A Day in the Life of a Primary School Teacher

Are you thinking about getting into teaching? Before starting the process, you might wish to know what life is like as a primary school teacher. Here we discover exactly what a typical day is like so you can decide if teaching is right for you.

A standard day in the life of a primary school teacher

Primary school teaching hours

Most primary school teachers are contracted to work at the school from 8.30 am until 4 pm. However, as most people getting into the profession will be aware, the reality of the hours worked is slightly different. Most teachers start their day at school well before the pupils do, at around 7.30. This gives them time to get settled and organised before the flood of pupils arrives. You can complete any last-minute lesson prep during this time, such as gathering resources, printing, photocopying, etc. It's also nice to have a cup of tea or coffee before the day begins!

Mornings at primary school

Morning lessons begin at 8.40 am and last 12.10 pm. The morning lessons tend to focus on core subjects such as maths, English, and the sciences (though this isn't necessarily the same in all schools). At 12.10 pm, the pupils break for lunch (again, this may be slightly earlier or later, depending on your school's individual schedule). You may be able to use the lunch break to get some marking done, or you may be on playground or lunch hall duty, overseeing the children and making sure that everything runs smoothly. If your services aren't required, many teachers will eat their lunch and mark some work simultaneously to get ahead of this and minimise the amount they have to take home at the end of the day. However, others spend time in the staff room, socialising with their colleagues and having a break.

Afternoons at primary school

Afternoon lessons typically run between 12:45 pm and 3.10 pm when the children go home. The afternoon lessons may focus on subjects such as art, PE or languages. After the last class, teachers will help pupils ensure they have all their belongings before heading home. Some teachers will invite parents who want to discuss concerns about their child to do so at the end of the day. This can help foster strong relationships between school and home and ensure that any problems or issues occurring outside the school are something that everyone is aware of and can be dealt with accordingly.

After the school day

After the children have gone home for the day, tidying and organising the classroom can help ensure you hit the ground running the following day. Many teachers prefer to stay at the school to finish marking and complete any lesson planning. This is all about personal preference. Staying at the school to complete any work can help separate work life and home life, though many teachers prefer getting home to beat the traffic and spend more time with their loved ones, even if some of that time requires them to work from home. Staff meetings could also occur at the end of the day, requiring teachers to stay on. Most primary school teachers will leave the school between 4-5 pm and may still have some tasks to complete for the following day, such as marking and lesson planning at home. It is also likely that some of your weekends will be reserved for work during term time to keep on top of all the demands of being a teacher.

School terms

The school year is split into the autumn, spring, and summer terms. Most teachers will no doubt be tired of hearing how 'lucky' they are to have big holidays throughout the year as they know it's not always the relaxing time others suppose it to be. The reality is that teachers will spend a good chunk of their holiday time assessing pupils' progress, marking, completing admin jobs, lesson planning, creating resources, and writing risk assessment forms. However, there will still be time to relax and unwind, particularly during the long summer break. Becoming a primary school teacher has many challenges and many benefits. Hopefully, by gaining insight into what a typical day is like, you will feel more confident that this is the career choice for you.

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