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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 2 > Understanding the implications of the AITSL Standards and Framework

Understanding the implications of the AITSL Standards and Framework

HolySpirit019.jpgThe Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the Teacher Performance and Development Framework are becoming integral to the career stages for teachers, but their implementation in schools raises a number of key industrial issues.

Introduced in 2011, the AITSL Standards for Teachers were augmented in 2012 by the release of the Teacher Performance and Development Framework.

The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers comprise of seven core standards:

  1. Know students and how they learn
  2. Know the content and how to teach it
  3. Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
  4. Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
  5. Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
  6. Engage in professional learning
  7. Engage professionally with colleagues, parent/carers and the community

Each standard is divided into between three and seven focus areas which provide greater detail about the specific characteristics that should be displayed by practising teachers.

The focus area descriptors cover a gradient through Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers.

All Australian teacher education providers are now required to demonstrate that graduates of pre-service programs are able to practice at the Graduate level of the Standards and teachers who wish to progress from Provisional to Full Registration are required to compile portfolios of evidence that demonstrate their transition from the Graduate to Proficient level of Practice.

The higher levels of practice (Highly Accomplished and Lead) are however, problematic. When initially developed in 2011, it was expected that teachers would be able to apply for voluntary certification at the higher levels of practice, which would be accompanied by higher levels of recognition and remuneration.

In practice however, certification is not currently available in Queensland, Victoria or Tasmania and, even in states where certification is available, this is not tightly linked to enhanced remuneration.

In Queensland, IEUA-QNT has been able to negotiate time release and payment in a number of sectors. In some cases (e.g. Lutheran Leading Teacher 2), teachers are required to submit a formal application if they wish to access the higher classifications.  To assist members with this process, union officers have prepared application templates which can be obtained via the Members Only section of our website or by telephoning (07) 3839 7020.

As the Standards become integral to the career stages for teachers, the Performance and Development Framework is also becoming a major point of reference for professional development and performance appraisal.

The framework outlines the characteristics of performance and development systems, and the culture that should surround them, in schools. 

It indicates that all teachers are entitled to negotiate performance and development goals, and ways of measuring progress toward them.

As the teacher works towards those goals, the framework also indicates that they should be supported through access to high quality professional learning opportunities and must receive regular (formal and informal) feedback.

The framework clearly stipulates that the process of appraisal is focussed on professional development, not management of underperformance. The latter is a separate, industrial issue and should be dealt with via industrial processes.

As well as specifying the entitlements of teachers to quality performance and development programs, the framework identifies eight mechanisms for collecting evidence that can be used in appraisal of teaching practice: Student outcomes data; classroom observations; collaborative interactions with colleagues; student feedback; peer/supervisor feedback; parent feedback; self-assessment and; engagement with professional development.

Of these, student outcomes data, classroom observations and collaborative interactions with colleagues are described as fundamental.

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said some worrying trends had been identified in the manner in which various non-government schools are modifying the AITSL standards and framework for application in their particular sector.

“Much of the concern relates to the use of classroom observation, student surveys and electronic storage of teaching artefacts (e.g. compilation of electronic teaching portfolios),” he said.

“As a result our union has created a set of three Member Advice documents to help better understand the issues surrounding their implementation,” Mr Burke said.

An outline of the key elements of the draft documents is available here. Full versions of each of these documents can be obtained using your member login here

Feedback about the Member Advice documents, and the issues they address, should be sent to Adele Schmidt by email or by calling (07) 3839 7020.

Also in this Professional Issues Bulletin:

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