More than 230 participants travelled from across Australia to attend the AITSL-organised event over March 17 and 18. It brought together nationally certified HALTs along with invited deans of education, system and sector leaders, certifying authority representatives, national certification assessors, and school leaders.

Opening this year’s event, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham recognised the expertise and leadership of the certified HALTs as being critical to lifting the quality and professionalisation of teaching.

Emphasising their importance, Senator Birmingham said: “Funding formulas and policy documents developed in Canberra are always going to be many steps removed from the classroom, which is where the real gain in educational improvement happens.

“Many governments over many years have tried to effect a change in this area, but often have done so without successfully enhancing the profession itself.

“That is exactly where this network of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers has an incredible opportunity to drive change. “By developing, retaining and rewarding effective teachers, by harnessing your expertise, and using evidence to guide us, I am confident that we can and will lift student outcomes,” he added.

Senator Birmingham also launched Taking the Lead – a paper outlining AITSL’s vision for national teacher certification, which calls for it to be available to teachers in all Australian schools. Internationally-acclaimed education researcher and AITSL Board Chair, Professor John Hattie, took to the stage to reflect on the progress of the HALT Network over the year since its launch.

He also led the discussions for how to help all parties understand the impact of quality teaching and expertise, advocating that “high progress leads to achievement”. 

Highlighting the need to promote teacher expertise as the evidenced-backed factor that impacts student learning, Hattie said: “We have a major job to educate parents about the excellence that happens in your schools. We have so many teachers who can say, ‘I have evidence that what I do works’.

Keynote speaker at the event was world-renowned educational psychologist Professor Carol Dweck, who explored the importance of a “growth mindset” to student learning.

She shared how her research found that some children view a learning situation as a critical test of their abilities, whereas others see it purely as an opportunity to learn.

As a result, she said: “It’s the idea that every student has a psychology around learning and that you are there to promote this learning process with them. “Our work suggests that praise that appreciates the process is more effective than praise that focuses on the child’s abilities or just focuses on the outcomes.”

Workshops and masterclasses aided by “visual facilitator” Tracey Ezard and led by Hattie and Dweck further explored the notions of understanding and measuring impact, and the growth mindset, while Growth Coaching International’s Jason Pascoe ran a session on how the HALTs could work with colleagues to help them to become certified.

Summing up the event, AITSL CEO Lisa Rodgers said: “As I looked around, I was struck by how much talent, expertise and experience was in the room. “The challenge ahead is for HALTs to be able to share that expertise, talent and impact across a school, and to inspire others to embark on the journey of certification or to practise differently.”