Institute for Learning
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IfL welcomes assessment-only route to QTS for FE teachers

The Institute for Learning (IfL) has welcomed the introduction of an assessment-only route to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), the accreditation for qualified teachers in state-maintained and special schools. This will offer further education teachers who have a degree and Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status a fast and flexible route to QTS accreditation, so that they can work as qualified teachers in schools.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) recently published a report on the outcome of its consultation regarding the assessment-only route to QTS. IfL had responded to the consultation in autumn 2009, and the TDA's report specifically mentions IfL's recommendation that those carrying out assessments for further education teachers should be sufficiently knowledgeable about the vocational or subject area and the further education context to make judgements.

IfL had also suggested that the degree requirement should be extended to include recognition of vocational qualifications and relevant experience, for example, for those in the FE sector who had been successfully teaching for many years without having gained an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. In its consultation report, however, the TDA reiterated that teaching was a graduate profession.

Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of IfL, said, "Mutual recognition of QTLS for gaining QTS is a top priority for IfL members, and the assessment-only route to QTS is an important step towards achieving that. IfL sees this as a landmark decision and we are working closely with the TDA at every stage to help ensure that arrangements work for FE teachers.

"Last year, as well as sharing our views with the TDA, IfL also responded to DCSF’s consultation on the enabling legislation for the assessment-only route to QTS; had discussions with senior government officials; and in June gave evidence to the select committee on initial teacher training, focusing on the need for recognition of QTLS for QTS and teaching in schools. Mutual recognition of QTLS and QTS was central to the evidence we gave to the Skills Commission, chaired by Sir Mike Tomlinson, in October. IfL has worked hard on this issue, as a key development for our members, and it is heartening to see some progress.

"IfL will be working with the TDA and UCET to help ensure that the initial teacher training providers carrying out the assessments have suitable expertise and understanding of further education. We are starting to work with several universities to explore ways for FE teachers with DTLLS and QTLS to gain advanced standing towards a degree, to speed their journey towards becoming eligible for the assessment-only route to QTS. This could include elements at master's level for those that wish.

"These developments will take time, but we are optimistic that a good way forward can be found. We will give regular updates in our newsletters for members on progress with one of IfL’s three top strategic priorities – to help raise the status of teachers and trainers. The door to QTS is opening for FE teachers who have a degree and QTLS status. There is further to go for FE teachers who do not hold a degree, but we offer two cheers for the progress made so far.

"Allowing FE teachers to gain QTS and teach in schools will give young people, wherever they learn, the chance to benefit from learning with expert vocational teachers. It will also give FE and schoolteachers greater opportunities to work together and teach flexibly across school and FE settings to meet the needs of young people. FE teachers already teach 14 to 16-year-olds successfully in FE. At Bedford College, for example, which I visited this week, Ofsted rated the teachers' work with 14 to 16-year-olds outstanding."


The TDA report on the outcome of its consultation was published in January 2010 and is available to download at

  • Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) is the professional status for teachers and trainers in the further education (FE) sector, achieved by successfully going through Professional Formation, which enables them to teach as a qualified teacher in the FE sector.
  • Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is the accreditation that enables teachers in state-maintained and special schools in England and Wales to teach as a qualified teacher.
  • The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) is the national agency and recognised sector body responsible for the training and development of the school workforce.
  • The Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) is the representative body for universities involved in teacher education and education research.
  • The Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS) is the highest qualification within the suite of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) courses for teachers and trainers in the FE sector.

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