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No, the four-letter acronym in the post title is not a substitute for a rude word, but actually stands for Qualified to Teach in the Learning and skills Sector (and now breathe…)

A word of warning, this post (and the subsequent posts it is likely to lead on to) will be of most use to and understandable by practitioners of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) who are working in the UK. And specifically, those who are working in publicly funded institutions. However, it may be of interest to those of you who are big into continuing professional development (CPD). Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s exposé time – a sort of ‘how we do things here’ sort of piece.

First of all a bit of background:

Working in ESOL in the UK requires you to become a member of the Institute for Learning (IfL) – the ‘the professional body for teachers, trainers, tutors, lecturers, assessors, etc (collectively referred to as teachers) working in the further education and skills sector in England […]'(1). The IfL’s vision is described thus on their website:

Our vision is to be a world class professional body and to serve our members in the best possible way. We intend FE practitioners to be properly recognized for excellent teaching and training. (2)

Part of being a member of the IfL means that you are required to do a certain amount of CPD during the academic year (a minimum of 30 hours if you are full-time; pro-rata for part-time and sessional teaching staff). This might seem like a lot, but really the definition of what constitutes CPD is quite loose:

What counts as CPD?

Examples include:

  • Reading relevant journal articles or reviewing books
  • Training courses or formal development or study
  • Peer review, mentoring or shadowing
  • Online learning including engagement in discussion forums and blogs
  • Viewing and reviewing television programmes, documentaries and the internet
  • And much more! (3)

Hey, you mean all this writing and reading blogs can count for CPD. Betcha bottom dollar mister! I have logged blogging and reading as CPD for the previous academic year, and no one has told me there was a problem. Ace! The key is to reflect on it, a point Phil Bird and I made sure to point out in a session on online CPD we did for the British Council at English UK and Trinity ESOL events (videos I believe to be soon available on the BC website – will link once I know they are up). We actually linked to three blogs in particular and highlighted ways to carry out CPD while reading them:

  • Mantras of a Madman – Mike Richmond-Coggin’s blog. We showed a lesson idea Mike had posted for teaching the past simple. Ways to use this as CPD would be to try out the lesson yourself, record good and bad points, and possibly report back to Mike on his blog.
  • e-blahblah – Sandra Pires’ tech blog. A video on using Flip video cameras was posted on Sandra’s blog. This would be a great alternative to paying for an expensive training session, wouldn’t it? Watch at your leisure, reflect, add your ideas. Good stuff.
  • An A to Z of ELT – Scott Thornbury’s blog. Take a look at Scott’s T for Teacher Training post. Reflect on the fact you might have paid a good few pounds subscribing to an English language teaching journal to read something similar. Enjoy and log your CPD.

That’s the basics of what I’m thinking viz a viz CPD these days, but I’m going to go into a bit more detail about the process of applying for and (hopefully!) achieving QTLS over the next couple of months. Next up will be writing a teaching biography. Catch you later!!


  1. Wikipedia
  2. IfL website
  3. IfL website

Image credit: self development by mrehan on Flickr