What is it about?

The knowledge, skills and attitudes of each of Europe's 6 million teachers are of great importance. The quality of their teaching has a direct effect upon learners’ attainment.

The demands made on teachers, school leaders, and teacher educators are increasing and changing. They are called on to play a key role in modernising education. To do that, they need to develop their own competences. Initial education and continuous professional development of the highest quality, and access to support throughout their careers are both essential.

A decline in the prestige of the profession and staff shortages are challenges in many EU countries, holding back the quality of school education. Most countries therefore aim to attract a wider range of suitable candidates to careers in teaching and school leadership, and to motivate and support them to excel in these demanding professions.

The European Commission works with EU countries to raise standards of teaching and improve support to the teaching professions in two main ways:

1. Supporting projects and professional development through the Erasmus+ programme

Erasmus+ supports innovative partnership projects involving schools and other organisations. It also supports professional development/training activities abroad for professionals involved in pre-primary, primary and secondary school education. These opportunities can consist of structured courses or other events, or job shadowing at schools and other relevant organisations involved in school education.

Erasmus+ also supports communities and platforms for staff in school education, including eTwinning and the School Education Gateway.

2. Facilitating the exchange of information and experience between policymakers

A working group of European experts from Member State governments and stakeholder organisations meets regularly to examine specific aspects of policies linked to teachers and school leaders, discuss shared challenges, and exchange good practice.

What has been done so far?

The EU working groups have produced guidance for policymakers on:

In a Communication on school development and excellent teaching (2017) the Commission outlines areas for action to improve school education, including teachers and school leaders. An accompanying Staff working document provides useful insights into research evidence and results of EU-level work on school education policies.

The European Commission has also published: