Professional formation

Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) is the badge of professionalism for post-14 education and training, 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.

Professional formation is the term used for the post-qualification process that practitioners undergo to achieve QTLS status. It requires you to demonstrate that the skills and knowledge gained in your initial teacher training qualification are being effectively applied in your current professional practice. It also enables you to demonstrate the professional standards required of an FE teacher.

Download a flowchart summarising the professional formation process.

Applicants should note that QTLS status is an English professional status and, as such, is only formally recognised in England and may not be recognised by employers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Keeping your QTLS status current 

After completing professional formation, as a SET member you can keep your QTLS status current by remaining in good professional standing, completing effective CPD, and adhering to our Code of Practice.

As a SET member who holds QTLS status, your name will be included on our Professional Register as a way of proving to prospective employers your qualified status and ongoing commitment to professional development. Alternatively you can use your QTLS certificate and up-to-date SET membership as evidence of your current QTLS status. SET members holding QTLS status are also eligible to teach in schools on the same terms and conditions as those holding QTS.

Read more about the parity between QTS and QTLS.

Length of time it will take to achieve QTLS

Members are given six months to complete their portfolio, starting on either 1 October and finishing on 31 March, or starting early January and finishing on 30 June. Although members can submit their portfolio up to four weeks before the deadline, we do not recommend this, since applicants must allow sufficient time to produce the evidence required to a high standard and demonstrate they have developed their pedagogical skills and subject knowledge and skills during the professional formation period. 

Please note that observations must be a minimum of three months apart. We expect the final observation to be completed no more than four weeks before submission. Visit the main QTLS homepage to view the latest timelines. 

Elements of the professional formation process

There are nine sections to complete in your portfolio when completing professional formation. In each section you will be required to upload supporting evidence, such as notes from meetings, observation reports of your teaching, assessment plans, and so on, as well as narrative. You will be given maximum word counts throughout for guidance.

Introduction: About you

In this introductory section, provide information about yourself, your qualifications and background that have led you applying for QTLS status. You also need to tell us who you have nominated to be your supporter (or mentor), who will support you through the professional formation process.

You will be asked to provide scanned copies of the following:

  • Initial teacher education qualification.
  • Subject specialist qualification, or CV that outlines your work experience in relation to your subject specialism.
  • Level 2 maths and English qualifications/
  • Maths and English qualifications at Level 3 or above if you teach maths, English or ESOL.

Section 1: Role and Responsibilities

Describe your career to date and say why you decided to become a teacher or trainer. Tell us about your current role, the age range of your learners and about the subject(s) you teach. Tell us why you are undertaking professional formation. Include a copy of your current teaching timetable.

Section 2: Self Assessment

In order to benchmark your starting point for professional formation, you will need to carry out an online self assessment against the Professional Standards and upload the results. This self-assessment (found in your My SET dashboard) will help you identify your areas for development that you will undertake during professional formation and it should be carried out within one month of being issued with your portfolio. You will also need to arrange for your first observation within the first month of professional formation.

Section 3: Professional Development Plan

The results of the self assessment will inform your Professional Development Plan. This will include activities that will support you in developing your teaching and learning skills and subject specialist skills. You may want to share and discuss your plan with your supporter at this stage.

Section 4: Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Record

In this section, you will complete a CPD record detailing the CPD that you are undertaking during the professional formation process. You will need to reflect on the intended impact of your development activity on your practice and on your learners.

Section 5: Critical Reflection on impact

This section requires you to provide an informed reflective account of the professional development activity undertaken as part of the professional formation process and evaluate the effect it has had on your practice, the outcomes of your learners and your organisation. It enables you to reflect on the actions you have taken and review your progress. You will need to arrange for your final observation to take place, ensuring that there is three months between your first and final observation.

Section 6: Final Action Plan

Complete a final action plan that will provide details of professional development that you plan to undertake to ensure that you are continuing to develop your practice after you have completed professional formation, using the support of SET membership.

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