The importance of expertise in education

The importance of expertise in education

In a year marked by rapid technological advancements, crippling nationwide teacher shortages and a deepening wellbeing crisis, it could be argued that the demands on Australian school leaders have never been more pressing.

As principals steer their schools through these complexities, the need for high-quality, tailored professional development has emerged as a cornerstone of effective school leadership.

Last week, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) held its 8th annual Highly Accomplished and Lead teacher (HALT) Summit to both recognise the achievement of the nation’s top teachers and present critical insights from several renowned education thought leaders.

Held in Sydney between 9-10 May, this year's Summit, themed ‘Innovate. Elevate. Celebrate.’, emphasised the importance of expertise in education and amplifying the influence of HALTs in classrooms and staff rooms across Australia.

Keynote speakers at the event included Carol Fox, Principal Trainer & Coach, Carol Fox & Co; Dr Justine Grogan, Senior Advisor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education at AITSL; and Ben Sacco, Founder and Managing Director of Education Economy.

“Each Summit strengthens the sense of camaraderie among HALTs, thanks to their shared certification journeys, teaching expertise, and passion for making a positive impact in and beyond their schools,” AITSL’s Acting CEO Edmund Misson told The Educator.

“The benefit of like-minded HALTs connecting is huge. The Sharespace session, where HALTs move between small group presentations, is one of the highlights, offering a chance for attendees to share their practice and learn from each other.”

Misson said a big part of the Summit's success is the professional learning it offers.

“HALTs often tell us how hard it is to find professional development that fits their specific career stage, so they really value the tailored sessions at the Summit,” he said.

“Feedback from attendees highlights how much they appreciated presentations and conversations about AI in education, cultural responsiveness, how to engage with the latest research, and leadership communication skills. These topics really hit the mark.”

Following each Summit, the HALTs are encouraged to bring their new insights back to their schools, developing initiatives, introducing fresh ways of thinking, and mentoring colleagues.

Misson said as we look ahead to the rest of 2024, several key areas for professional development stand out.

“There’s a strong interest in learning more about emerging technologies like AI and how to use them effectively and responsibly to enhance teaching and reduce workload pressures,” he said.

“Our latest 2-part Spotlight research report [part 1 and part 2] is a great starting point to explore this area.”

Misson noted that many teachers also want more development in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, adding that AITSL’s Indigenous Cultural Responsiveness Toolkit will provide valuable support in this context.

“Other important focuses include inclusive education, especially for supporting students with disability, and overall wellbeing for students, teachers, and leaders,” he said.

“These priorities reflect what’s needed in the profession and highlight the importance of ongoing, targeted professional development to drive educational excellence.”