A new initiative by the NSW Government will see Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher (HALT) accreditation streamlined, making it easier for the state’s top teachers to apply.
Currently, 274 NSW teachers are accredited at HALT levels. The accreditation, which attracts additional remuneration, recognises highly effective, innovative and exemplary teaching practice against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
Under the new plan, the Government aims to grow the number of HALT teachers in NSW to at least 2,500 by 2025.
The streamlined application process clarifies expectations and provides support for applicants to develop and submit their application, including professional learning; clear guidelines on the volume of evidence required; individual feedback at key points in the application process; and an online resource hub to support reflection on teaching practice.
"HALTs not only improve the outcomes for students in their own classrooms, they also actively support colleagues across their system to enhance teaching and learning practices to consistently improve the quality of teaching," NSW Education Minister, Sarah Mitchell, told The Educator.
"Achieving HALT accreditation provides a valuable opportunity for teaching professionals to work together and improve their own teaching practice as well as the practice of their colleagues."
Minister Mitchell said it also opens up a number of career opportunities without teachers leaving the classroom and encourages top teachers to stay in-front of their students.
"HALT accreditation is voluntary and provides access to higher salary scales, acknowledging this important achievement and aiming to keep our best teachers in the classroom. This is why I have set an ambitious target to increase the number of HALTs 10-fold by 2025."
Elsewhere in Australia, research has shown that HALTs have been having a significant impact on improving school performance.
A research paper, commissioned by Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) shows that HALTs have been a driving force behind student learning, peer professional growth and school improvement
QUT School of Teacher Education Associate Professor Jill Willis is one of the study’s authors. She says HALTs are helping to support the busy and complex role of principalship across Australia, and in turn, improve their wellbeing and performance.
“HALTs are connected to the heart of schools – teaching students. They work closely with teachers providing experienced advice and encouragement. They lead from the middle, connecting a principal’s vision to the daily work,” Associate Professor Willis told The Educator.
“When HALTs are supported by principals they propose and lead inspiring practice within a school and HALTs have expressed a desire to do more as middle leaders”.
Associate Professor Willis said HALT certification is more than well-deserved recognition of individual excellence.
“HALTs are a catalyst for immediate quality improvement in schools when they are supported by leaders and equipped within a collective professional learning approach like that designed by ISQ,” she said.
Associate Professor Willis said that instead of a one-size-fits all approach, local excellent teachers can immediately share successful practices tailored to diverse geographic, social and cultural contexts across Australia.
“They provide experienced leadership for colleagues and students and early career teachers, and at the same time experience professional renewal”.