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The PGCE iQTS at the University of Sunderland is an internationally-recognised programme 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 programme includes two, research-based Masters modules and, on successful completion of the programme, trainees may progress to Stage 2 of the MA International Education or MA Education programmes.

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


Published: 15 December 2022

iQTS is a new UK government-backed international teaching qualification which will be 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, University of Sunderland is one of 6 pilot providers approved by the DfE to deliver iQTS internationally.

Regular monitoring and evaluation of all iQTS provision and progress will take place in order to monitor the quality of the programme and ensure satisfaction with the rigour of the academic standards and the organisation to support it. 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 are already a teacher and you wish to develop professionally and enhance your global employability with an internationally recognised teaching qualification
  • You are already a teacher and would benefit from a professional teaching qualification allowing you to teach in all schools in England

Upon successful completion of the programme, iQTS will be awarded. Conversion to QTS is a simple and automatic process without any additional fees or training required. You will then be qualified to teach in all English schools, as long as you have the right visa or immigration status.

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

Yes, you will be allocated a Teacher Reference Number (TRN) number uniquely identifying you in the education sector­­ at the start of the programme.

The programme is marketed for in-service teachers, or pre-service teachers (those looking to join the teaching profession) in 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.

We require applicants to have the following:

  • A bachelor's degree from a UK or non-UK university or other institution
  • A maths qualification equivalent to GCSE grade 4
  • A science qualification equivalent to GCSE grade 4 for teaching children aged 3-11

To show you meet the required standard in the English language, you’ll need one of the following:

  • For those without a first degree studied in the medium of English, Academic IELTS is required. (A minimum Academic IELTS band score of 6.5, with 6.5 in writing, and no less than 6 in Reading and Speaking and Listening).

This is a Distance Learning (DL) programme and, as a prospective trainee on that programme, it is a requirement for completion of the practicum element of the programme that you find a school locally willing to host you throughout the programme. In particular, the school will need to be clearly informed about the arrangements they will need to put in place for the teaching practicum element. We are not able to help with finding placements for trainees, but are willing to provide information and talk to interested schools about the programme and its requirements.

There is a requirement for all trainees to complete a second school experience, this must be a minimum of 10 days. The organisation of the second school experience is the responsibility of the trainee though we will 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 themselves completed a programme of teacher training. If they have 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 tripartite relationship of trainee, mentor and academic.

Mentor requirements

We would expect a mentor to be an experienced, qualified teacher with a minimum of 2 years post-qualification experience. The mentor does not have to have a UK teaching qualification.

Mentors will be expected to:

  • Initiate regular observations, get to know the trainee, their circumstances and their concerns etc.
  • Provide friendly professional support and help with any problems relating to professional problems raised by the trainee;
  • Introduce the trainee to "useful" staff in the school, so that they can benefit from advice and help from a range and variety of colleagues;
  • Be prepared to offer guidance, if asked, with the preparation of lessons and teaching materials;
  • Observe the trainee's teaching (once per week) and provide constructive feedback to the trainee;
  • Meet formally with the trainee (once per week) to discuss progress and set future targets;
  • Discuss the trainee's progress with other staff and provide feedback where necessary to the trainee;
  • Discuss and, if practicable, share teaching materials with the trainee;
  • Discuss construction of assessment strategies and lesson evaluations with the trainee;
  • Listen actively, ask open and appropriate questions;
  • Make suggestions without being prescriptive;
  • Prepare interim and final reports on the trainee’s teaching;
  • Assist in the evaluation of the trainee’s evidence portfolio against the Teachers’ Standards (UK).

Normally this would involve approximately 1½ hours per week.

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

  • Primary – ages 5-11 years
  • Secondary – ages 11-16 years
  • Post compulsory – ages 16-18 years
  • Business Studies trainees – ages 14-19

Within the academic modules, there is the opportunity to explore and develop themes that relate to age, phase and subject, but the certificate that you get on successful completion will not specifically mention any subject or phase.

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 subjects taught.

QTS will be awarded in your specific phase.

The PGCE iQTS programme will commence in September 2023 and the duration of the programme 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 programme is completed.

Payment 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 will 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 have met all conditions of your offer, you will then be sent an ‘unconditional’ offer. You will be advised to enrol at least two weeks prior to the programme start date (at which point your deposit will become non-refundable) and once enrolled, you will then be contacted by the FES registry and academic teams regarding induction before the start of the programme.

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

We will provide successful applicants with a pack of Keeping Warm Activities and offer virtual pre-programme sessions over the summer. These are not compulsory but will be useful if you are very new to teaching and schools and to support you in getting to know the academics here at the University. Other than this, we do not expect you to do anything before we open the Virtual Learning Environment to you (1 week before the scheduled programme start date) but of course, any reading you can do around education or teaching will be of benefit and any involvement you can have with schools in any way will help.

You should make sure that you have a computer that is 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.

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

The practical teaching element is full-time and although you are expected to teach 11 hours per week in the first block and 14 hours per week in the second block, you are still expected to be in school 5 days a week. This will allow you to enjoy the full school experience, attend meetings and undertake duties which your school and mentor see fit, carry out observations, meet with your mentor and other members of staff and to collect data for (amongst other tasks) in relation to your academic modules.

If you are a full-time member of teaching staff at the school then usually you would 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 will be in-service teachers or teaching assistants and, although it is more of a challenge undertaking the iQTS programme at the same time as full time employment, it is 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.

You would not necessarily be expected (particularly if new to teaching) to teach whole classes immediately. We can allow trainees to begin with observations, one-to-one, small group and team teaching in the first week and then build rapidly to whole-class teaching. The expectation in your second practice would be that the majority of your teaching would be whole-class. This will be different for every trainee and of course, some full-time staff will already be teaching full classes as per their normal schedule.

It is possible to do your two practices in two different schools. However, the schools would need to be in the same education phase. The subjects you are teaching and the phase you are teaching in should be clearly indicated when you provide your School Proposal form as part of the initial application.

The programme is split into two semesters and has four core modules. There is one taught module, two research modules and one teaching practice module.

Progression through the programme is as follows:

Subject Studies (EDP381)

This module examines the fundamental requirements of teaching, such as planning lessons, differentiation, assessment, behaviour management, teaching strategies and learning theory, in relation to your own specialist area and phase of teaching. During this module, you will investigate the curriculum you are teaching on placement. You will have the opportunity to audit your own subject knowledge and skills in relation to your placement curriculum and create a personal development action plan. You will also analyse and evaluate lesson plans and curriculum documents to understand and apply learning theory to your everyday practice. You will also review teaching strategies in your subject area or phase and justify them against research and best practice about how to support student learning.

Where trainees are based in Secondary schools, they will teach and focus their academic work on the subject(s) for which their degree equips them. Primary trainees will teach a range of subjects in the class in which they are based. It is preferable that Primary teachers are able to teach English, Maths and Science – though this can be discussed with the iQTS team during the application process. Secondary trainee teachers will focus on their specialist subject or small range of subjects.

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

Practice of Teaching (EDP380)

This module requires trainees to undertake teaching practice and develop professional knowledge about teaching institutions and teaching and learning and to make judgements about the routines, skills and strategies that support effective teaching. It provides trainees with the breadth and variety of experience in a work-based learning environment to meet the UK DfE Teachers’ Standards identified in Government legislation current at the time of study, consistently and over a sustained period of time.

There are two blocks. The first requires trainees to teach 11 hours per week for 8 weeks. The second requires trainees to teach 14 hours per week for 8 weeks. We set block 'windows' for these practicums that are longer than 8 weeks. This is designed to account for regional variations with regards to holidays and school terms (etc.) and to also allow trainees to start teaching at the start of a school unit or scheme of work if they don't align favourably with the start of each window. Trainees collect evidence and this is assessed by university staff against set criteria based upon the foundational concepts within the core content framework (CCF).

Development of Learning: A Case Study (EDPM01) (Masters level 7)

During your time in an educational setting, you will identify and examine the way in which the school/college/setting in which you are placed addresses the particular educational needs of a particular small group of individual pupils/students and which shows how learning is developed over a short period of time, or alternatively, what could be done to enhance its development in the future.

Examples to consider could be the way in which the school/college/setting deals with those identified as having special educational needs; how the school/college deals with pupils who routinely do not engage in aspects of classroom learning or homework or with their peers; how the school supports more able and talented pupils; or how the school supports improvements in behaviour.

Please note that you will not study an individual pupil/student but the intervention, process, or aspect of teaching and learning put in place to support them.

Negotiated Individual Study in Education (EPDM97) (Masters level 7)

This module provides you with the opportunity to structure and undertake a piece of independent academic study (usually in the form of action research) related to your particular vocational/professional development, which will encourage you to engage in intellectual challenge and dialogue. Students will develop both general and specific knowledge and skills, which will vary according to each student’s chosen projects. These will be negotiated and agreed between the student, the subject supervisor and the supervising university tutor. Students will also identify and develop key skills that will enhance their ability to transfer learning to further study and to the workplace. The students will each make an interim presentation of their research and a final written account of their learning.

Teaching and assessment

All teaching and learning materials will be located in the spaces provided on the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Canvas.

We use a wide variety of teaching methods with tasks including required reading, directed activities and self- assessments.

There are online discussion forums where trainees are invited to debate current issues relevant to the module content and, if you live close to other students on the course, we encourage you to form a study group.

The teaching practice is work-based and conducted entirely in a school or other educational institution that you have secured a placement at or are currently working at. This is supported by a mentor and university academic staff.

We assess both the theoretical and practical elements of the course. Assessment is through written assignments, a profile of evidence of teaching standards and observed teaching.