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Improved support for new teachers in the EU

September242013

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Induction programmes designed to offer personalised support and advice for new teachers are now mandatory in 15 EU Member States (Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK) as well as in Croatia and Turkey, according to a European Commission report about the conditions of teachers and school leaders in 32 countries.

 

Although these programmes differ in the way they are organised, they all aim to help newcomers adjust to the profession and reduce the likelihood that teachers will leave the profession early.

"A good teacher can make all the difference to a child’s future," said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. “That is why I urge all Member States to improve training and support for teachers so that they can fully develop their competences throughout their careers and ensure high quality and innovative teaching to equip young people with the skills they need for modern life.

Most EU countries have defined competences that teachers must possess to get a job and progress within the profession; these include pedagogical knowledge, team working, interpersonal skills and professional skills. These 'competence frameworks' are the basis for initial teacher education in all but 8 countries and regions (Belgium – German-speaking Community, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Slovakia).

Most of Europe’s 5 million teachers are contractually bound to work at least 35-40 hours a week, which includes teaching time, availability on school premises and time for preparation and marking. The number of hours that they have to be actively engaged in teaching varies widely: the number is generally higher in pre-primary education and decreases at higher levels of education. The average number of teaching hours in primary and secondary education is 20.

In about one third of European countries, teachers are expected to be present on school premises for around 30 hours a week. There is no set time requirement in Portugal, Sweden, the UK (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and Norway, plus Cyprus in secondary education and Iceland in pre-primary education. In Germany, Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia, the number of teaching hours are reduced after a certain number of years of service.

Across Europe, the majority of teachers are aged over 40. Almost half of teachers are aged over 50 in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Norway and Iceland. The percentage of teachers below the age of 30 is particularly low in Germany, Italy and Sweden.

In the majority of EU Member States, teachers' minimum basic salaries are lower than per capita GDP for teachers working in compulsory education (primary and lower secondary education). Allowances, which can make a considerable difference to a teacher's take-home pay, are usually for overtime or additional responsibilities. Only half of the countries surveyed grant allowances to teachers based on positive teaching performance or student results.

 

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