School secretaries manage school offices and provide administrative support to the head teacher and other staff. Their duties vary considerably depending on the size and type of school. Secretaries in small primary schools have more varied duties and more contact with pupils and parents. Those in large secondary schools are more likely to specialise in one aspect of the work.
Also known as
- Secretary, School
- Administrator, School
As a School Secretary, you will be the first point of contact from parents, Teachers and Governors. You’ll provide administrative support to the Head Teacher, Senior Managers and other staff in schools and academies.
As you will be the first point of contact in the school, you will need to answer the telephone and greet visitors. You’ll ensure that Teachers have completed the class register and reported any students that are absent. The school might use an online register, where you can monitor pupil attendance and create reports.
You will also have contact with parents, for example, to follow up unauthorised absences, deal with problems or arrange meetings. You might also be responsible for simple first aid.
You’ll help create letters, reports and brochures for parents. You might also be known as a School Administrator. Some might regularly create school newsletters for staff and parents. You might also create tickets for school performances or events such as an open day.
School Secretaries usually manage the school office. Some of your duties include:
- handling incoming and outgoing mail
- record keeping
- filing and photocopying
- replying to emails
- ordering stationery
You often handle cash such as dinner money or payments for school trips, photographs, bus passes or uniforms. You might also organise supply cover for staff who are absent and assist with parents’ evenings.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a School Secretary, you'll need to:
- be organised
- be flexible and able to manage several tasks at once
- be able to work under pressure
- have good communication skills
- like working in a team
- able to keep confidential information
- pay attention to detail
- have number and cash-handling skills
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £15,500 - £16,500
- With experience: £17,500 - £20,000
- Senior School Secretaries earn £21,000 - £23,500
Hours of work
School Secretaries usually work 37 hours, Monday to Friday, with occasional attendance at evening meetings. Full-time, part-time, temporary and flexible working arrangements might be available.
Typically, you work during term-time, plus an extra two or three weeks during school holidays.
Where could I work?
Employers are primary schools, secondary schools and academies in the state and independent sectors.
Opportunities for School Secretaries occur in schools in towns and cities, and some rural areas, around the UK.
This career could include working for an
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on the LGJobs and individual local council websites, on job boards, in local newspapers, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.
Entry Routes and Training
New entrants usually have secretarial qualifications. A variety of courses cover secretarial and IT user skills such as text processing, shorthand and audio transcription.
Courses lead to OCR, City & Guilds or BTEC qualifications, and are available at local further education colleges.
An alternative route is to find employment as a School Office Administrative Assistant and learn on-the-job, with part-time study towards nationally recognised secretarial qualifications.
An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start. Take a look at our information article
If you would like some training, BTEC offer a level 2 qualification in business administration. This course has a range of units, which include:
- communication in a business environment
- handling mail
- providing reception services
- providing administration support in meetings
- managing diary systems
- collating and reporting data
- producing minutes in meetings
- using email
- participating in a project
Other courses could be available in your area.
Many School Secretaries go on short training courses to learn how to complete the computerised school information management records.
You might be able to take the level 2 award in support work in schools, or the serco school administration foundation certificate.
Some School Secretaries take further training to become Business Managers or Bursars, managing the school's finances. The National College for School Leadership offers a programme for existing and aspiring School Business Managers/Bursars, resulting in the level 4 certificate of school business management.
Some entrants have a relevant background, such as in office and administrative work which would be really useful for this career.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.
The entry requirements for secretarial courses vary depending on the course and the college. Some might ask you to sit an entrance test.
Employers are likely to look for about 4 GCSEs at grade C/4 and above, including English. A relevant work-related qualification in a business subject, such as a BTEC level 2 qualification, might be accepted for entry.
In general, employers want to see evidence of fast, accurate typing skills (at about 40-50 words per minute), together with general IT and office skills.
To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Some entrants have a relevant background, such as in office and administrative work.
Some college courses are aimed specifically at people wanting to gain or update their keyboard and secretarial skills. These can be organised on a one- or two-term full-time intensive basis or taken part-time.
Colleges will usually consider applications from adults who do not meet their usual entry requirements. You should check the admissions policy of individual colleges.
The School of Educational Administration (SEA) offers the National Certificate in Educational Administration by distance learning. Schools will normally fund the candidate; however, where this is not possible, candidates can apply for a bursary from the SEA to cover part of the costs.
Other distance learning includes secretarial skills and administration courses offered by a number of colleges throughout the country.
- 46% of school secretaries work part-time.
- 8% have flexible hours.
- 6% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Local government vacancies
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies
Institute of Administrative Management (IAM)
Tel: 020 7091 2600
City & Guilds
Address: 1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD
Tel: 020 7294 2468
School of Educational Administration (SEA)
Address: Hamilton House, Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road, Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 4HH
Tel: 01536 399007
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844
People Exchange Cymru (PEC)
Public sector recruitment portal for Wales