Unsuccessful threshold applications

Advice for any teacher who submitted an unsuccessful threshold application is always available from ATL.

The principles established by the Department for Education for the proper assessment of threshold applications are set out in the application pack (via DfE website - 2012 application pack will be available soon), and should have been used to determine the outcome of your threshold application.

They are that:

  • all teacher or core standards have to be met

  • all threshold standards have to be met

  • it is the applicant's responsibility to put forward evidence that his/her work has met the standards over the relevant period - normally, the last two to three years up to the date of the application. If an application has to be reconsidered or reviewed, then the only evidence that can be used is that relating to the relevant two to three year period covered by the original application

  • the headteacher must consider the application impartially

  • the headteacher must consider the evidence mentioned in the application and such other evidence as he/she thinks appropriate, and then determine whether the teacher has met each threshold standard in reaching his or her decision,

  • the headteacher should be using prompts that are the same as the bullet points shown under each standard in the DfES guidance

  • the headteacher must record in writing on the application 'what evidence in addition to that relied upon by the teacher he/she took into account'.

Possible actions

If you have been told that your application to cross the threshold has been unsuccessful, you have three options:-

  • using the appeals process as outlined in your school's pay policy

  • seeking support with your professional development

  • re-applying to cross the threshold in the next round.


All teachers are entitled to be given detailed feedback about their applications, whatever the outcome.

As an unsuccessful applicant, you are entitled to receive written feedback on your application within 20 working days of the head teacher's notification that your application has been unsuccessful.

This feedback should include a copy of your application form, and a written explanation, standard-by-standard, as to why each standard was or was not met. Your headteacher also has an obligation to give you oral feedback.

If you are not offered a feedback meeting with your headteacher, then you should ask for one.

Feedback meeting

You should prepare for your feedback meeting in order to make the best use of it. See it as an opportunity for you to ask questions about your application and to help you to decide what to do next.

The headteacher should, as good practice, provide you with copies of the papers to be discussed at your feedback meeting at least two working days in advance. These papers should include a copy of your completed application form.

This should indicate which standard or standards have been assessed as 'not yet met', and what items of evidence were considered in reaching that decision any contributions made by the headteacher. No document should be given to you, without warning, during the meeting.

In advance of the feedback meeting you should re-read the DfE guidance for those standard(s) on your threshold application that have been assessed as not yet met, and look again at the items of evidence that are recorded on your application as having been considered.

The assessment of your application cannot be changed at the feedback meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to gain information before deciding how or whether to appeal against the decision. The feedback meeting should be conducted in a constructive and professional manner.

There is no need for you to take immediate decisions before feedback, or during the feedback meeting. ATL is ready to help you with advice at every stage of this process - contact ATL's membership department for details of a local contact.

If, in addition, you would like an ATL representative to accompany you to the feedback meeting then please ask in good time. There is no legal right for you to be accompanied, and in the circumstances it might not be appropriate, but ATL may be able to help persuade the headteacher to agree to such an arrangement.

You should use the feedback meeting to find out as much information about the assessment of your application as possible. In particular, you should:

  • ask questions to clarify bullet points of the DfE's guidance as they relate to your application

  • make a note for yourself of what the headteacher says, including the advice given, and also ask the headteacher for a written note of the main points of that advice

  • listen particularly for any mention by the headteacher of any additional facts or evidence not recorded in writing on the application form.

There is no requirement for advice given at your feedback meeting to be written down. However, ATL believes that while this advice should always be given face-to-face, the main points should be recorded in writing.

After your feedback meeting

Check your written note of what was said. Think about whether any of the possible grounds for appeal apply to you.

As far as you know, was the correct assessment procedure of the DfE's guidance followed in relation to each recorded item of evidence? Were any of the recorded items of evidence inaccurate, incomplete or misleading? Was any unrecorded evidence taken into account?

Does the headteacher have an impartial relationship with you? Do you feel that the headteacher or assessor was biased, or did they discriminate against you? This might include bias or discrimination in your school life, as well as the outcome of your threshold application in relation to the outcomes for other teachers.

Working through these five prompts for each standard 'not yet met' will help you prepare a possible review application. It will be useful to make a note of which of the prompts are relevant for each standard in question.

If you have been told that two or more standards are 'not yet met', then remember that you need to pass all eight standards in order to obtain a different overall decision on passing the threshold. But, even if you cannot identify grounds for review on all of the standards 'not yet met', then there are still options open to you.

Following feedback, you may wish to speak to your local branch secretary, regional official, or staff at ATL's London office. Early contact will help us organise timely support for you.

Please be ready to provide the following information when you call: the date you received written feedback, what standards have been assessed as 'not yet met', and whether you will need support with the next stage of the process. Please also be ready to send ATL a copy of your completed application form and written feedback.

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.


My role

My sector

My location

Find my branch