Teach in the UK – QTS and iQTS for Overseas Teachers

There’s good news this year for both overseas trained teachers and aspiring overseas teachers looking to gain a UK recognised teaching qualification to teach in the UK.

From 1st February 2023 the government have widened the countries from which eligible overseas teachers can automatically apply for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and this could possibility be widened to all countries by the end of the year!

There is also an exciting new iQTS being rolled out, which will allow aspiring teachers from all over the world to get QTS abroad without having to visit the country and pave the way to teach in the UK

Getting a Teaching Qualification UK – Current State of Play 2023

QTS is a legal requirement to teach in local authority schools in the UK. Whilst academy schools don’t have the same legal requirement, they mostly only employ QTS teachers with only a few exceptions. Teachers in the UK obtain QTS via a number of different routes into teaching.

Overseas trained teachers can teach in UK schools in England for up to 4 years without QTS, after that period they will need to obtain QTS to continue teaching. There is a fast-track route to QTS for already experienced teachers called Assessment Only.

Historically as part of the UK’s membership of the EU, qualified teachers from countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) were able to apply for QTS in England. Since leaving the EU, this has been retained and expanded to other countries. Since the beginning of February 2023, now qualified teachers from these countries can apply for QTS: Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Gibralter, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

In addition, qualified secondary school teachers specialising in languages, mathematics or science (the current shortage subjects) from Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Jamaica, India or Singapore will also be able to apply for QTS and teach in the UK.

This new criteria has been launched this year as a fairer approach to awarding QTS replacing the previous EU derived laws. Existing presence and interest of teachers from these countries influenced this initial selection, although the government have stressed that this year they hope to widen the eligibility to all countries so long as teachers meet the criteria.

Female Primary School Teacher giving extra support at the table

Introducing International Qualified Teacher Status – iQTS

The iQTS is a new UK recognised teaching qualification that leads to the award of QTS. Now both UK and non-UK citizens living outside of the country can undergo training within school placements and be awarded QTS without having to visit the UK! Once awarded QTS, this will greatly increase an applicant’s ability to get a UK visa via sponsorship in a school and teach in the UK.

How do I apply for iQTS and find School Placements?

Applications for iQTS are done through one of the Department for Education’s approved iQTS providers.

Several of the approved providers already have a presence in countries across the world and may have partnerships with schools in the region that you are looking to undertake the training.

An integral part of the iQTS training is school based; trainees are required to complete at least 120 days of classroom experience. Ideally this should be shared across 2 different placement schools. Where this is not possible, applicants should speak to the providers to see what solutions are available. If you have previous teaching experience then this will be taken into account.

Applicants can source their own placement schools and may already be teaching or supporting in a school that meets the criteria. As iQTS is a new incentive, providers will be keen to make partnerships with schools across the world, so it is likely that they will welcome introductions to schools that are willing to offer an iQTS placement.

The provider will however have to be satisfied that the prospective school has the capacity to undertake the responsibilities required for the training to be delivered.

iQTS Training and The Role of the Placement School

Placement schools will need to provide trainees with at least 120 days of classroom experience. Before doing so they will need to be prepared to work with the provider to ensure that iQTS standards can be met within the placement and continue to provide feedback during and after the placement.

During the placement, the school are required to make available an experienced member of staff to act as a mentor and allow trainees to be observed during lessons by the training provider.

In return there are several benefits to becoming a placement school for iQTS training. The trainees will be keen to get involved with every part of school life whilst on placement and can provide a significant contribution as an additional member of staff.

Staff made available for mentorship will have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and leadership skills through the training delivered by the iQTS provider. Being part of the iQTS initiative will also give the school access to a network of teaching professionals where resources and best practice can be shared.

And of course once qualified the school will be in poll position to recruit the best trainees into current vacancies at the school!

Becoming an iQTS mentor

As the iQTS provider will be delivering most of the training remotely, the role of the mentor is a significant part of the training.

The mentor will have to be willing and able to undergo training with the provider on the iQTS Teachers’ Standards and the Core Content Framework and then be available throughout the year to deliver ongoing support for the trainee as well as attend remote meetings with the provider to report on progress.

Whilst this is a big commitment from the mentor, there are benefits in terms of professional and career development as well as access to learning and development opportunities made available by the iQTS provider to hone the mentor’s skillset.

Young female primary school teacher working one on one with a schoolgirl at a table in a classroom, both looking at each other smiling, close up

What Qualifications do I need to apply for iQTS and Teach in the UK

To apply for iQTS applicants will need to have an equivalent to a grade 4 in GCSE in mathematics and if you are looking to teaching primary school children (aged 3-11) then in addition you will need an equivalent to a grade 4 in GCSE Science.

iQTS is a postgraduate qualification so applicants will also need to hold an equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.

If the degree has been studied in English, then this will be sufficient to satisfy the required level of proficiency in English.

If studied in another language, applicants will need to evidence an average IELTS score of 6.5 or higher. Alternative English Language Testing Systems may be accepted, applicants should check with the providers.

To check the equivalence of overseas qualifications, applicants should refer to UK ENIC where a statement of comparability can be obtained.

Summary – Teach in the UK

2023 brings exciting new opportunities for overseas teachers to gain a UK recognised teaching qualification and teach in the UK. Teachers already qualified overseas should keep an eye on whether they can apply for QTS. Aspiring teachers looking for a career teaching in the UK should check eligibility for iQTS and get in touch with an approved provider to see if you can start training in your region.

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Primary Teacher assisting children in class - get a UK visa