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Everything You Need to Know When Becoming a Primary Teacher


If you’re looking for a meaningful career where you get to educate and inspire future generations, you should consider becoming a primary teacher. This is one of the world’s most important and rewarding jobs, offering high levels of professional satisfaction.

This article will provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about primary teaching, to help you decide if this career path is for you. Keep reading to find out what a day in the life of a primary teacher is like, how much you can expect to earn, and how many hours teachers work per day.

What is a primary teacher?

Primary teachers educate children aged five to twelve, helping them with their academic and social development. One side of the job is delivering a curriculum that covers a range of subjects including English, maths, science, arts, geography, social science and technology. You’ll also be responsible for helping children to become more confident in themselves through extra-curricular activities.

In the classroom, primary teachers help their students build literacy, numeracy and critical thinking skills. Through class activities, you’ll also assist with your student’s emotional and social growth.

Throughout the school year, you’ll also be responsible for evaluating the progress of your students. Teachers communicate with parents through written school reports as well as face-to-face meetings. Excellent communication skills are required to excel as a teacher since you’ll need to give information to both children and adults.

What are some of the day-to-day tasks that a primary school teacher does?

What do primary teachers do on a day-to-day basis, and how do you know if you’re suited to a teaching career? While no two days are truly the same when you’re a teacher, there are some recurring daily patterns.

A day in the life of a primary teacher

The average day for a primary school teacher in Australia looks like this:

  • 30-60 minutes before class begins: Teachers arrive early to prepare for the day’s lessons. This might involve making sure that all materials are in place and touching base with other teachers.
  • Morning classes: The first class for most primary schools commences between 8:30 and 9:30 am. When the bell sounds, students enter the classroom and teaching begins. The teacher will usually do a roll call and then launch into the first core lesson.
  • Morning tea break: The mid-morning break allows students to go to the bathroom and enjoy a snack. If the teacher has been rostered on for playground duty, they’ll supervise the children to make sure everyone is happy and safe.
  • Specialist subjects: Most primary schools offer speciality subjects (such as foreign languages) which specialist teachers teach. The grade teacher will use this time to mark students’ work and complete other admin tasks.
  • Lunch break: The length of the lunch break varies depending on the school but it’s usually around 30-60 minutes.
  • Afternoon classes: When the children return to the classroom after lunch, the teacher will deliver another core lesson. (Specialist subjects may also be delivered during the afternoon session).
  • After school: Depending on the hours of the school, the last bell will ring at around 3:00-3:30 pm. Once the students have left the classroom, the teacher will tidy up and attend to marking and lesson planning for the next day.

Primary school teachers will also be responsible for organising school camps, and providing supervision during school carnivals. Primary schools also schedule planning days for teachers, where the teaching staff get together to make broader plans for the year.

Another responsibility for primary teachers is parent-teacher interviews, where parents are invited to talk to the teacher about their child’s academic progress.

How much does a primary teacher earn in Australia?

If you’re thinking about becoming a primary teacher, you’ll most likely want to know how much you can expect to earn.

According to Seek, the average annual salary for primary school teachers is $95,000, although it’s important to bear in mind that your salary might be lower when you first start. After you’ve gained a few years of experience, your earning potential is likely to increase.

It’s also important to note that salaries for primary teachers can vary depending on whether you’re teaching for a public or private school.

Another factor that can affect your salary is your level of education. If you’re aiming for a leadership position within a primary school, it’s recommended that you undertake some form of postgraduate study such as a Master of Teaching (Primary).

What are primary school teachers’ working hours?

The majority of full-time primary school teachers work between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on weekdays during the school term (these times may differ depending on the school and the teacher’s workload). On certain occasions, it’s necessary to stay back later to finish marking assessments.

On average, primary school teachers work 39 weeks per year. It’s not uncommon for teachers to use some of their time outside of the school terms to attend professional development workshops in preparation for the next teaching session.

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

To become a primary teacher in Australia, the minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree. Please contact us if you have a degree and want to transition into a teaching career – our friendly team can provide you with advice specific to your situation.

For those who’d like to excel in their career as a teacher or specialise in a particular field, postgraduate study is recommended. The Master of Teaching (Primary) at Swinburne Online will qualify you to teach in primary schools across Australia while giving you access to unique development opportunities. Plus, the flexible study mode makes it easy to fit your study commitments around your work and family life.

Become a primary teacher with Swinburne Online

If you have further questions about primary teacher qualifications, contact us to speak with one of our course advisors.

You can apply online to study our Master of Teaching (Primary) degree, to kick start your teaching career.


We have a whole variety of support options available to students seven days a week, so no one is ever left feeling alone. For students studying a degree with us, your small online class of 20–24 students is run by a dedicated online tutor (eLearning Advisor), who will always be happy to respond to your questions. Our Student Advisors (SAs) are a team of academic/technical and administrative specialists who can be contacted seven days a week. They can help with issues from advice on assignments to problems with logging in to the Student Hub. We also have online assessment support options that will cater to a range of academic needs. To find out more about our university support options, visit the student support page on our website.
Yes, there are no requisite live or in-person sessions, so you can elect to study anytime, anywhere. If you find the combination of full-time work and full-time study to be too much, you can choose to study part-time.
You can undertake our courses from anywhere with an internet connection, including the comfort of your own home during social isolation. Swinburne Online takes domestic students for both degrees and TAFE diplomas from anywhere in Australia. International students are also accepted for our degrees, although some differences to their payment processes will apply. You won’t normally have to be online at a specific time. Your course material is available for you from the beginning of each teaching period and you can work through it in the hours that suit you. There are some live webinar sessions that run approximately once a month. These are a special opportunity for students to sign in at the same time as their tutors, normally before an assessment deadline. It gives you the chance to ask any questions relating to the assignment in real time and hear other student’s questions and thoughts. We understand that students won’t always be able to make these sessions, so they can be replayed the next day.
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