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This paper was prepared for the Sustaining Teachers’ Professional Growth Cambridge Seminar, Moller Centre, University of Cambridge, 18th and 19th of February 2013.


This paper focuses on the challenge of developing a system forrecognising and rewarding accomplished teachers operated by the teaching profession – a standards-based professional learning and certification system. While the focus is on recent Australian experience, it draws on the experience of several countries that have sought to reform teacher career structures and pay systems so that there is a closer alignment between career progression and increasing expertise. Over the past twenty years or so, teacher associations in several countries have demonstrated that the profession has the ability to reach a consensus on teaching standards without imposing uniformity of teaching style. These standards indicate that the profession can lay down long term professional development goals for its members based on research and successful professional practice. A standards-based professional learning and certification system has the potential to overcome major limitations in traditional systems of professional learning for teachers: the lack of clarity about what teachers should get better at; the lack of incentive to attain high teaching standards, and the low level of ownership and control teachers have over the professional development system.