Gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) while teaching in your current school via the Assessment Only route at the University of Cumbria.

Achieve QTS with the University of Cumbria within 12 weeks by demonstrating your teaching experience via interview, e-portfolio, and assessed practice.

This route is perfect for experienced unqualified teachers in maintained or independent schools who teach the English National Curriculum in primary or secondary age ranges.

The unique feature of this route is its ‘assessment only’ characteristic.  The University of Cumbria does not provide any training. This route is designed for candidates who can demonstrate that they are able to fully meet all of the Teachers’ Standards without the need for further training.

The University of Cumbria has been inspiring teachers through training and professional development for over 100 years, beginning with our founding institutions, St Martin’s College in Lancaster and Charlotte Mason College in Ambleside. Take advantage of our straightforward and supportive route to achieve QTS and help advance your career. 

Information sharing sessions

Potential candidates are strongly encouraged to attend one of our free online information sessions to gain further insight into the QTS Assessment Only route, meet members of the assessment team, and have the opportunity to ask questions relevant to your personal experience.

In previous years, 100% of successful Assessment Only candidates stated that attending an information session really helped them with their application.

‘The online session provided extensive information which was honest and transparent about who the route was suitable for. Queries I had after this were followed up quickly and in detail.’

(Candidate feedback, 2023)

Information session dates for 2024 are:

Book now

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To book a place on an information session please email

Register your interest

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The Assessment Only route will enable you to demonstrate the professional understanding and skills necessary to meet QTS standards, evaluate your current practice, and support your continuing professional development.

Everything that you need to guide you through the assessment will be provided:  a detailed route handbook for both you and your school mentor, document templates and proformas, and access to our Virtual Learning Environment where you will complete your electronic portfolio.

Your school mentor will support the development of your e-portfolio and provide lesson observations during your assessed practice. We will allocate to you a named university tutor who will provide advice and support throughout the whole process. Your school mentor and university tutor will work in partnership to assess that your e-portfolio evidence and classroom practice fully meet the Teachers’ Standards.

The length of time from your initial assessment interview to the completion of your assessment is between 6 to 12 weeks.

On being accepted onto the route, the assessment process is in four stages:

  1. Candidate prepares e-portfolio
  2. Initial assessment interview with school mentor and university tutor
  3. 4-week assessed practice in candidate’s school
  4. QTS review meeting with school mentor and university tutor

For a detailed summary please read our programme specification for this route.

Programme Specification


QTS Assessment Only fees are £2,725, payable in the following instalments:

  • £550 payable before the initial assessment interview
  • £2175 payable on completion of initial assessment

Please note, should candidates fail to provide sufficient evidence at the initial assessment stage to continue to the assessed practice stage, the £550 paid is non-refundable.

No additional costs are anticipated.

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Entry Requirements

Before you apply you must have the following essential entry criteria:

  • An honours degree (or equivalent qualification).
  • GCSE grade 4/grade C (or equivalent qualification) in English and Mathematics. Primary candidates must additionally provide GCSE grade 4/grade C (or equivalent qualification) in a Science subject.
  • A minimum of two years’ full-time, whole-class teaching experience (including evidence of planning, teaching, assessment, and reporting).
  • Experience of teaching in at least two or more schools, early years, or further education settings.
  • Experience of teaching across two or more consecutive age ranges (3-7 years, 5-11 years, 7-11 years, 7-14 years, 11-16 years, 16-19 years).
  • Evidence to demonstrate how you already fully meet the Teachers’ Standards without the need for further training or experience.

 Applicants must have the active support of a sponsoring school who can provide the following: 

  • A signed Partnership Agreement (provided on application).
  • A professional reference to confirm your teaching has been recently observed and meets the Teachers’ Standards.
  • A named and suitably qualified mentor to work in partnership with your university tutor to carry out your assessment.
  • Evidence that the school is in a suitable position to carry out your QTS assessment (for example, an Ofsted report).

 For further guidance on entry requirements please see the Department for Education guidance for the Assessment Only route to QTS.

How to Apply

To start your application please complete our online application form:

Online Application Form

You will be asked to provide your details and a brief summary of your qualifications and teaching experience.

After you have submitted the online form, our Admissions team will contact you to request more details. You will be asked to submit the following:

  • Additional Information Form. Here you will give us details of your teaching experience to date, including qualifications, courses attended, and detailed timetables to demonstrate a minimum of two years’ full time whole class teaching experience in at least two school settings.
  • Partnership Agreement to be completed and signed by your sponsoring school.
  • Reference Templates. A minimum of two references will be required from your current sponsoring school and your second setting.

 If your application is successful you will also be asked to:

  • Provide ID evidence.
  • Be subject to a DBS enhanced disclosure check.
  • Submit a medical disclosure form to evidence fitness to teach.

Application Timeframes

Completed applications are considered by an Application Review Panel made up of the Programme Leader and other members of the assessment team. The Panel will assess the evidence provided by your application against the DfE’s guidance for Assessment Only eligibility.

Application Review Panels are held as follows:

  • In November (for assessment in the following Spring term). Applications should be submitted by 31st October 2023.
  • In March (for assessment in the following Summer term). Applications should be submitted by 16th February 2024.
  • In July (for assessment in the following Autumn term). Applications should be submitted by 10th June 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to have taught all key stages in my school?

No. Your assessment must consist of evidence that you have met all of the Teachers’ Standards in at least two age ranges. The age ranges for assessment are

  •  3-7 years
  • 5-11 years
  • 7-11 years
  • 7-14 years
  • 11-16 years
  • 16-19 years

I only have experience of teaching in one school. Can I still apply?

Assessment Only entry criteria states that applicants must have experience of teaching in two settings. Candidates will need at least 20 days’ teaching experience in a second setting before they are eligible for this route.  A 20 day whole class teaching experience would need to be arranged independently between schools in preparation for your assessment.  This teaching experience must involve substantial teaching (ie at least 50% of timetable), not learning support. It may be undertaken as a block, or weekly over the term. A timetable and reference are required from your second school to confirm that your teaching meets the Teachers’ Standards.  When making arrangements between schools, target any ‘gaps’ or limitations in your current teaching experience. For example, related to boys/girls, age range, ability range, pupils’ backgrounds, class sizes, subject & pedagogy, GCSE/BTEC requirements, school approaches and organisation etc.

What if I don’t teach a full weekly timetable?

It depends on what teaching experience you have behind you. As a general rule, you should be able to evidence experience of teaching around an 80% full-time timetable for a minimum of two years (or pro-rata equivalent). However, we will consider each applicant’s unique situation in accordance with the DfE guidance on sufficient breadth and variety of experience.

I don’t work in a mainstream school, can I still apply?

Yes. Many applicants are from the independent sector, including Prep schools, or teachers who work in Special Schools, colleges or PRUs. For all applicants in these settings consideration will be given to their teaching experience as a whole, across their two settings, to make sure that they have had the opportunity to fully demonstrate meeting all the standards across their full age and ability range.  Where necessary, additional evidence of teaching may be required to provide further evidence. For example, related to boys/girls, class sizes, age ranges, full ability range, subject & pedagogy; GCSE/BTEC requirements, pupils’ backgrounds, school approaches and organisation etc.

I only teach small classes - is this a problem?

We realise that this is the teaching context for some applicants, who work with smaller class sizes. We will discuss each context individually to ensure that the eligibility requirements are met. Where necessary, additional evidence of teaching may be arranged, eg teaching larger classes, to address the full expectations of the Teachers’ Standards.

Is there any training, placements or teaching practices?

No. Assessment Only is NOT A TRAINING ROUTE. This route is for experienced unqualified teachers who already meet all requirements of the Teachers’ Standards. No additional training is provided. Please note, this means we also cannot accept evidence or experience gained as part of a teacher training route in your application or portfolio.

I am an unqualified new teacher, can my school train me for QTS itself?

If your school has appointed you as an unqualified new teacher to teach your own timetable and it supports your professional development and journey to QTS, as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria, this route would become suitable for you in due course.

This route is not suitable for trainees and it is not compatible with an in-house teacher training route, eg, similar to other teacher training routes. If you do not teach a full timetable, this should only be because of your other responsibilities in school, not because you are regarded as a trainee. Other recognised teacher training routes are suitable for trainees, but Assessment Only is only suitable for experienced teachers.

I am interested in the AO Route, but might not have enough teaching experience, when should I apply?

We are not able to consider your application until you fully meet all essential criteria. We would encourage you to discuss your ambition with your Headteacher/Principal and seek in-school support to gain the additional teaching experience you need.

I am a Teaching Assistant/HLTA and want to qualify as a teacher via the AO Route, how can I achieve this?

TAs and HLTAs who have successfully gained QTS via the AO route have been able to evidence significant experience of whole-class teaching an 80% full-time timetable for a minimum of two years (or pro-rata equivalent). Whole-class teaching involves planning, assessing and reporting, not only delivering already prepared lesson plans. If you can evidence you fully meet the entry criteria without further training, we would welcome your application.

I am a Senior Manager, Pastoral Leader, SENCO or Cover Supervisor – can I apply?

In secondary schools, assessments are made in relation to a named subject only. You must be able to provide evidence of substantial experience of teaching your named subject in two age ranges and across the ability range, teaching an 80% full-time timetable for a minimum of two years (or pro-rata equivalent). If you can evidence you fully meet the entry criteria without further training, we would welcome your application.

Do I need to be employed as a teacher at the point of application?

No, although usually applicants are already teaching in their own schools when they apply. It is not a requirement that you are currently employed in teaching at the point of application, if 1) you have recent relevant experience, 2) your evidence meets all the Teachers’ Standards and 3) you have secured a sponsoring school which will support your application. The sponsoring school must meet the requirements of the Partnership Agreement, as set out in the Partnership Agreement Handbook, provide a suitable teaching timetable and references which confirm that your teaching has been recently observed and meets the Teachers’ Standards.  The University of Cumbria is not able to help with identifying or providing sponsoring schools on the Assessment Only route.

I have a third class degree, or my degree is in a different subject - can I still apply?

Yes. You do not need to have a degree in a particular subject. It is the Teachers’ Standards for QTS that specify the subject knowledge required for the award of QTS. There is no statutory requirement for primary applicants to have a degree in a national curriculum subject, nor is there a requirement for secondary applicants to have a degree in a specified subject, as long as they meet all of the standards for QTS, including those that relate to subject and curriculum knowledge. If your degree is third class it is still possible to demonstrate that you have the appropriate experience and are able to meet the Teachers’ Standards at the highest level. All candidates will be required to complete a detailed Subject Knowledge audit as part of their assessment process. This will relate to a specific subject for Secondary/Prep applicants and across the curriculum and/or EYFS for Primary applicants.

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