Eurydice report on Teachers' and School Heads' Salaries and Allowances in Europe

© The European Commission

The European Commission’s education information network ‘Eurydice’ released its 2019/20 report on Teachers’ and School Heads’ Salaries and Allowances in Europe.

According to Eurydice, the statutory remuneration for teachers entering the profession varies considerably from one European country to another. Gross starting salaries range between EUR 5 000 to EUR 80 000 per year. They are typically highest in Central Europe, and lowest in the Balkan region. Moreover, in a majority of European countries, novice teachers at different education levels do not earn the same amount.

Eurydice notes that differences in qualification requirements usually explain salary inequalities between education levels. Most of the time, teachers who earn more have also accumulated more professional qualifications. A high potential for increases in salaries, however, may be an incentive equally as important as the amount earned in the first year of teaching. This potential differs widely between education systems and in many cases, a salary increase that matches career progression is not automatic. Salary increases during the teaching career can range from 12%, as is the case in Turkey, to 16%, like in Portugal.

Average salaries remain below the GDP per capita in a quarter of European countries. In general, the higher the GDP per capita, the higher the average salary of teachers. The good news is that salaries for teachers continue to rise in most European economies, including those with low average salaries.

The 2020 European Council conclusions highlight that ‘sufficient, effective and sustainable investment in teachers and trainers is investment in the quality of education and training’. The Council Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030) called on member states to increase the attractiveness of the teaching profession and revalue socially and financially.

ETUCE believes that governments and education authorities must continue investing into education in the context of Recovery & Resilience Funds and the European Semester, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on most European economies. Moreover, states should aim to equalise statutory starting salaries across educational levels and sectors to raise the attractiveness of the teaching profession, contributing to better working conditions for teachers as well as quality education. Finally, states should implement systematic, incremental salary increases to increase retention, and thus raise the attractiveness of the profession.

The Eurydice report also points out a few trends in school leaders’ salaries. The basic requirements for school leaders are not the same in all European countries, although in most education systems candidates for school leadership positions need at least five years of experience. In most education systems, school leaders’ earnings are linked to the size of the school.

ETUCE believes that working conditions and remuneration of school leaders must be good enough to attract a talented and well-educated workforce. Salaries in numerous countries are not high enough to recruit the best school leaders and to provide them the appropriate pay for their work.