QTLS Frequently Asked Questions


A)  Registering and applying for QTLS

B)  Completing the online workbook

C)  Submitting your online workbook



A)  Registering and applying for QTLS 

View the routes to QTLS flowchart.

1. What is meant by QTLS?

QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills) status is the badge of professionalism for post-16 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 by successfully completing professional formation. 

2. What is meant by professional formation?

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 qualification and applied in your current professional practice that is required to achieve QTLS.

View a list of mandatory evidence we require.

3. How do I register for QTLS?

In order to register for, and gain and retain QTLS, you will need to:

  • Be registered as a member of SET (you need to keep your membership current to keep your QTLS active).
  • Check your eligibility (it is your responsibility to check the qualification(s) you hold meet our eligibility criteria before registering).
  • Fill out a Declaration of Suitability form.
  • Make a payment or set up a direct debit.

4. When is the next opportunity to register for QTLS?

You can register your interest in the next cohort of QTLS at any time. 

There are two cohorts a year, one commencing early October and one in early January.  All QTLS registrants will be invited to make payment one month before the start date, and all workbooks will be issued on the cohort start date.

5. How much does it cost?

There are two options for making the payment of £485:

1. Pay £485 in full by credit/debit card or by one direct debit payment, or
2. Pay £110 as a deposit by credit/debit card and three further monthly payments of £125 will be made by direct debit from your bank account.

Read the QTLS Terms and Conditions.

6. How long does it take?

Members are given six months to complete their workbook, starting on either 1 October and finishing on 31 March, or starting early January and finishing 30 June. Although members can submit their workbook before the deadline, they must allow time to prepare and submit their work, since the process has been designed to enable practitioners to reflect on their practice and demonstrate they have developed their knowledge and skills during the professional formation.

Please note that observations must be three months apart as a minimum. See a suggested timeline.

7. What qualifications do I need to be able to apply for QTLS?

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); eg PGCE, Certificate in Education, Certificate in FE Teaching Stages 1-3.

You also need evidence of Level 2 in maths and English.

If you teach maths or English (numeracy, GCSE or Functional Skills) in either the FE and skills sector, or in schools, you will also need to hold maths and English qualifications at a minimum of level 3, such as ‘A’ Level Maths or English or Level 3 Award in Mathematics for Numeracy teaching or Level 3 Award in English for Literacy and Language teaching.

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

8. I am currently completing my Initial Teacher Education programme. How soon can I apply for QTLS?

Once you have received your Initial Teacher Education (ITE) certificate, you can apply for QTLS.  You must be teaching during the professional formation process, as evidence from your ITE programme cannot be used.

9. I have a different working situation – what then?

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 two hours per week to meet the evidence requirements. This can also be voluntary. 

If you are self-employed or working as a teaching assistance the same rules apply.  Note that you will need to evidence teaching in a group setting as part of your workbook (not just one-to-one teaching).

10. How many observations of my teaching will I need?

You will need to have a minimum of two observations of your teaching; one at the beginning of the process and one towards the end, and these must be minimum of three months apart. These can be formal observations carried out by a manager, or informal peer observations. Please note, if you are teaching in a one-to-one setting, it is possible to use evidence from this practice for professional formation; however, you must be able to produce evidence of an observation from a group teaching context, for example, five or more learners for the final observation.

11. What is the relationship between QTLS and QTS and can I teach in schools if I have QTLS?

Since April 2012, teachers and trainers holding QTLS who are also members of SET have been recognised in legislation as equivalent in status to teachers with QTS in schools. They are able to teach across all subjects and all ages on equal pay and conditions, opening up career development and wider employment opportunities. 

12. I have an overseas teaching qualification. Am I still eligible to apply?

If you hole an initial teacher training qualification that allows you to teach in the country it was awarded, then you would be eligible to apply for QTLS following the Overseas Route to QTLS.  You will need to provide additional evidence as part of your workbook, which would involve mapping your teaching experience to the 2014 Professional Standards.

You will also need to obtain a letter of authentication from UK NRIS that states that your ITT allows you to teach in the country it was awarded.  www,naric.org.uk

13. If I have Level 2 maths and English qualifications from a country outside the UK, are these acceptable as evidence?

Not necessarily. You will need to obtain a letter of authentication that your qualifications are equivalent to GCSE Grades 4-9 in English and Mathematics from UK NARIC (the National Recognition Information Centre at www.naric.org.uk ).

14. Do I have to remain a member to keep my QTLS status current?

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

As a SET member who holds QTLS, 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 card as evidence of your current QTLS status. SET members holding active QTLS status are also eligible to teach in schools on the same terms and conditions as those holding QTS.

Former SET members can still retain their QTLS certificate; however, their details will no longer appear on the Professional Register and their QTLS will no longer be considered current.  They will also no longer be legally able to teach in schools, as per Department for Education guidance.

Read more about the parity between QTS and QTLS.

15. What if I don’t have an initial teacher training qualification. Can I still apply for QTLS?

If you don’t have an initial teaching qualification, but you have at least five years’ teaching experience and your employment commenced before 2007 in the further education (FE) and post 14 skills sector in the UK, we recommend you use the Recognition Route.  If your employment commenced after 2007, when teaching qualifications were required for all new teachers, you cannot use this route.

Please note that we will no longer be offering the Recognition Route to QTLS from December 2019, so the final opportunity to register for this route will be for those applicants who start their Recognition Route portfolios in September 2019.

Find out more about the Recognition Route.

16. I have QTLS and am now working in a school. My school has asked for a Teaching Agency Reference Number. How do I go about getting this?

You will need to ask a representative from the school where you are teaching to contact Capita Teachers' Pensions to request that a teacher reference number is allocated to you. Your employer should know how to do this via the Capita employer portal. Capita will then contact SET to confirm the date when QTLS was awarded to you, so that a reference number can be allocated.  Please note that SET plays no role in providing Teacher Reference Numbers.

17. How do I get my QTS number?

If an employer requires a Teacher Reference Number (TRN) for a QTLS qualified teacher, they need to contact Teachers’ Pensions. Please note that the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) only allocates teacher reference numbers to people who commence initial teacher training or applicants who are awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

B)  Completing the online workbook

18. What do I have to do to complete my application when undertaking professional formation?

Undertaking professional formation is an online process, using a specially designed workbook in My QTLS.  Once you have been issued your workbook, you collect and collate your evidence, and then when it has been completed you share it with your support and with SET.

You can see more information about completing your online workbook, to clarify the kind of evidence you would be expected to provide.  Typical evidence ill include observation reports of your teaching, with supporting documentation such as a lesson plan, with an evaluation and any resources used during the session.

There are seven sections to include in your online workbook when completing professional formation.  Section 1: ‘About you’ where you upload copies of your qualifications, where you describe your route into teaching or training and the context in which you teach; Section 2: ‘Your career to date and current role’; Section 3: ‘Self- Assessment’; Section 4: Professional development plan; Section 5: CPD Record; Section 6: Critical Reflection and Section 7: Final Action Plan. There is an eighth section with contains information on sharing your workbook. You can also find more resources and tools to help with completing your workbook.

19. How is the online workbook structured?

There are seven sections to include in your online workbook when completing professional formation.  Section 1: ‘About you’ where you upload copies of your qualifications, where you describe your route into teaching or training and the context in which you teach; Section 2: ‘Your career to date and current role’; Section 3: ‘Self- Assessment’; Section 4: Professional development plan; Section 5: CPD Record; Section 6: Critical Reflection and Section 7: Final Action Plan. There is an eighth section with contains information on sharing your workbook.

Guidance to completing your workbook.

20. What happens if I have problems using My QTLS?

If you are having problems using your online workbook, contact Membership Enquiries for help. Get more help and technical guidance by downloading the My QTLS guidance for applicants document.

21. What happens when I’ve completed my workbook?

When you’ve completed your online workbook with all your evidence collated in My QTLS, you need to 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 share your application with the SET until the supporter’s statement has been completed, so you should ensure that you nominate a supporter early in your application. Once you have shared it with SET your application will be reviewed. Download our Guidance for Supporters document

22. Who should the supporter be?

Your supporter should be a work colleague or line manager, who holds a teaching qualification. Ideally your supporter will be someone with whom you have worked closely and who will have observed your teaching and learning practice in order to comment on this element in your application. The supporter should be appropriately qualified to pass judgements on the evidence collated by the applicant, for example an experienced or senior colleague, a line manager or head of department.  They should not be a member of your family or a friend. For more information, please download our Guidance for Supporters document.

C)  Submitting your online workbook

23.  How is my workbook assessed?

Rather than being assessed against a set of assessment objectives, your workbook will be reviewed against the criteria of sufficiency, authenticity and relevance.

Find out more information in our Register for QTLS section.

24.  Who will review my workbook?

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.

25. What happens if I miss the deadline?

If you miss the deadline, we can transfer your application and your initial payment to the next cycle. Please be aware that if you are unable to meet the new deadline, you will need to start a new workbook and incur an administration fee of £50.

Please visit the Guidance on completing your application for more information about how to defer using the My SET dashboard.

26. When can expect to receive my results?

Your workbook will be reviewed the month following the official submission date. You should be notified of your result within eight weeks of the official submission date.

27. What happens if I’m not successful? Can I re-submit my workbook?

If your application is unsuccessful, you will receive detailed feedback outlining the steps you need to take in order to reapply.  You will also have an opportunity to discuss your feedback in detail with one of our QTLS moderators to ensure a successful reapplication. 

Reapplications are free of charge, can be made only once and can take up to 4 weeks to process. If you disagree with the decision not to award QTLS status, you are entitled to appeal.  More information about the appeal process can be found in the QTLS Terms and Conditions.

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