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The PGCE iQTS is an internationally-recognised course that leads to Qualified Teacher Status for England and Wales. This is recognised as an international gold standard for teaching and learning across the world.

This course includes two research-based masters modules and, on successful completion, trainees may progress to Stage 2 of the MA International Education or MA Education.

Please see the answers to frequently asked questions about the course below:


Published: 1 November 2023

iQTS is a UK government-backed international teaching qualification that is recognised by the DfE (Department for Education) as equivalent to English Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Based on the quality of and building on the sound knowledge and expertise of the existing initial teacher training provided, the University of Sunderland is the largest provider approved by the DfE to deliver iQTS internationally.

Regular monitoring and evaluation of all iQTS provisions and progress take place in order to monitor the quality of the course and ensure satisfaction with the rigour of the academic standards and the organisation to support them. Training provided must meet the Secretary of State for Education’s iQTS criteria.

iQTS is a teaching qualification designed for UK and non-UK citizens living outside the UK.

iQTS is for you if:

  • You have no previous teaching qualifications or experience and would like to gain a professional teaching qualification equivalent to QTS
  • You have some experience teaching and would benefit from training and mentoring, leading to a professional teaching qualification equivalent to QTS
  • You're already a teacher and you wish to develop professionally and enhance your global employability with an internationally recognised teaching qualification
  • You're already a teacher and would benefit from a professional teaching qualification allowing you to teach in all schools in England

On successful completion of the course, iQTS will be awarded. Conversion to QTS is a simple and automatic process without any additional fees or training required. You'll then be qualified to teach in teach in all state-maintained schools in England and Wales, as long as you have the right visa or immigration status.

The course allows you to train where you live and work, with no need to visit the UK.

Yes, you'll be allocated a Teacher Reference Number (TRN) uniquely identifying you in the education sector­­ at the start of the course.

The course is marketed for in-service teachers or pre-service teachers (those looking to join the teaching profession) in international schools around the world. The expatriate teaching community is an extremely fluid one and teachers tend to move around the world regularly. However, in terms of specific state registration, much depends on the requirements of your particular country and we would always advise applicants to contact the appropriate governing body to ensure the qualification will be accepted before commencing their studies.

This is a distance learning course and, as a prospective trainee on the course, it's a requirement for completion of the practical element that you find a school locally willing to host you throughout. The school will need to be clearly informed about the arrangements they'll need to put in place for the teaching practice element.

We're not able to help with finding placements for trainees but are willing to provide information and talk to interested schools about the course and its requirements.

There's a requirement for all trainees to complete a second school experience, which can be up to 20 days (these do not need to be completed consecutively). The organisation of the second school experience is the responsibility of the trainee, though we'll happily provide support and counsel to trainees in arranging this.

Your mentor needs to be someone who has experience of teaching and schools but not necessarily of mentoring. The mentor is expected to have completed a teacher training course themselves and have at least two years of post-qualification experience. If they've already mentored other trainees elsewhere in the world, that would be an advantage, but comprehensive training, support and guidance is provided for mentors by University academics who value the relationship of trainee, mentor and academic.

The requirements of a mentor include:

  • Initiating regular observations, getting to know the trainee's circumstances and concerns, etc.
  • Providing friendly professional support and helping with any problems raised by the trainee
  • Introducing the trainee to key staff in the school so that they can benefit from help from a range of colleagues
  • Offering guidance with the preparation of lessons and teaching materials
  • Regularly observing the trainee’s teaching (once per week) and providing constructive feedback
  • Regularly meeting with the trainee to discuss progress and set targets
  • Discussing the trainee’s progress with other staff and providing feedback where necessary
  • Discussing, and if practicable, sharing teaching materials with the trainee
  • Discussing the construction of assessment strategies and lesson evaluations with the trainee
  • Listening actively, asking open and appropriate questions
  • Making suggestions without being prescriptive
  • Preparing interim and final reports on the trainee’s teaching
  • Assisting in the evaluation of the trainee’s evidence portfolio against the teaching standards
  • Adherence to the University of Sunderland mentoring approach

Mentoring would normally cover approximately 1.5 hours per week.

All trainees have the option to study the following age ranges:

  • Primary – age 5-11 years
  • Secondary – age 11-16 years
  • Business Studies trainees – age 14-19

Within the academic modules, there's the opportunity to explore and develop themes that relate to age, phase, and subject. On successful completion, the certificate awarded states PGCE iQTS Primary or PGCE iQTS Secondary it does not include any age range or subject.

Any reference or supporting letter provided by the University will make it clear in which phase of education you did your training, the curriculum you taught, and the subjects taught. QTS will be awarded in your specific phase.

Teaching across two key stages is recommended and usually with the same mentor. It's possible, however, to have a different mentor for each practice.

The practical teaching element is full-time and you'll build up to teaching 14 hours per week. You are still expected to be in school five days a week. This will allow you to enjoy the full school experience, attend meetings and undertake duties that your school and mentor see fit, carry out observations, meet with your mentor and other members of staff, and collect data in relation to your academic modules.

If you're a full-time member of teaching staff at the school then you would usually designate the teaching practice hours from within your normal schedule. While you would still have to have time for the activities/meetings/tasks mentioned above, much of this 'school experience' would already be part of your schedule. Many of our trainees are in-service teachers or teaching assistants and, although it's more of a challenge undertaking the PGCE iQTS at the same time as full-time employment, it's achievable.

If you are a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Educational Assistant (EA) you may be able to work with classes that are already part of your schedule, but this is an agreement that will need to be made with your school.

There are two pathways for trainees to follow in the initial stages of the practical module, depending on prior teaching experience. For less-experienced trainees, a gentle ease into teaching is provided with opportunities to begin with observations, one-to-one, small group, and team teaching, building up to whole-class teaching. 

Teaching Experience 1 and Teaching Experience 2 should be completed in the same school. However, it is possible to complete Teaching Experience 3 in an alternative school though this would need to be in the same educational phase school (this would negate the need for a Second School Experience). The subjects and phase you're teaching in should be clearly indicated when you provide your School Proposal form as part of the initial application.

The PGCE iQTS course will start in February and the duration of the course is 36 weeks.

Those who wish to take part in our graduation ceremony are welcome to do so. This is held in Sunderland around the second week of July each year after the course is completed.

Payments can be made via our Payment Portal. This is the quickest way for the University to receive your deposit and there are no chargers by the University for using this portal. Payments can also be made via bank transfer, but please be aware that there may be some hidden charges which you will be liable for. Bank details can be found on our How do I pay my fees? Help and Advice article.

We'll consider your application as soon as possible, but it will be subject to certain checks first. In some cases, we may also need you to confirm school placements or provide some outstanding documentation. Once your application has been reviewed, eligible applicants will be invited for interview.

Once you've met all the conditions of your offer, you'll then be sent an ‘unconditional’ offer. You'll be advised to enrol at least two weeks prior to the course start date (at which point your deposit will become non-refundable) and once enrolled, you will be contacted by the FES registry and academic teams via your student email account (access to this will be given when enrolling) regarding induction before the start of the course.

The application timeline is as follows:

  • Submit application along with all possible documents
  • Application reviewed
  • Shortlisted applicants invited for interview
  • Conditional offers made and once all conditions are met, unconditional offer sent
  • Enrolment information sent
  • Induction email sent from FES Registry

The programme team will hold a number of informal ‘Keeping in Touch’ sessions before the course starts and, usually a few weeks prior, you will be provided with access to the induction space – ‘Flying Start’. This gives you a gentle induction to the basics before starting your course.

Make sure you have a computer that's rated for multimedia use (typically with a minimum speed of 1GHz and a minimum memory of 256Mb, but the faster and with the greatest memory, the better). As all the tuition is web-based, you should also ensure that you have satisfactory internet connection.