Professional formation: Guidance for supporters

The role of the supporter is to act as a ‘critical friend’ to the member applying for professional formation leading to Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS). Please note, the maximum number of applicants that can be supported by the same supporter at any one time across cohorts is three.

Who should be a supporter?

The supporter should be appropriately qualified to pass judgements on the evidence collated by the applicant, for example a line manager or head of department. A supporter should be a qualified and experienced teacher. Ideally, the supporter should be a member of the Society for Education and Training (SET), but this may not be possible in all cases.


What constitutes ‘appropriately qualified and experienced’?

SET would consider someone suitable to act as a supporter if they:

  • hold a Level 5 teacher training qualification or above
  • are able to draw on wide-ranging experience of the sector, have knowledge of a relevant subject specialist area or teaching and learning practice
  • can provide constructive developmental feedback on the applicant’s current teaching practice
  • have known the applicant in a professional capacity for a length of time* that enables them to comment in a supporting statement on the applicant’s progression across the six-month professional formation period.

*We recommend that the supporter has known the applicant for a minimum of 6 months, but we recognise that this may not always be possible. It is acceptable that the supporter has known the participant for less than 6 months as long as they can comment on the participant’s current practice. 

In addition, the supporter might have a position of responsibility in their place of work and be someone whose opinion and judgment is respected.

The supporter’s relationship with the applicant should be entirely professional; they must not:

  • be someone related to the applicant by birth or marriage
  • be someone who is in a close and personal relationship with the applicant, such as a friend
  • be a recently qualified or trainee teacher
  • be in the process of undertaking a developmental process leading to QTLS or ATS themselves.


What would the supporter be required to do?

During the process:

  • Hold a minimum of three professional discussions. The applicant will write up notes from the discussions, which should be signed and dated by the supporter. A template has been provided for this purpose. The discussions should take place:
    • after the first observation has taken place, this should inform the professional development plan. 
    • whilst the applicant is completing their CPD activities, to review progress against the professional development plan targets. 
    • after the Critical Reflection section has been completed, to review future development needs and to inform the final action plan.
  • Observe the applicant on two occasions, once at the beginning of the process (within the first month) and again towards the end of the process (no more than one month before the submission deadline). The supporter will provide constructive developmental feedback using their own organisation’s observation documentation (an alternative template is available), which must be signed and dated. The applicant will complete a cover sheet with the self-evaluation of the session, this should also be signed and dated by the observer.
  • The applicant and supporter should work closely with each other from the beginning of the professional formation process and the supporter will provide on-going advice, challenge and inspiration to the applicant whilst he or she is completing the e-portfolio. It is expected that the applicant will share elements of their portfolio with the supporter for constructive comments during the process. The supporter is not expected to provide formal written feedback to the participant.

At the end of the process: 

  • The supporter will complete a supporting statement. It is advisable to refer to the 2022 Professional Standards and comment on these when completing the statement. After the applicant has completed their e-portfolio and checked this for spelling and grammatical errors, they will share it officially with their supporter.

    The supporter will be required to:
    • read the collated evidence
    • confirm that the applicant has provided a true and accurate picture of his/her professional practice
    • complete an online statement authenticating the applicant’s evidence in the ‘Supporter’s statement’ area of the applicant’s workbook.


  • The statement requires the supporter to give details of:
    • the context in which the applicant is known to him or her
    • particular strengths and attributes which the applicant brings to his or her professional practice
    • areas for future professional development