Teacher Awards 2023: The 8 Award Categories

Teacher magazine has a proud history of highlighting the incredible work of teachers and school leaders working in primary and secondary school settings to lift student achievement and wellbeing. We are excited to share that we are launching the Teacher Awards to recognise outstanding approaches to teaching and school leadership.

Teacher Editor Jo Earp says: ‘Over the years, the Teacher team has been lucky enough to speak with amazing school leaders, teachers and support staff who are making a difference to the lives of their students. We know that there are thousands more out there who are doing outstanding work, and we can’t wait to celebrate their achievements through the Teacher Awards.’

Nominations for the awards will open from 9.00am (AEST) 9 June until 11.59pm (AEST) 16 July 2023. Click here to learn more about eligibility and the application process, or here to get to know the Judging Panel.

The 8 Award Categories are open to educators working in the K-12 school education community and recognise achievements of the last 12 months. Here’s a closer look at each category.

Leadership Award for Driving School Improvement

We know from international research that effective school leadership teams are crucial to improving teaching and learning outcomes. This award is open to a school leadership team, or individual member of a leadership team, and celebrates excellence in creating, implementing, and continuing to drive and reflect on strategic improvement plans. Judges will be looking for elements such as:

  • A commitment to improving outcomes for all students, including those facing disadvantage
  • An explicit school improvement strategy/strategic plan based on evidence of student needs
  • Evidence of a sharp focus on core priorities
  • The setting and achieving of explicit targets, with systematic monitoring and evaluation
  • Effective communication of improvement strategies, targets, and progress to all stakeholders
  • A commitment to attracting, retaining, and developing high-performing teachers
  • A commitment to leading and modelling professional learning

Improving Student Learning and Progress

Every student is capable of successful learning and of making ongoing progress. This award is open to an individual or team of educators and celebrates success in improving learning and progress for students, regardless of their starting point – including those working above or below year-level expectations. Judges will be looking for elements such as:

  • Professional learning to support data literacy of staff
  • Systematic collection and use of data, from different sources, to identify: where individual students are in their learning; gaps in learning and individual student needs; appropriate teaching strategies and interventions (this may include programs to support specific cohorts of students, such as those facing disadvantage)
  • Using multiple sources of data to monitor student progress and evaluate the effectiveness of teaching
  • A feedback and reporting approach that aligns with the school context, teaching approaches, and student/parent needs
  • Teachers clearly explain students' current knowledge, understanding and skills
  • Communicating student progress and long-term growth, rather than just achievement
  • Students understand the next steps in learning, and receive clear feedback on how to improve
  • Parents understand their child's learning progress and needs, and how to best support them

Cultivating an Inclusive and Positive Culture

We know that effective school leaders and educators place a high priority on creating and maintaining an environment in which all students, and staff, can thrive and succeed. This award celebrates the efforts of an individual or team in cultivating an inclusive and positive school culture, which can promote learning outcomes and wellbeing. Judges will be looking for elements such as:

  • The school is a safe, respectful, and inclusive learning environment for all students
  • Leaders and teachers set high expectation in all areas of school life
  • There is evidence of a common belief that every student is capable of successful learning, including those facing disadvantage
  • A culture of trust and support exists among school community members
  • Parents and carers are valued as important partners in their child's learning
  • Valuing students' diverse backgrounds –– seeing diversity as a strength
  • Specific programs and professional learning to build staff competency related to diversity
  • Developing and maintaining and sense of belonging and pride in the school

Excellence in Staff Collaboration

Research shows that high quality teaching and leadership teams learn from each other's practices, and there is a shared commitment and responsibility for student learning and ongoing progress. This award is open to teams of leaders/teachers who are working together to improve their practice and lift student outcomes. Judges will be looking for elements such as:

  • Evidence of a culture of collaboration and teamwork within the school
  • An explicit system in place to deliberately foster collaboration and allow for regular professional discussions to share expertise, knowledge, and learnings across curriculum areas and stages
  • Examples of staff working with other schools to showcase and share effective practice
  • The sharing of professional learning with colleagues to improve whole-school practice
  • School leaders providing regular opportunities for teachers to learn from each other's practice
  • Teachers plan and review lessons/sequences of lessons together, and may deliver them together

Excellence in Curriculum Design and Implementation

Award Sponsor: Grok Academy

This award is open to an individual or team of educators involved in the design and implementation of a whole-school or subject/project specific curriculum. Nominees may be at different points in their journey – it may be in progress, or a completed/ongoing program addressing a specific need for a cohort (for example students facing disadvantage). Judges will be looking for elements such as:

  • Staff supported through professional development to build planning and development expertise
  • A curriculum implementation plan – including consultation, design, monitoring and evaluation
  • Student agency and voice is valued in the planning and implementation phase
  • An explicit and sequenced curriculum, with clear expectations for teaching and learning
  • Evidence-based teaching practices are embedded
  • Creative solutions to address student needs, including making the best of staff expertise
  • A strengths-based approach that builds on students' existing experience, knowledge, and skills
  • A curriculum that is relevant to the local community context
  • The curriculum provides learning opportunities and stretch challenges appropriate to student needs (including high-performers and those working below year-level expectations)

Fostering Strong School-Community Partnerships

Highly effective schools enhance student outcomes by fostering strong relationships with parents, carers, and families, and building successful two-way partnerships that tap into external resources, support, and expertise. For example, partnerships could also involve local businesses and industry; First Nations elders and community members; tertiary institutions and education researchers; and community organisations. This award is open to an individual educator or team of educators. Judges will be looking for elements such as:

  • Parents/carers are seen as integral members of the school community and partners in learning
  • Strategic partnerships address identified student needs, including those facing disadvantage
  • Partnership documents have clear goals and expectations, and clarify the roles and responsibilities of both the members of the school community and the partner organisations
  • The focus may be enhancing student wellbeing or opportunities (not just academic achievement)
  • External partners are involved in collaborative planning that makes the best use of expertise
  • Partnerships are adequately resourced and sustainable
  • Ongoing collection and review of evidence to evaluate the partnership's effectiveness and impact

Improving Health and Wellbeing

Award Sponsor: Bank First

This award is open to an individual educator, team of educators or leadership team, and celebrates the importance of staff and student health needs and their wellbeing, alongside teaching and learning. Nominees may be involved in a school-wide program/initiative or supporting a group of students identified as needing specific expertise, resources, or interventions, including those facing disadvantage. Judges will be looking for elements such as:

  • Health and wellbeing are seen as priorities by the school leadership team
  • A leadership team that encourages work-life balance
  • The school has a dedicated Wellbeing Team or equivalent (in a small school this may be one person assuming responsibility)
  • Clear and understood wellbeing policies and processes are in place that align with the school's strategic plan
  • Clear and understood referral pathways for intervention and support are communicated to staff
  • Staff and students’ voices are valued and there are regular opportunities to share their health and wellbeing needs (including anonymously)
  • Educators work in partnership with parents and carers to improve student health and wellbeing
  • External expertise may be utilised to provide specialist support for staff and students
  • Staff and students are given opportunities to build their capabilities and skills, so that they can support their own health and wellbeing

All of the above categories in the Teacher Awards 2023 are open to educators working in the K-12 school education community in Australia and recognise achievements of the last 12 months.

Special Contribution Award

The Special Contribution Award celebrates an individual member of staff or school team, including those not involved in teaching and learning (for example, support staff, office and administration staff, and wellbeing staff). It is an opportunity to sing their praises and say thank you for their positive contribution to the school community. It may be an ongoing contribution or single achievement. The nomination guidelines are simple: Tell us their story and why they mean so much to your school community. Tells us why you'd like to see their contribution recognised with a Teacher Award.

The Special Contribution Award is open to individual members of staff, or a team, working in the K-12 school education community in Australia.

Nominations for the awards will open from 9.00am (AEST) 9 June until 11.59pm (AEST) 16 July 2023.

To download an overview of Teacher Award categories, click here.