AST forms: advice

If you shy away from headship yet have superior skills in the classroom, you no longer have to see leadership as the only way to move forward in your vocation. As another career option, many choose the advanced skills teaching route to share their skills and talent with others, and to earn salaries on the leadership scale.

To get there, first you must find and apply for an AST post. A good place to start would be your own school, so have a word with your headteacher to see if they think you are ready for the role and whether an AST post will be available at your school.

If you get the thumbs up, the next thing you need to do is complete an AST application form and read the accompanying guidance

Filing in any job application form is a precise and enduring task, and at over 20 pages long, the AST form is no exception. It is designed to give assessors a framework around which they will base their questioning during a one day assessment which follows your application and hopefully will result in your success.

There’s no getting away from the fact that you will need to devote time and energy to complete the form well. But help is at hand from June McNaughton and Martin Flatman of VT Education and Skills (The National Assessment Agency for ASTs and ETs) who offer tips for completing applications: 

  • First thing to remember is that the assessors are looking for excellence in your work not perfection 
  • Make sure that any evidence you provide to support your application is checkable and refers only to work completed by you 
  • Assessors will begin to form their questioning based on the information you provide in your application 
  • Don’t claim credit for work that is not all your own 
  • Ensure that you address each of the standards shown in the appropriate places on your application, i.e. don’t focus on particular standards unless you are asked to do so 
  • Use bullet points to keep answers clear and concise
  • A large part of the form asks you to show examples of how you meet specific standards related to three key areas: professional attributes, professional knowledge and understanding, and professional skills. Flatman & McNaughton suggests useful things to bear in mind when you tackle these areas:-

Professional Attributes

Think about what you have done to develop practice in school, and whether you have been involved in any policy development or implementation. Consider whether this has had an effect on standards.

Also mention any action research or continuing professional development and the impact of this on practice.

Professional knowledge

Teaching and learning: 

  • Mention any CPD courses and any effect on practice. 
  • Talk about, for example, how you support others and the impact on pupils’ learning. 
  • Point out examples colleagues have noted in observations such as questioning, explanations, and demonstrations. 
  • Be sure to include any involvement in professional networks


  • State your abilities to analyse and interpret data and evidence. 
  • Show knowledge of assessment for learning as illustrated in planning or in lesson observations. What is the impact on pupils’ learning?

Inclusiveness of teaching:

  • Give examples of lesson observations which show the high level of inclusion in teaching or subject expertise and the impact on pupils’ learning e.g. special needs, EAL, gifted and talented etc.

Professional skills


  • Show evidence such as schemes of work that demonstrate cross curricular planning. Mention feedback from colleagues about joint planning.

Impact of teaching:

You should substantially analyse any information relating to any of the following: 

  • external assessment results with value added analysis 
  •  how the candidate compares with departmental and whole school data, graphs and trends 
  • results from student questionnaires and/or interviews showing satisfaction with the teaching and impact
  • letters from and/or interviews with parents indicating the successful outcomes produced 
  • evidence that teaching is excellent (from lesson observations, feedback from pupils, examples of professional risk taking and/or creative ideas)

Excellence and innovative teaching

Provide evidence for: 

  • Lesson observations by school or external observers 
  • Feedback from pupils
  • Examples of professional risk taking and/or creative ideas 
  • What is the impact on pupils’ enthusiasm and motivation of creative approaches? Has it enabled pupils to learn difficult ideas in an inspiring way?

Assessment, monitoring and feedback:

You will need to provide evidence through examples such as: 

  • Planning, showing how planning and assessment are linked 
  • Reports and/or observations from school/departmental monitoring
  • Plans for modules, assessment criteria and methods of recording 
  • Examples of pupils’ work with assessment comments 
  • Feedback from pupils and parent 
  • What is the impact on teaching and learning?

Working with others

Refer to any information that illustrates any of the following:

  • How have you helped other teachers (mentoring, line managing etc.)? 
  • Can you get any letters as evidence of your work in this area from local authority advisors, course participants, examination boards (if working as an examiner) and when training others? 
  • Can you get testimony from colleagues (including headteacher) regarding your skills in working with staff and leadership teams? 
  • How has this impacted on teaching?

    Consider your ability to weigh up situations, synthesise and organize information
    · Can you use your observations to demonstrate this?
    · Can you relate this to leadership qualities?
    · How has this affected practice?