- Education Counts, 'Monitoring Teacher Supply 2013', (www.educationcounts.govt.nz).
- Education Counts, 'National School Roll Projections', (www.educationcounts.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Primary School Teacher - How to enter the job Alternative titles
Kaiako Kura Tuatahi
Primary school teachers teach children between the ages of five and 13 at primary or intermediate schools.
Call us on 0800 222 733
- Diploma of Teaching
- Bachelor of Education (Teaching)
- Bachelor's degree and Graduate Diploma of Teaching
- Conjoint BA/BTeach or BSc/BTeach degree
Registration with the New Zealand Teachers Council
- Computing and ICT
Pay for primary school teachers varies depending on qualifications and experience.
- With a three-year Bachelor of Education (Teaching) or equivalent, or an Advanced Diploma of Teaching, you start on about $46,000 a year. You can reach a maximum of about $68,000 after seven years.
- With a bachelor's degree and teaching qualification (total of four years' tertiary study), you start on about $47,000 a year, and can reach a maximum of about $72,000 after seven years.
Primary school principals earn between $78,000 and $148,000 a year.
Additional payments for some primary school teachers
Primary school teachers who teach in a school that is identified as one that is hard to staff may earn an extra $3,500 in their third, fourth and fifth years of teaching under the Government's Voluntary Bonding Scheme.
Those teachers that take on management roles, such as syndicate leader (leading teachers of a particular year group), or curriculum specialist, and those that teach in private or independent schools, may be paid an extra $2,000 to $3,000 a year.
Source: Ministry of Education, 'Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement', 2013-2015.
- TeachNZ website - information about primary teachers' salaries
- TeachNZ website - information about the Voluntary Bonding Scheme
- MoreBusiness.com website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
What you will do
Primary school teachers may do some or all of the following:
- plan and prepare lessons and activities for the year, based on children's needs and the curriculum
- teach English, maths, science, technology, arts and social studies
- keep up to date with curriculum changes and assessment methods
- assess and record learning and development of each child
- help to develop children's social skills and behaviours
- meet with parents, whānau and caregivers at planning or teacher/parent evenings
- lead a curriculum area, such as English or maths, within the school
- get involved in extracurricular activities such as sports coaching and school fairs
- do lunchtime playground duty or road patrol duty.
Skills and knowledge
Primary school teachers need to have knowledge of:
- different teaching methods and learning styles
- the New Zealand school curriculum
- how to plan units and lessons, and evaluate students' progress
- child development, including learning difficulties and how to identify them
- behaviour management techniques, such as establishing boundaries and rewarding positive behaviour
- school rules, policies and procedures, including safety and emergency procedures.
Primary school teachers:
- usually work with children from about 8am until 3.30pm. They also work outside these hours doing administrative work, attending meetings and doing extracurricular activities such as coaching sports teams
- work in classrooms, which may be noisy, and occasionally outside in the playground or sports field
- may accompany students on field trips, sports events and school camps.
What's the job really like?
Nelson Teariki - Primary School Teacher
The buzz of seeing students succeed
Nelson Teariki chose primary school teaching because the teachers he'd had at school made learning so much fun. "I thought it would be pretty cool to be able to do that for others."
Seeing the students achieve successes is what teaching's all about, says Nelson. "At the beginning of this year one of the boys in my class had ideas in his head but couldn't put them down on paper. But now he can spell better, he can write his ideas down and he's really happy about that – and I am too!"
And a downside of the job? "There's a huge amount of paperwork and I'm definitely not a paper person! Sometimes I have struggled with that, especially when I began teaching."
Nelson's tips on becoming a teacher
If you're considering a career in teaching, Nelson has two pieces of advice. "First, have someone around who believes in you. It was my mum who always pushed me, and encouraged me to believe in my ability to become a teacher, even when I sometimes doubted it. And second, if you're serious about teaching go and do some work experience in a school – you'll soon find out if that's what you want to do."
To become a primary school teacher you need to have one of the following:
- a three-year Bachelor of Education (Teaching)
- a Bachelor's degree and a one-year Graduate Diploma of Teaching.
Alternatively, you can complete a four-year conjoint degree, such as a BA/BTeach or BSc/BTeach, which combines study in teaching subjects with teacher training. This conjoint degree means you can teach both primary and secondary students.
You also need to be registered with the New Zealand Teachers Council and have a current practising certificate, renewable every three years.
Teaching scholarships available for those who speak Māori
You may be eligible for a teaching scholarship if you can speak Māori, as the Government wants to encourage more teachers into bilingual or Māori immersion classes and schools.
Most teacher education providers require applicants to have a tertiary entrance qualification.
Additional requirements for specialist roles:
Special Education Teacher
Following two years of teaching to gain full teacher registration, and preferably further experience teaching, you need to complete a graduate or postgraduate qualification in one of the following specialisations:
- hearing impairment
- visual impairment
- learning and behaviour
- autism spectrum disorder
- special learning needs.
Primary school teachers need to be:
- skilled at communicating with students and adults from a range of cultures and backgrounds
- organised and good at solving problems
- friendly, supportive, and good at listening
- positive, enthusiastic and able to motivate children
- creative, adaptable and resourceful.
David Pierson - Primary School Teacher
Useful experience for primary school teachers includes:
- child counselling
- work with people with disabilities
- school holiday programme work
- childcare work
- working with children through groups such as Brownies and Scouts
- coaching sports teams.
First-year primary school teachers must become provisionally registered with the New Zealand Teachers Council and gain full registration after two years' satisfactory work as a teacher. On becoming fully registered, teachers are issued with a practising certificate.
View information on courses in the course database
- Teacher Education: General (Pre-Service)
- Teacher Education: Primary (Pre-Service)
- General Primary and Secondary Education
- Teacher Professional Development
Find out more about training
years of training required
What are the chances of getting a job?
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, the number of primary school teachers increased by about 3% between 2010 and 2012.
Demand strong for teachers in selected schools
Demand for primary school teachers is strong in certain rural schools, and in schools with a higher proportion of Māori and Pasifika students. New teachers who choose to teach in these schools are eligible for extra payments under the Government's Voluntary Bonding Scheme.
Māori language speakers are in high demand – to teach in kura kaupapa Māori (Māori language immersion schools) and in general primary schools. The Government offers scholarships and additional salary payments to encourage people to train in this area.
Job prospects for beginning teachers expected to improve
Job prospects for beginning teachers are expected to improve over the next few years because:
- high birth rates between 2007 and 2010 are starting to affect primary school rolls, and according to the Ministry of Education an extra 1,150 teachers will be required by 2016
- the number of teachers aged over 60 has more than doubled since 2005, to about 6,000. Therefore, over the next decade the number of teachers retiring will lead to vacancies for both beginning and experienced teachers.
Most teachers employed by the Government
State schools are the biggest employers of primary school teachers, but teachers may also work in private and state-integrated schools, such as Catholic schools.
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Other vacancy websites
- NZ Education Gazette - Browse education job vacancies
- NZ Government Jobs Online - Search jobs.govt.nz for State sector vacancies
- My Job Space - View MyJobSpace's education jobs
- SEEK - View SEEK's education jobs
- Trade Me - View Trade Me's education jobs
- Able Personnel Services - Hawke's Bay job listings
- Mahi.co.nz - Lists Maori-focused positions
- New Kiwis - Search job vacancies
- Otago Daily Times - Search job vacancies
- Team Recruitment - Search job vacancies
- Drake International - Search job vacancies at Drake International
- Jobseeker - Search many vacancy sites at once with Jobseeker
- Work and Income New Zealand - Search Work and Income job vacancies
Progression and specialisations
Primary school teachers may move into senior roles, such as deputy principal or principal, or they may move into work outside the school system, such as:
- teaching trainee teachers in tertiary institutions
- doing research, policy or advisory work in the education sector
- working in training and education roles in a museum or art gallery.
How many people are doing this job?
Job vacancies by region
Updated 27 Jan 2014