Primary School Teacher Kaiako Kura Tuatahi

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

Primary school teachers need to be registered with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and have a current practising certificate.

Primary school teachers may do some or all of the following:

  • plan, prepare and present lessons
  • teach a wide range of subjects such as arts, English, maths and science
  • keep up to date with curriculum changes and assessment methods
  • assess and record learning and development of each child
  • observe and manage student behaviour
  • 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 camps, sports coaching and school fairs
  • do lunchtime playground duty or road patrol duty.

Special Education Teacher

To become a special education teacher you need to have two years or more of primary school teaching experience, full teacher registration, and a postgraduate qualification in the area of special education you wish to teach in.

Physical Requirements

Primary school teachers need to be reasonably fit and healthy, as they may stand for long periods, do playground duty and physical education, coach sport, and run school camps. Teachers usually need to know how to swim.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for primary school teachers includes:

  • child counselling
  • work with people with disabilities
  • school holiday programme work
  • childcare work or work as a teacher aide
  • working with children through groups such as Brownies and Scouts
  • coaching sports teams.

Personal Qualities

Primary school teachers need to be:

  • skilled at communicating clearly with children and adults from a range of backgrounds and cultures
  • organised, and good at solving problems quickly
  • enthusiastic, open-minded and able to motivate children
  • creative and adaptable
  • able to work well under pressure
  • firm and fair, with a sense of humour
  • able to work well in a team.


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.

Primary School Teachers can earn around $55K-$95K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Primary School Teacher are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for primary school teachers varies depending on qualifications and experience. 

  • Primary school teachers usually start on $55,000 and can earn up to $91,000 a year.
  • Primary school teachers with higher qualifications usually start on $66,000 and can earn up to $95,000 a year.

Primary school teachers may also qualify for higher pay and allowances if they have extra responsibilities.

Source: Ministry of Education, 'Primary Teachers' Collective Agreement 2023-2025'.

Voluntary bonding scheme in hard-to-staff schools

Primary school teachers who work in schools identified as hard to staff may be eligible for an extra $10,500 after three consecutive years of teaching, then $3,500 after the fourth year, and a further $3,500 after the fifth year.

Extra pay in private or independent schools

Primary school teachers who teach in private or independent schools may earn higher salaries.

Primary school teachers may move into managerial roles, such as deputy principal or principal, or they may move into work outside the school system, such as:

  • teaching trainee teachers at universities
  • doing research, policy or advisory work in the education sector
  • working in training and education roles in a museum or art gallery.

With further training, primary school teachers may progress to become special education teachers.

Years Of Training

3-4 years of training required.

To become a primary school teacher you need to have one of the following:

  • Bachelor of Education (Teaching)
  • Bachelor of Teaching (Primary or Māori Medium)
  • Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Primary).

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.

Education requirements for graduates

If you already have a Bachelor's degree that is not in education or teaching, you also need to complete one of the following:

  • Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary)
  • Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Primary)
  • Master of Teaching (Primary)
  • Master of Teaching and Learning (Primary)
  • Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning in Māori Medium.

You also need to be registered with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and have a current practising certificate.

Scholarships available for Māori and Pasifika

Primary school teacher scholarships for course fees and sometimes allowances are available for:

  • Māori medium trainee teachers
  • Māori or Pasifika high achievers – students who have completed one year of undergraduate study with a B+ grade average and show strong leadership skills.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.

Primary School Teacher