Commission calls for action as survey reveals more than 80% of teachers in the EU feel undervalued

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 25 June 2014

Commission calls for action as survey reveals more than 80% of teachers in the EU feel undervalued

More than a third of teachers in the European Union work in schools with a shortage of qualified staff and nearly half of school leaders report a shortage of teachers for special needs’ pupils. While nearly 90% of teachers in the EU say they are satisfied with their jobs, 81% feel teaching is not valued in society. Although teachers feel well equipped for the job, early career support is not universally available. These are among the main findings of the new Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The survey, based on teachers’ perceptions of their career conditions, includes feedback from 55 000 lower secondary teachers and school leaders in the EU. The European Commission has analysed the TALIS findings and its implications for EU education and training policy in a report which is also issued today.

TALIS reflects the views of teachers from lower secondary schools in 19 EU countries and regions (BE nl, BG, ES, CZ, CY, DK, EE, FI, FR, HR, IT, LV, NL, PL, PT, RO, SE, SK, UK-ENG), as well as 15 other countries: the United States, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Serbia, Singapore, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Mexico, Norway, Abu Dhabi and Alberta in Canada.

“Some of the messages coming out of TALIS have worrying implications for the future of teaching as a career. Unless Member States take action to attract and retain the best teachers, we will undermine progress in advancing the quality of education in Europe. The Commission stands ready to help Member States design policies and measures to make teaching a more attractive profession, said Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

TALIS findings in EU and European Commission recommendations:

36% of EU teachers work in schools where there is a shortage of qualified and/or well-performing teachers (mainly concerns NL, RO, EE, UK-ENG, with FR, NL, HR, ES, EE reporting shortages of teachers for pupils with special needs), according to school leaders (principals). Commission recommendation: Member States should put in place long-term strategies to attract and retain the best teachers. Actions could include strengthening teacher education programmes; exploring flexible pathways into the profession (also at mid-career); opportunities for professional development and career progression based on transparent criteria.

Teachers are more likely to feel prepared for their job when their formal education includes a combination of content, teaching and learning methods, with classroom practice for the subjects they teach. Recommendation: Teacher education should cover all these areas to better prepare teachers for their career. In terms of their professional development, there should be more focus on using ICT in the classroom and the skills required for teaching pupils with special needs.

Nearly 40% of school leaders report that no formal induction or early career support programme is offered at their school; the availability of such programmes is particularly low in PT, PL and ES. Recommendation: Member States should ensure that Initial Teacher Education is followed up by systematic early career support. EU Education Ministers recently agreed to strengthen teacher education and to develop competence frameworks that clearly state the skills and qualities required from teachers at different stages of their careers.

15% of teachers report that they did not participate in a professional development activity over the previous year; around 50% of teachers never observe each other’s classes; nearly 20% never take part in collaborative learning. Recommendation: Member States should put more emphasis on effective professional development and collaborative learning as it encourages teachers to use innovative teaching and learning methods (e.g. teaching small groups; use of ICT) and also increases job satisfaction for teachers. Varied learning methods better prepare pupils for further studies and the job market, as illustrated by the European Commission’s policy initiatives on Rethinking Education and Opening up Education.

TALIS briefing

The TALIS results will be officially unveiled in Tokyo, where the 17th OECD/Japan Seminar and Informal Meeting of Education Ministers is taking place on 25 June. Jan Truszczynski, the Commission’s Director-General for Education and Culture, will also present the Commission’s policy analysis.

An additional technical briefing for education and training stakeholders (open to media) on the TALIS findings and Commission recommendations will be held in Brussels on 25 June at 14:30 in the Madou Auditorium (Place Madou 1). Michael Davidson, leader of the OECD TALIS team, and Jan Pakulski, Head of Unit for Statistics, Studies and Surveys for Education and Culture in the Commission, will present the reports.


Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

This is the second TALIS survey published by the OECD (the first appeared in 2009). The survey is the main source of information from teachers and school leaders on teaching, career conditions and school environments. The survey is based on a questionnaire sent to teachers and school leaders. The TALIS respondents included more than 55 000 lower secondary school teachers in 3 300 schools in the EU, representing an estimated teacher population of nearly 1.5 million across the 19 EU countries which took part. Including the other 15 countries involved in the survey, nearly 110 000 teachers, representing an estimated teacher population of almost 4 million, responded to the questionnaire.


The European Commission works with EU Member States to identify and share effective policy practice and to offer support and advice. Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, youth and sport (2014-2020), offers grants for teacher exchanges to improve their professional development and supports partnerships between schools, universities and teacher education colleges to develop innovative approaches to teaching. Through the eTwinning schools network, teachers can exchange ideas with their peers across Europe.

For more information

Council Conclusions on Effective Teacher Education (2014)

Council conclusions on Effective Leadership in Education (2013)

European Commission Communication (2013), Opening up Education: Innovative teaching and learning for all through new Technologies and Open Educational Resources

European Commission Communication (2012), Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes

Commission Staff Working Document (2012): Supporting the Teaching Profession for Better Learning Outcomes

OECD, TALIS 2013 Results

Commissioner Vassiliou’s website

European Commission: Education and Training website

Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU

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