National Report on Schooling in Australia 2013

National initiatives and achievements

2.2 Supporting quality teaching and school leadership


Australian governments are committed to working with all school sectors to attract, develop, support and retain a high-quality teaching and school leadership workforce in Australian schools (Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians 2008).

Among the key strategies in this area agreed by education ministers in 2008 were the creation of new professional standards, a framework to guide professional learning for teachers and school leaders, and national consistency in the registration of teachers. Improved pay dispersion to reward quality teaching, improved in-school support for teachers and leaders – particularly in disadvantaged Indigenous, rural/remote and hard-to-staff schools – and joint engagement with higher education to provide improved pre-service teacher education were other agreed strategies.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership



The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) was established, with the support of all state and territory education ministers, to provide national leadership for the Australian, state and territory governments in promoting excellence in the profession of teaching and school leadership. AITSL has responsibility for professional standards and for fostering high-quality professional development for teachers and school leaders. AITSL works collaboratively across jurisdictions and engages with key professional bodies.

To support quality teaching, AITSL developed the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, which were endorsed in December 2010. The standards are a statement of what constitutes teacher quality and defines what teachers should know and be able to do at different stages in their careers (‘graduate’, ‘proficient’, ‘highly accomplished’ and ‘lead’). The standards comprise three domains: Professional Knowledge; Professional Practice and Professional Engagement; each with a number of standards that articulate knowledge, skills and attributes required across the four career stages.

The standards are intended as a tool to measure teaching capability at various levels of a teacher’s career and to provide a nationally agreed quality assurance mechanism.

As such, they underpin national approaches to accreditation of initial teacher education programs, registration of teachers and formal recognition of highly accomplished and lead teachers. All states and territories have agreed to implement the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers from 2013.

AITSL also developed the Australian Professional Standard for Principals, which was introduced in 2011. This standard complements the professional standards for teachers and is intended to build the capacity of school principals across Australia.

Further information on the work AITSL is undertaking to support the teaching profession is available on the AITSL website.

National partnership agreements on teacher quality


The Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership (from 2008–09 to 2012–13) sought to implement a range of initiatives targeting critical points in teachers’ careers. Australian government funding of $550 million was provided to state and territory education authorities to attract, train, place, develop and retain quality teachers and leaders in schools. Other measures were designed to develop effective workforce planning and support, improve teacher pay structures, increase school-based decision-making and improve teacher education and professional development. The Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership ceased in June 2013.

The Rewards for Great Teachers National Partnership was introduced to implement the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework, and a nationally consistent assessment and certification process for highly accomplished and lead teachers. These processes have since been implemented nationally. The Rewards for Great Teachers National Partnership ceased in December 2013.

The More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative


The More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative (2011–2015), delivered through the University of South Australia, seeks to increase the number and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers working in schools across Australia. Strategies to enhance the professional and leadership capabilities of experienced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers form a key component of the initiative.

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