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How to become a primary school teacher

Find out how to become a primary school teacher including the qualifications you need and where to find an accredited teaching degree in NSW. 

What do primary school teachers do?

Primary teachers teach students from Kindergarten to Year 6. They plan and conduct education programs to develop literacy, numeracy and the physical, emotional, intellectual and social growth of their students.  

Primary school teachers teach across all the primary key learning areas (KLAs) which include:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology
  • Human Society and its Environment
  • Personal Development, Health and Physical Education
  • Creative Arts and Practical Arts.

Some primary school teachers specialise in a particular learning area or areas.

What qualifications do you need to be a primary teacher in NSW?

You need to have completed at least four years of tertiary study at a recognised university or higher education institution.

Most students who want to be a teacher will either:

  • Complete an accredited four year teaching degree (such as a Bachelor of Education (Primary), or a combined or double degree such as a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education (Primary)
  • Complete an undergraduate degree (such as a Bachelor of Arts or Science) and then complete an accredited graduate entry teaching degree such as a Master of Teaching (Primary).

Some primary teacher education programs enable you to specialise in a particular area or areas. Recognised primary teaching specialisations involve completing additional studies in the content and teaching of that area.

How do you get into a teaching degree?

Future teachers will need to meet increased academic standards to study an accredited undergraduate teaching degree in NSW.

From 2016, a minimum standard of three Band 5 HSC results, including one in English, applies to undertaking an accredited undergraduate teaching degree.

To study teaching you will need to:

1.        achieve at least three Band 5 HSC results, including one in English OR

2.        pass bridging units benchmarked to a Band 5 HSC result OR

3.        enrol in an accredited double degree and pass a full year of academic studies in the subjects you will teach OR

4.        complete a BOSTES approved alternative entry pathway as advised by your prospective university.

Read the new prerequisites for studying teaching

What accredited teaching degrees are available in NSW?

BOSTES supports the education of quality teachers by accrediting initial teacher education programs offered by universities and higher education institutions in NSW. You can download the list of accredited teaching degrees (initial teacher education programs) in NSW.

Accredited teaching degrees in NSW

What are the content requirements in primary graduate entry initial teacher education?

Your undergraduate (or any postgraduate) degree/s must contain at least one year of full-time study in one KLA or a combination of KLAs from the primary school curriculum.

One year of study is defined as eight semester long units of undergraduate study. This can be in one KLA, such as mathematics, or a combination of KLAs, such as English, Human Society and its Environment, and Creative Arts.

For entry into a primary graduate entry initial teacher education program, your prospective university will assess to what extent the studies in your undergraduate degree meet the BOSTES content requirements. BOSTES does not provide this assessment.

Review the BOSTES requirements for teaching (PDF 125KB)

Which degree should I choose?

Spend some time researching which university or higher education provider, and which degree’s course structure best suits your personal needs. For example, some universities may be better set up to support distance education students and this may be an important consideration for you. Read tips for choosing a teaching course.

If you are considering studying interstate, check that the teaching degree you are seeking to enrol in is accredited by that state’s teacher registration body. See teaching interstate

What about early childhood teaching?

Early childhood teachers have generally completed studies which prepare them to teach from birth to Year 2. You do not currently need to be accredited with BOSTES to teach in a NSW pre-school. However you will need to be accredited if you teach children turning 5 years and over who are enrolled in a NSW primary school.