January 4, 2021

GLH, RQF, TQT, EQA, IQA – a confusing bunch of letters!

If you’re looking at taking a training course which leads to a proper, recognised, qualification then you’ve probably noticed that the whole area is rife with acronyms, initials and odd little three-letter addendums.  You’re certainly not alone if you think that these are confusing, inconsistent and, well, generally a pain to deal with. We’re talking here about letters such as GLH, RQF, TQT, EQA and IQA which seem, to the casual reader, to pop up at random. Of course, every trade, workplace and industry has its own set of jargon which often includes initials.  Whether you’re in civil engineering, hairdressing, social work, horticulture, accounting or medicine you’ll be dealing with initials and acronyms or letter-based words every day.   And if you’re reading this thinking “not where I work” then try speaking to somebody outside your industry, about your work, exactly as you would to a colleague – it probably won’t be more than 10 minutes before you stumble upon some set of initials which needs explaining!  But we can all agree that in the education and training world it’s far more widespread than other industries, plus it’s in a constant state of flux. With this in mind we’ve put together a quick guide for you: 

RQF Regulated Qualification Framework 

Designated by the regulatory body Ofqual, designed to be a ‘simple and descriptive framework’. Basically it’s confirmation that a qualification is regulated by Ofqual and therefore nationally recognised. For example Level 3 Award in Assessing Vocationally Related Achievement (RQF) is a nationally recognised and regulated qualification thus you can be sure that it’s valid and proves that you have reached the standards set according to Ofqual.

QCF Qualification Credit Framework

This was a sort of predecessor to RQF, and has since been replaced so you won’t find any current qualifications with QCF in the title, although it is sometimes still mentioned by awarding organisations and is still regularly cited in the field of education and training.

TQT Total Qualification Time 

Each qualification is assigned a TQT and this is the minimum number of total hours a typical learner will take to complete the qualification. And since the word “Total” appears, yes this means not just the time taking part in lessons but also studying, reading and practicing. But remember there’s little scientific rigour behind a TQT number, and indeed there can’t be since we humans are all so different at the speed and pace we learn at. It’s an estimate at best.

GLH Guided Learning Hours 

This has been scrapped, but was used to measure the size of the QCF qualifications in terms of learning time needed. Although Ofqual recognised that GLH was sometimes being applied inconsistently and inaccurately they didn’t fix it they scrapped it and replaced it with TQT.

EQA External Quality Assurer
External Quality Assurers are employed by Awarding Organisations (such as City & Guilds) to carry out quality assurance on approved centres (such as Carlton Training).  Their role is to make sure that the standards of assessment are maintained and the centre is operating in accordance with the Awarding Organisation’s requirements. They might hold qualifications such as Level 4 Award in External Quality Assurance of Assessment Processes and Practice (RQF)

IQA Internal Quality Assurer

Internal Quality Assurers work at approved centres which are providing qualifications. Their role is to make sure that the centre is meeting the Awarding Organisation requirements and that assessors are keeping up to date, making fair decisions and documenting their work correctly. They often hold the Level 4 Award in the Internal Quality Assurance of Assessment Processes and Practice (RQF)

QTS Qualified Teacher Status

This is the traditional route to becoming a teacher, and it’s the one which the Department of Education makes the most noise about. You’ll usually need a degree or Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), plus additional time as a Newly Qualified Teacher before you are fully fledged.

QTLS Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills

Since 2012 this has been another route to being a qualified teacher although the Department of Education keeps the fact well hidden. You don’t need an expensive degree or University study since the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training is usually the route most people take.


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