Nursery school teachers work with children between the ages of three
and five. They aim to help children to develop in six areas:
• personal, social and emotional development
• communication, language and literacy
• mathematical development
• knowledge and understanding of the world
• physical development
• creative development.
To achieve this, they plan and organise a range of individual and group
activities that can include role play, movement, dance and singing,
games, art and crafts, cooking and nature activities.
It is important for teachers to develop children’s understanding
of language and their skills with numbers. To do this, teachers read
to children, encourage them to talk, and play counting games with them.
In England and Wales, they teach the foundation stage of the National
Curriculum, with associated early learning goals. Other important parts
of the work include:
• talking to parents or carers about their child’s development
• monitoring development and identifying children who may have
• keeping records, writing reports and completing profiles for
• working with teaching assistants (classroom assistants in Scotland),
• volunteers and nursery nursing students
• consulting other professionals, eg social workers, health workers,
Teachers in state schools work 39 weeks a year. Part-time work is possible,
as is supply work (filling in when other teachers are away). Teachers
spend most of their time in the classroom. They also supervise children’s
Salaries range from at least £18,558 a year (£18,522 in
Scotland) for a newly qualified teacher, to at least £36,432 a
year (£36,531 in Scotland) for a nursery headteacher.
Nursery school teachers should:
• like and respect children
• be interested in how children develop
• be able to provide a happy, caring and stimulating environment
• be able to encourage and motivate children.
Nursery school teachers can work in state-funded nursery schools, independent
nursery schools, nursery classes in primary schools, preparatory schools
and nurseries run by social services departments (Scotland only).
People must be qualified teachers to work as a teacher in a state nursery
school or a nursery class of a state primary school. Many independent
schools also prefer this.
Newly Qualified Teachers have to successfully complete a one-year probation
period. Promotion is possible to headteacher of a nursery school or
to head of the nursery section of a primary school. Teachers can move
into related work, eg teacher training, or run a playgroup, small private
school or nursery.