The external conditions of expansion and contraction and the promotion structure specific to an occupation or profession such as primary teaching constitute contexts within which teaching careers are constructed. An additional context is the primary teaching labour market itself. Analysis of this includes an examination of the characteristics of teaching as work, and of the processes which operate in the labour market to fit individuals to jobs. The work culture of primary teaching and the accepted procedures for seeking and achieving promotion have not been systematically analysed in studies of primary teachers’ careers, although the work culture of primary teaching is now being considered (Pollard, 1985; Nias, 1989; Nias, Southworth and Yeomans, 1989; Acker, 1990, forthcoming).