The first blogs of 2019 have emphasised the quality of teaching and address commonly held myths around entry levels into teaching and beginning teacher attrition rates. In this blog, I want to underscore the professional standards which underpin and strengthen the teaching profession, and which therefore stand as signals of quality for practising teachers. As the evidence repeatedly affirms, teachers are a critical resource in education and have the greatest impact on student learning. Teaching quality is therefore vital.
Teaching is both a vocation and a profession. However, the professionalism of the role is emphasised through the adoption of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST). This set of standards, which outlines expectations of knowledge and professional practice of teachers, sets a high bar for all who want to enter and progress within the profession.
Standards, which provide a framework for entry into a profession and which describe the body of knowledge required for professional recognition, are the distinguishing feature of a profession. The development of professional standards in Australia in 2010 (implemented in all Australian jurisdictions in 2013) was part of an international agenda to develop standards as a mechanism to attract, develop, recognise and retain quality teachers. Their development was also a direct response to the Melbourne Declaration (2008), which emphasised the importance of all Australian stakeholders collaborating to support high quality teaching and school leadership. (It is worth noting that the Queensland College of Teachers had published its own professional standards in 2006.)
Linked to the standards is teacher registration, as teacher regulatory bodies in Australia are charged with applying the APST. All teachers must meet a certain standard at entry into an initial teacher education (ITE) program and each program is accredited only after it has met rigorous program standards. At graduation, preservice teachers must demonstrate proficiency of graduate standards. These standards must be maintained over the course of a teacher’s career, through to proficient level, highly accomplished and lead.
The role of teacher registration in this process is to provide certainty to employers and the community that every teacher has the requisite background in the teaching domains of professional knowledge, professional practice, and professional engagement, as described in seven broad standards and associated focus area descriptors. In addition, teacher annual renewal of registration provides assurance that teachers engage in ongoing professional development to maintain and advance their professional knowledge and skills. Teachers must demonstrate ongoing participation in professional learning, currency in classroom practice, and continued suitability to teach.
The standards provide a career progression process for teachers, further contributing to the professionalisation of the teacher career. Development pathways and the level of quality expected at each stage provide expectations and assurances of quality at all stages of a teacher’s career.
Adoption and integration of teacher standards into teacher registration processes and teacher career stages provides an ongoing assurance to the public about teacher quality. These processes contribute to the growing status of the profession of teaching through confirmation of the expectations of what is required of teachers in joining, and in continuing in, the profession. In working to meet the standards, we all share that responsibility to communicate this professional strength.
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2011). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
Ministerial Council for Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. (2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for young Australians.