The Assessment Only (AO) route

The Assessment Only (AO) route to Qualified Teacher Status provides candidates with a unique opportunity to gain QTS. The AO allows experienced teachers to demonstrate that they already meet all the QTS standards, without the need for any further training. Candidates need to present detailed evidence and their teaching is assessed in a school by one of our University tutors.


The University of Hertfordshire is an accredited and approved provider of the Assessment Only (AO) route into teaching, working in partnership with schools across:

  • Hertfordshire
  • Bedfordshire
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Essex
  • the North London Boroughs

The AO route is not Initial Teacher Training. All applicants must demonstrate that they meet the Teachers’ Standards without the need of further training. Places are only allocated when full requirements are met.

All candidates must already be working in a school in the area we cover and have the full support of their school to undertake AO. Candidates must also provide assurances of competency in fundamental English and Maths by the University of Hertfordshire Competency Audit in Fundamental English and Maths – this can be provided by the AO manager on request.

You will need to present detailed evidence, and your teaching will be assessed in a school by University of Hertfordshire tutors. Your University assessor will come from our highly competent, experienced team and will work alongside your school-appointed mentor to offer you personalised support at every stage of the Assessment Only Route.

During the assessment period, your supporting school will need to ensure that you have sufficient opportunity to develop and demonstrate the Teachers' Standards. You will need to comply with the Department for Education (DfE) requirements, including a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and meeting ‘Fitness to Teach’ regulations, plus any other relevant current legislation relating to the Teaching Profession.

Further information can be found on the Department for Education website: Assessment only route to QTS: criteria and supporting advice.

Assessment on the AO route leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), after which the full requirements for early career teachers (ECT) apply including the ECT induction period.

Entry requirements

You will need to:

  • hold a UK honours degree (2.2 or above) or a recognised equivalent qualification
  • hold GCSE grade 4 or above in Mathematics and English Language
  • for Primary teaching, you will also need GCSE grade 4 or above in a Science Subject (equivalents will be assessed on a case-by-case basis)
  • have several years’ experience in at least two schools
  • have worked as an unqualified class teacher in two different key stages
  • be employed in a school located in the area that we cover
  • have the full support of your school to undertake the AO
  • provide assurances of competency in fundamental English and Maths
  • prepare a detailed audit of your teaching experience
  • provide evidence of an Enhanced DBS check and fitness to teach check

Application guidance

You will need to complete an Initial Expression of Interest form that asks a few questions about your experience and return it via email to The AO route manager will then be in touch to discuss your experience and see if the route is suited to you. If suitable, you will be sent our formal application form.

Please read our application guide for detailed information about the application process.


The application stage will take as long as necessary until all entry requirements are fulfilled. This may vary between a short time (e.g. 2-3 weeks) to a much longer period depending on your circumstances.

The assessment stage lasts up to a maximum period of 12 calendar weeks. Once registration is complete, the AOR must be completed in 12 weeks by candidates who have met all the requirements.

Fees and funding

The total cost for the AO route to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is £2,500.

This fee is paid in two instalments – the first at point of application, and the second after the Briefing and Interview have been carried out.

Please note that there is no funding for the AO route so full costs must be paid by the applicant or their school.

Find out more information about the AO costs.

Overseas Trained Teachers

The DfE is developing a fairer approach to awarding QTS to teachers from overseas, and this will come into effect from 1 February 2023. Building on the route to QTS currently offered by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA), the DfE will introduce a new service gradually that will help many teachers who have been trained overseas.  Find out more about awarding QTS to overseas teachers.

Further Information

Download the Overview of the Assessment Only route
Download the Initial Expression of Interest form
Contact the AO team on