Threshold assessment is intended to reward good teachers who want to remain in the classroom.

Any teacher can apply to move on to the upper pay scale. Your school will have in place a policy which details how you should apply and any deadlines for applications. The criteria for accessing the upper pay scale is that:

  • you are highly competent in all elements of the relevant teacher standards
  • your achievements and contribution to your current school are substantial and sustained.

Your school pay policy will outline how these criteria will be measured.

Current arrangements

Members should read the ATL factsheet Threshold and the upper pay scale.

The payment applies to full-time, part-time and temporary qualified teachers in England and Wales who work in maintained schools, and in Northern Ireland where a similar system operates. The payment does not apply to teachers in Scotland.

As a supply teacher you can apply for threshold provided you meet the current threshold standards (see below) and you are employed on the day of application.

Threshold assessment is not extended to supply teachers employed by private agencies.

Teachers who 'cross the threshold' are promoted to point one of a three-point upper pay scale (worth over £2,500 more than the top point of the main pay scale). Once threshold accreditation is awarded, it is permanent for as long as you remain at that school.

Crossing the threshold is not an automatic process. A teacher has to be eligible, has to indicate that they wish to be assessed against the standards, and the application has to be assessed. Decisions on whether a teacher meets the standards rest with the headteacher.

Eligibility for assessment

Assessment is open to all qualified teachers in England and Wales who are legally covered by the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document and have qualified teacher status.

In Northern Ireland, teachers are eligible who have been on point M6 for two years and who have successfully undertaken two professional review and staff development cycles.

In both cases, potential applicants should note that:

  • Assessment is made against national standards.

  • Teachers need to notify their headteacher that they wish to be assessed against the standards and the outcome of performance management reviews will be used to make this assessment. Teachers should ensure that their performance management objectives are suitable to allow this assessment to take place, and head teachers should meet with all eligible teachers to ensure that this is the case. 

  • In Wales, there has been no change to the application process for crossing the threshold. Teachers should complete an application form and provide evidence as required.

  • In Northern Ireland, applicants are required to provide a summary of evidence to show how they have met the standards in the two-to-three year period leading up to the date of the application.

Teachers in Scotland are paid using a different system and threshold assessment does not apply to them. See the pay scales for maintained teachers in Scotland for details.

Northern Ireland

A quick guide to the application procedure and an application form are available from the Department of Education, Northern Ireland (DENI) website. The wesbite,, also contains guidance for principals and the handbook for threshold assessment prepared by the Regional Training Unit.


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.


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