National Certification supports teachers to explore their practice at the Highly Accomplished or Lead teacher career stage of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST).


Purposes and principles of Certification


Certification has three purposes:

  • Recognise and promote quality teaching
  • Provide an opportunity for teachers to reflect on their practice
  • Provide a reliable indication of quality teaching that can be used to identify and recognise teachers at the Highly Accomplished and Lead teacher career stages.

The proposed approach to the certification of HAT and LT teachers is informed by the following principles:

  • Standards-based
  • Student-improvement focused
  • Development driven
  • Credible
  • Evidence-based

Highly Accomplished or Lead?

Highly Accomplished teachers are highly effective and knowledgeable classroom teachers. According to the APST, Highly Accomplished teachers are characterised as advocates of the profession, who contribute to the professional learning of peers through a range of activities that include, but are not limited to, supporting, working with and assisting their colleagues.

Lead Teachers are exemplary classroom teachers. They are committed to quality teaching and learning, and their leadership positively impacts students and their colleagues across and/or beyond the school. Lead teachers regularly innovate, initiate, evaluate and review programs and practice across the school.

Deciding on the most suitable career stage

Applicants are required to choose which career stage they will be applying for – either Highly Accomplished or Lead. Deciding to apply for Certification requires applicants to honestly reflect on their practice against the APST. To support this decision-making process, AITSL has provided a Self- Assessment Tool and Classroom Practice Continuum to support this reflection and assist applicants to understand where their practice lies against the career stages of the APST. The regular conversations applicants have with peers, mentors and school leaders also provides valuable information regarding readiness to apply.

Differences when applying for

Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher

Teachers do not have to be certified as Highly Accomplished before applying for Lead teacher status. The process for submitting a portfolio of evidence is the same for both career stages. However, applicants considering applying for Lead Teacher do need to be aware there is an additional requirement, the Lead initiative.

This is a significant leadership project of greater than 6 months duration implemented across the school and/or a cluster of schools. Additional information on the requirements of the Lead initiative can be found on page 18 of the

Guide to Certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers in Australia.


in the Context of the APST

An important factor when applying for HAT and LT certification and providing direct evidence of practice against the descriptors at the relevant career stage is understanding who ‘colleagues’ is referring to in the descriptors.

Many of the descriptors refer to leading, supporting, working with and assisting colleagues.  It is important to be aware that when the HAT and LT descriptors refer to colleagues, these must be teaching colleagues.

Although teacher aids are valued members of staff in our schools, in relation to the APST, you must ensure the colleagues you are referencing are teaching colleagues. Preservice teachers are also not considered colleagues.

Evidence of supporting and providing quality placements for preservice teachers should be referenced in descriptors 6.1 and 6.2.

The process to achieve Certification as a Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher

The certification process has five main elements:


Eligibility, self assessment and professional discussion

Assessment Stage 1

Submission of evidence, decision-making and feedback

Referee reports-validate and verify evidence

Successful applicants progress to Stage 2

Assessment Stage 2

Onsite or virtual site visit including direct observation of practice and professional discussion


Decision making and recommendation. Certification is awarded for 5 years.

Renewal of Certification

After 4 years the applicant must apply for recertification in order to continue their certified status.

Submitting an Application for Certification

Certification is a rigorous and rewarding professional process of reflecting on and providing evidence and annotations relating to teaching practice. Teachers vary significantly in how long they require to prepare their portfolios, and this is normal. It is important that applicants consider taking additional time if required and submitting their portfolio in the following year.



From 1 July 2018 Highly Accomplished Teachers will be remunerated at $106,936.
Lead Teachers will be remunerated at $116,936.

Classroom Observation Reports

The classroom observation reports, written by an observer of the applicant’s lesson, provide feedback on the applicant’s classroom practice against the Standards. There must be at least two recent (within last 12 months) classroom observation reports included in an applicant’s portfolio of evidence and at least one of which must be from their principal/supervisor or delegate as nominated by the principal/supervisor. For more information go to AITSL’s Guide to Certification.

Classroom observation reports may be compiled using existing observation tools and templates in an applicant’s school/system. If the existing observation frameworks, tools or templates don’t reference the Standards, the applicant must annotate the observation report to refer to and show links to the Standard(s)/Descriptor(s).  A template is available for applicant’s consideration. Please note this is not a mandated template.  QCEC Classroom Observation template

Annotations for classroom observation reports need only be a succinct description of the context in which the observation took place and provide information about the learning intentions and outcomes of the lesson.  Ensure that the descriptors the observations are being used as evidence for are clearly identified.

Useful Links for Applicants

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Queensland College of Teachers Online Resources

QCT website National Certification page includes profiles from some teachers who have been Certified during the pilot.

For further information or advice, please contact the QCT by email at

Certification Resources