Education at a Glance 2022: focus on teachers working conditions and the impact of COVID-19


The 2022 edition of the OECD’s report “Education at a Glance” covers all areas of education, with a special focus on tertiary education and early childhood education. The data was collected from OECD countries. One of the interesting topics is the working time of teachers and their continuing professional development throughout their careers. The proportion of statutory working time spent teaching provides information on the amount of time available for non-teaching activities, such as lesson preparation, in-service training. In 18 countries, such as the UK, Hungary and Lithuania, at the general upper secondary level, individual teachers often teach more classes than their full-time contract requires. Compensation for additional tasks varies among countries depending on the responsibility and may consist of a reduction in teaching hours or additional remuneration. Participation in professional development activities is a mandatory responsibility for teachers at all levels in 25 countries, including France and Ireland. However, in 2018, more than 40% of teachers and more than one-third of school heads reported that time conflicts with their work schedule and/or the high cost of professional development activities were barriers to participating. Across OECD countries, funding strategies for professional development activities differ between compulsory and non-compulsory ones, with much more support for compulsory activities than for the others. Yet, there are differences in support strategies for compulsory professional development depending on the education level in Austria, Estonia, the Flemish Community of Belgium and France.

Another core theme addressed is the early childhood education and care (ECE)sector. Teachers are primarily responsible for children, but their capacity to foster positive relationships with children is also influenced by their working conditions. In most OECD countries, however, the average salaries of pre-primary teachers are substantially lower than those of full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education. In Hungary and in the Slovak Republic, pre-primary teachers’ salaries are less than 60% of those of tertiary-educated workers on average. In many countries, salaries for teachers in ECE are particularly uncompetitive. Only in few countries, pre-primary teachers earn more than tertiary-educated workers, such as Portugal where the salary of early childhood education staff is 50% higher. Therefore, it is not surprising that fewer than two in five ECE staff members are satisfied.

With the aim of alleviating the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, 80% of countries provided Covid recovery programmes at primary and secondary level and more than 60% of the countries reported implementing new measures in the school year of 2021/22 that included teacher training in supporting students’ mental health and well-being. In addition, data shows that during the pandemic more than two-thirds of countries invested in the professional development of teachers with a focus of developing digital skills in 2021. However, in 2022, this figure has declined to 60%. Hiring temporary staff to ease the burden on teachers was less common (47% of countries in 2021 and 43% in 2022) and providing additional bonuses to teachers even less so (29% in 2021 and 28% in 2022). On the latter, only 7 out of the 28 countries – namely France, French Community of Belgium, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, paid some or all teachers bonuses in 2021 to compensate for the challenges faced during the pandemic. Moreover, the use of digital tools at school is quite common, as 17 out of 27 countries plan to continue this use at lower secondary education. Nonetheless, changes to the institutional framework governing digital education have not been widespread: 54% of the countries do not plan to introduce them.