Getting your HAT on!


BCE maths educator Bernadette Hanley with some of her Chisholm College maths students.

Brisbane Catholic Education’s Bernadette Hanley, a maths educator at Chisholm Catholic College, is a great advocate for teachers pursuing their Highly Accomplished Teacher (HAT) accreditation. 

HAT certification is a process whereby experienced classroom teachers in Queensland schools voluntarily pursue national Certification to demonstrate their teaching skills and abilities at the higher career-stages of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST). 

Bernadette was completing an applied mathematics degree in Ireland when she says a simple moment turned her career along the path of becoming a teacher. 

“My little brother came home in despair one afternoon, telling us he felt he’d failed his first part of his external maths exam and fearful about going back to do the second exam the next day,” said Bernadette. 

“My sister, who was studying teaching, and I then put in a number of hours preparing him for his exam the next day. 

“He later confided in me that I had a calm and logical way of explaining maths concepts and he thought I should be a teacher. 

“With that conversation I turned my mind to teaching and he went on to ace the second maths exam!” 

Bernadette has now been teaching for 30 years – after an initial placement in one of the poorest secondary schools in London, she followed her heart and moved to Australia. 

“I’ve been teaching 25 years in Australia and 23 of those have been at Chisholm Catholic College – I started at the school when the foundation principal was here, so you could say I’m part of the furniture!” 

The decision to apply for accreditation as a HAT came from a desire to help others in their professional development and gain external validation of her teaching skills and strategies. 

“My ambition is to be an excellent classroom teacher and support my colleagues,” said Bernadette. 

“It is incredibly satisfying knowing you’ve nurtured a student’s interest and skill in maths. 

“I think having teachers with a HAT accreditation on staff, helps to build the capacity of the school team as they can be trusted to lead and support their colleagues. 

“The stronger the teaching the team, the better the education experience for students – which is a win-win-win for the students, the staff and the school.” 

Bernadette said the HAT accreditation was a great option for experienced teachers.  

“I pushed myself outside my comfort zone to gain the accreditation, but I am really glad I did because it has been incredibly rewarding,” said Bernadette. 

“It was also an opportunity to promote teaching as a profession and a career of choice.” 

Bernadette’s Top Tips for HAT accreditation:
  • Allocate time to get your portfolio completed 
  • Talk to your principal and get their support 
  • Get your colleagues involved and get their feedback (find a critical friend) along the way 
  • Make sure your evidence is authentic, robust and verifiable 
  • Do some professional reading and keep a reading log 
  • Keep a detailed education plan when supervising pre-service teachers 
  • Use the resources available to you from QCEC for accreditation. 
  • Get to know your IT support person, they can help! 
Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE), is the second largest non-Government employer in Queensland, supporting some 75,000 students and 12,500 employees in 146 school communities and five office locations, all located in South East Queensland.  

At the heart of Catholic Education is our focus on educating the whole person. Drawing on our tradition and our strong Catholic values, we inspire our students to flourish academically, personally and spiritually. So, whether you work for one of our schools or the Head Office that supports this growing network, you will have the opportunity to achieve your career aspirations, whilst making a difference to the lives of our future generations. 

With a vibrant working environment, we provide generous benefits for employees, highly value professional and career development, supporting our people to deliver excellence in their profession and excellent outcomes for our schools. 

Experience a genuine sense of unity and connectedness that is synonymous with Catholic Education. Building and nurturing meaningful relationships and enjoying a strong sense of camaraderie across our school, student, parent and BCE Office communities. 

Top stories