My QTLS Journey

QTLS logo (credit: Society for Education & Training)
Image: Society for Education & Training (

Six years ago, after working as a professional engineer for many years, I decided to move into engineering education. Right at the start of my initial teacher training I set my sights on achieving full qualified teacher status (QTLS). This would help demonstrate my commitment to the 'dual professionalism’ sometimes referred to in FE (Further Education) circles. This is about maintaining expertise and meeting professional standards in both teaching and subject specialism.

So what is QTLS? 

It stands for Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills. It is directly equivalent to QTS, which is the status bestowed on fully qualified school teachers in the UK. In fact, QTLS obtained in a post-16 teaching environment permits the teacher to work in secondary schools as well as in the post-compulsory teaching sector. This is one of the advantages of having QTLS status, in that it offers the flexibility to teach in both colleges and schools. Interestingly, since the deregulation of FE back in 2013 it is no longer a requirement for lecturers to have any teaching qualification to teach in post-16 education. However, most colleges still expect new staff to either hold a teaching qualification, or be aiming to complete one within five years of taking on a teaching role.
Before undertaking the QTLS ‘formation’ process, the applicant must already hold a full teaching qualification as well as Level 2 qualifications in English and Maths. Of course, one also needs to be working as a post-16 teacher during the whole process. In my case I had already achieved the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (DET) which is the default qualification required. Equivalent qualifications such as PGCE or CertED are also recognised.
QTLS is provided through the Society for Education and Training (SET), and you have to be a member of SET in order to achieve and maintain QTLS status. The process usually takes 4-6 months, and in my case it was five months between registering for QTLS and submitting all of the evidence. The process requires that you find a mentor to support your application. Not only did my mentor need to produce a supporting statement at the end, but I also had to record evidence of “professional discussions” with my mentor throughout the process. During the process I had to record my evidence in an online workbook using “PebblePad”.
Note that in addition to the work involved, there is quite a financial outlay in going for QTLS. At the time I applied it was £485. Then there is the annual subscription for SET membership and also fees for maintaining the QTLS registration.

The QTLS Formation Process and Workbook

Below is a summary of the process evidenced in the workbook:
  1. “About you” (personal details and existing qualifications)
  2. Role and responsibilities
  3. Self assessment
  4. Professional development plan
  5. CPD (continuous professional development) record
  6. Critical reflection
  7. Final action plan
The workbook is meant to show how the teacher has developed during the formation process against the ETF (Education and Training Foundation) standards. I had a lesson observation near the beginning of the process and another near the end of the process. There are quite tight deadlines that need to be adhered to, so in hindsight I think it would have been worth carefully reading through all of the sections right at the start to help with planning and time management. After checking and sign-off by the mentor, the workbook can be submitted to SET for assessment. Because of college workload and the impact of the half-term college break I ended up doing the final submission of the workbook on the day of the deadline. Unfortunately there was then an IT problem with PebblePad that would not allow me to submit! I got straight on the phone to SET and they were very helpful. It was a known problem and they were able to rectify the fault within half an hour or so and notify me that it was sorted. The workbook was submitted on time. Phew!

It took six weeks before I received the much anticipated email telling me that I had been successful in obtaining QTLS status. I was then able to log back into my workbook and see the feedback summary left by the assessor. I have to say that the feedback seemed mostly generic ‘cut and paste’, but that is a minor gripe.


Apart from some problems setting up the payment at the beginning and the IT problems on deadline day the whole process went smoothly. I found the PebblePad workbook easy to use, although I did need to refer to the guide document occasionally. On the couple of occasions I needed to contact SET with queries it was easy to get through on the phone and speak to helpful people. There is a fair amount of work involved in doing the CPD and completing the workbook, e.g. lots of writing, however, anyone still ‘fresh’ from completing a teaching qualification should be able to manage this.
Is it worth the time and money? I guess this depends on your motivation for doing it. In addition to getting the qualified teacher status I treated this as further motivation for developing my own teaching practice, so for me it was time and money well spent. In terms of the value placed on QTLS by FE employers, I am rather sceptical, especially in areas where it is difficult to recruit staff with subject expertise, e.g. in engineering.

Further information

The Society for Education and Training.

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