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AO applications

AO Home Introduction Summary Applications The Assessment Teaching Experience Portfolio Guidance

Applying for assessment via the Assessment Only route 

An AO applicant cannot complete the AO route successfully until he/she has been teaching successfully for a significant period of time (typically two or more years full time or the equivalent).

Short-term supply placements or work as a cover teacher/supervisor are not taken into account as they do not allow the AO applicant to take full responsibility for classes by undertaking the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of a normal timetabled teacher, and are not subject to the same procedures in a school for monitoring the quality of teaching and performance management.

Applications are a joint application from the school and AO applicant and must provide the information so that The Cambridge Partnership can check for compliance with the Regulations for entry to the Assessment Only route, and that the AO applicant will meet all requirements needed to gain QTS. The school must satisfy itself that the AO applicant has the necessary DBS and health clearance.

The AO applicant is interviewed about their teaching experience to date and is assessed for their skills in Fundamental English and mathematics following receipt of the application. This pre-assessment visit will identify whether the applicant has the necessary experience, skills, and qualifications to proceed to formal assessment. Written feedback is provided from this visit. Where successful, the applicant will then complete a portfolio of evidence to show how they meet the Teachers’ Standards. The evidence in the portfolio is reviewed at the start of formal assessment. This assessment will include observation of their teaching and interviews with key personnel in school to confirm potential to gain QTS. The applicant and school are informed whether the AO applicant has been successful and will be able to proceed to the final assessment of the AO procedures.

Structure of the Assessment

It is a requirement that each AO applicant’s preparation and assessment will include:
  • a compliance check by submitting the application form and necessary documents
  • regular lesson observations and mentoring meetings conducted by the school to provide evidence of the school’s assessment of the quality of the AO applicant’s teaching prior to submitting an application
  • building a portfolio of evidence demonstrating how each of the Teachers’ Standards has been met
  • a Pre-Assessment Review to determine whether the applicant has the necessary teaching experience and proficiency in Fundamental English and mathematical to proceed towards formal assessment
  • an Initial Assessment Visit that includes joint lesson observation undertaken by a representative of The Cambridge Partnership with the school’s professional tutor or mentor, review of the applicant’s portfolio of evidence, and discussions with school mentor and other relevant colleagues in the school
  • an Additional Visit if required, for example for subject or phase knowledge assessment and/or to review further evidence, including from lesson observation undertaken by a representative of The Cambridge Partnership, prior to final assessment
  • a Final Assessment Visit that includes review of any further evidence, discussion with senior staff from the school, and lesson observation undertaken by a representative of The Cambridge Partnership
Schools must provide support for the applicant in preparing for assessment and gathering evidence, for the assessment visits themselves, and throughout the period of the assessment process.

How long does the AO route take?

Time is needed to check applications and qualifications on receipt of the application, interview the applicant and assess their fundamental English and mathematical proficiencies and for the applicant to gather a portfolio of evidence to show that they meet all of the Teachers’ Standards and prepare for assessment. Typically, this takes between one and two terms from receipt of an application. It is important that the AO applicant has relevant employment assured for the whole of this period.

Assessment Only applicants must complete the formal assessment process within twelve weeks of The Cambridge Partnership registering with the Department for Education that the AO applicant has commenced the assessment for the Assessment Only route to QTS. AO applicants may be registered with the DfE following the Initial Assessment Visit (subject to meeting the requirements for successful teaching experience, meeting all entry requirements for the AO route, and satisfactory outcome from the pre-assessment visit).

Where the evidence available indicates that an AO applicant is not ready to be registered to start the formal assessment, the applicant will be provided with feedback on the actions that are necessary. In some circumstances, an Additional Visit at a later date may be arranged to assess the applicant’s readiness to start the formal assessment process and registration with the Department for Education.

The Assessment Only route is not appropriate for teachers who require further training to meet the requirements of the Teachers’ Standards, and where the need for further training is identified from the Pre-Assessment Review or the Initial Assessment Visit, alternative routes to gain QTS may be discussed with the applicant and senior staff in the school.

When to make an application

Applications may be submitted at any time during the school year. There are no ‘start’ dates - The Cambridge Partnership’s AO programme is adapted to meet each individual’s circumstances.

An application is best made after substantial experience has been gained as an unqualified teacher - such as in the final term of the two years working as an unqualified teacher, or after more than 2 years’ experience as an unqualified teacher. This allows the review of the application and the Pre-Assessment Review to take place to identify whether any further teaching experience or qualifications may be needed to be able to proceed to formal assessment.

Where applicants have experience of teaching in only one school, they may still submit an application. The review of the application and Pre-Assessment Review will provide the information needed so that The Cambridge Partnership can give specific advice about the nature and extent of any additional teaching experience that is needed. Such candidates would not proceed to formal assessment until the relevant additional experience has been gained.