If you are not in (or planning to be in) the teaching sector, it is quite unlikely for you to have heard of a QTS. This is because a lot of people don’t need a QTS, so it’s not well-known. Despite this, a QTS is important in the UK due to what it does. What exactly is a QTS, then?
To put it briefly, a QTS is a ‘Qualified Teacher Status’. A QTS is needed to teach in maintained (funded by local authorities) secondary, primary and special schools. It can also be used as quality control in other types of schools. You can get a QTS through undergraduate or postgraduate initial teacher training. It mostly involves placements in schools, as well as some theoretical learning.
While this may have given you a brief, surface-level answer as to what a QTS is, the rest of this article may help develop your understanding.
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What is a QTS qualification?
A QTS qualification is a Qualified Teacher Status that is required to teach in local authority-funded primary, secondary and special schools. It is a professional teaching qualification that is essential for jobs in state schools and can make applying for work in private schools a lot quicker and easier.
You can apply for a secondary or primary school QTS. Find out more about who you can teach with a QTS here on the Get Into Teaching UK Government website.
It isn’t required to teach at private schools and academy schools. However, many of these schools will use the QTS as a way to differentiate candidates of different levels. It is therefore beneficial for teachers to gain a QTS either way.
You do not need a QTS to teach in further education or work in early years education. Plus, if you qualified to be a teacher in other countries, you could teach for up to approximately 4 years in England without needing a QTS.
To read more about what QTS is, check out the Get into Teaching UK Government website here.
Undergraduates or postgraduates can get their QTS through their teacher training provider. In England, when your teacher training is complete, the initial teacher training provider communicates your results to the UK Government. If it’s successful, you are awarded the QTS, and your teacher record is updated.
In Wales, your QTS is awarded by the Education Workforce Council (EWC). However, your certificate is still recognised in England and the information is still on your teacher record.
In Northern Ireland and Scotland, you must apply for QTS if you want to teach in a maintained school or non-maintained special school in England.
To find out more about applying for QTS, check out the UK Government website here.
What is QTS equivalent to in terms of level?
In short, there is no set equivalent for QTS in terms of level, since there are a lot of ways to achieve QTS.
In order to even be eligible to apply for a QTS, you need an undergraduate degree, and grades of C or above in GCSE English and GCSE Maths (C and above is also required in GCSE Science if you are planning on teaching primary students). This makes the level equivalent of a QTS a level 6 approximately. To learn more about the requirements you need to meet before getting a QTS, check out the Get into Teaching UK Government website here.
Another way to gain QTS is through a PGCE, which is a Postgraduate Certificate of Education, which is a level 7 qualification. The PGCE is a year long course which can be done either part or full-time. You can attend the theory and also gain 24 weeks of practical approach in schools. To learn more about a PGCE, check out this guide by UCAS.
Essentially, while QTS doesn’t really have an equivalent level, it can be thought of as an advanced qualification which is around level 6 or 7, since it really depends how you earn it.
How long does a QTS take
In short, the length of time needed to gain QTS really depends on the way in which you do it.
For example, if you choose to do a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education) and a QTS is offered alongside it, it would take approximately a year or two (depending on if you choose to study full-time or part-time).
On the other hand, you might choose to do an assessment-only based QTS. If you have a degree and substantial experience of working in early years education, schools or further education, you can gain QTS without an initial training programme through the assessment only route.
Many different training providers in England, such as universities, colleges, school centred initial teacher training (SCITT) offer 12 week programmes for Assessment Only QTS, where you’re assessed on practical work and theory.
To find out more about doing an assessment only route for QTS, check out this article from UCAS on the subject.
You can also opt for teaching first, where it lasts two years. By the first year, you will gain a PGCE, and by the second your QTS. You can check out this training programme from Teach First if you’re interested in learning more!
To read about the multiple different ways to gain QTS, check out this article from UK Indeed.
How long does a QTS last for?
A QTS doesn’t expire! It will always be valid. A lot of people after gaining QTS do their NQT (newly qualified teacher) training right away, which is a year of training.
An NQT training year doesn’t have to be made of consecutive months; it can be spread out over a long period of time! After your training year, you can put off teaching for as long as you like. It doesn’t matter if you want to teach again after decades, it’s still valid and a question of finding a headteacher to hire you.
Although, if you are returning to teach after a significant period of time, it’s good to brush up on the curriculum.
However, you are only allowed to do casual short-term supply work for five years after being awarded QTS; after that you must do your NQT year before you continue (casual short-term supply does not count towards your year).
To read more about this, check out this article from Tes on how long QTS lasts.
How much does a QTS cost?
The cost of a QTS really does depend on how you do it. For example, assessment only QTS costs from £1,500 to £4000 (these can be higher if done overseas). To read more about this, check out this article from the UK Government website.
For a QTS with training providers, the cost will be steeper. For example, United Teaching offers a QTS qualification for £6,000, and with a PGCE the cost is approximately £9,000. This price varies from provider to provider, but that’s the average price generally.
To read more about United Teaching’s PGCE and QTS programmes, check out their website here.
What is the difference between QTS and PGCE?
A QTS is necessary to work in a majority of schools in England, whereas a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education) isn’t. Additionally, a PGCE is an internationally qualification needed to work in a lot of schools abroad, whereas a QTS is not.
Essentially, a PGCE is a qualification allowing students to pursue a career in teaching. It can be converted to credits for a master’s degree (60 credits). A PGCE also has a set level (level 7) whereas a QTS doesn’t have a set qualification level, as previously mentioned.
To read more about what a PGCE is, check out this article from Think Student.
Both PGCEs and QTS are really beneficial to have, since a QTS is necessary to work in teaching here, and a PGCE distinguishes candidates as it shows a deeper study and understanding of teaching. A PGCE is also good for teaching abroad as it is internationally recognised.