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Considering applying for higher levels

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Considering applying for higher levels

Pursuing higher level teacher accreditation is a rigorous and rewarding process. It’s voluntary and enables teachers to reflect on their practice, promote collaborative learning and embodies quality teaching.

Higher level accreditation represents national certification and recognises a teacher’s achievement and contribution as a mentor and leader, establishing their value as quality teachers. Teachers accredited in NSW are recognised as nationally certified.

There are two voluntary, higher levels of accreditation which can be undertaken by teachers who have the experience described in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers:

  • Highly Accomplished
  • Lead Teacher

Making the decision to apply for accreditation at Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher is a significant career decision. It requires reflection and examination of your practice against the Standard Descriptors at each level, as detailed in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (PDF 300 KB).

How do you decide on the most suitable level?

As a teacher there are a number of characteristics that mark your readiness for accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher. There are ways you can evaluate if your teaching practice demonstrates the specific characteristics for the appropriate career stage. They include:

  • assessing your sphere of influence
  • comparing characteristics of practice at the higher level career stages.

Assess your sphere of influence

One way to determine whether you are right for a voluntary accreditation level is to consider your sphere of influence. The following diagram may assist you in this regard.

As a guide, start by reflecting on the following:

  • the Highly Accomplished teacher works with others to enhance colleagues practice and student learning in both their own and other’s classrooms
  • the Lead Teacher has an impact on the broader school community, leading teaching projects and practices that have an impact on whole school change, student achievement and their colleagues; their impact may extend beyond the school.

Diagram: Sphere of Influence explains the areas of impact associated with teaching practice at each of the career levels.

professional influence and impact at each career level

Comparative characteristics of practice between Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher

Below is a list of practices that will help you differentiate further between the two higher level career stages.

Highly Accomplished Lead Teacher
  Undertakes a Lead Initiative over 6 months linked to school and system goals
Teaching Practice
Recognised as a highly skilled and collaborative teacher able to select from and willingly share a broad repertoire of strategies. Recognised as a highly collaborative exemplary leading teacher demonstrating consistent and innovative teaching practice over time and in a variety of contexts.
Maximises learning opportunities for own and other teacher’s students by analysing students’ backgrounds and characteristics in order to adapt learning. Establishes inclusive learning environments across the school that meet the needs of all student backgrounds and characteristics in order to improve outcomes.
Has an in-depth knowledge of the curriculum consistently applied to their teaching practice and shared with their teaching colleagues. Applies skills and in-depth knowledge of effective teaching practices and curriculum content to deliver, model and review effective teaching and learning opportunities.
Seeks to continuously improve their own teaching practice and share, support and model this with and for colleagues. Monitors their own and others professional learning as part of a broader professional learning community with the view to improving student learning.
Working with and Leading Colleagues
Takes on roles that guide and advise others, and establish a collegial environment that promotes professional learning. Inspires colleagues and leads processes to ensure the development of their own and colleagues’ teaching practice, resulting in school-wide change.
Models highly effective teaching practices to colleagues in their teaching context and beyond. Initiates and leads activities focused on improving educational opportunities and learning environments for all students.
Works with colleagues to plan, evaluate and modify teaching programs for student learning.
Provides colleagues, including pre-service teachers, with support and strategies to create productive learning environments.
Works independently and with colleagues to improve their own and others teaching practice. Leads activities to promote creative and innovative thinking amongst colleagues, including pre-service teachers, to deliver effective lessons and learning opportunities.
Initiates and engages in collaborative professional discussions about effective teaching to improve educational outcomes.
Use of Data and Research
Keeps abreast of developments in their own teaching areas. Synthesises current research to create improvements in teaching and learning within and beyond their own context.
Is skilled in analysing student data from a variety of sources and uses it to improve teaching and learning within their own context and with colleagues Leads processes to improve school-wide achievement by analysing a variety of sources of assessment and learning data.
Exhibits highly developed interpersonal skills and ethical practice. Recognised as a respected, ethical and professional practitioner within the service/school community.
Is a prominent, knowledgeable and active member of the service/school who communicates effectively with parents/carers and the community. Represents the service/school and the teaching profession outside the school context.

The decision to commence voluntary accreditation is best done with a clear understanding of the level of practice you will need to demonstrate.

What is quality evidence?

The evidence you collect for your higher level accreditation submission and the way it is presented needs to be thoughtfully planned. It’s important to be aware that the assessment process at higher level accreditation involves several readings of the submission by a number of individuals who do not know you as a teacher or your teaching context

Collecting quality evidence

It’s assumed that the evidence you collect for higher level accreditation will reflect your daily teaching practice. Your evidence will be submitted in the forms of:

  • documentary
  • referee
  • external observation

The strongest submissions contain well selected documentary evidence that effectively combines and supports referee and observer statements to clearly demonstrate the Standards. The focus is on the quality of your evidence rather than the quantity.

The Evidence Guide for the Highly Accomplished Teacher Standards (PDF 725 KB) and the Evidence Guide for the Lead Teacher Standards (PDF 767 KB) can help you decide on the type of evidence to collect that demonstrates practice at the particular accreditation level.

Resources for teachers considering higher level accreditation

NESA has developed a number of resources to help teachers decide on the most effective evidence to collect to demonstrate the respective standards at the Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher levels.

Consider advice from the Moderating and Consistency Committee (MCC)

The Moderating and Consistency Committee (MCC) is a sub-committee of the Quality Teaching Council (QTC) and is made up of teachers, principals and TAA (A/L) representatives from the Government, Catholic and Independent sectors.

The MCC assesses teacher applications for accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher and provides advice to Teacher Accreditation Authorities (TAAs (A/L)) to ensure consistent decisions on accreditation at the higher levels.

The MCCs advice conveys insights that relate to:

  • your choice of the most appropriate level of accreditation either at Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher career stages
  • the types of quality evidence that needs to be the focus of your submission
  • the characteristics that tend to identify successful submissions against those likely to be unsuccessful.

Assessment Rubrics

NESA has developed Assessment Rubrics at each of the higher levels of accreditation:

The Rubrics help teachers understand the features and characteristics of effective submissions at the Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher levels. They detail the quality of the three evidence sources and annotations that represent submissions which meet the requirements for accreditation at the higher levels. The Rubrics are also used by those who assess your submission.

Teacher Accreditation and career recognition

Higher level teacher accreditation recognises quality teaching practice, engagement and contribution that have impact beyond the teacher’s classroom.

Acknowledgement of quality teaching across the career stages is now linked to the remuneration for teachers employed in NSW schools. Please contact your employer for more information:

What are the next steps?

If you feel that you are an experienced teacher, confident in your practice, a positive influence on others and ready for higher level accreditation, you are encouraged to:

AITSL has developed resources for teachers at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher levels.

Find out more on applying for Higher Levels of Accreditation.

Video success stories

See how other teachers and schools are approaching achieving teacher accreditation and planning professional development.

A celebration of teaching: Gaining higher level accreditation

Instructional Leader - Literacy and Numeracy Dimitra from Auburn West Public School talks about her journey leading to accreditation at the higher levels (duration: 3:16 minutes).

Read video tran