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A study examining the impact of a pioneering group of nationally certified Queensland independent school teachers has revealed their potential to play a greater role in shaping school-wide classroom teaching practices and improvement agendas.

Research findings into the impact of the relatively new roles of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers (HALTs) in Australian schools have been published in the respected journal, The Australian Educational Researcher. Access the research article.

Co-authored by Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the two-phase research project examined teacher understanding of their impact on student outcomes and their role as middle school leaders.

To date, 86 teachers have achieved HALT standing in Queensland independent schools with a further 137 working towards the two most advanced levels of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

The paper found that HALTs “represented diverse impacts with students including positive academic learning outcomes, engagement in pastoral, academic, civic, sporting and creative domains, social skills and behaviour”.

“Through recognition of their impact, not only can teachers be acknowledged and supported, but their contributions to a whole school learning cycle can be strategically amplified,” the paper concluded.

“An additional contribution is finding that certification was beneficial for schools. Instead of the achievements being hidden away in a certification portfolio, in some schools, their work was recognised and generated ongoing learning as part of a whole school ecosystem of professional learning. Recognising that HALTs are also middle leaders points to new possibilities for supporting HALTs, and for establishing greater professional networking within and between schools for their continued impact in schools.”

The paper noted “the potential for schools to support HALTs to develop their middle leadership capabilities both during and after the certification process” to extend and deepen their impact in and across schools.

ISQ Executive Director David Robertson said in the contemporary age of “influencers” the research showed the value and potential of HALT teachers as motivating and unifying leaders of quality classroom teaching practice.

“These exceptional professionals have a ripple effect across their communities. They are role models of teaching excellence, inspiring and supporting their colleagues and building professional communities of practice within their schools that uplift students and staff,” Mr Robertson said.

One of the authors of the research article, QUT School of Teacher Education Associate Professor Jill Willis said: “From feedback, to whole-school programs of literacy or technology, to wellbeing and outreach programs, and reaching international audiences with their innovative ideas - there was compelling and wide-ranging evidence of the excellence and impact of teachers. ISQ’s supportive process enables teachers, mentors, assessors and leaders to recognise and share these best practices.”

ISQ is a recognised HALT certifying authority by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) which oversees the prestigious national program.


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