QTLS Frequently Asked Questions


A)  Registering and applying for QTLS

B)  Completing the online workbook

C)  Submitting your online workbook

D) Support policy and reasonable adjustments procedures

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-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

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 programme and applied in your current professional practice that is required to be awarded QTLS.

View a list of mandatory evidence you will need to provide..

3. How do I register for professional formation leading to QTLS?

In order to register for and undertake you will need to:

  • Check your eligibility (it is your responsibility to check the qualification(s) you hold meet our eligibility criteria before registering).
  • Be registered as a member of SET.
  • Make full payment or pay an initial deposit and set up a direct debit.

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

You can express your interest in undertaking professional formation at any time. 

There are two cohorts a year: one commencing early October and one in early January. Those who have expressed an interest in undertaking QTLS will be invited to register and make payment one month before the start date. All workbooks will be issued on the cohort start date.

The registration window for professional formation leading to QTLS opened on 1 December 2020 and will close on 7 January 2021. Register now.

5. How much does it cost?

There are two options for making the payment:

  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 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 member.payments@etfoundation.co.uk

Read the QTLS Terms and Conditions.

6. How long does it take?

Members have 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.

7. What qualifications do I need to be able to apply for professional formation leading to 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), for example: PGCE, Certificate in Education, Certificate in FE Teaching Stages 1-3.

You also 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 skills sector or in schools, you will also need to hold maths and/or 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 register for professional formation leading to QTLS?

Once you have received your Initial Teacher Education (ITE) certificate, you can register for professional formation leading to QTLS. As professional formation is a post-qualification process, evidence from your ITE programme cannot be used to support your application.

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+ (in Years 10, 11 or above/adults) for a minimum of two hours per week for the duration of the professional formation period to meet the evidence requirements. If you are working in a voluntary capacity, providing you are in a full teaching role for at least two hours a week for the duration of the professional formation period, you should be able to provide the evidence required. We would expect voluntary teaching to include responsibility for regular teaching practice which involves planning, delivery and assessment with a group/s of learners (i.e. five or more learners).

If you are self-employed the same rules apply. Note that if you are also 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 for the final observation in your portfolio from a group teaching context (five or more learners). 

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

You will need to have a minimum of two observations of your teaching; one at the beginning of the professional formation process, ideally within one month from the date of registration, 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 carried out by a more experienced teacher. Please note, if you are also 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 status who are also members of SET have been recognised in legislation as equivalent in status to teachers with QTS in schools. Holders of QTLS are able to teach across all subjects and all ages on equal pay and conditions, opening up career development and wider employment opportunities. Find out more about the legislation.

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

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

You will need to obtain a letter of authentication from UK ENIC that states that your ITE qualification entitles you to teach in the country it was awarded. You will also need to provide some additional evidence as part of your portfolio in the self-assessment section. When completing the professional standards self-assessment tool, in addition to including reflective comments for each of the 20 professional standards, you will need to provide specific examples of how you meet each of the standards in your current teaching role.

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 statement from UK ENIC that confirms  your qualifications are equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C in English and Mathematics.

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

Yes. After completing professional formation, as a SET member you will need to remain a member of SET in order to maintain the currency of the status and its parity with QTS. 

As a SET member who holds QTLS, your name will be included on our Professional Register as a way of proving your QTLS status to prospective employers and demonstrating your ongoing commitment to professional development. You can also use your QTLS certificate and up-to-date SET membership as evidence of your current QTLS status.

Lapsed SET members do not lose their QTLS status. However, their names will no longer appear on the Professional Register and their QTLS will no longer be considered current or will no longer retain legal parity with QTS.  

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 professional formation leading to QTLS?

To register for professional formation, you would need to have a Level 5 or above initial teacher education qualification from our approved list. For more information about routes into teaching, please contact FE Advice. 

16. I have QTLS and am now working in a school. My school has asked for a Teacher Reference Number (TRN). 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 your QTLS status 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 Capita Teachers’ Pensions.

B)  Completing the online portfolio

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

Undertaking professional formation is an online process, using a portfolio. Once you have been issued your portfolio, you then develop and collate your evidence. once 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 workbook: About you,; Qualifications; Roles & responsibilities; Self-assessment; Professional development plan; CPD record; Critical Reflection; Final action plan; Supporting statement. 

You can also find more resources and tools to help with completing your portfolio in the Knowledge Base. 

Guidance to completing your workbook.

19. What happens if I have problems using my portfolio?

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

20. What happens when I’ve completed my portfolio?

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. Please note that you will not be able to share your portfolio for review until you have made full payment.

21. Who should the supporter be?

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 so that he or she can comment on this element in your application. The supporter should be appropriately qualified and in a position to provide advice and guidance on your developing practice, 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 or someone currently undertaking professional formation themselves. For more information, please download our Guidance for Supporters document.

C)  Submitting your online portfolio

22.  How is my portfolio assessed?

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

Find out more information in our Register for QTLS section.

23.  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.

24. What happens if I miss the deadline?

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 workbook and this will incur an administration fee of £50.

For information relating to deadlines, in response to the current situation with COVID-19, please visit the main QTLS page.

25. When can I expect to receive my results?

Your portfolio 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.

26. What happens if I’m not successful? Can I re-submit my portfolio?

If your application is unsuccessful, you will receive detailed feedback outlining the steps you need to take in order to reapply. If you are not clear about the further evidence you will need to provide, you will have an opportunity to discuss your feedback in detail with a member of the professional formation team to assist you with your reapplication. 

There is no charge for a reapplication. Please note that you are only permitted one resubmission. Reapplications can take up to four 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.

Resubmission dates 

  • QTLS 12 Winter 2019 - 31 October 2020
  • QTLS 1A - 30 June 2020
  • QTLS 2A - 25 February 2021.

D) Support policy and reasonable adjustments procedures

27. How can I apply for additional support? 

Download the QTLS and ATS supports policy.

28. How can I apply for reasonable adjustments?

Download the QTLS and ATS reasonable adjustments policy.

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