What can I do with a degree in Primary Teacher Education?

Harriet Abbott, Cashmere Primary School.

Teaching at a primary level allows you to use your energy, commitment and creativity in an intensely rewarding and satisfying career, which can make a real difference in children’s lives. There are four basic components of primary qualifications at UC:

  • Education addresses areas such as the aims and purposes of education, child development, teaching and learning, classroom management, assessment and the New Zealand education system.
  • Professional Studies introduces students to the observation, communication, interaction, management, planning, diagnostic and practical teaching skills required of teachers in New Zealand schools.
  • Professional Practice is the time spent working in a classroom. It provides a supportive context in which students can trial and refine their planning, teaching and management skills.
  • Curriculum Studies includes all curriculum subjects that a primary teacher is expected to teach. These include English, mātauraka Māori, mathematics, science, information and communication technology (ICT), technology education, social studies, art, music, drama and dance, health and physical education.

Through their Primary Education degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:

  • Knowledge of teaching and learning processes
  • Thinking critically and creatively
  • Initiating and challenging ideas
  • Planning and organisation
  • Patience and flexibility
  • Knowledge of child development
  • Interpretive and analytical thinking
  • Problem solving skills
  • Oral and written communication

Opportunities to apply your learning in schools are available in this major, through community engagement, work-integrated learning (on placement) and international study tours. These experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge, and employability.

  • Primary Teacher Education graduates gain teaching and management positions in primary, kura kaupapa, intermediate, middle and area schools in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • There are also international teaching opportunities, for example in the UK and Australia, or in international schools around the world.
  • As well as opportunities in the education sector, teaching skills of leadership, communication, coordination, responsibility and organisation are prized in many professions such as management, policy, advocacy, publishing, community work, politics and business.
  • Graduates can work anywhere from an early intervention centre to a university, a drama centre to the Ministry of Education.

The contacts and experiences from teaching placements can often provide a good springboard into the working world.

Graduates of UC’s Primary Teacher Education programmes will be eligible for provisional registration. This enables you to apply for primary teaching positions in Aotearoa New Zealand. See some examples of graduate jobs below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Primary school teacher

  • Plans and prepares educational lessons
  • Teaches and assesses English, maths, science, technology, PE, health, arts and social studies with potential to lead in a curriculum area
  • Helps develop children’s social skills and self-management behaviours

Kaiwhakaako Māori | Māori-medium teacher

  • Provides Māori medium education by developing te reo and tikanga
  • Collaborates with whānau and iwi
  • Prepares class plans, and sets and marks assessments

Special education / early intervention teacher

  • Teaches children with diverse learning needs
  • Evaluates special needs, working with whānau and teachers to develop suitable learning plans

Private tutor

  • Develops a student’s subject understanding
  • Maintains knowledge of the curriculum
  • Prepares students for assignments or tests

In-home educator

  • Supports a child’s development in the home
  • Plans and supervises daily activities

Drama teacher / music specialist

  • Teaches skills to individuals or small groups
  • Plans lessons according to students’ abilities
  • Prepares students for exams or performances

Review / quality assurance officer

  • Checks legality of a school’s policies/practices
  • Reports findings and makes recommendations
  • Assesses use of funding

Child advocate, child support officer, fieldworker, community support officer

  • Promotes well-being and conditions for children
  • Works with children and their families to address education, care or social issues
  • Tackles policies that negatively impact children

Vice principal

  • Promotes the school’s values, strategic plan and policies
  • Develops initiatives that allow for optimum learning and teaching
  • Provides leadership and fosters relationships

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up

Get started with Entrepreneurship here.

As they progress in their studies and into a career, our students and graduates often join professional bodies specific to their area of interest. These organisations offer the opportunity to network and collaborate with others within the same community. Other relevant organisations are also listed.

Social media networks, such as LinkedIn (including LinkedIn groups), Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues for students and graduates to keep up-to-date with current industry knowledge and ‘best practice’, networking opportunities, industry-related events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Primary Teacher Education subject page