Assessment Only Route

The AO route is intended for very experienced graduate teachers without QTS.  Our programme is predominately aimed at colleagues who wish to be assessed for the Early Years and Primary phases of education.   We will also consider applicants working in special schools, using the Primary National Curriculum and colleagues working in Middle Schools.   We are based near to Stoke on Trent and will assess colleagues working in Stoke, Cheshire or Staffordshire schools or who are within a 35 mile radius of our base (ST5 3PJ).  Applicants will have a wealth of prior teaching experience. Many will be currently employed as unqualified teachers or higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs). All will have considerable teaching experience across two consecutive age phases. This experience will include responsibility for planning, teaching and assessment of whole classes of fifteen pupils or more during the last 2-3 years prior to commencement of the 12 week assessment period. This experience should be gained across a minimum of two different settings. You must have been responsible for teaching and planning in both schools. This experience should have been gained within three years of the AO commencement date.

Typically, a candidate with fewer than 2 years of teaching experience in schools as an unqualified teacher would be unsuitable for the assessment only route.

Age Ranges
We are able to assess candidates for the 3-7, 3-9, 5-11 and 7-11 age ranges.

3-9 Assessment

Those on 3–9 routes will be expected to demonstrate achievement of the standards for QTS in the foundation stage, in key stage 1, and in lower key stage 2.

5-11 Assessment

In the case of 5–11 assessment, candidates will be expected to demonstrate achievement of the standards for qualified teacher status (QTS) across key stages 1 and 2, but not necessarily in both of the 7–9 and 9–11 age ranges discretely.

7-11 Assessment

However, those on 7–11 assessment routes will be expected to demonstrate achievement of the standards for QTS in both the 7–9 and 9–11 age ranges.

Assessment within a Special School or Independent Settings

We are pleased to offer the opportunity to be assessed in a special school or independent setting. We must assure ourselves that all applicants have the capacity to teach across the full ability range for the age group for which they are to be assessed. Additionally we will assure ourselves that applicants have the capability to teach whole classes. Often this can best be evidenced through a second school placement that is in a mainstream setting. We are happy to help to facilitate such placements. We are pleased to be working within a range of special school environments and with the independent sector.  We welcome  individual discussions so that we can enable applicants to secure appropriate pre-assessment evidence.

Time Scale

The whole process for the assessment a candidate should be completed in no longer than three calendar months from their registered start date. Applications can be received throughout the academic year. In order to enable candidates to meet the 12 week assessment period, there are three assessment periods offered during any one academic year. These dates also ensure that significant holiday periods are excluded from the assessment time-frame.


The Assessment Only process leads to Qualified Teacher Status only, in other words you then have to undertake a period of statutory Induction; see

Further Information

If you are interested in knowing more about this exciting opportunity, then please click on the tabs to find out more. You are also welcome to chat to us so that we can advise you further at one of our ‘come and meet us events’ (details are updated regularly on this website) or click Contact Us.

Assessment Dates

The following assessment periods are currently on offer:

2022/23 Academic Year

Cohort 23

Start Date:19th September 2022
Completion Date: 9th December 2022
Expressions of Interest must be submitted by: 10th June 2022

Cohort 24

Start Date: 9th January 2023
Completion Date: 31st March 2023
Expressions of Interest must be submitted by: 11th November 2022

Cohort 25

Start Date: 24th April 2023
Completion Date: 14th July 2023
Expressions of Interest must be submitted by: 24th February 2023

Route Fees

Our Fees

Our fees will be £2,750 which includes a non-refundable deposit of £500. This deposit is made up of two sums of £250 payable prior to each of the SCITT-based and School-based interviews. Both these stages also involve the submission and assessment of an initial portfolio. These portfolios will demonstrate your competencies in relation to the Teachers’ Standards.

£1,000 is payable at the start of the twelve week Assessment Only period. An invoice for the final £1,250 will be levied during the seventh week of the twelve week Assessment Period.


There is no funding available for the AO route and so candidates will either be self-financing or sponsored by a school. KNSTE reserves the right to make increases to the above fees schedule in line with advise from the KNSTE Strategic Board.

Not Currently Employed in a School

If candidates are not currently employed in a school but meet the entry requirements and are successful at interview they can apply for a KNSTE Partnership school to host them for the 12 week assessment period. If this is the case, then an additional placement fee of £1,000 will apply. This will be levied once a suitable school has been found. Please be advised that on occasions, this can take some time, and is dependent on capacity within the partnership.

Second Placement Needed
If you need to secure a second school teaching placement prior to the commencement of the formal assessment period, then again, it may be possible for the KNSTE to broker such a placement within its partnership. There is likely to be a fee of £500 to enable a school to release senior colleagues to support you in securing the teaching evidence required for successful progression onto the AO programme.

Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements are as follows:

  • a standard equivalent to a grade C/4 in the GCSE examinations in English, mathematics and science. Please note qualifications in key and functional skills at level 2 are not equivalent to GCSEs in terms of their breadth of content and so are not acceptable as equivalent qualifications.
  • a first degree of a United Kingdom higher education institution or equivalent qualification (2:2 or above) In very rare and exceptional circumstances a candidate with a Third Class degree may be considered.
  • a suitable reference from a school or setting where you have been employed or volunteered during the last two years
  • a sufficient initial portfolio that demonstrates a capacity to teach across two consecutive age phases and an appropriate level of subject knowledge across the primary curriculum. Prior to the commencement of the assessment period the following will also need to have been secured, these are therefore likely to be set as conditions that have to be met. This evidence must have been secured within three years of the start date of your Assessment Only period.
  • evidence that you have Disclosure and Barring service (DBS) clearance.
  • you must provide evidence that you can meet the Secretary of States’ requirements for health and physical capacity to teach. You will be asked to complete a fitness questionnaire – this will not ask all encompassing health questions, but rather will assure us that you can carry out the intrinsic function of the work of a teacher.


Please note that the KNSTE will assess the content of qualifications submitted as equivalent to GCSE or first degree, and will advise applicants regarding equivalency tests or additional programmes prior to taking applications further.

Age Ranges Taught

Further information is found here.

Teaching In Two Schools
Candidates need to have taught in at least two schools and/or early years settings prior to the commencement of the assessment period. It is not sufficient to have simply had experience of another school or setting and so we will need to clarify with you the nature and extent of your prior experience. We will do this during Stage 1 of the selection process. You need to demonstrate that you have had your teaching assessed within this setting rather than simply having worked there in a support role.

If you do not yet have this

If you are yet to secure this evidence, but feel that you meet all the other criteria, we would encourage you to complete an expression of interest form and self-assessment matrix so that you can progress through Stage 1 of the selection process. If you are successful at this point, you would then need to arrange for your second school teaching to occur prior to progressing to Stage 2 of the selection process. It may be that the KNSTE can help to find you a suitable second placement school or setting. This is likely to last at least half a term. You will be required to create a portfolio that demonstrates your competence relative to the Teachers’ Standards in this school / setting.

Selection Process

Stage 1: Initial Needs Assessment

Entry Requirements

If you meet the entry requirements, or meet all entry requirements with the exception of the second school experience, then you need to complete a KNSTE AO Expression of Interest Application Form (October 2017) and a KNSTE Self Assessment Matrix


If appropriate you will then be invited to a SCITT based interview with an Assessment Tutor. This stage of the assessment process will consist of activities that:

  • enable you to demonstrate that you have the intellectual and academic capabilities to meet the required QTS standards
  • allow you to demonstrate that you possess the appropriate qualities, attitudes and values expected of a teacher
  • assess your ability to communicate using Standard English
  • enable you to demonstrate your capabilities in relation to the fundamental mathematics and English expectations associated with the profession of teaching
  • assess your initial portfolio
  • judge the extent to which your application meets the entry requirements for AO
  • evidence your teaching in a second school mapped to aspects of the Teachers’ Standards.

Certificates, ID and Portfolio

You will be required to bring along original copies of your degree and GCSE maths, English Language and science certificates.

You will also need to have with you photographic ID and if necessary further identification required for a DBS application.

You will also be required to bring along an initial portfolio that demonstrates your experience and evidence to date. The KNSTE Initial Portfolio Assessment Grid will give you an indication of what is required.

Successful so far

If you are successful at this stage, then you will be invited for a second school-based interview. This will be subject to you meeting any required conditions.

Successful so far but with insufficient second school experience

If you are successful at the centre based interview stage in all aspects other than having a sufficient second school experience, then successful achievement within a second school can be set as a condition that needs to be met and evidenced before processing to the second school-based interview stage.

Unsuccessful so far
If you are not successful in demonstrating aspects of your practice beyond the second school experience then we will agree with you an Assessment Only Personal Plan. This will enable you to secure the appropriate evidence to enable you to meet the requirements in order to commence the route. When you feel that this is complete contact Trish Locker so that you can then be re-assessed. One reassessment is included in the £250 fee. If you require more than one re-assessment then an additional £250 will be payable.

Stage 2: Demonstration of Competence

School Based Assessment

At this stage a second £250 non re-fundable deposit is required. This assessment will be conducted by a KNSTE assessor together with a senior colleague and will consist of:

  • a joint lesson observation
  • a joint review of your portfolio relative to the Teachers’ Standards
  • a joint interview
  • this assessment will also demonstrate your ability to communicate using standard English and read with understanding


On successful completion at this stage of the AO interview process, you will then have demonstrated the potential to meet all the standards for QTS without the need for any further training. Your employing / placement school will then be required to sign and submit to the KNSTE an Assessment Only Partnership Agreement prior to the commencement of your assessment period. This includes an audit to assure the KNSTE of the suitability of the school as a placement for the AO route. You can then be registered by the KNSTE with NCTL and the assessment period can begin. A fee of £1,000 is also payable at this point with the final £1,000 being collected at the end of the assessment period.

Assessment Only Process

You will be accepted onto the route and your 12 week assessment period will begin on one of the pre-arranged dates once a signed partnership agreement has been received from your employing / placement school.

Visit 1 – in week 2 or 3 of the 12 week assessment

  • A lesson observation either maths or English and phonics
  • A viva on the developing portfolio
  • Advice about preparation of the final portfolio
  • An interview with your Teacher Educator to offer guidance and advice as appropriate

Visit 2 – in week 6 or 7 of the assessment period

  • Two lesson observations either maths or English (whichever was not observed during visit 1) and a foundation subject or topic lesson
  • A viva on the subject knowledge audit
  • A viva to secure evidence of teaching across at least two consequence age ranges or for candidates on the 5-11 route, across key stage 1 and key stage 2
  • An interview with your Teacher Educator to offer guidance and advice as appropriate
  • Advice about preparation of the final portfolio
  • Advice about the preparation of your Transition to NQT Summary Document

Monitoring Visit (Visit 3) – in week 8 or 9 of the assessment period

  • The portfolio should be complete. It will have been read by the Teacher Educator to ensure that it is completed correctly and that the candidate’s claims are robust and verifiable. The portfolio will be scrutinised by the Personal Tutor who will provide feedback and advice in preparation for the Assessment Day.
  • Discussion about your Transition to NQT summary document
  • An interview with your Teacher Educator

Assessment Visit – in week 10 of the assessment period.

This will be conducted by a KNSTE tutor who has not supported you on the AO route.

  • A lesson observation of English and Maths
  • An examination of the final portfolio
  • An examination of your Transition to NQT Summary document
  • The assessor will meet with your Teacher Educator and a Senior School Colleague to confirm the demonstration of your capabilities

The Strategic Board will then meet to scrutinise the assessment judgement – this will take place in week 12 of the assessment period in order that the KNSTE can submit the required DfE recommendation.

After Achieving Assesment Only

The Induction Period

Once you have successfully completed your AO route and you have achieved QTS, you will then need to complete an induction period. Usually induction lasts for a year however for an individual who has achieved QTS through the Assessment Only Route, you may complete induction in one term. You should agree the duration of your induction with your employer who will need to support you through this period.

Qualified teachers who are employed in maintained schools, non-maintained special schools, maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units in England must, by law, complete an induction period after gaining qualified teacher status (QTS). We would recommend that you seriously consider the full induction period as this enables you to further develop your practice, observe colleagues, and visit other schools and settings etc. in order to make you the best teacher you can be.

Further Guidance

Further guidance in relation to the induction period can be found on the Department for Education (DfE) website at the following url:

We would also be looking to encourage you to be ambitious for your on going continuing professional development and if appropriate would want to share with you Masters-level and CPD opportunities that could be available to you through the KNSTE. These will be shared via our website.

How To Apply For Assessment Only

Further Information

For further information about this route, please use the Contact Us or give us a call on 01782 432537.


To apply please complete a KNSTE AO Expression of Interest Application Form (October 2017)  and a KNSTE Self Assessment Matrix and email to the address found at the bottom of the Expression of interest form. You will receive an acknowledgement that your form has been received within 3 working days. We will then contact you within 15 working days from our acknowledgement to advise you if we wish to proceed with your application or to offer you feedback.

Should you be invited to a Stage 1 Initial Needs Assessment. You will be asked to bring with you an initial portfolio. You may be called for interview at relatively short notice and so we strongly advise you to have your Initial Portfolio ready and prepared at the time that you submit your Expression of Interest Form. We strongly advise you to use this KNSTE Initial Portfolio Assessment Grid grid so that you have organised your evidence appropriately.

Frequently Asked Questions

We consider each applicant on an individual basis related to their experiences and although we cannot guarantee that every applicant will be accepted for this route, holding a 2:2 or 3rd Class degree is not always a barrier.

Legislation requires all entrants to teaching in England to have a UK first degree or equivalent qualification. Any equivalent qualification must be one single qualification, not an aggregation of a number of separate qualifications. A first degree comprises 300 HE credit points of which 60 must be at level 6 of the QCF. A Foundation degree is the academic equivalent to two-thirds of a Bachelor’s degree and comprises of credit points at level 5 and requires an additional year’s study to attain the level of a first degree. The Open University offers a variety of ‘top - up degree’ courses. Additionally Staffordshire University is a local provider who offers a top up qualification.

If you are confident that, with current knowledge and/or private revision/tutoring of your own, you would be able to pass a one-off test this might be the quickest route to obtaining this qualification. This is called an equivalency test and is an officially recognised exam, prepared and externally assessed by a freelance equivalency testing service. KNSTE use BCU for this and can refer you to them if needed. 

We welcome applications at an early stage.  You may not have experienced teaching in another school and this requirement will need to be met.  This frequently occurs as a placement in a contrasting school. So whilst this is a requirement of the course, you can make an initial application without it and following your Stage 1 interview, we can put a personal learning plan in place.

To ensure that there are sufficient opportunities to develop practice in planning, teaching and assessing children across the breadth of abilities and a range of subjects, experience in another school should be for about half a term (minimum of 6 weeks full time in school, 10 weeks if attending school for three days a week.). On occasions it may be possible to arrange a swap between two potential AO candidates, both of whom lack the alternative school experience.

We anticipate that opportunities to plan, teach and assess would increase during the placement building to responsibility for 60% of the teaching timetable. This includes planning, marking and assessing.

Yes! Often combining a second school experience with teaching children from a different, but consecutive, age-phase is an effective way of meeting both of these criteria.

Acceptance onto the Assessment Only route requires the candidate to be ‘job ready’.  The planning of lessons forms a significant part of a teachers’ duties and therefore there is a requirement for those applying for the Assessment Only route to have had considerable experience of this. It is therefore important to liaise with senior leaders within your school to share this requirement with them. Plans can then be put in place prior to the commencement of the AO period to enable you to meet this requirement.

KNSTE consider each application carefully but as a general rule, those with less than two years of planning, teaching and assessing pupils, for an equivalent of 60% of the teaching week, would not be considered ready initially. However, we welcome enquiries and applications at an early stage to allow us to assess your readiness for the Assessment Only route and to provide advice about the way forward.

The evidence will vary according to situation and experiences. Documents such as lesson observations, lesson plans that have been evaluated, examples of record keeping, marking etc are usually included.  There is no expectation that the portfolio will be complete upon application. KNSTE will provide a document that lists possible evidence for each of the Teachers’ Standards in greater detail upon receipt of an application (Expression of Interest form). However, if you are interested in this route you may wish to start to put a portfolio together.  For the purpose of assessment we will only consider evidence that is within 3 years of starting the Assessment Period. The documents will only be those that occur ‘naturally’ as part of your practice and there is no requirement to generate any evidence / documentation specifically for the portfolio.

To gain QTS you will need to demonstrate your ability to teach the core subjects along with the foundation subjects and therefore will benefit from gaining experience with teaching these.

Unfortunately, for those teaching in a mainstream school this would not be accepted.  KNSTE require teaching experiences to be with groups of 15 or more pupils as these demonstrate your ability to teach a full class of 15 or more pupils.  We appreciate that the situation is different in a Special School.

At present-no. This is because apprenticeships are only available for courses of a minimum of 12 months duration.

The decision will be made by the applicant and the school they work in. Sometimes it is the person looking to gain QTS who pays, sometimes the school pays or the payments can be shared.

Yes! KNSTE require a Partnership Agreement to be signed by the school’s Headteacher indicating their support of the process.  You would also require a mentor, usually a senior member of staff, who would observe your teaching during the assessment period and provide support and advice about your teaching and developing portfolio.

Yes.  KNSTE will take into account the curriculum age of the children you are teaching.  This will then help us to determine the appropriate age range for your AO qualification.