A guide to studying Primary Education at university - including what to expect, reasons to consider the subject area, application tips and routes into teaching.
Why consider studying Primary Education at university?
Primary school teaching is an extremely rewarding profession, developing the minds of young children -introducing and increasing their knowledge and understanding of many subjects that will set them up for the rest of their lives. A Primary Education course will develop many transferable skills that are crucial for a teacher including resilience, time management, patience and dedication to children and teaching. Watch this section on the video from 01:08 to 02:57.
What to expect if you study Primary Education at university?
A Batchelor of Arts (BA) Primary Education with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is usually a three-year course, although some universities offer this with an undergraduate foundation route, making it a four-year course. Students will learn about the curriculum for Key Stages 1 and 2 - for children aged between 5 and 11 years old. Students will study how children learn and they will be taught teaching and assessment skills, lesson planning, behaviour management and pedagogy – the study of teaching and learning.
Trainee primary school teachers focus on all subjects taught within the primary school, which include the core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science, Physical Education and Modern Languages. Elective options of Computing, Religious Education, History, Geography, Music, Art and Design, Design Technology and Early Years are also covered in the foundation subjects, adding to the trainee primary teacher experience. Although primary school teachers teach all subjects, these elective options enable teachers to become specialised and lead on subjects within a primary school.
The Primary Education with QTS route gives a blended approach of theoretical learning within the university environment along with practical experience - with a minimum of six weeks assessed placements each year in primary schools. Watch this section on the video from 02:55 to 14:54
Application tips for Primary Education courses at university
Students should research university prospectuses or contact admission tutors to find qualification requirements. It is however, a government requirement for all trainee primary education teachers to have GCSE Level 4 / Grade C or above in English, Mathematics and a Science; depending on the university, it may be possible to apply with only two of these GCSEs, but students will need all three or an ‘equivalency test’ in the third subject by the time they join the course. It is also a government requirement for all trainee primary education teachers to attend interview before they can be offered a place on a Primary Education course. Primary Education students will also need an enhanced DBS and completion of a Fitness to Teach assessment.
A well written, accurate personal statement is important, which should discuss prospective students’ skills and how they link with and suit a career in primary education. Prospective students should discuss and reflect on any work experience with primary school aged children. If prospective students have not been able to obtain work experience in a primary school setting, they should show commitment to primary teaching by discussing their research.
Prospective Primary Education students should have knowledge of the Teachers Standards Framework, government assigned statements of what makes a teacher, and they should refer to aspects of this in their personal statement and interview. Watch this section on the video from 14:54 to 19:06
Farhana Irshad, Recruitment Co-ordinator, Primary Teaching Degrees at St Mary's University, Twickenham.
Jon Cheek, Founder and Director, UniTasterDays.com