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How to Gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in the UK

Derek Cullen
16 Feb 2023
5 min read
How to Gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in the UK

Teachers are legally required to attain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in order to work in most schools in the UK. While you can acquire this status through teacher training or alongside postgraduate education, most teachers will apply for QTS after graduation. You will also typically apply for QTS before taking your first teaching job and the application process is relatively straightforward.

But how do you actually gain QTS status in the UK?

Let’s take a closer look at what you should know about the process.

What is Qualified Teacher Status Exactly?

Qualified teacher status is a legal requirement which you must have to teach in primary and secondary schools in the UK. The same requirement applies to various special schools and there are several routes to gaining QTS status.

The schools which require this status are state-funded and known as “Maintained schools”. In short, you should want to attain QTS as soon as possible as this will enable you to apply for roles in any school around the UK.

In case you might be asking yourself, QTS and PGCE are not the same thing. The latter refers to a postgraduate certificate and you can actually teach at schools in the UK with a QTS in spite of not having a postgraduate certification. However, a PGCE will certainly improve your knowledge and help increase your opportunities when it comes to applying for teaching roles in the UK.

Why You Need to Get QTS Status in the UK

Teacher training leads to the qualification known as QTS which is necessary in order to work in many schools around the UK. While qualified teachers from some countries outside of the UK can work at state-funded schools without this qualification, they must obtain qualified teaching status within their first 4 years in order to continue teaching in the UK. You can find a full breakdown of which countries this applies to here.

What Do You Need to Get Qualified Teacher Status?

You need to acquire an undergraduate degree before obtaining qualified teacher status in the UK. You must also complete a formal “assessment-only” or training programme for teaching. Your eligibility might also depend on your specialist subject, previous teaching experience and where you qualified. Gaining experience in schools as a supply Teaching Assistant is highly advisable as a first step.

In the next section, we talk about how exactly you can get QTS status before applying for your first teaching role.

How to Get QTS Status for Your First Teaching Role

You can obtain QTS through postgraduate or undergraduate teacher training in the UK. This training usually involves some theoretical learning and school placement experience and you can apply for a primary or secondary QTS course. There are also four main routes through which you can gain the status:

  • Apply for qualified teaching status online.

  • Apply for assessment-only.

  • Teacher training in the UK.

  • Train for International QTS.

Apply for Qualified Teaching Status Online

You can apply for Qualified Teaching Status online. This involves paying a fee to a teacher training provider and undergoing a comprehensive training programme. You will need to be located in the UK for this training and it’s possible to check your eligibility for these courses on the government website.


Assessment only is a process in which an experienced teacher with a degree can acquire Qualified Teaching Status. There is no requirement to undergo training with this route and a government-approved training provider can facilitate the assessment for you. For instance, many teachers with 2+years of teaching experience can often prove they have sufficient experience to qualify for QTS without any further training. Depending on experience, you might also be eligible to qualify for QTS through a 12-week assessment-only programme.

Teacher Training in the UK

Foreign Nationals can apply for a teacher training course in the UK. Training providers will usually charge upward of £12,000 and full-time training should last for one year. You will need to be in the UK for this teacher training which also means you will need funds to sustain your cost of living during this time.

Train for International QTS

International QTS (iQTS) is a new qualification which is fully backed by the UK government. This online course is facilitated by teacher training providers in the UK which work with various schools around the world to help teachers gain QTS before arriving in the UK. This option is open to all non-citizens and matches the standards set by the official Qualified Teacher Status in the UK.

Final Thoughts

Qualified Teaching Status is required for teachers who want to work in any primary, secondary or special school in the UK. Teacher training is often necessary to acquire this qualification but experienced teachers can often gain QTS through the assessment only option. Either way, the above options should help you decide how to get QTS status and improve your chances of landing a teaching role at any school in the UK.

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