When it comes to our students getting the best education possible at school, the evidence is clear that the positive influence quality teaching has in the classroom is key. The better the teaching, the better the outcomes for our students. Australia has many great teachers but more can and needs to be done to identify, promote and leverage Australia’s teaching expertise.

Australia’s Education Ministers know this, with many recently announcing targets or similar measures for their independent, Catholic and government schools to support teachers to receive their due recognition. Nationally, this is known as the Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher (HALT) certification.

As AITSL’s Board Chair, Emeritus Laureate Professor John Hattie, points out, “Expertise is key. It is at the core of the work we do and the future for Australian education, and this is the basis of our new 4-year strategic plan.

AITSL CEO Mark Grant agrees, “The quality of teaching and the quality of school leadership have been shown to have a real impact on our students’ learning. Teacher expertise in fact has the greatest influence in schools on the outcomes for our learners, which is why we need to continue to have exceptional teachers in front of our students in every school, every day.

“Complementing this is the focus astute school leadership plays: a diverse and complex role which includes guiding teacher growth and career path planning, whether it be a teaching expertise pathway, and/or school leadership and management.

“These rightly remain the key goal for Australia’s education employers, and critically, something that has been raised with the Productivity Commission in their review of the National Schools Reform Agreement. Keeping the main thing, the main thing, is vital.

“Initiatives like the national certification of HALTs is so important because we know it does benefit students and does help teachers progress their career and receive additional salary, all while remaining in the classroom. It’s a critical and meaningful alternative to having to pursue managerial roles as the only avenue to secure additional salary, and it rewards passion and commitment,” Mr Grant said.

Evidence indicates that improving the quality of the teaching workforce is fundamental to any overall improvements in schooling. National certification aims to improve teacher quality by focusing on self-reflection and providing external feedback to teachers on their professional practice.

“We shouldn’t shy away from celebrating our expert teachers - we should be proud and acknowledge their expertise. The HALT certification recognises the benefits of the individual teacher and how this contributes positively to the learning amongst staff and the positive impact across the school and all students.

“Certified teachers are a great asset and can support and lead colleagues, including early career teachers, through induction, mentoring, professional development, and continuous school improvement initiatives,” Mr Grant said.

The national certification initiative started in 2012, with the ACT, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.  In the last 5 years, new certifying authorities commenced across all sectors in Queensland and the Catholic and Independent sectors in Victoria, while Tasmania started its cross-sectoral HALT certification in 2021.

NSW announced in May they want to increase their target of HALTs ten-fold by 2025.

Mark Grant states, “We certainly welcome this and look forward to supporting NSW to scale up their HALT numbers. The more expert teachers Australia has nationally, the more their colleagues have opportunities to learn, and the more teaching can grow in status as a profession.”

Click here to learn more about national certification.


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Note for Editors - The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) provides national leadership for the Australian, state and territory governments in promoting excellence in the profession of teaching and school leadership. AITSL is funded by the Australian Government.