An emotional literacy qualification that hundreds of teachers and school staff have studied for is being rejected by British universities because its only accreditation is from a website based on a small South Pacific island.
At least 35 teachers have grouped together to complain about the course, offered in Britain by the School of Emotional Literacy, saying that it is "not worth the paper it is printed on".
Local authorities have spent more than pound;300,000 on the school's courses, reflecting the increase in interest in emotional literacy, which teaches staff to communicate feelings better and understand those of their pupils.
The school's principal Elizabeth Morris said she was surprised to learn of the problems from The TES and has since dropped the title of "Dr", which she had been awarded by the same internet university, the University of Action Learning.
Ms Morris said: "I can absolutely assure you that if I'd have had any idea about this, I wouldn't have said the things I've said or been calling myself a doctor."
Carole Davies, the headteacher of Lydden Primary in Kent, is among those who had been led to believe their qualification would be accredited. "It was just not valuable at all. Thousands and thousands of words for no practical use and no educational status," Ms Davies said.
However, some students said that they had found the course useful and had not expected to use it towards other qualifications such as masters degrees.