Assessment Only (AO) Route to Qualified Teacher Status – Secondary

Entry requirements: Please see the entry requirements tab below 
Full or Part-time: Full-time
School: School of Education Back to course finder

Course outline

Qualified Teacher Status is the United Kingdom’s professional accreditation for teaching.

The Assessment Only Route is a fast-track route (maximum 12 weeks) to gain Qualified Teacher Status for teachers with two or more years’ teaching experience.

Applications are welcome from teachers, who do not hold Qualified Teacher Status, currently teaching in a school in the UK or abroad, providing they meet the necessary criteria. Schools may be state-maintained, independent or international in any country.

Course content

A preliminary assessment of your suitability for the Assessment Only Route takes place prior to the start date. A tutor from the University of Buckingham will undertake this assessment at your school, and a decision on your suitability will be made on the day. A second tutor visit will take place within 12 weeks of the course start date and will be a final assessment against the Teaching Standards.

Assessment Only Candidates may apply for a September, January or April start date.

Entry requirements

For entry onto the Assessment Only Route, you will be expected to have the following qualifications:

  • A degree from a UK University or equivalent.
  • GCSE in English and Maths at grade C or above (or equivalent).

In addition you must:

  • Have two years’ teaching experience in at least two schools, one of which may be your current school. (For candidates who have taught in only one school, a minimum three-week teaching placement in another school will be required prior to the start of the course. The University of Buckingham may be able to assist in organising a placement school.)
  • Demonstrate that you meet all of the Teaching Standards across the age-range of assessment, as stipulated by the Department of Education.
  • Pass the Professional Skills Test prior to the start of the course.
  • Satisfy criteria based on suitability and aptitude for teaching.

How to apply

Please use the ‘Apply Now’ button in the silver box (above) or contact The School of Education on +44 (0)1280 820222 or email

Terms and conditions for prospective students

When you are offered a place at the University you will be notified of the terms and conditions between the University and students on our courses of study. When you accept an offer of a place on the course at the University a legal contract is formed between you and the University on the basis of the terms and conditions outlined in your offer letter. Your offer letter and the terms and conditions contain important information which you should read carefully before accepting any offer. Read the admissions terms and conditions > >

Home tuition fees European tuition fees International tuition fees
Document Request & Scrutiny – £500 (non-refundable)

Initial Assessment Visit – £1,000

Final Assessment Visit – £1,000

Document Request & Scrutiny – £500 (non-refundable)

Initial Assessment Visit – £1,125

Final Assessment Visit – £1,125

Trainees will also be expected to cover any visa, flight, accommodation, travel and sustenance costs incurred whilst the University tutor visits.

Document Request & Scrutiny – £500(non-refundable)

Initial Assessment Visit – £1,225

Final Assessment Visit – £1,225

Trainees will also be expected to cover any visa, flight, accommodation, travel and sustenance costs incurred whilst the University tutor visits

As there is no requirement to attend residentials at the University of Buckingham whilst on this course accommodation is not provided.

Who is eligible to access the AO Route?

The University of Buckingham’s Assessment Only (AO) Route to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is offered to teachers working in England or overseas (in state-maintained or independent schools) who wish to gain the professional teaching qualification for England (Qualified Teacher Status).

How long does the AO Route last?

Candidates must be able to demonstrate that they meet all the standards for QTS within a 12-week timeframe without the need for further training.

What teaching experience is required?

The University of Buckingham’s AO Route is for teachers who have taught for two or more years. (For candidates who have completed the University of Buckingham’s iPGCE, we may consider only one year of teaching experience). Teachers on the AO Route will have had experience of teaching in more than one school. If a candidate has only taught in one school, then a minimum three week placement in another school will be required prior to starting the assessment period. Please contact the University to gain more information about a second school placement, as consideration will need to be given to the type of school to satisfy the criteria for QTS. The candidate must undertake at least 30 hours of teaching their registered subject to full classes, across two consecutive key stages / age phases, during the second school placement.

Candidates must be able to satisfy the following:

  • Teaching of children from different backgrounds
  • Teaching children across the ability range
  • Teaching full classes for at least 50% of a full school timetable
  • Teaching in schools with different approaches to school organisation and management and different approaches to teaching & learning
To which age ranges must the candidates teach?

AO Route candidates will be able to demonstrate how they meet the Teachers’ Standards across two or more consecutive age ranges from the following:

  • Ages 5-7 (School years 1-2)
  • Ages 7-9 (School years 3-4)
  • Ages 9-11 (School years 5-6)
  • Ages 11-14 (School years 7-9)
  • Ages 14-16 (School years 10-11)
  • Ages 16-19 (School years 12-13)
What qualifications does a candidate need to hold?
  • GCSE Grade C (or equivalent) in English and Maths. Primary candidates must also have GCSE Grade C in a Science subject. If your qualifications are not GCSEs (i.e. candidates from overseas), you will need to have their equivalence checked with the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC).
  • A first degree from a UK University (2:2 or above) or equivalent qualification (overseas). For secondary school candidates, the degree must be in the candidate’s main teaching subject.
  • Pass the professional skills tests in literacy and numeracy (
  • Provide at least 2 satisfactory references from 2 schools (one must be the current employing school).
Are there other criteria?

Candidates must be employed as a teacher in a school, and can demonstrate that they are suitable to teach.

The assessments for the AO Route will take into account the candidate’s

  • intellectual and academic capabilities
  • appropriate qualities, attitudes, ethics and values
  • health and physical capacity to teach
  • DBS check (Overseas applicants will be subject to a DBS check. Police security checks, certificates of good conduct and other references will be secured in respect of time spent living in other countries.)
How is the AO Route assessed?

The AO Route consists of 3 Assessment Processes. The first is an assessment of the candidate’s application, which may include a request to supply additional information. Once a candidate is accepted onto the Route, they will undergo two assessment days in their school. The Initial Assessment Day (the second Assessment Process) will judge whether the candidate is likely to meet all of the QTS Teachers’ Standards within a maximum 12-week period without any further training. The Final Assessment Day (the third Assessment Process) will take place within 12 weeks from the Initial Assessment and will determine whether the candidate meets all of the Teachers’ Standards.

What happens once a candidate gains their QTS?

If the candidate is teaching in England they are eligible to undergo their Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year. If the candidate is teaching in a state-maintained school, the NQT year is usually overseen by the Local Authority. If the candidate teaches in an independent school, the NQT year can be overseen by the Local Authority or ISTIP (Independent Schools Teacher Induction Panel –

Candidates teaching in an overseas school which is registered to one of the following bodies may also undergo their NQT year through ISTIP, as long as the schools holds a post 2011 inspection report from BSO:

HMC – Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference
IAPS – Independent Association for Preparatory Schools
GSA – Girls’ Schools Association
SH – Society of Heads
ISA – Independent Schools Association
BSME – British Schools in the Middle East
COBIS – Council of British International Schools

Following a successful AO Route to QTS candidates should complete the enclosed Career Entry and Development Profile and return to the University. This document formally notes any targets for professional development to take forward to the NQT year.

What happens if a candidate, following the Initial Assessment, is deemed unlikely to meet the QTS Teachers’ Standards within a maximum 12 week period without any further training?

The candidate will not proceed through the Assessment Only Route. The candidate may apply to do a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) with Buckingham which is a formal teacher training route – this may lead to QTS if the candidate teaches in England. The candidate may apply again in the future and will be subject to the same assessment process.

How is a successful AO Route candidate informed that they have achieved QTS?

The outcome of the Final Assessment will be communicated to the candidate within three weeks of the assessment date. The University of Buckingham will then inform the Department for Education who award Qualified Teacher Status.

Is a supply teacher eligible for the AO Route?

In most cases this would not be possible, as it would be very difficult for supply teachers to evidence meeting the Teachers’ Standards by teaching the same pupils over a sustained period of time.

Is a candidate eligible for the AO Route if they have previously started a formal teacher training course but did not complete it?

Each such situation will be dealt with individually and the reasons for not finishing the course fully explored.

Are graduates from Buckingham’s Independent PGCE eligible for the AO Route?

Yes, as long as all the criteria for entry are met.

How much does the AO Route cost?

The total cost is £2,495, which is normally paid in three instalments.
There is no charge to submit an application.
£495: Non-refundable and payable at Stage 1b of the Assessment Process (see above), once the application has been provisionally accepted onto the Route.
£1,000: Payable prior to Stage 2 of the Assessment Process (Initial Assessment Day)
£1,000: Payable prior to Stage 3 of the Assessment Process (Final Assessment Day)