What are the qualification requirements for existing FE teachers?
If you began teaching in England before 1 September 2001, there is no legal requirement for you to gain an initial teaching qualification. However, you may wish to do so for your own professional development or promotion prospects. Some employers expect all their teachers to have teaching qualifications, even though it is not a legal requirement. If you think you might want to gain QTLS/ATLS please see Professional formation. Alternatively, you could apply for recognition of your experience. The Institute for Learning is pilotting a scheme allowing existing staff to gain QTLS - if you are interested in this, please contact them directly.
If you began teaching in a college in England between 1 September 2001 and 1 September 2007, then there was a legal requirement to gain a specific teaching qualification, according to how much you were teaching at the time. The full qualification was usually called a PGCE, a Cert Ed or a ‘stage 3’, and these are still recognised. If you gained a teaching qualification during this period and are unsure as to its status you are advised to contact us. If however you did not qualify during this period then you are covered by the new (post 2007) regulations – see below. See also the 2001 regulations (
If you began teaching in the FE and skills sector in England after 1 September 2007, then you should already have, or be working towards, a teaching qualification. If you began work without a teaching qualification, in your first year you should have gained at least a PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) qualification, as an initial step. Within 5 years of starting you should also gain the full qualification, which is probably a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector) – sometimes also called a PGCE or Cert Ed (the Associate teachers section, below, offers more information). Additionally, although no longer required, you may wish to join the Institute for Learning and get QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning & Skills) – the professional status for FE teachers. See also the 2007 regulations (
The 2007 regulations identified two teaching roles: a full teacher and an associate teacher. The former relates to most teaching roles in for example FE colleges where teachers cover the range of duties. The associate teacher however is a position where the post holder does rather less, for example, they do not plan sessions or courses, or write their own teaching materials. Often associate teachers utilise prepared teaching materials sourced from elsewhere. Consequently these staff are required to gain a smaller qualification, the CTLLS (Certificate of Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector) and may choose to gain ATLS (Associate Teacher Learning and Skills) within 5 years.
If you teach Skills for Life (adult literacy, adult numeracy or ESOL) in England then in addition to the full teacher qualification mentioned above (the DTLLS, PGCE, etc), you will need to gain a subject specialist qualification. For more information on these see Teaching literacy, numeracy or ESOL. If you started teaching these subjects before 1 September 2007 then you are not legally required to get this additional qualification, but encouraged to do so. If you are in any doubt about your position please contact us.
If you teach in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland, then there are different requirements. You may wish to download our information sheets:
For more information, contact us or call 0300 3031877