FAQS - QTLSRegistering and applying for QTLS

QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills) status is the badge of professionalism for the Further Education and Training sector, helping practitioners advance in their careers and demonstrate their expertise and experience to colleagues, employers and learners. SET members can gain QTLS status by successfully completing professional formation.

Since April 2012, teachers and trainers holding QTLS status who are also members of SET have been recognised by law as equivalent in status to teachers with QTS in schools. Holders of QTLS have the opportunity to work in schools on equal pay and conditions, opening up career development and wider employment opportunities. Read more about QTLS and QTS parity.

If you don’t keep your membership up to date you will not lose your QTLS status. However, your name will no longer appear on the Professional Register and your QTLS status will no longer be considered current and will no longer retain legal parity with QTS.

Professional Formation is a post-qualification process that enables you to demonstrate the effective use of skills and knowledge gained in your initial teacher training programme and applied in your current professional practice that is required to be awarded QTLS.

In order to register for and apply to undertake the programme you will need to: 

There is one application window per year.

For 2023, the application window was open from 14 August 2023 to 30 November 2023This has now closed. 

Applications cost £50 (non-refundable) per year.

Applications cost £50 (non-refundable) per year.  

Professional Formation, leading to QTLS costs £475 (non-transferable). There are two options for making the payment: 

  • Pay £475 in full by credit/debit card or by one direct debit payment 
  • Pay £100 as a deposit by credit/debit card and arrange for three further monthly payments of £125 to be made by direct debit 

If your employer has agreed to pay the fees, we can issue an invoice. Please email membership@etfoundation.co.uk 

Read the QTLS Terms and Conditions. 

You have six months to complete your portfolio, starting in mid-January and submitting at the end of June.   

Although you can submit your portfolio up to two weeks before the deadline, we do not recommend this, since you must allow sufficient time to produce the evidence required to a high standard and demonstrate you have developed your pedagogical skills and subject knowledge and skills during the Professional Formation period. 

You need a recognised Level 5 initial teacher training qualification equivalent to the Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS) or Diploma in Education and Training (DET), for example: PGCE, Certificate in Education, Certificate in FE Teaching Stages 1-3. 

View the list of approved teaching qualifications for England, Wales and Ireland. 

You need evidence of a Level 2 qualification in maths and English. 

If you teach Maths or English (numeracy, literacy, ESOL, GCSE or Functional Skills) in either the FE and training sector or in schools, you will also need to hold Maths and/or English qualifications at a minimum of Level 3. 

View the list of approved English and maths qualifications for England, Wales and Ireland. 

You need evidence of Level 3 qualifications in all the subjects that you teach during the professional formation period.  

You need to hold level 3 or higher qualifications for every subject that you teach. If you are teaching subjects above level 2, then you must hold qualifications at least one level higher than the qualification/s you teach for every subject.

If you are teaching in a SEN setting, you must also hold a level 3 or higher SEN qualification relevant to teaching learners in the Further Education and Training sector.

Once you have received your Initial Teacher Education (ITE) certificate, you can register for Professional Formation leading to QTLS. You must have held your ITE certificate for a minimum of 6 months when submitting your professional formation portfolio. As Professional Formation is a post-qualification process, evidence from your ITE programme cannot be used to support your application.

You must have already received your full certificate before you can register for Professional Formation.

You will need to have a minimum of two observations of your teaching; one within the first six week of the Professional Formation process and one towards the end of the process, no more than six weeks before the submission deadline.

These can be formal observations carried out by a manager, or informal peer observations carried out by a more experienced teacher. If you are also teaching in a one-to-one setting, it is possible to use evidence from this practice for Professional Formation; however, both observations must take place with a group of five or more learners.

You don’t have to be working full-time to undertake Professional Formation, but you will need to be teaching learners aged 14+ for a minimum of ten hours per week for the duration of the Professional Formation period to meet the evidence requirements. 

If you are working in a voluntary capacity, we advise that you seek employment before applying to undertake professional formation.

No. QTLS is a badge of professionalism you achieve after completing the Professional Formation process.

If your employer has agreed to pay the fees, we can issue an invoice. When registering, select 'invoice my employer'.

No, you must be an active member of SET to be able to undertake QTLS. You will need to rejoin SET before applying.

It is possible to undertake professional formation while teaching overseas. However, please be aware that professional formation is underpinned by the Professional Standards for Teachers and Trainers in the Further Education and Training sector in England, and therefore the organisation you work for must be fully conversant with these standards. Please note the QTLS is only recognised in England at the moment. If your qualifications were taken overseas, you would need to provide us with a UK ENIC statement of comparability.

QTLS application

Yes, £50. This application fee can either be paid via credit card or via an invoice to your employer. Please note that this fee is non-refundable. Ensure that you allow sufficient time (5 days+) for your employer to pay to avoid missing the application deadline. Once a payment has been received the application portfolio can be accessed via a pink 'PF-APP' button at the top of the SET website when you are logged in to your SET dashboard.

During the application window, you’ll be asked to upload several qualification certificates, your teaching timetable, and a copy of your professional CV and upload narrative that demonstrates your eligibility and suitability to undertake the programme. 

Unsuccessful applicants will be given a short window (5 days) after notification of the outcome in which to resubmit further evidence for the reviewers to consider. If the resubmission attempt is unsuccessful members will need to reapply with a future cohort. 


If you hold an overseas qualification you may be able to apply for QTLS. 

You will need to obtain a statement of comparability from UK ENIC that states your qualification has equivalency to UK qualifications, e.g. an ITE qualification entitles you to teach in the country it was awarded.  

Not necessarily. You will need to obtain a statement from UK ENIC that confirms  your qualifications are equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C in English and Mathematics.

To register for Professional Formation, you would need to have a Level 5 or above initial teacher education qualification from our approved list.


If an employer requires a Teacher Reference Number (TRN) for a QTLS qualified teacher, they need to contact Capita Teachers’ Pensions.

Completing the online Professional Formation portfolio

Undertaking Professional Formation is an online process, using a portfolio. Once you have been issued your portfolio, you then develop and collate your evidence. After you have completed your portfolio, you share it with your supporter so that he or she can add their supporting statement. Finally, you can submit your portfolio to SET for review.

You can find more information about completing your portfolio and the evidence you are expected to provide by visiting the completing your portfolio page, Typical evidence will include observation reports of your teaching practice, with supporting documentation such as a lesson plan and a self-evaluation of the session.

There are nine sections in your online portfolio: About you; Qualifications; Roles & responsibilities; Self-assessment; Professional development plan; CPD record; Critical Reflection; Final action plan; Supporting statement.

What file formats does the portfolio accept?

The portfolio accepts most commonly used file formats, including; text files, spreadsheets, image files, media files, zip folders, scanned documents and hyperlinks.

  • Text files: DOC or DOCX, PDF, RTF, TXT, ODF and Google drive document
  • Spreadsheets: XLS or XLSX, Google Sheets
  • Image files: JPEG, TIFF, PNG, Google Drawing
  • Media files: MP3, WAV, MPEG, MP4, WMV, AVI, Powerpoint slides, Google Slides

If you are having problems using your online portfolio, visit the Knowledge Base in the portfolio, alternatively you can use the help button in the portfolio to email us your query. If you are unable to access your portfolio or find the technical help you need, please contact technical@etfoundation.co.uk.

Yes. Microsoft and Mac operating systems have built-in accessibility tools enabling you to customize your settings. For example, you can use the magnifier tool to increase the size of the screen, use speech recognition software to translate your words into text, a narrator tool to read the text on the screen or an on screen keyboard.

Download our pdf on the QTLS reasonable adjustments policy and our pdf on the QTLS support policy.

Read more about accessibility tools on Mac

Read more about accessibility features on Microsoft

In certain circumstances we allow you to submit your portfolio in an alternative format if you can provide evidence of learning difficulties or disabilities, or if you work in a secure environment like a prison, without access to online facilities.

If you wish to submit your portfolio in a different format you need to request this and have it confirmed prior to registration.

Download the request form to submit your portfolio in an alternative format

When you’ve completed your portfolio with all your evidence, you need to formally share it with your supporter. Your supporter will need to write a statement endorsing your application and verifying the evidence you have provided of you as a professional teacher.

You will not be able to submit your application to SET for review until the supporter’s statement has been completed.

Your supporter should be a work colleague or line manager, who is a fully qualified teacher. Ideally your supporter will be someone with whom you have worked closely and who will have observed your teaching and learning practice for a minimum of six months. They should be appropriately qualified and in a position to provide advice and guidance on your developing  practice.

They should not be a member of your family or a friend or someone currently undertaking Professional Formation themselves.

For more information, please read our Guidance for Supporters.

Submitting your online portfolio

Your portfolio will be reviewed against the criteria of sufficiency, authenticity and relevance.

The Professional Formation review process is conducted by a team of specially trained reviewers and moderators. All reviewers and moderators hold QTLS status and are representative of the breadth of the sector.

Unfortunately, if you miss the deadline, you are not able to defer. In extenuating circumstances, we may be able to offer you a short extension, but you must formally request this extension from SET at least six weeks before the submission deadline.

If you are unable to meet the deadline, you will need to start a new portfolio and this will incur an administration fee of £50.

Your portfolio will be reviewed the month following the official submission date and you should be notified of your result within six weeks.

Results are released in batches, so you may not receive yours at the same time as a colleague, but you can expect to hear by 5pm.

If you gain QTLS status and remain in good standing by completing CPD and adhere to the code of practice, you can:

  • Be added to the Professional Register
  • Use the designatory letter QTLS
  • Use the QTLS logo
  • Print a copy of your QTLS certificate

Once you receive your results you can print an interim certificate from your MySet dashboard. Your formal, hardcopy, will be posted to you at a later date. Please make sure your address is up to date - you can review this in your MySet dashboard. We can also notify your employer of your results upon request.

You can download your digital pin from the MySet dashboard.

Yes, don’t worry, you can still be added. Just email us with your name and membership number.

If you receive a ‘Criteria Not Met’ outcome, you will receive detailed feedback outlining the reasons for this decision. In some instances, you may be asked to start the programme again due to the significant weaknesses identified during the review.  

If you are required to resubmit your portfolio, you will have an opportunity to discuss your feedback in detail with a member of the Professional Formation team to assist you with your resubmission. 

Resubmissions can take up to six weeks to process. While portfolio are rigoriously reviewed, if you disagree with the decision not to award QTLS status, you are entitled to appeal.