Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is QTS and Do You Need it as a Canadian Teacher in London, England?

QTS stands for Qualified Teacher Status.

It’s the UK’s way of dealing with their teacher shortage and their need for overseas trained teachers. They have teachers from all around the world teaching in the UK. But how can they tell if one country’s education system
is the same as the UK’s? What if someone can become a teacher in another country without having any training whatsoever?

To make it fair and legally acceptable, they came up with the QTS system.

Every teacher that works in the UK is legally allowed to teach on their overseas teacher qualifications for up to 4 years. Within their first four years, they must take their QTS training, pass the course and receive their QTS.
Then, they become an “Overseas Trained Teacher with QTS,” which puts them in the same pay category as UK trained teachers.

The QTS program is fairly simple, and is certainly works just fine for Canadians because our training is actually very similar. You will have to take a few courses (on UK curriculum, behaviour management, assessment for learning, etc), create a portfolio of evidence of your teaching practice, and be assessed a number of times (through observations of your teaching). It is time consuming, but a necessary step in your career should you wish to stay more than 4 years.

So how does this affect you?

In your wallet.

See, schools have to follow their own pay scheme for teachers. Agencies don’t.

So agencies charge schools a certain rate (usually between 160-189 pounds/day, and no, they won’t tell what they charge schools) and then pay their teachers a certain rate (anywhere from 90-150 pounds/day). This pay will depend on how many years experience you have, where you are teaching & if you are a specialist in your field. Science teachers can expect to be paid at the higher end of the scale.

When schools go through agencies, they expect the agency to verify your:
• CV
• References (at least 2, and they have to be in positions of power
and have seen you teach)
• Qualifications (Bachelor of Education at a minimum)
• Police Record Check for vulnerable persons
• List 99 check (which is a UK database check of child molesters)

They also expect the agency to deliver professional development workshops to their teachers, carry out social events (particularly for the foreign teachers to find friends), and generally support the teachers.

Schools pay more for this service because they don’t have the time to deal with staffing on their own. In Canada, we have a job shortage whereas in the UK they have a teacher shortage. It is incredibly time-consuming for the management of each school to do their own hiring. So they pay a higher
rate for agencies to find them the best teachers, support them and clear them for teaching.

This usually means you end up getting paid more through an agency than going the independent route. I’ve worked with teachers who were making 26 325 pounds/year with an agency, then went on their own to schools where they were only making 21 000 pounds. That’s a big drop in pay and not unusual.

So, what should you do? Apply for teaching jobs through an agency until you have obtained your QTS. If you'd like to apply to teach with Classroom Canada in London, England, please see our website for the application process.

Any questions? Please share them here.

If you'd like to become part of the Classroom Canada team, please sign up for our newsletters & apply through our website. Be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians to help you understand everything you need to know about teaching in London.


  1. I was told by the HR lady at my school that a new law was passed in late November 2008. It states that as of September, all teachers must either have their QTS or provide evidence that they are working towards it.

  2. Hi Alicia,
    You're right - I should have explained that further. That will be a bigger issue for American teachers than for Canadian ones as it has to do with "permanent" positions as opposed to temporary positions. If you need a visa to work at a school (ie "work permit") then yes, you need to show that you are working towards your QTS. But most Canadians just get visa's (so not work permits) which puts them into the "temporary" staff category. There is a lot of discussion on this issue on the TES website if you want to check out what others are saying. In fact, many teachers are furious about the whole QTS issue all together.

    Most teachers only go for up 2 years and go on visas, so they won't even have to know what QTS is, but should at least be aware of the idea as it will certainly be a buzz word in staff rooms with foreign teachers. Good luck with it all! I know it's a whole lotta work especially when you already teach full-time.


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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