I keep coming back to this QTLS thing. There’s an advert on the ETF site now about how to go about it, and it looks pretty much as if the whole process has been bought lock, stock and Reflect+ barrel over from IfL and it looks more or less the same, with the same sort of process as it used to be when I did it.

So was it worth it, and more to the point, would it be worth forking out nearly £500 for now? There are two aspects here: the value of the process itself, in terms of the benefits of the reflections involved; and the value of the finished product, in terms of what it means and what you can do with it. 
Process is probably, for me, where it was weaker. For an ESOL teacher it was, and is, hard to identify with the whole dual professionalism concept. I’m not a professional user of English except in my setting as a teacher, so it was hard to extract out the pedagogy from the subject knowledge. For me, the two are inextricably linked so deciding which but was “subject” and which was “teaching” was, if not impossible, then definitely fake. The unsatisfying compromise was to talk about knowledge of language as subject, and to talk about learning language in the teaching section: unsatisfying because you couldn’t help but repeat yourself, and neither felt complete. The repetitiveness kept coming up as well in the rest of the Professional Formation process. 
It was also not a difficult process. As you can tell by my 100+ blog posts on this site, I am prone to writing about my work at length. It’s not something I find terribly hard to do, either. I find writing far far easier than, say, a face to face discussion. I am slow witted and tongue-tied, and tend to wilt when challenged verbally: I’m the person who comes away from every meeting or professional discussion with a hundred brilliant things I should have said. So really, rattling out a few hundred words about professional practice is not even slightly difficult, and as a result, the net benefit from writing a few thousand words plus amassing all the certificates and so on was pretty small. 
I also hated the system for doing it: Reflect. God I hated that. I don’t want hyperlinks and multi-modal swishy buttons and stuff. I definitely don’t want unusable constantly overlaying menus and graphics that regularly crash my browser, thanks. I wrote the whole sodding lot on Word with capitals LIKE THIS (LINK) to tell me where I was going to put links. I remember seeing the final report in printable format and wondering why it couldn’t have been presented like that. 
So was the process worth the effort? Not really, and I probably only spent a few hours on the writing, plus another hour or two on the scanning and finding of certificates and documents. Would it be worth £485? No way. If I went through the process now and had to pay for it, the phrase “short-changed” would be at the back of my mind the whole time. 
What about the product, having the status of QTLS? There are two nominal benefits to this: the ability to step from FE to school teaching, and the mark of professional status itself. The first is quite easy, really: no specific benefits there for me – the call for state school ESOL teachers is small, perhaps non-existent, although teaching students with EAL needs has a certain appeal. If I did make a wholesale move, my inclination would be primary not secondary (eugh, teenagers) and I would simply not feel comfortable making that move without some training first. QTLS would be pretty useless, I suspect. However, I do recognise that for some people this is a valuable thing, and I like the notional parity it brings to FE. 
What about professionalism? Calling myself QTLS didn’t really make me feel anything much, I have to say. It didn’t create a sensation that I was now a proper professional, partly because I’m an arrogant bastard, but mostly because the process wasn’t challenging. I didn’t feel like I had had to work for it (I’d done that already with my qualifications) and so the final product didn’t feel like an achievement. I also don’t think that professionalism is about membership or letters after your name. Professionalism is a mindset: it’s how you think about yourself and whether you can hold your head up amongst school teachers, doctors, lawyers and the rest and say yes, I am a professional. I have trained, I have studied, I have been, and still am, crafting and developing my skills. I will challenge, preferably in writing, anyone who dares to suggest I’m not a professional. And it doesn’t take four letters to support that challenge. Well, not the four letters “QTLS” at any rate. 


  1. I wholeheartedly agree. This does not make any difference to one’s teaching expertise. It is just money making. If one has a PGCE they should be able to teach anywhere. Especially, with the relevant experience. We have been exploited and our time is wasted compiling this useless blog! Just to be able to teach in main stream or in some cases EBD on the main salary stream.

    1. Hi,

      I am in the process of writing my Professional Formation and i do not know what to write in some cases.
      Any help would be much appreciated.


  2. Hi Sam,
    thank you very much for sharing your views on this matter. I too have been teaching ESOL for a long time and I think that I was facing the same questions as yourself.
    I have considered QTLS for a while now, and what really grates on me is the fact that you need to keep paying a yearly subscription. I am doing my CPD with my employer and I do not feel the need to keep a third party informed about it.
    For a while I also considered doing what was then called the ESOL ‘top up’ course, for people like myself who have worked in the sector a long time, hold a PGCE but need to have a subject specific certificate. It was a mess. Most course providers were unable to offer proper advice. I tried to enrol on a course and I was told it had been cancelled due to poor recruitment. I tried to enrol on another one, and I was told the dates on the prospectus were wrong. I spoke to someone from my college face to face and he tried to chuck me in with the PGCE trainees, which I thought was rather patronising. I could go on and on.
    Anyway, after reading your post and careful consideration, I am looking at another training course which seems to be more appropriate to my specific situation, so thank you again for having clarified my ideas.

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