Assessment Only (AO) Route to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) for Secondary Teachers


We are currently at capacity for our AO route and at present we are not accepting applications.  

The Assessment Only (AO) route does not require a period of training and is ideal for experienced graduate teachers from the UK or overseas who are currently teaching in a school but do not have QTS. This route is aimed at experienced graduate teachers who have taught in at least two schools or colleges. The minimum length of time that teachers have to have taught for is two years (or part time equivalent thereof). The MSC would usually require this to have been completed in UK schools. The teachers have to have taught over at least two consecutive age ranges within the 11-16 or 14-19 age range. 

Please be aware, we are based in Street, in the heart of Somerset, your location will be taken into account, your school must be accessible from Somerset (a reasonable distance and travelling time). We would not normally consider any candidate outside a fifty mile radius of Street. 

The information below is designed to provide some information on how to apply, the selection and assessment requirements and the fees.

If you think you are suitable for the AO route and would like to apply please read all of the information on this page carefully and then complete the Assessment Only Criteria Questionnaire which can be found here.


" I would highly recommend the MSC for their efficiency and accuracy. I feel equipped for my future in teaching."

                          Edri, 2013 MSC AO trainee

 Introduction and Overview

Assessment Only (AO) Route to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) for Secondary Teachers 

The information below is designed to provide some information on how to apply, the selection and assessment requirements and the fees. 


Eligibility and selection for the MSC Assessment Only route

 In order to be considered for this route the applicant must fulfil the following criteria. 

  1. Eligibility requirements: 


a) Must hold a UK first degree (normally a 2.2 or above) or equivalent qualification. (NARIC checked in the case of overseas trained teachers);

b) are required to have 50% of the subject they wish to teach in their degree;

c) Must have achieved a standard equivalent to a Grade 4 in the GCSE examinations in English and Mathematics (NARIC checked in the case of overseas trained teachers). Please note that qualifications in Key Functional Skills at Level 2 are not regarded as equivalent to GCSE;

d) Must have passed the Maths and English professional skills tests for ITT (this can be done during the MSC’s AO process but must be completed before the MSC can register applicants with the DfE)

e) Must have been subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) enhanced disclosure check and satisfy the Secretary of State’s requirements for health and physical capacity to teach requirement.

f) Must be able to demonstrate that they can meet all of the Teachers’ Standards (2012) within the 11-16 or 14-19 age phase without the need for any further training.

g) Must be working in a UK School, who are willing to support the training programme. Unlike our other routes to QTS, we do not match AO candidates to schools. AO candidates should apply with a school confirmed. 


Suitability requirements 

Applicants must 

a) Be currently teaching in a suitable educational setting in England (see below).

b) Be able to demonstrate that they have at least two years full time (or part time equivalent) classroom experience in teaching in the English curriculum in UK schools, in one or more of the following settings 

  • A state funded mainstream school, FE college, special school or PRU
  • An independent school

 c) Produce evidence that they can meet the Teachers’ Standards (2012) for classes, within the age ranges 11-16 or 14-19. Classes must customarily not have fewer than twenty learners.

d) Have taught in a second school for a minimum of 4 consecutive weeks before the candidate can be registered with the DfE. For applicants working in the independent sector the second school must be a mainstream, state funded school. Applicants working in specialist settings e.g. a special school, must have a second school teaching experience for at least 12 weeks in a mainstream setting. Applicants do not have to complete the second school placement before applying to the MSC but must have completed it before Stage 3 of the MSC’s AO process. Candidates are registered with the DfE after stage 3.


 The overall fee for the Assessment Only route is £2500.

Please note: any distance further than 20 miles from the MSC centre, will incur a 40p per mile additional surcharge.




Stage 1:



Non refundable


 Verification of eligibility and suitability for Assessment Only route to QTS


 Candidates will send copies of the following documents to the MSC with the application form.


  • Eligibility to work in the UK e.g. National Insurance Number.
  • GSCE, A-level (or equivalent) and Degree certificates.
  • Photo Identification – passport or Driving License
  • Marriage or Deed Poll Certificate (if change of name).
  • Confirmation of successful completion of the professional skills tests or registration with assessing body (if already taken).
  • Completed Health Questionnaire form.
  • Confirmation letter of support from the school



A decision on suitability of candidates to proceed with the Assessment Only route through to QTS. 

After candidates’ successful applications, the MSC will


  • Request a reference from the head teachers of the employing schools in which the applicants are currently teaching. This will include DBS confirmation and Personal & Professional Conduct declaration.
  • Request references from a second referee.
  • Request that the employing schools provides ‘suitability to teach’ letters if the completed health questionnaires indicates that further action is needed.
  • Send a copy of the AO Handbook to the candidate and supervisor.
  • Send a copy of the Partnership Agreement to the employing schools (unless the employing schools already have a current Partnership Agreement with the MSC). This must be completed and returned to the MSC before the AO process can continue.
  • Reference from second school (if previously completed) 

Stage 2:

Initial assessment, including lesson observation


Half day evidence scrutiny and review against the Teachers’ Standards


Induction on MSC documentation and procedures

(if required)


Fee if candidate is found suitable for progression on AO route £2,250



The meeting with the partnership manager will

  • Judge the quality of the evidence that the candidates currently have to demonstrate their competence against the Teachers’ Standards
  • Observation to assess if the candidate is suitable for the Assessment Only route
  • Give guidance and advice on what evidence needs to be collated to ensure that the candidates can demonstrate their competence against the Teachers’ Standards 

The candidates must bring the following original documents 

  • GCSE, A-Level and Degree certificates
  • Photo Identification – Passport or Driving License
  • Marriage or Deed Poll Certificate (if change of name)


The candidates must also bring 

  • Present evidence that they have negotiated timetables to demonstrate that Teachers’ Standards may be assessed in two consecutive age ranges.
  • Present evidence that they will have taught in at least two appropriate educational settings and that the partnership schools will support these applications.
  • Demonstrate their suitability to teach e.g. that they have the personal qualities and potential to demonstrate that they can meet the teachers’ standards.
  • Provide evidence that they have passed the professional skills tests.
  • Undergo evidence scrutiny to ascertain their current level of practice and identify any action which needs to be taken before registering with the DfE. The candidates must bring examples of 
  • lesson planning
  • SOW
  • Lesson resources
  • Assessment/pupils’ work
  • Wider participation in school life e.g. pastoral work, extracurricular work etc. 

The candidates must bring all recent lesson observations and appraisal documentation. There should be no fewer than 10 recent lesson observations which identify specifically strengths and areas for development referenced to the Teachers’ Standards.




The candidates will be provided with 

  • Summaries of the quality of their current evidence.
  • Detailed audits of any additional evidence required.
  • Suggestions of activities that candidates need to undertake to secure any additional evidence.
  • Copies of any resources e.g. lesson observation trackers, lesson observation forma, lesson planning proforma etc. to aid the collation of suitable evidence.


The candidates must demonstrate their potential ability to meet all the teachers’ standards without the need for any further training. 

Estimated time frame agreed for review of candidates’ progress.

Stage 3:

Pre-assessment check


This will be a half day visit to school – candidates need to have action points from Stage 2. 


  • To review candidates’ progress on securing and collating further evidence against the Teachers’ Standards as identified in Stage 1.
  • To moderate the judgements of candidates’ supervisors (joint lesson observations).
  • To give further advice on evidencing the Teachers’ Standards
  • To produce revised audits of the candidates’ current evidence.
  • To advise the MSC on candidates’ readiness for registration with the DfE and final assessment.
  • To offer guidance and advice to the supervisors on judging evidence against the Teachers’ Standards


During the visit 

  • There will be a joint lesson observation of the candidates between MSC tutors and school supervisors.
  • MSC tutors will observe, and contribute to, lesson feedback from the supervisors and candidates.
  • MSC tutors will check that the schools are fulfilling their responsibilities as detailed in the Memorandum of Agreement.
  • MSC tutors will scrutinize the candidates’ evidence against the Teachers’ Standards and provide candidates with feedback on their evidence and its suitability as final evidence against the standards for QTS (emailed).



  • Candidates will be emailed revised audits of their evidence and suggestions for further evidence if required within 10 working days.
  • Decisions will be made on whether candidates’ are ready for registration with the DfE. If candidates are deemed to be ready for assessment then the MSC will register them with the DfE. Candidates will be notified of their TRN numbers when they have been generated. The candidate then has 3 months from the date of registration in which to be assessed by the school and MSC.
  • Provisional dates for the final assessments will be agreed with the MSC after these visit.

Stage 4:

Final assessment


 Prior to final assessment 

It is employing schools’ responsibility to assess candidates’ practice against the Teachers Standards. The MSC will verify the schools’ judgements. The supervisors will need to assess the candidates against the Teachers’ Standards on the MSC’s final assessment report proforma.

These reports must be emailed to the MSC at least 5 working days before the dates of the final assessment. Failure to do this could result in the postponement of final assessments. 

Purpose of final assessment 

  • To verify the schools’ judgements on the candidates against the Teachers’ standards.
  • To make recommendations to the MSC for the award of QTS. 

During the visit 

  • MSC tutors will undertake one joint observation with the supervisors of the candidates’ classroom performance against the Teachers’ Standards.
  • The schools’ judgements of the candidates’ evidence against the standards will be scrutinised.
  • MSC tutors will discuss the candidates’ evidence with the school supervisors. The school supervisors may wish to make further comments which could be used in any final judgments made on the candidates.
  • The lesson observations and evidence will be discussed with the candidates and feedback will be given (written and verbal) on these elements.
  • MSC tutors will discuss the candidates’ areas of strength and areas for development with the candidates and supervisors and highlight areas which could be set as targets by the candidates for their induction years. 


  • The schools and MSC tutors will agree on an overall grade to describe the candidates’ current practice.
  • The schools and MSC tutors will decide whether the candidates have met the Teachers’ Standards. If successful, the candidates will be recommended for QTS.
  • Strengths and areas for development will be identified for the candidates’ NQT years.


 Stage 5:

Award of QTS



  • To recommend the candidates for QTS with the DfE.
  • To provide the candidates with summaries of the final assessment outcomes.
  • To provide the candidates with summary strengths and areas for development for the NQT year. 


  • The MSC tutors will return the final assessment paperwork to MSC for processing.
  • The candidates will receive their final assessment documents (scanned within two weeks).
  • The candidates will be notified of the date of the MSC Awards Boards. These will be typically held within two weeks of final assessments. (The Supervisors and/or Head Teachers will be cc into any correspondence).
  • The MSC will notify the DfE for recommendation for QTS following the MSC Awards Boards. Recommendations for the award of QTS will be backdated to the date of the final assessments.
  • Within 48 hours of the MSC recommending the candidates to the DfE, the candidates will receive notification directly from the DfE via email. The Candidates will then need to go online and download the QTS certificate.
  • The candidates must confirm to the MSC that they have received an email from the DfE.
  • The candidates will be asked to complete evaluation forms.


Ofsted Report