Quality teaching modules: Understand the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (the Standards)

Module 1a

What are the Standards and why are they important?


Module 1a provides an overview of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (the Standards). It goes into detail around the structure and purpose of the Standards and describes how they support development of teaching practice to maximise impact on outcomes for learners.

After completing this professional learning, you should be able to:

  • identify ways in which the Standards are meaningful to you, your team, your educational context and the teaching profession
  • explain the value of having a common language around professional development and quality teaching, so that you can maximise impact on learner outcomes

Estimated duration

45 - 60 minutes

How to use this web page

You can work through the learning on the page or download to complete offline. The download will capture any text you have entered on the page so you can save your answers.

Work through the learning below then Print to PDF. The download will capture any text you have entered on the page. Alternatively download as Microsoft Word template.

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Let’s begin


Note in this professional learning we use ‘education setting’ in place of ‘school’, so that teachers across diverse contexts can be included.

Explore these questions by yourself, as part of a team, or with a critical friend/mentor.

From your existing knowledge, how do you think the Standards help define effective teaching?

How do the Standards currently make a difference to you as a teacher and/or leader?

How are the Standards currently being used in your education setting?

How can teachers effectively collaborate with colleagues to share their understanding and application of the Standards to support professional development/growth?

What are the Standards?

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (the Standards)

The Standards are a public statement of what constitutes teacher quality. They define the work of teachers and make clear the elements of high-quality and effective teaching that will improve educational outcomes for students.

The Standards are organised into four different career stages: Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead. The Standards explain what you should be aiming to achieve at every stage of your career so you can improve your practice inside and outside of the classroom.

You can read through the Standards on the AITSL website, navigating between different career stages and different focus areas.

What role do the Standards have?

The Standards provide education settings with a common language of what effective teaching looks like, understanding that there will be differences in individual contexts and priorities. The Standards are used by education settings, education systems and sectors in a variety of ways to provide direction and structure in the preparation, support and development of high-quality teachers.

Teachers need to evidence certain requirements of the Standards throughout their careers, whether it’s to become a registered teacher or to achieve Highly Accomplished and Lead certification.

The Standards enhance the professionalism of teachers by raising the status and contributing positively to the public standing of the profession.

What is the purpose of the Standards?

The Standards serve several important purposes:

  • supporting improvement in the quality of teaching and learning
  • increasing community confidence in the profession
  • providing a shared language for the profession
  • defining the professional responsibility of teacher to meet the learning needs and aspirations of all learners, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, those with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and those with additional needs
  • supporting the professional growth and career development of teachers throughout their careers.

The Standards do this by articulating the skills needed by teachers, and by providing a developmental framework that teachers can use to support their own professional growth.

The Standards provide a continuum of capabilities and expectations, and a nationally consistent basis for valid, fair and reliable identification and recognition of the teachers who demonstrate competence in quality professional knowledge, practice and engagement.

How do the Standards help with professional development?

You can use the Standards to identify your current and developing capabilities, professional aspirations and achievements. The Standards help you critically reflect on your own practice and the impact you have on students in your classroom, and on your colleagues’ practice. They can support you to proactively seek to understand and meet the needs and aspirations of all students, including those whose cultural backgrounds differ from your own.

The Standards can assist you to:

  • self-reflect on the impact of your learning and practice on student outcomes
  • self-assess your current practice
  • conduct professional discussions with colleagues
  • develop performance and development goals
  • formulate professional learning plans.

Departments of Education, Catholic education offices and Independent schools associations in each of the states and territories are also a useful source of information and resources regarding the Standards.


Now you have read more about the Standards, look back at your responses to the first reflection activity.

Have your answers changed?

How were the Standards developed?

The Standards were developed through research, expert knowledge, a review of existing standards, collaboration with employers and professional associations across Australia, and significant consultation. The process built upon the work of previous national frameworks and agreements.

Stakeholder consultations were held, with 120 single and consolidated submissions received from the Federal, State and Territory governments and regulatory authorities, education unions, professional peak bodies and individual schools and teachers.

The Standards were then tested across systems and sectors, different education setting types, and a range of geographical locations. The validation process involved two surveys as well as focus group sessions held in every state and territory with nearly 6,000 teachers and principals from hundreds of schools around Australia participating.


What is the value of having national Standards? Compare your thoughts with the ideas in the quote from Sue below.

What is the value of having national Standards?

The Standards animation

Watch the below animation, take notes and then complete the reflection questions.


Video notes

The Standards provide a common language around quality teaching in Australia. What are the benefits of this?

How could you strengthen your use of the Standards to reflect on and enhance your practice?

How do the Standards describe a teacher’s responsibility to ensure the classroom environment is suitable for all students?

Resources and downloads

Next steps

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