What is QTS, and Why Does it Matter?

Nov 8, 2021

Every year, an estimated 15,000 teachers from the United Kingdom decide to venture abroad and teach at international schools. Who can blame them? The richly varied world of international schools offers attractive salaries, multicultural communities, career growth opportunities, and plenty of adventure. 

Whether you’re already a member of this group or interested in joining, certain teaching certifications are worth adding to your resume now to boost your earning potential and open doors for you down the road. For UK citizens, Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is one of the best ways to make sure you’re qualified and prepared to succeed at most international and British schools abroad. Here’s a quick overview of this certification, when it is required, and the many ways it could be valuable to your teaching career. 


What is Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)?

Qualified teacher status (QTS) is a professional certification required to teach in most schools in England and Wales. It’s awarded by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA), an executive unit of England’s Department for Education. Applicants must prove that they have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, at least two years of teaching experience, and mastery of the subjects they plan to teach. This is typically achieved by earning a grade 4/C for GCSE exams (or an equivalent) in English and mathematics and science for primary school teachers. Visit the UK ENIC website to check if your qualifications are recognized as equivalent. 

There are several ways to apply for and obtain a QTS. In most cases, you will need to pass a two-year induction period as a Newly Qualified Teacher before becoming formally certified. 

A QTS is often earned in conjunction with or as part of a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), which entails a one- or two-year course. However, QTS can be awarded on its own.


When would I need a QTS?

State-funded and special needs schools in England and Wales require all teachers to have a QTS. This includes nearly all primary and secondary schools. 

It’s also common for many international and British schools overseas to require or favor this certification. These include numerous schools in the UAE, China, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere around the globe. Keep in mind that each country’s department of education or other government-run agency sets its own educational standards for international teachers. So, while you may be qualified to teach in one country (e.g., your home country), QTS may not be recognized in others. It is best to do your research well in advance to find out what the international schools you’re interested in teaching at require.


What is the value of having a QTS?

If you’re already teaching abroad, or even just considering it, it’s important to know that QTS comes with some significant benefits. Teachers with QTS and other similar teaching certifications are paid significantly more than unqualified teachers. In addition to being qualified to teach at more schools, you’ll also be given more opportunities for leadership and career advancement within many international school systems. Plus, you’ll automatically be eligible to teach in England and Wales if you decide to return home. 

This is because QTS helps ensure a high standard for teaching and student outcomes. Meeting this benchmark maintains a consistent set of competencies and priorities for teachers, in the UK and beyond, which should give you the confidence and necessary skills to exceed in your teaching career.


How do I get QTS certified?

Obtaining your QTS can be a relatively smooth and easy process, particularly if you’re already licensed and have experience teaching. Professionally certified teachers from Australia, Canada, the European Economic Area (EEA), Gibraltar, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States can directly apply for QTS through TRA without additional training or assessments. 

There are two other ways for international teachers to get QTS certified. These include completing a teacher training program or completing an assessment to prove that you already meet QTS standards. 

Inexperienced teachers should apply for either a school- or university-led initial teacher training program in England or Wales to earn QTS. These typically take one year to complete and make you eligible for a student and/or skilled worker visa. 

Alternatively, experienced teachers who meet application requirements can avoid completing a training program by passing a QTS assessment. This can be done through a UK-approved university, college, School Direct, and other teacher training providers. Luckily, you do not need to go to England to complete this assessment. 

In fact, teacher placement companies like Teaching Nomad offer a fully remote assessment-only program so you can conveniently earn QTS while teaching abroad.

Our assessment-only QTS program will help you demonstrate that you meet all QTS standards without having a PGCE. Through this course, you’ll work closely with your supervisor for one academic school year to adequately prepare for the QTS assessment. This online program is designed to align with your current teaching job — and requires no additional examinations or assignments. 

Interested in getting started? Learn more about our AOQTS program and start your application today!


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