How to ensure better access to continuous professional development for teachers?

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ETUCE has been advocating that accessible and high-quality teachers’ continuous professional development (CPD) is essential to guarantee high quality education. However, the reality is that teachers still face too many challenges when it comes to access to continuous professional development. The findings of the ETUCE studyEducation Trade Unions for the teaching profession’ (2018) demonstrated considerable teachers’ frustration in relation to accessing continuous professional development. According to education trade unions, in most cases, teachers’ training courses are of poor-quality or do not adequately respond to the teachers’ professional need.

Despite the fact that continuous professional development remains an intricate matter requiring for further research at European level, a new report published by Eurydice on ‘Teachers in Europe. Careers, development and well-being’ helps clarifying the situation in relation to continuous professional development of secondary education teachers across Europe. The report covers 38 European countries (EU-27 and other 11 countries) combining European data on national legislation and data from Teaching and Learning International Surveys (OECD - TALIS) on teachers’ practices and perceptions.  

According to the report, only 8 education systems in Europe consider continuous professional development as a right (Czech R., Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Sweden, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium-FR). On the contrary, around two-third of European countries regulate continuous professional development either as a professional duty (12 national education systems[1]) or a mandatory activity (19 national education systems[2]). In addition, in some countries[3] continuous professional development is mandatory for career or salary progression. The report highlights that continuous professional development is in general organised by the employer in the workplace within working time. However, the majority of the European countries also give teachers the possibility to use paid educational leave. The duration of the study leave varies, according to the country, from a short period to attend workshops, conference, or take examinations, until longer periods for activities such as a writing thesis, or a research project, or even to enrol a in full education programme such as a master or a PhD study. Only a few countries do not allow paid educational leave for teachers, namely Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

ETUCE welcomes this report and underlines that further research is needed on teachers’ continuous professional development in other education sectors, and on funding and quality assurance of continuous professional development, as well as possible hidden discriminations for teachers and working with part-time and/or fix-term contracts. This is particularly important as the topic of teachers’ continuous professional development is gaining momentum in relation to the European Commission’s policy initiative on Individual Learning Accounts as announced in the new Skills Agenda in 2020. ETUCE provided its feedback to the public consultation and invites all member organisations to be active on this new initiative that might have an important impact on teachers’ continuous professional development and paid leave.


[1] Belgium (NL, DE), Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Poland, Slovakia, The United Kingdom (ENGL, WLS, NIR).

[2] Belgium (FR), Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Finland, Scotland, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. 

[3] Croatia, France, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Lithuania