching

School Day

When teaching in a primary school, you will typically be with one class for the entire school day; primary school teachers work with children between the ages of 5 and 11.

Teaching in secondary schools will allow you to educate across year groups, from year 7 through to year 13. You will likely receive a form group and register these students at the beginning of each day.


The fundamental difference between primary schools and secondary schools, as a teacher, is what you teach.

In a primary school, you’ll be teaching a variety of different subjects, including

  • English
  • Maths
  • Geography
  • Science (such as plants, animals, planets, electricity, sound etc.)

and more, to one particular class. Sometimes, subject specialists may take over subjects like PE and Modern Foreign Languages (MFL).

Whereas in a secondary school, rather than teaching the whole curriculum to your class, you’ll specialise in one subject. You’ll teach this subject across multiple year groups, meaning you’ll encounter and interact with a wide range of age groups throughout the week.

Other Primary School Teacher Responsibilities

  • Plan lessons and prepare teaching materials
  • Mark and assess the work of pupils, and report on progress to parents/guardians
  • Work with other teachers and professionals
  • Attend meetings and undertake additional training

Other Secondary School Teacher Responsibilities

  • Work as a form tutor where you will register and support students daily
  • Mark work and provide in-depth feedback to students
  • Communicate with external stakeholders
  • Attend and complete all required training and CPD courses
  • Attend meetings with senior staff and subject leaders

It doesn’t matter which type of school you teach in; your responsibilities will be similar across the board. However, some private school jobs will require primary teachers to teach specialist subjects to younger pupils, effectively carrying out the same duties as secondary teachers. Some schools have this structure in place for teaching in private schools, regardless of age group.

Be advised, many of the above responsibilities will also apply to you whether you hold a permanent teaching job, or if you are working as a supply teacher

Questions to Ask Yourself

If you are still undecided about whether you want to teach in primary or secondary schools, it’s essential to take a moment for self-reflection. Below are some questions you should ask yourself, which hopefully will make the decision easier.

  • Do I like the idea of teaching a specialist subject? If you haven’t found the particular topic you want to educate forever, maybe the idea of teaching a range of subjects is more appealing to you.
  • How would I feel about seeing the same pupils/students each day? There are advantages and disadvantages of being responsible for multiple classes, as well as one class. You’ll need to decide whether the idea of teaching students of different ages throughout the day, or one specific class is preferable to you.
  • What age group do I picture myself teaching? Your relationships with students and pupils will vary dramatically, depending on their age. Also consider their attitudes, skill level and how they will interact with each other.

Speak to a Primary and Secondary Education Recruitment Agency

At Always Flourishing, we recruit for both primary and secondary school jobs in the Thames Valley. We have a variety of partner schools looking to hire teachers from all walks of life, who are looking to fill promising and exciting positions. With our mission of bringing wellbeing to education recruitment, we know that learners flourish in places that encourage creativity and a love of learning.

We also recruit for permanent, leadership and supply teaching jobs in a variety of schools, from independent schools to nurseries.

We can also help you land teaching assistant positions in both primary and secondary schools.

Register with us today, or give us a call if you have any questions.

Author: Vicky SneeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.