Assessment Only‎ > ‎

AO teaching experience

AO Home Introduction Summary  Applications The Assessment Teaching Experience Portfolio Guidance

Teaching Experience

The Assessment Only route is intended for very experienced graduate teachers without QTS, who can demonstrate meeting all the standards for QTS without the need for further training. Typically, only applicants with over 2 years’ teaching experience in schools, as an unqualified teacher would be suitable for the AO route. 

For experience of teaching to contribute to the 2 years’ experience, it must require the full responsibilities and accountabilities of the class teacher and be subject to the school’s procedures for assessment of the quality of teaching and performance management. 

For applicants being assessed in the primary age phase, the large majority of this teaching experience should cover the breadth of the primary curriculum. For those in the secondary phase, the large majority of experience should be in the subject for which they are to be assessed.

For those with a part-time teaching commitment, the equivalent of 2 years’ full time teaching experience may be accumulated over a longer period of time. This may include those who have other roles within a school which do not count as ‘teaching experience’ for AO (such as cover supervisor, teaching assistant, small group or one-to-one additional support or intervention, and pastoral support) in addition to their part-time teaching responsibilities.

Age Phase for Assessment

Assessment must ensure that applicants have the knowledge and skills they need to be able to teach in one of the specified age phases. Typically, primary assessment will take place across the 3-7, 5-11, or 7-11 age ranges. For middle, assessment typically will take place across the 9-14 age range, and for secondary, assessment will typically take place across the 11-16 or 14-19 age ranges. applicants must have evidence of the quality of their teaching for two age ranges within the age phase for assessment. 

Age phase for assessment

Minimum requirement for experience of year groups taught

3-7

Reception/EYFS

One of Year 1 or Year 2

5-11

One of Year 1 or Year 2

One of Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 or Year 6

7-11

One of Year 3 or Year 4

One of Year 5 or Year 6

9-14

One of Year 5 or Year 6

One of Year 7, Year 8, or Year 9

11-16

One of Year 7, Year 8 or Year 9

One of Year 10 or Year 11

14-19

One of Year 10 or Year 11

One of Year 12 or Year 13

applicants on middle phase programmes must demonstrate that they have met the standards for QTS across the relevant curriculum in primary, and in their specialist subject in secondary.

For all applicants, including those teaching in a special school, it is the age range of the pupils that is significant for identifying the relevant age phase for assessment, not the key stage curriculum that is being delivered. Pupils in year 9 following GCSE courses are part of the 11-14 age range.

Teaching Experience in a Second School

It is an entry requirement for Assessment Only 

“That all applicants have taught in at least two schools, early years and/or further education settings.”

The AO applicant must have taught in at least two schools across the specified age phase, at least one of which is a mainstream state-funded school. If the applicant has been employed only in their current school, they will need to provide evidence of sufficient and relevant teaching experience in a second school. 

If sufficient evidence of successful teaching in a second school is not available, the AO applicant must undergo a second school experience in England. At the second school the AO applicant must be responsible for planning, preparing, and teaching, and for assessing learners’ progress in the relevant subject or phase. The placement is arranged and funded by the employing school.

It is not possible for an applicant to demonstrate that they have experience of successful teaching in a school and be assessed by that school, in fewer than 20 days teaching (please see below for guidance for a placement at another school, and for additional information for applicants teaching in independent schools or special schools or specialist provision). For those in special settings including special schools, then any placement may need to be 30 days duration in order to provide sufficient opportunity to demonstrate that they meet the Teachers’ Standards across the ability range and age range in a mainstream setting.

Even if an AO applicant already has appropriate second school experience, a further school placement may be necessary in order to generate sufficient evidence of, for example, working with pupils with special needs, EAL pupils, or teaching across the age and ability range of the age phase for assessment. 

School experience as part of any short-term supply work or work as a cover teacher or cover supervisor will not count towards the second school requirement. To be considered relevant experience, teaching must include the full responsibilities and accountabilities of a class teacher, and be subject to the school’s procedures for monitoring the quality of teaching and performance management.

Please note that the total time spent as the class teacher is of significance. A 20-day or 30-day placement with a significantly reduced teaching load, or in which the AO applicant observes lessons or provides in-class support for a substantial period of time will not provide them with the opportunity to acquire sufficient experience as the teacher in that setting. Where teaching load is significantly lighter than that of a typical teacher, the placement would need to be for longer than the minimum. The placement should provide them with the opportunity to meet the Teachers’ Standards for the duration of the placement and is not intended merely to provide them with some experience in a contrasting setting.

Applications from teachers working in independent schools

The Cambridge Partnership accepts applications from AO applicants in independent schools. All applicants are required to have assessed, recent, relevant experience of teaching in a state-funded school across the age phase for assessment. If necessary, the Assessment Only applicant will need to complete a placement at a state-funded school in order to gain the evidence necessary for the award of QTS. This placement must be of sufficient duration to allow the AO applicant to demonstrate that they meet all of the Teachers’ Standards across the age and ability range. This must be a block placement with a minimum of 20 days’ teaching. A more extended placement is preferable, and may be required. The length of the placement in a state-funded mainstream school will be determined following receipt of an application and, in most cases, the Pre-Assessment Visit.

Applications from teachers working in special schools or specialist provision

The Cambridge Partnership accepts applications from AO applicants in special schools or specialist provision. If the AO applicant does not have evidence of assessed recent, relevant teaching in a state-funded mainstream school across the full ability range, the applicant will need to complete a placement at such a school in order to gain the evidence necessary for the award of QTS. This experience must include teaching of higher attaining students in the upper ages of the relevant age phase, and must be of sufficient duration to allow the AO applicant to demonstrate that they meet all of the Teachers’ Standards across the age and ability range. 

For applicants being assessed for the 11-16 age phase, there must be assessment of teaching a nominated subject to higher grades at GCSE, and an assessment of their knowledge of that subject. For those being assessed in the primary age phase, there must be evidence of teaching the upper age(s) across the primary curriculum. applicants on middle phase programmes must demonstrate that they have met the Teachers’ Standards across the relevant curriculum in primary, and in a mainstream school in their specialist subject in secondary (11-14 age range).

This will  require a block placement with 30 days’ teaching. In exceptional cases, it may be possible to reduce this time commitment, but it is essential that any such consideration is fully approved by The Cambridge Partnership AO manager prior to making arrangements. In all circumstances, there must be clear and obvious opportunity for the applicant to be able to provide evidence that they have successfully taught across the full ability range for the age phase.

Arrangements for a second school placement if required

Before a school makes any arrangements for a placement for an applicant, it is very important that these are approved by The Cambridge Partnership. An application should be submitted in advance of making these arrangements in order that the requirements for each individual case can be reviewed. It is helpful if details of possible arrangements can be given at the time of sending in the application form. Information about the additional experience necessary for the individual’s circumstances will be provided by The Cambridge Partnership after its review of the application and, in most cases, the Pre-Assessment Visit.

Summary of guidance for placement at another school

  • The placement should require all responsibilities and accountabilities of the role of the class teacher (e.g. planning and teaching of lessons, assessment, feedback, and tracking of progress).

  • The placement should be for a block of 20 or more days of teaching, with approximately 80% teaching commitment. For those employed in a special school or specialist provision, a placement should be for a block of 30 or more days’ teaching in a state-funded mainstream school in the same age phase.

  • Teaching should be in the age phase for the Assessment Only assessment. For applicants in the 11-16 age phase, it should include classes in Year 7 or 8, and in Year 10 or 11. For those in the Primary phase, it should provide further coverage of the relevant age ranges across the primary curriculum.

  • Together with the main experience of teaching, the range of ages and range of abilities should be covered. Where necessary, the placement should include any ages or abilities not taught through the main experience but of significance for Assessment Only (e.g. for those with no or limited experience of teaching to higher grades at GCSE, or in a different key stage/age range).

  • Some teaching should be subject to lesson observation to provide an assessment of the quality of teaching during the placement. Written feedback of the observation is needed to provide evidence of the assessment of the quality of the lessons.

  • The placement is not a ‘training’ placement to gain experience of another setting. Whilst the ‘host’ school can usefully provide lesson observation feedback, the AO applicant must have responsibility for teaching and assessment of the class, in line with the school’s curriculum and assessment requirements.

  • A reference will be required from an appropriate senior member of staff at the school (e.g. professional tutor). The Cambridge Partnership will need the contact details of the referee to request the reference.

  • Guidance and approval of any arrangements from The Cambridge Partnership is essential prior to finalising any arrangements for a placement at another school. This guidance will be provided following review of an application and, in most cases, the Pre-Assessment Visit.