Navigation Menu
start portlet menu bar

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Display portlet menu
end portlet menu bar

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) define the knowledge, practice and professional engagement needed for high quality effective teaching that improves student learning outcomes. The Standards use nationally agreed indicators of teacher quality to guide the preparation, support and development of teachers throughout their careers from Graduate to Proficient Teachers, to Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers.

The NSW teacher accreditation system, overseen by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) provides a rigorous assessment of evidence for a teacher’s achievement of the Standards.

The Standards

The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers comprise seven Standards that outline what teachers should know and be able to do.

Standard 1

Know students and how they learn.

Standard 2

Know the content and how to teach it.

Standard 3

Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning.

Standard 4

Create and maintain effective teaching and learning.

Standard 5

Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning.

Standard 6

Engage in professional learning.

Standard 7

Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community.


These interrelated Standards are grouped into three domains of teaching:

  • Professional knowledge
  • Professional practice
  • Professional engagement.

Each Standard has focus areas across each of the three domains. The focus areas are separated into Standard Descriptors at the four professional career stages of:

Demonstrating meeting the Standard Descriptors at Proficient level is key to your accreditation and a mandatory requirement to continue to teach in NSW schools.

Your practice also needs to be meeting the Standard Descriptors at the required level for you to gain the voluntary Highly Accomplished or Lead teacher accreditation.

Understanding the Standards

The Standards establish the benchmarks to recognise professional growth and career progression. The characteristics of these at each career stage are described below.

The Standard Descriptors signify a teacher’s increasing levels of knowledge, practice and professional engagement across the four career stages.

Graduate Teachers

As a Graduate teacher you have completed a qualification that meets the requirements of a nationally accredited program of initial teacher education. The award of this qualification means that you have met the Graduate Standards.

By the Standards, Graduate Teachers:

  • possess the requisite knowledge and skills to plan for and manage learning programs for students
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding that students’ physical, cultural, social, linguistic and intellectual characteristics have on learning
  • understand principles and strategies needed to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities
  • understand their subject(s), curriculum content and teaching strategies
  • have the ability to design lessons that meet the requirements of curriculum, assessment and reporting
  • demonstrate the capacity to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice
  • know how to select and apply timely and appropriate types of feedback to improve students’ learning
  • know strategies to build rapport with students
  • know how to support students safety and well- being working within curriculum and legislative guidelines
  • understand the importance of working ethically
  • collaborate with colleagues, other professionals and the members of the community
  • understand strategies for working sensitively, confidentially with parents and carers in the context of their children’s education.

More on the Graduate teacher Standard Descriptors in the APST pp 8-19.

Proficient Teacher

In meeting the requirements for accreditation at Proficient teacher, it’s necessary that you demonstrate meeting the Standard Descriptors across the seven Standards at this level.

By the Standards, Proficient teachers:

  • create effective teaching and learning experiences for their students
  • they know the unique backgrounds of their students and adjust their teaching to meet students’ individual needs and diverse cultural, social and linguistic characteristics
  • develop safe, positive and productive learning environments encouraging students participation
  • design and implement engaging teaching programs that meet curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements
  • use feedback and assessment to analyse and support their students’ knowledge and understanding
  • use a range of sources, including student results, to evaluate their teaching and to adjust their programs to better meet student needs
  • are team members working collaboratively with colleagues with whom they also combine to identify, plan and evaluate their own professional learning needs
  • seek out and are responsive to advice about educational issues regarding their teaching practice
  • communicate effectively with their students, colleagues, parents/carers and community members and behave professionally and ethically in all forums.

More on the Proficient Teacher Standard Descriptors in the APST pp 8-19.

Higher level accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher

Experienced, proficient teachers can pursue voluntary higher level accreditation when they are consistently meeting the Standard Descriptors at Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher level. Teachers seeking higher level accreditation should consider if their practice meets the Standard Descriptors reflected in the characteristics below for Highly Accomplished or Lead teacher.

Highly Accomplished teachers

Highly Accomplished teachers are characterised as:

  • highly effective, skilled classroom practitioners and routinely work independently and collaboratively to improve their own practice and the practice of colleagues.
  • knowledgeable and active members of the school
  • contributors to their colleagues’ learning taking on roles to guide, advise or lead others
  • initiating and engaging in discussions about effective teaching to improve the educational outcomes for their students
  • maximising learning opportunities for their students by understanding their backgrounds and individual characteristics, and the impact of those factors on their learning
  • providing colleagues, including pre-service teachers, with support and strategies to create positive and productive learning environments
  • having in-depth knowledge of subjects and curriculum content within their sphere of responsibility
  • modelling sound teaching practices in their teaching areas
  • working with colleagues to plan, evaluate and modify teaching programs to improve student learning
  • keeping abreast of the latest developments in their specialist content area or across a range of content areas for generalist teachers
  • being skilled in analysing student assessment data and use it to improve teaching and learning
  • actively establishing an environment that maximises professional learning and practice opportunities for colleagues
  • monitoring their own professional learning needs and align them to the learning needs of students
  • having highly developed interpersonal and presentation skills, communicating effectively and respectfully with students, colleagues, parents/carers and community members
  • behaving ethically at all times.

More on the Highly Accomplished teacher Standard Descriptors in the APST pp 8-19.

Lead teachers

Lead teachers are characterised by:

  • being recognised and respected by colleagues, parents/carers and the community as exemplary teachers
  • their consistent demonstration of innovative teaching practices over time
  • initiating and leading activities that focus on improving educational opportunities for all students inside and outside the school
  • establishing inclusive learning environments that meet the needs of students from different linguistic, cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds
  • seeking to improve their own practice and to share their experience with colleagues
  • being skilled in mentoring teachers and pre-service teachers, using activities that develop knowledge, practice and professional engagement in others
  • promoting creative, innovative thinking among colleagues
  • applying skills and in-depth knowledge and understanding to deliver effective lessons and learning opportunities, and share this information with colleagues and pre-service teachers
  • describing the relationship between highly effective teaching and learning in ways that inspire colleagues to improve their own professional practice
  • leading processes to improve student performance by evaluating and revising programs, analysing student assessment data and taking account of feedback from parents/carers. They combine and synthesise current research for effective teaching and learning
  • representing the school and the teaching profession in the community
  • being professional, ethical and respected individuals inside and outside the school.

More on the Lead teacher Standard Descriptors in the APST pp 8-19.

The development and validation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers incorporated extensive consultation with teachers from all states and a wide range of teaching environments.

For further details visit the Standards section of the AITSL website.

Moving from the NSW to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

During 2013 and 2014 accreditation at the mandatory NSW level of Professional Competence transitioned to the mandatory Australian level of Proficient Teacher. An outline of who this affects and the timeframes are available.

More information

Please email or call us on 1300 739 338 (within Australia) if you have any questions.

Complementary Content