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Roles and responsibilities

Accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher levels rely on documentary evidence, reports from referees including school principal/service director and external observer, to verify your teaching practice against the Standard Descriptors.  The process involving these participants, that include Teacher Accreditation Authority (Highly Accomplished/Lead) or TAA (A/L), add rigour and weight to the professional standing of the higher levels of teacher accreditation.

It is the responsibility of the teacher or candidate, for managing their higher level accreditation process. It’s at the application phase that a candidate pursuing either Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher accreditation gathers their documentary evidence.

A Lead Teacher candidate is also required to undertake a Lead Initiative as part of their accreditation process. The candidate needs to request that their principal/service director, referees, and an external observer verify their teaching practice against the Standard Descriptors at the relevant career level.  

Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher accreditation process involve the following participants: 

  • the candidate
  • principal/service director
  • referees
  • external observer
  • Teacher Accreditation Authority (Highly Accomplished/Lead) or TAAs (A/L)
  • Moderating and Consistency Committee (MCC).

The candidate

As the candidate, if you have undertaken the online preliminary assessment (link) to apply for either the Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher accreditation, and feel you are ready to progress to the application phase then you should seek support from your principal/service director. 

Your principal/service director will need to  log in to their NSW Education Standards Authority account (previously BOSTES) and confirm your intention to apply.

As the candidate, you need to:

  • discuss your accreditation with your principal/service director or other delegate. Negotiate a suitable time with them to conduct an internal observation of your teaching against the relevant Standard Descriptors
  • gather a selection of documentary evidence that reveals complexity and depth of practice across your teaching contexts and demonstrates the relevant Standard Descriptors
  • annotate your documents to link them succinctly to the relevant Standard Descriptor/s
  • ensure your referees, include:
    • your principal/service director
    • a teacher colleague
    • a teacher who has received professional support or guidance from you
  • decide which Standard Descriptors according to your career stage, each referee will attest to
  • request an external observation via your online account; the external observer is organised by the Authority (link). In preparation, identify the relevant Standard Descriptors to be observed and negotiate the timing of observations with your delegated observer and school principal/service director
  • write a report about your Lead Initiative, if you’ve applied for Lead Teacher accreditation;  ensure that at least one of your referees makes reference to its impact in their report against the relevant Standard Descriptors. (The Lead Initiative is undertaken by only those candidates pursuing accreditation at Lead Teacher level)

More information on the Lead Initiative is available in the Policy for Accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher (PDF 91 KB) and the Evidence Guide for Lead Teacher Standards  (PDF 1.0 MB)

  • keep all your details updated by logging into your online account
  • decide on when to submit your evidence. 

Note, sometimes your referees may need support with their referee report. You may provide guidance but it is not appropriate for you to draft referee statements or any part thereof, on their behalf.

The various people who can be your referee is detailed in the Policy for Accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher (PDF 91 KB) 

Information on the types and examples of evidence to collect for Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher Accreditation respectively can be found in the following: 

The principal/service director

Whether you are pursuing accreditation at Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher level, your principal/service director is required to:

  • discuss with you the most appropriate level of accreditation for you
  • confirm your eligibility to proceed with accreditation, based on your satisfactory teaching practice and your residency status
  • observe your practice as an internal observer. The principal/service director may delegate this
  • write a referee report
  • accommodate and support your external observation that is organised by the Authority.

As a candidate for Lead Teacher accreditation, the school principal/service director may provide input into your choice of a Lead Initiative and verify the project’s impact in relation to the chosen Standard Descriptors.

More detailed information on the role of the principal/service director in higher level teacher accreditation is available in the Accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher – The Role of the Principal. (PDF 449 KB)

If you are an early childhood teacher and unsure about who, performs this role then  email us at the Authority or call 1300393338.  


Your referees’ reports verify their direct knowledge of your practice against the relevant career stage Standard Descriptors.

You nominate the referees who can confirm aspects of your practice, as part of your application. The number of referees range from three (minimum) to eight (maximum).

The variety of people who can be your referee is detailed in the Policy for Accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher (PDF 91 KB)

Your referees are ‘witnesses’ to your practice and attest to your achievement of the nominated Standard Descriptors only. Their role is not as your advocate or to provide a character reference.

Your referees in the Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher accreditation process need to:

  • be sourced from your teaching context, and include your school principal/service director, a teacher colleague and a teacher who has received support and assistance from you
  • succinctly describe their professional relationship with you
  • confine their description of your achievement of the Standard Descriptors over time, to the extent of their involvement with your work
  • write authentic statements from their first-hand knowledge and experience of your practice
  • ensure their statements for each of the Standard Descriptors, relate to:
  • what they have seen you do with respect to the Standard Descriptors
  • how you have delivered the key actions of the Standard Descriptors
  • the impact of your initiatives and how they’re being sustained.

In Lead Teacher accreditation, at least one of your referees has to refer to, and include details of your Lead Initiative and its impact.

Your referee is required to submit their report online through their NSW Education Standards Authority account. Once it has been submitted, you will be able to read what they wrote.

The role of referees in Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher accreditation is detailed in the  Accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher – Information for Referees (PDF 383 KB),

The external observer

The external observation step of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher accreditation enables an independent review of your practice at the relevant career stage.

The external observer must see you teaching children/students for two sessions. The emphasis of these is on variety in teaching rather than length or duration of the sessions.

The external observer:

  • is usually a teacher who has been accredited at Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher
  • negotiates an appropriate time to conduct the observation with you
  • observes your practice, with reference to the Standard Descriptor(s) at the you have specified for the relevant career stage and the examples in the Evidence Guide
  • submits a report on your practice, which is  a source of independent evidence for a TAA (A/L) at the time of their review  
  • does not make the accreditation decision.

 TAA (A/L)

Teacher Accreditation Authority (Highly Accomplished/Lead) or TAA (A/L)), make the final decision whether to accredit teachers pursuing Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher accreditation.

The TAA (A/L) is responsible for:

  • conducting an initial assessment of  your submission
  • ensuring consistent processes are in place for making judgements about Highly Accomplished/Lead Teacher accreditation
  • considering the advice by the MCC
  • making the final accreditation decision.

 Depending on the sector, the TAA (A/L) role can vary:

  • In Department of Education schools/services it’s the Executive Director
  • Within the Catholic systemic schools it’s the Executive Director or Director of your Diocese
  • For the Seventh day Adventist Schools (greater Sydney) Ltd it’s the Director/ Company Secretary
  • For Independent Schools it’s the Association of Independent Schools NSW
  • Early Childhood Services – NSW Education Standards Authority.

Before their final decision a TAA (A/L) usually sends the submission to the Moderating and Consistency Committee (MCC) (convened by the Authority) to ensure consistency in decision making against the Standard Descriptors.

Based on their analysis, the  MCC can recommend a teacher to be accredited or not, however the accreditation decision is solely determined by the TAA (A/L) who can accept or set aside the MCC’s recommendation.

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. 

Its role is to ensure consistency in higher level accreditation decision making. The  MCC assesses all teacher applications for accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher. Their assessment forms the basis of their advice to Teacher Accreditation Authorities (Highly Accomplished/Lead) or TAAs (A/L).

The  MCC’s advice provides you, the candidate, insights from their analysis of higher level accreditation applications.

These insights relate to:

  • the choice of the most appropriate level of accreditation either at Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher career stages
  • the quality of evidence
  • descriptions of the characteristics of applications likely to be successful against those likely to be unsuccessful.

More information

Please  e-mail or call us on 1300 739 338 (within Australia), if you have any questions.

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