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Primary School TeacherAlternative titles

Kaiako Kura Tuatahi

This job is sometimes referred to as:

Intermediate School Teacher

Primary school teachers teach children between the ages of five and 13 at primary or intermediate schools.

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733

Entry requirements

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.

Secondary education

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.

Personal requirements

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
"You absolutely have to be able to problem-solve – to think on your feet and react quickly. Things happen all the time in teaching, and you won't know how to respond to it until it happens."

David Pierson - Primary School Teacher

Useful experience

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.

Related courses

View information on courses in the course database

Find out more about training

NZ Teachers Council
(04) 471 0852 - inquiries@teacherscouncil.govt.nz - www.teacherscouncil.govt.nz/
0800 165 225 - TeachNZ.admin@minedu.govt.nz www.teachnz.govt.nz/


years of training required

David Pierson sitting on a chair talking to a group of children sitting at his feet

You need to complete a tertiary qualification to become a primary school teacher

Updated 27 Jan 2014