Advice for teachers to be accredited as proficient

First year fees

Federation has decided that for New Scheme teachers who join Federation for the first time in 2009 or upgrade their membership from student membership, Federation will pay the first year of their BOSTES annual fee.

To qualify for this initiative the teacher must be:

  • a New Scheme teacher and,
  • joining the Federation or upgrading from 2008 student membership to a full time member, temporary teacher member or as a casual teacher member, and
  • paying Federation fees by fortnightly direct debit, auto credit card or paying Federation fees 12 months in advance.

Application for payment of fees

M1.1 Introduction 

On January 1, 2014 the functions of the NSW Institute of Teachers and the NSW Board of Studies merged to form the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES). BOSTES incorporates many areas of work in NSW schools, including curriculum, teaching, assessment, registration and policy. 

The following advice arises from the BOSTES implementation of mandatory accreditation processes for teachers who are required to be accredited. The advice is designed to be used by:

  • principals 
  • assistant principals, head teachers and deputy principals 
  • others who have responsibility for supporting teachers who are required to be accredited at Proficient Teacher. 

The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers have been implemented progressively from 2012 in the accreditation of teachers in NSW schools.

All accredited teachers should now be using the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. For information regarding the transition from NSW standards to Australian standards, please see BOSTES’ Accreditation Matters, 1, 2, and 3 (2012). 

M1.2 Important advice on documentary evidence

Federation is concerned by continuing reports of unreasonable workloads being imposed upon some beginning teachers and school executive as part of the accreditation procedures set by BOSTES and Department of Education and Communities (DEC). 

Many of these demands seem to be based on some misunderstanding of BOSTES and DEC’s requirements. Some of this misconception seems to result from an overly supervisory, administrative approach rather than a collaborative and supportive approach based upon beginning teachers’ real developmental needs. 

Federation sought clear advice from BOSTES and the Department regarding the evidence required to be submitted for accreditation and was provided with the following: 

  • a teacher’s documentary evidence is designed to support the accreditation report 
  • the documentation submitted must fit in an A4 plastic sleeve (see M1.3) 
  • evidence must have been developed in the course of your teaching practice — the BOSTES does not require special material 
  • only include evidence that has been developed substantially by the teacher 
  • include evidence that aligns to the seven standards, not individual standard descriptors. Evidence must align to each of the seven standards but not every standard descriptor 
  • one piece of evidence may be sufficient to meet a number of standards.

M1.3 How much documentary evidence must be submitted with the accreditation report? 

The DEC’s accreditation at Proficient Teacher Procedures (October 2014) states in part: 

“The teacher, with the assistance of the supervisor, reviews the collected evidence over time and towards the end of the accreditation period selects the supporting evidence which best demonstrates their teaching at the level of Proficient Teacher. 

The focus for submitted evidence is on quality not quantity – the submitted evidence could reasonably be expected to fit into an A4 plastic sleeve if printed. 

For example, evidence may be made up of about 6 documents of approximately 3-4 pages each.” 

M1.4 A different language and context for support, development and assessment of beginning teachers 

While Federation does not agree with all aspects of the Professional Teaching Standards or with all aspects of the Department’s or the BOSTES’s procedures, Federation seeks to ensure that they are implemented in positive ways that assist in the development and retention of new teachers in public schools. 

BOSTES requirements and the Department’s policy procedures should be implemented through school based processes which reflect established good practice in the support and development of new teachers. Any process should be cooperative, collegial and reasonable. It should not impose unreasonable expectations or workload implications for beginning teachers or those teachers assisting them. M1 Advice for teachers to be accredited as Proficient2 NSW Teachers Federation February 2015 

M1.5 Know the policy and procedures which are applicable

All new scheme teachers and those who work with them must be given access to copies of appropriate policies and procedures which impact on their work. There are a number of documents which need to be referred to, some produced by the Department and others by BOSTES. 

The Department’s document Accreditation at Proficient Teachers Procedures (October 2014) and Strong start, Great teachers resource includes references to other relevant policies and procedures from both the Department and BOSTES. 

It is important to be aware of the manner in which the Department has employed a teacher in order to know what policies and procedures are relevant. For example, while most probationary teachers are new scheme teachers, others are not. Some teachers who are required to be accredited (for example, casual teachers) are not probationary teachers. Additionally, all temporary teachers should be provided with a copy of their engagement notice. 

The DEC’s policy and procedures also dictate what processes must be followed if things go wrong. The Department’s documents Probationary Teacher Improvement Process or Managing temporary teacher engagements including circumstances of early cessation may be applied if teachers are experiencing difficulties with their teaching. Members are encouraged to contact Federation for support. 

BOSTES has support documents on its website. Many of these are currently being updated to reflect the transition to the Australian Standards. 

M1.6 A collegial process aimed to achieve success 

Teachers in promotions positions (including those referred to in Department or BOSTES documents as “Supervising Teachers”) with responsibility for supporting teachers who are required to be accredited need to be cognisant of their responsibilities to support and develop beginning teachers to succeed. 

Federation opposes overbearing and authoritarian approaches to the application of standards. Beginning teachers need to feel comfortable to ask for advice and assistance. It needs to be clear who the supervisor is. 

There may be circumstances in which the same individual will be involved in both support and making judgements against the Standards at Proficient Teacher. It is vital that such distinctions be made clear for all participants when conversations, meetings or classroom observations take place. 

M1.7 All beginning teachers to be involved in an induction program 

Several Department documents, as well as BOSTES documents, refer to the need for all beginning teachers to be provided with an induction program. Federation fully supports this and has lobbied for additional resources for schools so that a meaningful induction program can be provided. 

Department professional learning funds provided to schools can and should be used to provide induction programs and ongoing support. 

DEC’s Strong start, Great teachers resource emphasises the focus on quality teaching, teacher professionalism and strong professional relationships. It should be borne in mind by those implementing policies relating to beginning teachers that no member of staff is more vulnerable than beginning teachers trying to establish themselves in a school community. They are new to the profession, the staffroom and classroom. Many are new to the wider communities in which they teach. 

In this context, beginning teachers often feel overwhelmed by the expectation of “getting on with teaching” while managing the often competing demands of: 

  • becoming more familiar with aspects of the curriculum, assessment and reporting practices 
  • identifying the individual needs of students 
  • locating and preparing resources 
  • adjusting to the system/school/college’s culture, policies and procedures 
  • meeting faculty and whole-school/college responsibilities 
  • the BOSTES accreditation procedures 
  • establishing themselves in a new location/community. 

M1.8 The standards at Proficient level 

It is important that the Standards at Proficient are applied in a holistic way which acknowledges the varied and complex circumstances of teachers’ professional work. The use of a simplistic “checklist” or a microscopic focus on a single aspect of a standard is inappropriate and unacceptable.

The focus should be on the seven standards across the three domains of the Australian Professional Teaching Standards. “Supervising Teachers” should make a holistic judgement in relation to what would reasonably be expected of a beginning teacher. This judgement must take into account the context of the school. The aspects and descriptions of the specific standards at Proficient are useful for professional conversations, particularly when a new teacher requires clarification of what is expected.3 NSW Teachers Federation February 2015 

M1.9 Teachers in casual positions or temporary appointments 

Most beginning teachers in a casual teaching position or temporary appointment will also be teachers who are required to be accredited and as such the accreditation requirements apply to them as well. They do, however, have a longer period of time to meet these requirements. 

Federation is concerned by reports that principals and/or other “supervisors” are ignoring the professional induction and development needs of casual and temporary teachers by assuming it is someone else’s responsibility in the Department — it is not. Casual or temporary teachers must be informed of the process for induction and accreditation that will operate in their teaching engagement at the school. 

Especially in long temporary appointments, temporary teachers must be treated in the same way as their permanent colleagues in relation to induction and accreditation. 

Federation’s advice is that during each casual/temporary work engagement a teacher who is required to be accredited should collect and have annotated supporting evidence that will add to their final accreditation report. Casual/temporary teachers may therefore have documents signed by a number of different supervisors and principals. 

It is sometimes reported by temporary/casual teachers that assistant principals or head teachers dismiss their attempts at collecting supporting evidence by saying “it’s not relevant” or “the engagement is not really long enough”. Federation’s advice in this situation is that the “supervisor” should be directed to the Department’s Accreditation at Proficient Teacher Procedures (October 2014) and referred to section 4.6. 

M1.10 Lesson observation

Policy and support documents in relation to the annual performance and development cycle of all teachers, including teachers required to be accredited and probationary teachers, refer to the use of lesson observation. Such observations should include subsequent written feedback to new teachers and probationary teachers as well as opportunities for them to observe colleagues, including the supervising teacher. All lesson observations shall be the subject of negotiation between those involved before they occur. 

There needs to be a clear understanding of the purpose of the observation and of the way in which feedback will be provided. Whilst lesson observations make up a useful component of induction and accreditation, they do not make up the entirety of such. Too many will be counter-productive. Excessive lesson observations will undermine collegiality and will hinder beginning teacher development. 

M1.11 Workload 

All members are advised to avoid the creation of complex and demanding school based processes which lead to excessive demands being placed on teachers. Implementing the procedures is about consistent standards, not “lifting the bar” for new teachers.

M1.12 Additional release time

Federation has been successful in obtaining additional release time for many beginning teachers. It provided for one hour of additional release time to support beginning teachers appointed permanent on probation in the six non-metropolitan regions in 2008. In 2009 it was extended to the metropolitan regions. 

Recent improvements sought by Federation included an additional two hours of release time per week for all teachers in their first year, permanent and temporary and one hour per week in the second and third years. 

While the Department’s Beginning Teachers Support Policy provided release for permanent beginning teachers in their first year, the policy did not adequately address the needs of either beginning teachers or their supervisors. It was, however, a significant first step. 

As a result of years of campaigning, from 2014 there is an additional two hours of release time per week for permanent beginning teachers in their first year and one hour per week in their second year. There is also additional release time for experienced teachers or supervisors supporting beginning teachers. 

It is important that the implementation of additional release time not be used to increase the existing workload of beginning teachers, nor should it be used to withdraw other support time currently available to beginning teachers. Particular care should also be taken wherever possible to provide proper support to the significant numbers of non-permanent beginning teachers not covered by the policy. 

M1.13 If things go wrong 

Federation is available to provide advice and assistance to financial Federation members who are involved in an accreditation process. If problems arise in the implementation of these processes members are advised to contact Federation sooner rather than later to seek resolution.

 

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