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International QTS: what are the opportunities for British international schools?
  • Annual Conference Speaker
  • Teacher Training

Written by Emma Hollis, Executive Director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) and speaker at the 40th COBIS Annual Conference.

International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS), a new UK-government backed international teaching qualification which will be recognised by the Department for Education as equivalent to English QTS, represents a major opportunity for English Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers to expand into the growing international teacher training market – and for British international schools to directly benefit from it.

Beginning with a pilot of six UK providers in September, iQTS aims to make high-quality training accessible around the world, allowing trainees to benefit from evidence-based ITT and enable schools to develop local talent, increase the global pool of quality teachers and support global mobility within the teaching profession. Candidates will complete the iQTS training programme without needing to visit the UK, using a mix of remote tuition, face-to-face mentoring at the candidate’s placement school, regular feedback and rigorous assessment.

In my session at the COBIS Annual Conference, I will be exploring how British international schools – or indeed anyone who is training teachers to deliver the English national curriculum (including beyond English as first language schools) – can use iQTS to support the development of high-quality teachers – and where NASBTT, which represents SCITTs, School Direct Lead Schools, Teaching School Hubs and Higher Education Institutions, can help them do that. However, as per the ‘Introducing the iQTS pilot’ policy paper, the year-long qualification will be especially suitable for:

  • UK citizens currently working abroad who wish to start teacher training or develop their teaching career.
  • Non-UK citizens who wish to begin teacher training or build on existing teaching experience.
  • UK and non-UK teachers without QTS who wish to improve their employability in England and internationally with a UK government-backed and approved professional qualification.

Overall, the move will likely be welcomed by the 4,000 British international schools awarding students internationally-recognised qualifications, which have highlighted the need to meet the rising demand for qualified teachers in overseas schools as the sector continues to grow. Recruitment and retention, just like in the UK, is a major challenge for international schools and iQTS will provide that additional channel into QTS.

For a long time, overseas teachers have been required to help plug the gaps. Careful consideration of iQTS entry requirements means that local workers can be trained to teach in school. By broadening the diversity of teachers, British international schools will have a staff cohort that is more representative of the nation in which they are based and this could be a real incentive. Potentially those same staff can then use that qualification to move to another international school around the world or to the UK.

iQTS will also be perfect for the “trailing spouse” – people who find themselves living abroad because they are partners of teachers originally relocating who then want to find work on their own. We often see spouses seeking employment in schools, initially in an administrative or support role, and then training to teach. Such a pathway is not always accessible – and iQTS opens doors to this group. Also, if and when they return to their home country, they will be able to continue their careers in UK schools.

Whilst not directly a benefit for British international schools this, in turn, could then boost the number of teachers in the UK. However, as a by-product, by working productively with UK teacher training providers through iQTS, the pipeline for the next generation of teachers is much stronger. Certainly in terms of international placements/job swaps, these are very attractive propositions for globally-minded trainees.

The pilot will be used to gauge how effectively iQTS can be delivered on a global basis, prior to a possible complete rollout in September 2023. Price point is top of mind – in my view, it has to cost the same as QTS, so £9,250 per trainee. It fundamentally needs to prove that the market is viable and people want to train this way, and show that different models (online, in-country hubs and blended) can work. There is also something on overcoming potential barriers around cultural sensitivity. For example, the teaching of fundamental British values may not be entirely appropriate for some cultures, and there is a need to navigate that locally.

I am really excited about the opportunities for us to support British international schools and NASBTT has already worked effectively with The English College in Prague on developing their trainee partnerships programme, also involving The British School of Brussels and St George’s British International School, Rome, with UK school-based ITT providers. Via NASBTT membership, we can help COBIS schools navigate iQTS in a number of ways e.g.:

  • Supporting candidates – online GCSE equivalents (which applicants will need to demonstrate) and free access to UK ENIC (the UK National Information Centre for the recognition and evaluation of international qualifications and skills) providing confidence that participants have an acceptable degree.
  • Through NASBTT Networks Live providing subject experts to lead topical online sessions for primary and secondary subjects to support trainees in improving their knowledge and confidence across the curriculum.
  • Mentoring training and development for teacher educators, including via our Teacher Educator and Mentoring Zone – dedicated guidance, resources and online CPD – and also our Teacher Educator Subject Networks.

NASBTT has already worked effectively with The English College in Prague on developing their trainee partnerships programme.

You can hear more from Emma at our 40th Annual Conference this May in her session ‘International QTS - Opportunities for British International Schools to Support Development of High-Quality Teachers’. Book your delegate place now.