The Primary V Secondary Debate


Ask any Teacher which they think is more difficult; teaching in the Primary or the Secondary sector… I dare you.

Depending on their choice of career, they will always say their own.

The Primary Teachers will argue (and quite rightly so) their lack of planning time within the designated contractual working hours, teaching a variety of subjects, quadruple level differentiation, parental complaints and influence, intense target setting, marking, forever updating wall displays, trying to make sure that every pupil is on some level with the E’s and O’s, ongoing pupil testing to gauge reading, writing and maths levels, direct pastoral care for 25-30 pupils, having at least 3 pupils who are academically weaker and not having the support that they need (thankfully not the case in the school that I work at) and the constant reviewing of all of the above.

Whilst their Secondary counter parts will argue (again, quite rightly so) that they have intense examination pressure to deliver, they teach an excess of 280 pupils a week, they mark 20-40+ essays per week (subject depending); and each essay takes 30 minutes each, mark an excess of 200 books a week (which often needs to be pushed back a week as it’s completely unmanageable), have up to 3 parents evening meetings a year for their senior classes and 1 for every other grade, their pastoral responsibilities for whichever child has chosen them, and let’s not get started with the behaviour management for hormonal 12-18 year olds’.

In all honesty just listing these few responsibilities and reading them back is exhausting… but we do them day in and day out, no questions asked.

But after having been a Secondary Teacher in the UK and a Primary Generalist in Australia, I would like to express that both jobs are equally exhausting and difficult in their own right and both jobs have given me an equal amount of joy, happiness, pressure, stress and a fair share of 6pm naps due to being so tired (my housemates can vouch for this).

Most jobs done well are tiring and teaching is no different!

You can sit there and say “Well, you’ve not mentioned this, this and this” and my response is that it’s not possible to list every duty we have as an educator BUT… I have experienced it and I totally get it. The jobs are different and one may suit you more than the other. I for one have been lucky as I feel comfortable teaching either. (You should hear my Synthetic Phonics in spelling everyday haha)

I guess my point is that there shouldn’t be a divide, let’s leave that to the haters who think we work from 9am to 3:30pm and then just holiday for the rest of the time. Teachers in both sectors play a massive role in children’s lives and it genuinely is an absolute honour to do what we do.

After all… to some, we’ll be remembered for life.

K x

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