• What is a professional association?
  • Making the most of professional associations
  • Membership
  • Things to consider

What is a professional association?

Professional associations are a rich resource for teachers. They are commonly curriculum or subject area based, such as an English teachers’ association, or an association for special education teachers. They work at both a classroom level and as an advocate across the education sector to represent their members. There is some difference across associations and jurisdictions, but generally they act in the interests of their area and their members.

They offer teachers:

  • professional learning run by academics, peers, and experienced educators
  • professional reading, often through regular newsletters and journals
  • conferences and large-scale professional learning opportunities
  • opportunities to connect and network with teachers in your subject/specialty
  • opportunities for groups of students to work together in competitions, teams, and expos
  • advice and guidance on teaching practices and resources.

Alongside offering teacher support and resources, they often undertake other roles to represent their members and their mandate. They can:

  • promote and support exemplary practice in their specialty area
  • develop strategic partnerships with other teaching associations, government, and related organisations
  • initiate research into specific areas relevant to members
  • advocate for the subject/area e.g. when there are changes to the local or national curriculum, professional associations provide a voice for their specialty areas and the teachers they support.

Making the most of professional associations

  • Read their newsletters. It will keep you informed on what's new in the profession and the latest in research.
  • Look at their professional learning offerings; there may be events that you would find helpful for your practice. Sometimes these are free and out of school hours.
  • Ask questions. Professional associations are run for members, so utilise this great resource.
  • Join or follow their social media pages.
  • Attend professional learning opportunities.


There are generally two ways to join a professional association:

  • School/setting memberships: Most schools/settings are members of professional associations. If you are not sure if your school/setting is a member, ask your subject or area coordinator.
  • Individual membership: If your school/setting is not a member or you wish to be an individual member, these memberships are generally available. Many associations offer a discounted rate for casual/relief teachers or preservice teachers to ensure you are supported if you are not directly connected to a school.

Things to consider

Professional learning from a range of sources ensures a diversity of voices, ideas, and approaches. It is therefore important for you to engage with a range of providers, types of learning and methods of delivery in order to make the most out of your professional learning.

Your professional learning needs should be aligned to the areas of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers where you have identified a need for growth or improvement.