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


1. What is meant by QTLS?

QTLS 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. 

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

Visit the What is QTLS page.

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. 

Visit the Professional formation page.

3. How do I register for QTLS?

In order to register for, gain and retain QTLS, you first need to be registered as a member of the Society for Education and Training (SET). You then need to register your interest during one of the three available periods each year and make an initial payment of £110 (non-refundable). Once you have made this payment, you will have access to your professional formation online workbook. In registering for QTLS, you are agreeing to follow our terms and conditions for those undertaking professional formation leading to QTLS. 

Register for QTLS.

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

To register for QTLS from 1 February you can now register your interest (without making payment) for QTLS at any time in order to start your workbook in early October:

  • There will be two cohorts a year, one commencing 1 October 2019 and one commencing in early January 2020. This means that all QTLS registrants will be invited to make payment a month before the start date and all online workbooks will be made available on the cohort start date.
  • Payment by direct debit instalments will still be available and the full price of £485 will remain unchanged.

Find out more about the changes to registration windows in 2019.

5. Why are there specified timescales for QTLS registration

SET recognises the need to allow all members the opportunity to gain QTLS in their chosen timeframe.  To help us achieve this, we ask that all members who wish to begin the professional formation process let us know in advance when they require QTLS.  This enables us to prepare the right number of reviewers, moderators and other resources to offer those members the best possible support. 

6. How much does it cost?

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.

There are two packages available for members to complete the recognition route:

1. Recognition route only: Undertake the recognition route process separately to professional formation leading to QTLS.
2. Recognition route combined with QTLS

Professional formation leading to QTLS

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.

Recognition Route combined with QTLS

There are two options for making payment:

1. Pay £834 in full by credit/debit card or by one direct debit payment, or
2. Pay £100 as a deposit by credit/debit card and three further monthly payments of £245, £245 and £244 will be made by direct debit from your bank account.

Read the QTLS Terms and Conditions.

7. How long does it take?

The time you take to complete professional formation and achieve QTLS status will be determined by your circumstances, for example length of experience, whether you are in a full-time or part-time role.  SET has therefore taken a flexible approach to professional formation. Although there is no recommended timescale for undertaking professional formation, members must allow at least four to six months to prepare and submit their application, since the process has been designed to enable practitioners to reflect on their practice and demonstrate how they have developed their knowledge and skills during the process of professional formation.

8. 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.

9. What counts as a Level 2 maths and English?

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

10. What happens if I don’t have one of these maths qualifications? Is there another way I can evidence these?

If you don’t have one of the qualifications in the list, we suggest that you take a nationally recognised test and provide the certificate from that or the official test results. 

11. 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.  If you complete your ITE programme in June, we usually recommend that you register your intention to undertake professional formation in September, submitting your online workbook either at the end of February or at the end of June, so that you have sufficient time to gather evidence of teaching and learning and have had an opportunity to put into practice what you have learned as part of your ITE programme.

12. Do I have to be in a full-time job to do QTLS?

No, but ideally you will need to be teaching learners for a minimum of two hours a week for the duration of QTLS in order to be able to meet the evidence requirements and to be able to demonstrate improvements in your practice.

13. I’m not working at the moment, so would I be able to meet the requirements of QTLS?

You might be able to meet the requirements by taking on some voluntary teaching of learners aged 14+, i.e. Yr10 and above/adults.

14. How many hours a week do I need to be teaching?

Ideally you will be teaching learners for a minimum of two hours a week for the duration of QTLS.

15. I don’t teach every week, but often have to deliver courses over a period of a month or six weeks. Would I be eligible to undertake QTLS?

Yes, provided that you will be able to demonstrate in your application the impact of any CPD on your practice that you have undertaken during the process.

16. I am self-employed. Can I undertake QTLS?

Yes, provided that you are teaching learners aged 14+ for a minimum of two hours per week for the duration of professional formation.

17. I am in in a teaching assistant role at the moment. Can I apply for QTLS?

Yes, providing you have a minimum of two hours per week teaching practice with learners aged 14+ where you are managing learning, developing schemes of work, delivering sessions and assessing learners.

18. Although I trained as a teacher in FE, I now work in a school. Can I still do QTLS?

Yes, provided that you are teaching learners aged 14+. This is because QTLS is a further education and skills status, primarily aimed at teachers working in the FE and Skills sector. Note that if you are working in a school and have achieved QTLS, you would be exempt from serving statutory induction and are not required to complete a statutory induction period in schools (Newly Qualified Teacher year). This is because QTLS holders have already completed a period of teaching and professional formation, verified by the SET, which bridges the gap between initial teacher training and employment as a practicing teacher.

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

You will need to have had two observations of your teaching; one at the beginning of the process and one towards the end. These can be formal observations carried out by a manager, or informal peer observations.  Please note, if you are teaching in a 1-1 setting, it is possible to use evidence from this practice for professional formation, however you must be able to produce evidence an observation from a group teaching context, for example, five or more learners for the final observation.

20. What is the relationship between QTLS and QTS and can I teach in primary and secondary 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. 

Find out more about QTLS and QTS.

Implications for QTLS in relation to the Government White Paper ‘Educational excellence everywhere’

On 17 March 2016 the Government released the white paper Educational Excellence Everywhere where the Education Secretary set out proposals to transform England’s schools. Included in this proposal is the Government's plan to replace qualified teacher status (QTS) with a new, tougher accreditation in a bid to ‘raise the bar’. Understandably, there have been questions about the impact of this on QTLS.

Read the latest government policy updates.

21. What has happened to ATLS? Can I still apply for ATLS?

Although currently not on offer during this current transition phase, we will be reviewing the case for making this opportunity available for members in due course.

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

If you hold an initial teacher training qualification that is recognised in the country where you are teaching, then you would be eligible to apply for QTLS following the overseas route to QTLS. If your initial teacher training qualification was gained overseas, you would normally need to provide some additional evidence as part of your workbook, which would involve mapping your teaching experience to the 2014 Professional Standards.

Find out more on SET's recognising overseas qualifications page.

23. 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 ).

24. 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 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.

Read more about the parity between QTS and QTLS.

25. 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.

26. What does the Recognition Route involve?

This Recognition Route requires you to demonstrate that your skills and experience are equivalent to an initial teacher training qualification. You will need to show your knowledge and understanding of the professional standards and to demonstrate how you are addressing each of the 2014 professional standards within your own teaching practice and experience. This is because all ITE qualifications for further education teachers make reference to the professional standards. You would then need to complete professional formation in order to achieve full QTLS status.

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.

27. How much does the Recognition Route cost?

You would need to pay an initial instalment of £100 (non-refundable) and then £349 on completion of your workbook, making a total of £449.

28. Can I complete the Recognition Route and Professional Formation leading to QTLS in the same cycle?

Yes, you can. If you choose to submit two workbooks, you only need to pay one instalment of £100 (non-refundable), so the total for both would be £834 rather than £934, meaning a saving of £100. We would suggest that you begin with collecting evidence for the Recognition Route first, as being eligible to gain QTLS would depend on your successful achievement of this and it is possible that you would be able to make links to the evidence you have collected for Recognition for use in your professional formation application, thus avoiding duplication.

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.

29. 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.

30. 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).

31. What support is there for initial teacher educators to help trainees understand the requirements of new QTLS?

We have a page for Initial Teacher Educators on our website that includes a PowerPoint presentation that initial teacher educators can adapt to use with trainee teachers to raise awareness of the requirements of QTLS. We also have a flyer on the website and can also send you copies of flyers and other print material if you a running a large event. Contact membership.communications@etfoundation.co.uk for more information.

B)  Completing the online workbook

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

Undertaking professional formation leading to QTLS is an online process which is done through the SET website in a specially designed workbook in My QTLS, an online personal learning space for QTLS applicants.  Once you have been issued your workbook, you then collect and collate your evidence and then when it has been completed, you share it with your supporter and SET to be reviewed.

Get more advice and information about completing your workbook.

33. Do I have to complete my application online? Is there another format I can use?

In some cases, we are able to approve submission of evidence through an alternative format to online, but that is only usually approved in cases where members are able to provide evidence of learning difficulties or disabilities or if they work in secure environments such as a prison, without access to online facilities.

Download the Applying for professional formation form to express intent to apply for QTLS using an alternative format.

34. How much do I have to write?

Where you need add narrative in your workbooks, you will be given recommended word lengths in your workbook. These range from 200 words to 1,500 words in the Critical Reflection section.

35. Are there any completed examples that I can see to help me?

No, there aren’t any full exemplars. This is because SET consider that every application will be unique to the teacher or trainer who is completing the workbook.  It may be useful to seek guidance from colleagues (or your supporter) who may have completed QTLS, who may be able to provide support.  However, there are two case studies which provide examples of what a completed professional development plan and CPD record may look like.

36. What sort of evidence do I need to provide?

Find detailed guidance on SET's Completing your workbook page to clarify the kind of evidence you would be expected to provide. Additionally, the Guidance for Applicants Registering for Professional Formation will help you start preparing the evidence that you would be required to include in your workbook. Typical evidence will include observation reports of your teaching, with supporting documentation, such as a scheme of work, lesson plan with an evaluation and any resources used during the session.

37. 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.

38. 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.

39. 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


40. 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. A supporter should be a qualified 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. 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

41.  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.

42.  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.

43. 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. You will need to let us know if you wish to defer your application to the next cycle. Please be aware that if you defer your application more than once, 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.

44. When can expect to hear whether I have passed or not?

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.

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

If your workbook does not meet the criteria, you will be given detailed feedback from your reviewer. You will have one opportunity to re-submit your workbook, once you have added the additional evidence required.

46. Is there a cost for re-submitting my workbook?

Currently there is no cost for re-submitting your workbook with additional evidence after receiving feedback from your reviewer.

47. What happens if I am not awarded QTLS? What happens if I disagree with this decision?

We provide guidance to candidates on how to add additional evidence to their workbook if this has not met the relevant criteria in the first place. If you are not able to re-submit your workbook with this additional evidence, or your application more fundamentally fails to meet the criteria, we unfortunately will not be able to award QTLS status.

If you disagree with our final decision not to award you QTLS status (or Recognition Route), please refer to our terms and conditions for information on how the appeals process works.

This will be initially considered by our Registrar, Head of QTLS and Director of Membership. If necessary, we will convene an appeals panel involving at least two experienced members of the Society for Education and Training in order to scrutinise the processes we have followed and decisions made, to make sure these have been fair and transparent.

Further questions?

Please contact our Membership Enquiries team membership.enquiries@etfoundation.co.uk or call them if you have any further questions on 0800 093 9111.

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