All teachers working in NSW need to hold NESA Accreditation. How do I achieve it? What is the cost? How do I maintain it?
Introduction to NESA Accreditation
In NSW, it is a mandatory requirement for teachers to be accredited as a proficient teacher in order to maintain their employment. Under the Teacher Accreditation Act, 2004, teachers and principals have a direct responsibility to ensure that they hold an active accreditation with the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) if they wish to continue working within the education system – whether it be within government or independent schools. If you are a teacher that is new to this state or unfamiliar with the NSW accreditation system, here is everything you need to know about getting and maintaining NESA accreditation within NSW.
What is the role of NESA?
The New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) has been established as a corporation by The Educational Standards Authority Act (2013) and granted many powers in relation to the NSW education system. The very important responsibilities of NESA involve:
- Developing curriculum across all levels of schooling
- Delivering exams associated with the NSW Higher School Certificate and NAPLAN
- Registration of all schools – including independent, government and homeschooling.
- Accrediting teaching degrees
- Accrediting teachers to work in NSW schools and early childhood services
NESA is also responsible for supporting growth in student achievement and wellbeing by engaging with NSW schools, teachers and the wider community. NESA reports to an independent Board as well as the Minister for Education and is guided by a Charter. Ultimately, the goal of the NSW Education Standards Authority is to develop evidence-based policy to improve student achievement and support teachers. This very important role is crucial for ensuring an effective education system across NSW and the NESA accreditation process for teachers is one aspect involved in achieving this.
How do I achieve NESA Accreditation?
There are two types of accreditation for teachers in NSW. Conditional accreditation can be applied for by students who are in their final year of an accredited undergraduate or graduate teaching degree, or for those who have completed a non-teaching bachelor degree and have an offer of employment as a teacher within a NSW school. Provisional accreditation can be applied for by those who have successfully completed an approved teaching degree.
Teachers are able to move from a conditional to a provisional accreditation by providing a certified copy of their final university degree transcript by uploading it to the NESA website. This must be done within 12 months of obtaining a conditional accreditation status.
To achieve NESA accreditation, the following documents must be provided:
- Certified copies of university transcripts and awards for qualifications that have been successfully completed.
- Certified copies of 100 points of identification in addition to any relevant name change documents.
- A current NSW Working with Children Check clearance (WWCC).
- Evidence of successful completion of an English language proficiency test in cases where the qualifications are from a country where English is not the primary language.
Once these documents are available, applicants can create a NESA online account and log in to complete the application process. You can find this online portal here: Home | NESA eTAMS
After obtaining accreditation with NESA, all teachers are required to work towards achieving the status of being a ‘proficient’ teacher’. This is a service-based process where teachers are able to submit evidence of their work within the NESA online portal in line with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Once enough evidence has been collected, a supervisor will review the evidence and submit a proficient teacher accreditation report to support the application. You can learn more about the proficient teacher application process and requirements here: Proficient Teacher | NSW Education Standards
NESA Accreditation is achieved when teachers document how they are meeting the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. There are 7 Standards which are as follows;
- Know students and how they learn
- Know the content and how to teach it
- Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
- Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
- Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
- Engage in professional learning
- Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community.
For any NESA accredited training you have completed, you will provide your NESA member number to the RTO (Registered Training Organisation) or course provider and usually they will log the training on your behalf. After they have logged the training, it will be visible to you on your portal. Teachers are usually required to complete a simple, multiple choice evaluation of the training and how it met the teaching standards before this training is logged as part of your accumulated training hours.
For elective training, you will need to go to your Dashboard on the portal, click on the ‘Maintenance of Accreditation’ until you see the drop down box, select Elective PD, as seen in my photo below, and then Add Elective PD. When documenting how you have worked towards or met these standards, there is a process of clicking on the standards you believe you have met, the date you completed the professional development and the duration of the training in hours and minutes.
As a general guide, which NESA described to me on the phone recently, when choosing the number of standards to add to a particular elective PD, NESA only expect around 1 standard to be selected per 1 hour of training. If you did a 1 hour course, 1 teaching standard is sufficient with a quick description of how you believe the course met that particular standard. If it was a 2 hour course or 2 hours of research, 2 or 3 standards is more appropriate.
NESA does not expect you to complete training covering all the descriptors or even all of the standards. As long as you have covered a few of the standards and met the number of required hours with a description of how the training met the descriptors, that should be sufficient.
Full time teachers have 5 years to achieve 100 hours of professional learning to maintain NESA Accreditation whereas Part time teachers have 7 years to maintain their NESA Accreditation. If you change your employment from full time to part time, you can change your maintenance period from 5 years to 7 years. More information can be found on the NESA website regarding providing evidence of this.
You will also require a current Working with Children Check (WWCC) to gain NESA Accreditation. This is a compulsory requirement and forms part of all teacher’s child protection responsibilities. You can read more about Child Protection in my comprehensive article here.
You can apply for a WWCC through the Office of the Children’s Guardian.
What is involved in submitting maintenance of accreditation?
To maintain your NESA accreditation, all documentation must be submitted three months prior to the due date. You will need to complete a reflective statement which is basically a summary of how you met some of the teaching standards. This summary does not need to be exhaustive; mine was only 2 paragraphs. The reflective statement is a necessary step for early childhood teachers but is optional for primary and high school teachers. You will also need to select a referee which can be any other proficient teacher working in NSW who has worked with you and can verify that what you have written in your reflective statement is a true summary of what you have achieved. You simply need to ask that person for their full name and NESA number, enter the details into the portal and they will get a notification asking them to verify your information. Once you have completed your NESA hours, completed your reflective statement, selected a referee and entered their details, your referee has verified your statement, then your principal or equivalent TAA (Teacher Accreditation Authority) will confirm if you have met the requirements for a proficient teacher or not. For early childhood teachers, your TAA will be NESA itself. You can find more info about Principals and TAAs here.
When it is time for you to submit your maintenance, this can be done by logging into your NESA account and clicking on the ‘submit maintenance’ link. You can then upload the evidence of having met the PD requirements, complete the steps above, tick the declaration and submit. You can find the log in page here: Home | NESA eTAMS
If you are unsure about completing this process, here is a very useful video clip that will walk you through the entire process: https://youtu.be/aNgoqdX1Wtg
Once you have submitted all of your ‘maintenance’ documentation, your dashboard page will display your application status as well as the next due date. Your new maintenance period will only begin once the date of your current period has passed.
Can I teach without NESA Accreditation?
NESA accreditation is mandatory in order to be employed as a teacher in NSW. Teachers who do not maintain their accreditation and who do not meet the NESA maintenance requirements will not be able to continue their employment and simply cannot teach in NSW. To avoid a loss of employment, it is crucial that teachers are familiar with the requirements for maintaining their accreditation and comply with them diligently.
What Professional Development can I complete?
There are currently 610 professional development providers that are endorsed by NESA, so there is an extensive range of courses that can be completed to satisfy the accreditation requirements. Here, you can find a comprehensive list of these endorsed providers: Find a PD Provider. A-Z list of NESA Registered PD Providers. (educationstandards.nsw.edu.au) Whilst elective PD can include a wide range of professional development activities, it still must fit within certain criteria to count towards NESA accreditation. Some of these criteria include PD that relates to integrating ICT into teaching practice, strategies for engaging with families and communities, educational leadership and mentoring. You can find a detailed list of all elective PD criteria requirements here: PD requirements | NSW Education Standards.
Teachers need to complete a total of 100 hours professional development which includes a minimum of 50 hours of NESA Accredited training to maintain NESA Accreditation and the remaining 50 hours can be made up of NESA Accredited training or Elective training which are things like professional reading, collegial conversations, courses, reflection activities and research. Depending on your initial accreditation date, you may have to complete only 20 hours of NESA accredited training which is the case for myself. It is probably best to call NESA on +61 2 9367 8111 to find out what the circumstances are for you individually. Personally I have completed more than the 20 hours as there are many courses which I have enjoyed doing. Your dashboard will give you a breakdown of how many accredited hours and how many elective hours you have completed, as you can see above on my dashboard.
Highly accomplished and lead teachers have slightly different requirements to meet. They must engage in a minimum of 20 hours of NESA accredited PD and a minimum of 20 hours of professional commitment activities. The remainder of the 100 hours can then be taken up with a combination of NESA accredited professional development or elective professional development activities.
In addition to professional development courses, teachers can complete their own research, attend forums, conduct training, observe a teaching colleague’s practice, do professional reading, complete a reflection activity such as reflecting on own practice and teaching strategies, or prepare professional development material. Hey, I think I can even log the writing of this article as part of my elective hours! ; )
What is the difference between accredited and elective PD?
The purpose of professional development is to ensure that teachers keep up to date with content, skills and pedagogy that supports them to be effective and skilled teachers. NESA has a process for endorsing professional development providers and courses fall within four priority areas. These four areas include:
- Delivery and assessment of NSW curriculum
- Student/child mental health
- Students/children with disabilities
- Aboriginal education and supporting Aboriginal students/children
By engaging with these endorsed providers, teachers are able to meet the minimum requirements for NESA accredited professional development.
In addition to the NESA accredited PD, teachers are also able to engage in additional professional development activities that are elective. This allows teachers to build their skills in a wide range of areas. All elective PD must still meet the criteria for approved elective professional development, as detailed above.
Professional commitment activities are required for highly accomplished and lead teachers and these are engagements that include activities such as mentoring or coaching other teachers, leading professional development or supporting the implementation of projects, including research, within educational settings.
Additional undergraduate or postgraduate study can be included as professional development when an academic transcript is provided as evidence of completion of these units of study.
Can I apply for an Extension?
Currently, NESA is providing extensions to complete maintenance of accreditation or proficient teacher requirements.
Automatic extensions have been applied until 4 March 2022 IF you are:
- overdue, or due in Term 3 or 4, 2021
- an early childhood teacher whose maintenance of accreditation was due 17 July 2021.
If your Proficient Teacher or maintenance of accreditation requirements are due after the end of Term 4, 2021 and you’re concerned about meeting requirements, you can apply for an extension to your time frame. You can use the following form: Application for Extension of Accreditation time frame.
** EDIT: NESA has provided an automatic extension due to Covid, until 1 July 2022, as seen below.
Can I apply for a leave of absence?
Yes, you can apply for a leave of absence for a minimum period of 6 months, up to a maximum of 5 years. To apply for a leave of absence, you need to go to the Applications tab, select Leave of Absence and fill out the form. It is a very simple process – just fill out the dates for which you will be taking the leave (minimum 6 months period), select the reason and submit.
**EDIT – I have just applied for a leave of absence after resigning from my Full-Time job as a child care director. After applying, I got an email only minutes later, telling me my application was approved. While I am on a leave of absence, I do not have to pay the annual accreditation fee (assuming my leave starts before 1 May). I may need to pay the fee if I return to teaching before October. While I am on a leave of absence, I also do not need to be engaging in professional development. My maintenance period can begin (or resume) once I return to teaching. If I wish to engage in any professional development during my leave, I am still able to enter that into the portal, and it can count towards my next maintenance period.
In my case, my maintenance period was due to expire right as I was resigning from my job, so I submitted my reflective statement, asked my referee to verify my statement and completed the application. As soon as I received email confirmation that I had maintained my accreditation as a proficient teacher, I then applied for the leave of absence.
If I want to return to teaching before the 6 months are up, I can simply change the end date within the portal and pay the accreditation fee. If I wish to extend the leave of absence longer than 6 months, I can again, change the end date in the portal.
How much does it cost to maintain NESA Accreditation?
The fee to maintain NESA Accreditation is $100 annually. This is GST free and you can claim the fee back on tax. It is charged each calendar year. If you fail to pay the fee, your NESA accreditation can unfortunately be suspended or revoked. Once you have paid your fee, NESA will post to you your updated card with your name, NESA number, QR code, expiry of NESA Accreditation and space for a signature. This can easily be kept in your wallet to show future employers or to gain teacher benefits where relevant.
Summary – What is NESA Accreditation?
NESA Accreditation can be achieved once you have a current Working with Children Check, when you have paid the annual $100 fee to NESA and provided evidence of your teaching qualification. To maintain this accreditation as a proficient teacher, you must complete 100 hours of training which will be made up of NESA accredited training as well as elective training. The make up of whether that is a 20/80 ratio or 50/50 differs depending on when you were initially accredited.
Further information can be found on the NESA website or by calling NESA on 9367 8111.
Processes for ensuring effective accreditation of all NSW teachers support us to have a strong education system that is focused on continuous improvement. Our system can only be as good as our educators, so the NESA accreditation process allows us to make sure that our teachers are proficient so that we can do what our system is designed to do – improve learning outcomes for all children and young people across the state.