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Home > News > 2018 > April > Negotiating enhancements to the teacher classification process

Negotiating enhancements to the teacher classification process


IEUA-QNT Research Officer Adele Schmidt discusses our union’s pivotal role in shaping the teacher classification process in non-government schools.

The Highly Accomplished Teacher (HAT) and Lead Teacher classifications were designed to be linked with voluntary certification — providing an opportunity for excellent teachers to lead without leaving the classroom and be recognised and rewarded for their commitment to high-quality teaching and learning.

Practical implementation leads to issues

While State and Federal Governments initially indicated that certification would be linked to enhanced remuneration, the reality of implementation has, in most jurisdictions, been more complex.

In South Australia, for example, if there were no HAT or Lead Teacher positions available at a school, then employers were not paying HAT and Lead Teacher certified employees these higher levels of remuneration.

Additionally, while voluntary certification has been established in some states and territories —including the Northern Territory — for several years, Queensland teachers have, until recently, been unable to apply for certification due to the absence of a designated certifying authority.

2017 saw several developments in relation to voluntary certification and it is now expected that the process will be open to all Queensland teachers by 2019.

For teachers in independent schools, certification has been available via Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) from late 2017.

Addressing issues in negotiations

Our union has been actively engaged in discussions with Queensland Catholic employing authorities to determine what the process of certification will look like in Queensland Catholic schools.

The expected implementation date is from 1 July 2018; however, in recent negotiations employing authorities have faltered at the final hurdle to resolve the HAT and Lead Teacher schedule.

At the time of publication employers were refusing to include a provision in the schedule which would ensure that an employer would provide an applicant teacher with appropriate support and assistance as the teacher prepared an application to be credentialed as a HAT or Lead Teacher.

The pilot program in the public sector has unquestionably demonstrated that employer assistance is essential if a teacher is to make a successful application.

Employing authorities argue that such assistance is a ‘policy matter’ and has ‘no place’ in an industrial document.

A teacher applicant must have assurance that this assistance — such as professional development, support materials, time release and mentor support — will be provided by their employer.

Employee representatives have now made application to the Fair Work Commission seeking assistance to resolve this matter.

Current negotiated positions include:

  • Queensland Catholic sector levels of remuneration have been agreed in principle at $106, 936pa for HAT and $116,936pa for Lead Teacher.
  • Acceptance of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s (AITSL) Guide to Certification framework as a basis for process implementation.
  • Agreement on a cross-sectional certifying authority (e.g. the Queensland College of Teachers), but steps should be taken to ensure there is a pool of trained assessors drawn from the Catholic sector.
  • Agreement that roles and duties undertaken by teachers classified as HAT or Lead Teacher should fall within the descriptors established in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST), rather than requiring the teacher to take on administrative duties.
  • Agreement that HAT and Lead Teacher certification will be portable across sectors.
  • No quotas are to be applied in relation to HAT or Lead Teacher classifications.

For the latest updates visit www.qieu.asn.au/classificationreview


Applying for HAT and Lead Teacher Certification

Regardless of the sector within which a teacher is teaching, the procedures and processes for certification are expected to adhere to Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s (AITSL) guidelines, which are articulated in the Guide to the Certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers in Australia, March 2017 available at www.aitsl.edu.au

AITSL recognises four key stages of the certification process.


In the pre-assessment phase, as an applicant you will:

  • Confirm your eligibility as fully registered Australian citizens or permanent resident.
  • Review your annual performance assessments to confirm that they have been assessed as satisfactory in two most recent annual performance assessments for HAT or their three most recent assessments for Lead Teacher.
  • Engage in professional discussion with your school principal to confirm support for your application. 

You also have the opportunity to complete a self-assessment using the tool located at www.aitsl.edu.au/ teach/improve-practice/teacher-self-assessment-tool

Stage One

This stage involves compiling and annotating your portfolio of evidence of your teaching practice, including classroom observation reports.

You are also required to reflect on your direct evidence and produce a written statement addressing the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) and, if applying for Lead Teacher only, a written description of a Lead initiative.

Stage One also requires you to gather and collate referee statements verifying the practice described in the direct evidence and evaluating your practice against specific Standards/ Descriptors.

The material submitted at Stage One is reviewed by two external, trained assessors who make a recommendation regarding your progression to the next stage.

Where the two external assessors cannot reach consensus, the AITSL procedures allow for the certifying authority to appoint a third assessor to review the evidence submitted.

Stage Two

Following the review of evidence, applicants who progress to Stage Two then receive a site visit from one of the assessors, who engages in observation of practice, professional discussion with you, referee discussion with your principal/supervisor and with other colleagues as required and nominated by you.

Certification & appeals

Both assessors confer to make a final assessment and recommendation to the certifying authority, with a third assessor involved if the two are unable to reach consensus.

The certifying authority then endorses or declines the recommendation of the assessors.

According to the AITSL guidelines, both successful and unsuccessful applicants should receive a copy of the assessment against the standards, and notification of the recommendation.

Recourse to appeal unsuccessful applications is available, and is currently the responsibility of the certifying authority.

A significant shortcoming of the AITSL framework is a lack of detail surrounding the appeals process for teachers whose applications for certification are rejected.

The Guide to Certification simply advises that recourse to appeal is available according to legislation and processes existing in the jurisdiction where the decision is made, with the appeals processes managed by the certifying authority.


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.