Considering the important role that the teaching profession covers within societies, it should be recognised that fair salaries are fundamental to draw people into the teaching profession ensuring that teachers stay satisfied and motivated to continue teaching. The introduction of the new Eurydice report on Teachers’ and School Heads’ Salaries and Allowances in Europe states that “salaries and allowances are key elements in the attractiveness of teaching profession (along with such issues as working conditions, career prospect, professional development opportunities and recognition). They play an important role in drawing people into the teaching profession and ensuring that serving teachers are satisfied and to continue teaching”.

This is the key assumption which the new Eurydice report on Teachers’ and School Heads’ Salaries and Allowances in Europe is based on. The publication tries to evaluate teachers’ and school heads’ working conditions in 2014/2015 analysing how their salaries have changed during the last two years period, how they are related to GDP and how easy it is to rise from minimum to maximum salary level.

The European situation described in detail is not perfect. The report based on collected data suggests, that in most of the surveyed countries in 2014/2015 teachers’ salaries increased in comparison to the previous two years-period thanks to salary reforms (such as in Croatia, Slovakia and Iceland) and adjustments to the cost of living have been made although in many countries the increase follows the salary decreases during the years of the crisis. In addition, despite the average data, there are six countries (Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Slovenia and Liechtenstein) in which a salary freeze is still being applied and in Serbia a salary decrease of more than 1% has been registered.

In these countries teachers’ purchasing power has not reached the 2009 level yet. Also compared to GDP per capita the minimum annual statuary salaries for teachers in primary and lower secondary schools are lower in almost all countries (apart from Germany, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey). The worst situation is recorded in Lithuania, where the minimum annual salary is 32% of the GDP per capita and in Romania, where it is 41% while the best ones are the German (129%) and the Portuguese one (139%). Paying attention to secondary upper education, this holds for more than half the countries. The lowest teachers’ minimum statutory salary/GDP per capita ratio can be observed in Lithuania (32%), Latvia (42%) and Romania (44%). On the other hand, Spain with 151% and Turkey with 159% have the highest ratio. Regarding to maximum gross statutory salaries, in most countries, at all educational levels, the situation is quite different since it is possible observe that they are higher than GDP per capita (best ratio in Cyprus where it is 306% for ISCED 1, 2 and3).

Analysing school heads’ situation, recorded data show that their minimum salary is always higher than the teachers’ one. The report shows that the minimum annual basic statutory salary in primary and lower secondary education is higher than GDP per capita in most of the countries. The situation gets better concerning upper secondary education, where school heads receive better salaries and where they receive a salary lower than GDP per capita in only seven countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia).
A positive correlation between the number of students and the level of salary of school head can be noticed in a third of countries: the greater the number of students, the higher the school head salary in Belgium Croatia, Latvia, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liechtenstein and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Concerning minimum and maximum salaries, there are differences among the countries: Hungary (secondary level), Austria and Romania for example face larger differences between minimum and maximum salary and it takes more years of service to rise from lower to higher salary. On the other hand, in countries such as Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and United Kingdom (in particular Scotland) the difference is smaller and the length of service needed to reach the maximum salary is shorter. In most countries salaries are set at the top level such as the central or regional authorities, whereas in nearly all Nordic countries it is the local authorities who have this responsibility.

If teachers’ basic salaries generally increase according to the length of service, the report shows how in almost a third of the countries surveyed, teachers are offered salary allowances that are complementary payments for reasons like further formal qualifications, further continuing Professional Developing qualifications (CPD), good students results and additional responsibilities or also geographical location, overtime and extra-curricular activities or teaching to students with special needs. From the data average, we can see that, across Europe, the most frequent reasons for salary allowances are “additional responsibilities” and “overtime” while the less common are “furthers CPD qualifications” and “positive performance appraisal or good students’ results”.

As far as private schools are concerned, there is a distinction between the grant-aided ones that generally follow public sector rules and the private independent ones, where salaries are agreed upon individual and contractual basis, following the national labour legislation.

For the full report, click here