Chapter 4. Management of the teaching workforce in Austria1

This chapter analyses the management of the teaching workforce in Austria, from initial teacher education and professional development to the organisation of teachers’ employment conditions and working time. It also analyses the availability and organisation of administrative and other pedagogical support staff and the local management of schools through school leadership. It considers recent reforms of initial teacher education and teachers’ employment conditions – major milestones in the creation of a common teaching profession beyond school types. But it also highlights the difficulties the complex governance arrangements create for the effective organisation of human resources in schools from a broader perspective and across primary and lower secondary education as a whole as well as the need to develop a vision of teacher professionalism and the need to further develop the leadership of schools. The chapter concludes in suggesting a number of policy recommendations to address these issues.


Context and features

Initial teacher education

A comprehensive reform of initial teacher education (PädagogInnenbildung NEU) was passed in 2013 and has been implemented for new primary teachers since 2015/16. For new secondary teachers, it is planned to be implemented from 2016/17 onwards. Prior to the implementation of the new model, teachers of federal schools were required to complete a five-year programme at a university, culminating in a master’s degree, as well as an additional year of post-graduate part-time professional practice (Unterrichtspraktikum). Teachers of provincial schools were required to attend one of nine public and five private university colleges of teacher education (Pädagogische Hochschulen, PH) to complete a three-year programme which was only recently given the status of a bachelor’s degree.

The reform seeks to enhance the quality of teaching by improving future teachers’ academic and practical training. Although the reform maintains the institutional division between university colleges of teacher education (PHs) and universities, the two types of institutions will be required to collaborate more closely, particularly to provide master’s degree programmes. The teacher education reform introduces a common set of qualification requirements across school types. All new teachers will need to complete an eight-semester bachelor’s degree, plus a master’s degree of two to three semesters within the first five years of teaching. Part-time master’s degrees will be made available before 2019/20. From 2029, however, new teachers will need to attain their master qualification before entering the profession.

The creation of a common teacher education scheme is also intended to reduce structural differences between the training of teachers for federal and provincial schools. Following the reform, the education of all future teachers will be geared towards age groups (primary or secondary level) rather than the different school types. This change seeks to raise the status of teachers of provincial schools relative to the currently more highly qualified federal school teachers and to increase teachers’ mobility between different types of schools. In addition to these changes, the new system aims to make the teaching profession more attractive for side entrants from other professions through the development of supplementary study programmes and the recognition of previous experience and pedagogical competences. It also seeks to raise the profile of students and to provide guidance and orientation by extending compulsory admissions tests to universities. Previously, only students at university colleges had to participate in such admissions proceedings.

The new teacher education programmes will focus on legally defined competency areas and include instruction in subject-related theory, pedagogy and the basics of general education. The new programmes will provide students with practical teaching experience and the possibility to specialise (e.g. in special-needs pedagogy or multilingualism). Prospective primary school teachers will acquire the whole range of skills necessary for teaching all subjects while prospective secondary school teachers will be qualified in two subjects. Under the new model, inclusive pedagogy will be an integral part of the training for all new teachers. This reflects the fact that 30.3% of Austrian lower secondary school teachers reported a high level of need for further training in teaching special needs students for the OECD 2008 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) (although only 10.0% compared to the TALIS average of 13.9% reported a strong demand for training concerning the teaching in multicultural environments in the TALIS study) (OECD, 2009).

A quality assurance council (Qualitätssicherungsrat für Pädagoginnen- und Pädagogenbildung, QSR) comprising six external experts has been created to follow the reform. It monitors, analyses and gives advice on the implementation of the new model and issues an annual report on the reform’s progress to the Austrian National Parliament (Nationalrat) (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming; Eurydice, 2015; QSR, 2015).

Workload and organisation of teachers’ time

In Austria, teachers’ workload is regulated in the federal teacher service code (Bundeslehrer-Lehrverpflichtungsgesetz, BLVG) for teachers of federal schools and the federal service code for provincial teachers (Landeslehrer-Dienstrechtsgesetz, LDG) for teachers of provincial schools. For federal teachers, legislation does not specify the working time, but the teaching time only; for provincial teachers, legislation specifies both the total working time and the teaching time. The actual hours of presence at school are not regulated for neither federal nor provincial teachers.

Teachers in federal schools have a basic teaching assignment of 20 teaching hours per week. However, there is a complex system to weight the total teaching hours per subject taught. Subjects that are considered more challenging to teach have a proportionally higher weighting (e.g. German-language teaching has a higher weighting than physical education). In addition, specific tasks such as administrative support to the school principal or other tasks in the schools such as the management of the school library can further reduce the basic teaching load of 20 hours if a certain school size is met. In the most common subjects, teachers have an actual teaching load of 17-21 hours.

The workload of teachers in provincial schools is regulated according to an annual working hours scheme. This scheme stipulates 1 736 hours of work per year for teachers aged 43 or older, and 1 776 hours of work per year for all younger teachers. The annual standard is divided into three activity areas: teaching duty including supervision; preparation, follow-up and correction; and hours for other activities such as substitute teaching, class co-ordination, administrative tasks and school-projects. Over one year, 720 to 792 hours, that is about 20 to 22 hours a week, have to be dedicated to direct teaching, 600 to 660 hours are foreseen for the planning and follow-up of lessons, and the remaining 324 to 456 hours of the annual standard are available for other activities. For all teachers, the task of student assessment is regulated and typically takes up a substantial amount of teaching time relative to direct teaching.

A new teacher service code (Dienstrechts-Novelle 2013 – Pädagogischer Dienst) will harmonise the working time arrangements for all new teachers across federal schools and provincial schools. With the new regulations, teachers will have an increased teaching load of 24 teaching units of 50 minutes per week. Twenty-two of these teaching hours have to be dedicated to direct instruction, two hours have to be spent on other tasks, such as student counselling and mentoring of new teachers. For teachers of subjects that require a large amount of preparation and follow-up in upper secondary education, only 20 hours of direct teaching are required. The new service code has been implemented from September 2015 onwards, but until September 2020 new teachers can choose between the old and the new system (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming; Eurypedia, 2015).

Teacher appraisal

Teacher appraisal in Austria is primarily the responsibility of the school principal and carried out through sporadic classroom visits and observations of teaching. In addition, for teachers on fixed-term contracts, there is a mandatory annual appraisal for contract renewal, and in federal schools, teachers on fixed-term contracts are also regularly appraised during their one-year probationary period (OECD, 2013c). In the case of complaints, the school inspectorate can initiate an evaluation of a teacher’s work that involves a teacher appraisal commission at the level of the province usually composed of school inspectors and teaching staff representatives. Following a second formal statement that a teacher’s performance does not meet expectations, a teacher can be dismissed. Besides appraisal, teachers are encouraged to evaluate themselves (e.g. through student feedback), but this is not a requirement (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming; Eurypedia, 2015).

Teacher professional development

All teachers are obliged by the respective service codes to ensure that their teaching reflects the latest subject-specific didactics and pedagogy. Specific requirements for participation in professional development, however, differ depending on the service code and the employment status. For teachers of general compulsory schools employed by the provinces it has been obligatory to undertake 15 hours of professional development per year. For teachers of academic secondary schools employed by the federal level, there has been no such requirement in place for those employed as civil servants, but those employed as contract agents have had to also complete 15 hours of professional development. The reform of the teacher service code harmonises the regulations for teachers’ continuing professional development across different school types. Since September 2015, all newly employed teachers are employed under the contract agent scheme and are, therefore, required to take 15 hours of professional development per year.

Professional development courses are offered at university colleges of teacher education (PHs) which offer a broad range of courses that reflect current policy priorities. Teachers should usually undertake their professional development outside of their regular teaching hours, i.e. in the afternoon, evening, weekends or vacations. Only if this is deemed necessary by the school authorities and if a replacement is provided can teachers participate in professional development during teaching hours. Professional development does not need to be linked to a teacher’s specific subjects (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming). There are few statistics on participation, but OECD TALIS 2008 indicated that almost all Austrian teachers participate in professional development, although the number of days per participant was comparatively low (11 days compared to the TALIS average of 15 over the 18 months preceding the survey) (OECD, 2009).

Administrative and other support staff

A number of different social and administrative support staff roles exist in the Austrian school system. Educational psychology and career guidance (Schulpsychologie-Bildungsberatung) is available through 77 school psychological service units throughout Austria. These units are run by the Federal Ministry for Education and Women’s Affairs (BMBF) and employ around 150 educational psychologists. School psychological service units offer psychological information, counselling, support and treatment with the focus of health promotion and personality development, and expert services according to legal provisions. Their work focuses on issues related to students’ school career decisions, maturity for school, learning difficulties, behavioural problems, personal difficulties and crises and emergencies, for example. All students, parents and teachers can make use of this psychological guidance and counselling service free of charge. As a second area of work, school psychological service units support schools in prevention (such as violence prevention, social learning, student engagement and motivation, school absenteeism and early school leaving) and intervention (such as class intervention, mediation and conflict resolution), the promotion of a sense of community, the management of crises (such as in the case of violence and bullying), and in the development of school development plans. As a third area of work, school psychological service units offer training and professional development for teachers and school principals to develop their competencies in special focus topics, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, behavioural problems, violence and maturity for school.

Social workers are only employed at schools if necessary. Where social workers are required, their role is to identify social problems as early as possible and to develop relevant solutions and strategies to solve them. As part of the 2014-20 European Social Fund Operational Programme, the Federal Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs (BMBF) published a call for project proposals to find innovative ways to organise social work at schools to prevent school dropout in socially disadvantaged contexts. Social pedagogues may also be available. Typically, social pedagogues work in school-based day care, youth welfare, school-based and non-school-based youth work and also therapeutic and special pedagogy. School medical services (Schulärztlicher Dienst) are provided at all schools in different ways (e.g. through a local physician or dedicated school doctors that provide advice on a range of issues).

Some further support staff related to vocational guidance, counselling and early school leaving is available in secondary education. In Years 7 and 8 of lower secondary education, students take one lesson of career guidance per week. In lower secondary education overall, students take 32 lessons of career guidance per year. These career guidance classes and activities are typically organised by career guidance co-ordinators on behalf of the school leadership. At New Secondary Schools (NMS) and academic secondary schools (AHS), specially trained student counsellors provide career guidance and personal counselling (e.g. on learning or behavioural difficulties) directly at the school. And in 2013, the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit, Soziales und Konsumentenschutz, BMASK) and the Federal Ministry for Education and Women’s Affairs (BMBF) introduced the ’Youth Coaching’ initiative to tackle early school leaving. As part of this initiative, youth coaches advise and accompany young people aged 15 to 19 at risk of dropping out from school or of being marginalised to look for the educational pathway that works for them. Youth coaches generally have a background in social work, therapeutic pedagogy, social pedagogy, social management or psychology.

Schools may also employ administrative staff, but administrative staff is generally not widely available. The recruitment of administrative support personnel is the responsibility of the provincial school board in the case of federal schools, and the responsibility of the provincial government authorities or school maintainers (Schulerhalter) in the case of provincial schools.

The federal government’s November 2015 reform proposal foresees giving schools the possibility to convert up to 5% of their teaching staff positions into pedagogical support staff positions (BMBF and BMWFW, 2015, see Annex 1.1 in Chapter 1).

School leadership


The organisation of school leadership in Austria depends on the size of the school. In schools with at least ten teachers, a school principal needs to be appointed. In schools with less than ten teachers, there are no school principal positions, but teachers are entrusted with the leadership and management of the school and in return partly exempt from their obligation to teach. School leadership in Austria is still predominantly exercised by an individual school principal and middle leadership roles are rare except for some medium-sized and large schools, particularly in technical and vocational upper secondary education. A few large secondary schools have a permanent deputy principal position. In all other schools, school principals are assisted by a teacher that functions as an administrator and not by an officially appointed deputy.

In medium-sized and larger schools, there are some more middle management positions, such as heads of departments (Abteilungsvorstehung) and heads of subjects (Fachvorstehung). Teachers taking on such roles have a reduced teaching load (50-75% less) and receive a bonus of between EUR 300 and EUR 850 per month. In addition, teachers can take on leadership roles through functions such as class co-ordinators which includes administrative tasks related to one specific class as well as the pedagogical co-ordination of the different subject teachers in New Secondary Schools (NMS) and academic secondary schools (AHS) (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming; Eurypedia, 2015).


The employment of school principals is organised according to the same federal statutory regulations that regulate the recruitment and remuneration of teachers (Civil service code [Beamten-Dienstrechtsgesetz, BDG] for school principals of federal schools, and federal service code for provincial teachers [Landeslehrer-Dienstrechtsgesetz, LDG] for school principals of provincial schools).

Vacant school principal positions are filled following a public call for applications and through a regulated appointment process. All interested candidates with at least six years of professional experience as a teacher in a relevant school type must submit their applications to the responsible administration (Dienstbehörde). Following the introduction of an amendment to the teacher service code in 2013, candidates will also need to complete a training programme in school management (Schulmanagement: Professionell führen, currently 30 ECTS, 90 ECTS from 2030) at a University College of Teacher Education (PHs) before applying for a position. Completion of school management training was previously only required within the first four years of appointment. According to a central framework provided by the Ministry for Education and Women’s Affairs (BMBF), the training programme in school management should develop educational leaders’ pedagogical, functional, social and personal competencies. Participants should acquire knowledge and skills in the following areas: leadership and management; personnel and team development; quality management and development; school and lesson development; and community relations. All programmes should consider gender and diversity issues.

Selection and appointment procedures differ between federal schools and provincial schools. The appointment of school principals of federal schools is regulated through federal legislation only and the appointing authority is the Federal Ministry for Education and Women’s Affairs (BMBF). The appointment of school principals of general compulsory schools is regulated according to the basic federal framework for the recruitment of school principals and the provinces are responsible for the development of implementation legislation that details the procedures for the appointment of school principals.2

With the amendment to the teacher service code in 2013, school principals of all schools will be initially appointed for a period of five years (previously four years). At the end of the initial appointment, the employer, i.e. the provincial authorities or the federal authorities, can reappoint the school principal without an open call for applications and a new appointment process for an unlimited period of time. School principals must be informed about decisions on their reappointment at least three months prior to the end of their initial appointment. School principal positions are linked to a specific school and school principals have a right to be employed at that school. School principals can, however, be transferred from one school to another under certain conditions set out in the teacher service codes.

The federal government’s November 2015 proposal for education reform envisages some changes to the organisation of the school leadership employment framework, including the establishment of school leadership as a separate professional group, the introduction of a standardised job profile and recruitment process, and a five-year limit to all school principal appointments, including re-appointments (BMBF and BMWFW, 2015; see Annex 1.1 in Chapter 1).

School principals receive a service bonus in addition to their salary as teachers. The new teacher service code will increase the size of the bonus and abolish age-related aspects in its calculation to make school leadership more attractive for younger teachers. While the bonus ranges currently from EUR 218 to EUR 907 per month, it will increase to EUR 300 to EUR 1 650 per month and the amount of the bonus will vary by school size only. School leaders of small and very small schools will receive an additional allowance of up to EUR 463 per month. School principals who are responsible for two or several schools receive the bonus for each school they manage. In addition, school principals can receive a one-off bonus for outstanding performance or involvement in particularly successful projects (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming; Eurypedia, 2015). Table 4.1 provides an overview of basic statutory salaries of school principals in public schools by level of education and school size.

Table 4.1. Annual gross salaries of full-time fully qualified school principals in public schools, 2014/15

Basic statutory salary (EUR)



Primary (big)

41 320

67 120

Primary (small)

36 376

61 513

Lower secondary (> 4 classes, General schools)

41 320


Lower secondary (small)

36 376

61 513

Upper secondary (> 12 classes, Academic secondary schools)

54 083

82 334

Upper secondary (small)

49 721

77 381

Note: Data on basic statutory salaries (basic statutory teacher salaries plus school leadership bonus) are from the Federal Remuneration Act.

Source: Eurydice (2015), Teachers’ and School Heads’ Salaries and Allowances in Europe, 2014/2015, Eurydice Facts and Figures, Brussels/Luxembourg.

Figure 4.1. Ratio of school leader and maximum teacher salaries to the minimum annual statutory salary for teachers, 2014/15

Note: Countries are presented in ascending order of ratio of minimum school leader salary to minimum teacher salary.

Minimum salaries are based on the lowest salary across primary and secondary education. Maximum salaries are based on the highest salary across primary and secondary education.

Source: Calculated from data in Eurydice (2015), Teachers’ and School Heads’ Salaries and Allowances in Europe, 2014/2015, Eurydice Facts and Figures, Brussels/Luxembourg.

Tasks and responsibilities

School principals’ duties and responsibilities are regulated through laws established by the federal legislator irrespective of the school type, including provincial schools. Accordingly, school principals are the direct supervisors of the teachers and other staff at their school. School principals have to advise teachers in their teaching and pedagogical work and to regularly monitor instruction and student performance. They may visit classrooms and observe instruction at any time. Concerning the recruitment and assignment of teachers to their school by the responsible authority (provincial school board or school department of the office of the provincial government), school principals must prepare a plan to project the future demand and development of human resources in their school and submit data (e.g. on the distribution of teaching subjects, absences, overtime) to electronic data management systems (see Chapter 2). Further, they can give their opinion with regard to the suitability of teachers who have applied to be assigned to their school and, although principals have no formal decision making power with regard to the recruitment of teachers, they can have some informal influence. School principals are responsible for the running of the school and the liaison between the school, students and the parents. They are also responsible for implementing laws and other legal regulations as well as instructions and decrees (Erlässe und Rundschreiben) issued by the educational authorities. They prepare the meetings of the school partners and are responsible for executing the decisions adopted at these meetings. School principals allocate the annual budget granted to the school and prepare the school’s annual financial statements (in the case of federal schools).While in the past school principals had to teach a certain number of hours depending on the size of their school in addition to their school leadership responsibilities, they have been exempt from this requirement since September 2014 if their school has at least ten full-time teachers. School leaders of small and very small schools can receive a 25-50% reduction of their teaching duties (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming; Eurypedia, 2015).

The federal government’s November 2015 reform proposal envisages some changes to school principals’ tasks and responsibilities as part of the plan to give schools greater pedagogical, organisational, staff and financial autonomy. This includes giving school principals the responsibility for the organisation of the work schedule, greater flexibility for the adaptation of school hours to meet the demands of parents’ and guardians’ work schedules, and autonomy for school principals to set aside time for quality development projects and annual planning with all staff outside of teaching hours. Concerning the management of schools’ human resources, it is planned that school leaders are consulted in the selection of staff, that they hold a veto right against new appointments, and that they should be involved in employment decisions, such as contract renewal. School leaders should be responsible for staff development and evaluations and arranging and approving teachers’ further training within the available resources. And school leaders are planned to receive the possibility to convert up to 5% of their teaching staff positions into support staff positions and to use external teaching staff for special areas of focus (BMBF and BMWFW, 2015, see Annex 1.1 in Chapter 1).


There are a range of aspects that provide teachers in Austria with good working conditions and Austria has undertaken first steps to make teaching a more attractive career for young people

Job satisfaction and morale among Austrian teachers appears high, even though there are also some concerns (e.g. as suggested by high early retirement rates of teachers). According to data from OECD TALIS 2008 36.9% of lower secondary teachers were strongly satisfied with their jobs (TALIS average: 24.3%) (OECD, 2009, Table 4.19). This was one of the highest proportions among countries participating in the survey. And according to data from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012, all 15-year-olds were in a school whose principal agreed or strongly agreed that the morale of teachers in their school was high and that teachers worked with enthusiasm (OECD, 2013b, Figure IV.5.8).

Neither TALIS 2008 nor PISA 2012 provide further data on teachers’ perceptions of their working conditions and the underlying reasons for their job satisfaction and morale at work. However, some factors may positively influence teachers’ job satisfaction and morale which are essential as they influence teachers’ ability to do their job well and their willingness to remain in the profession. In particular, teachers in Austria benefit from relatively low teaching hours and small classes. For the OECD Education at a Glance 2015 publication, Austria reported a total annual net teaching time of 779 hours for primary education, 607 hours for general lower secondary education and 589 hours for general upper secondary education, compared to an OECD average of 772, 694 and 643 hours respectively (OECD, 2015a). When looking at class size (more on this in Chapter 3), the average primary school class in Austria had 18 students, the average lower secondary school class (general programmes) had 21 students, both well below the OECD average (21 and 24 students per class respectively) (OECD, 2015a). Research from different countries suggests that small classes can have a positive effect on teachers’ working conditions (Hattie, 2009; OECD, 2009). However, one needs to bear in mind that both low teaching loads and small classes imply considerable costs for the school system as these factors influence the number of teachers required.

With the introduction of a new teacher service code and a new teacher education system, Austria has undertaken first steps to make teaching more attractive for young people and side entrants through changes to qualification requirements and remuneration, even though more measures may be needed in the future. This is an urgent issue as Austria faces a considerable retirement wave in the near future – according to a parliamentary inquiry (parlamentarische Anfrage Nr. 8597/J-NR/2011, BMUKK, 2011),3 about half of all teachers in Austria are expected to retire by 2025. Concerning teachers’ qualification requirements, the new teacher education system will raise the status of the teaching profession with the requirement for all future teachers to acquire a master’s qualification, also for those in general compulsory education. For side entrants, the switch to the Bologna system and the creation of supplementary study programmes that award credits for subject-related and pedagogical competencies as part of the new teacher education scheme will make the teaching profession more easily accessible. With regards to teachers’ remuneration, the new teacher service code will significantly change the salary progression (also see Chapter 2 for a discussion of teachers’ salaries). Statutory salaries for beginning teachers will start at a higher level and the slope of the salary scale will be compressed while roughly maintaining lifetime earnings (at present, the slope of salary increases in Austria is much steeper than in many other countries). Under the new service code, teachers will benefit from seven salary steps in the first 15 years of theircareer instead of the current system of a biannual salary increase. This change implies a considerable financial risk during the transition period until all teachers under the old salary scheme have retired considering the high salaries for ageing teachers, but it has the potential of making the profession more attractive than was the case previously. Nevertheless, whether the reverted salary will help to attract highly qualified candidates in the future will have to be seen. It is also important to bear in mind that qualification requirements for new teachers in provincial schools have been raised – new teachers of provincial schools will have to acquire a master’s degree and complete 11‐12 semesters of study compared to a three-year programme before – and that the teaching load will slightly increase, particularly for teachers of federal schools. For professionals from outside education, the recognition of up to 12 years of professional experience and the new salary progression that come with the new teacher service code will offer more attractive salaries when switching careers.

The new initial teacher education system (PädagogInnenbildung NEU) has a number of positive elements

The new teacher education scheme aims to harmonise qualification requirements and programmes for provincial and federal schools. While the distinction between university colleges of teacher education (PHs) and universities will be maintained, only primary school teachers will be predominantly educated at university colleges. For all other levels of schooling both kinds of institutions will have to collaborate, at least at the master’s level. The development of a common initial teacher education appears as an important milestone to break down barriers between different school types and to create a common teaching profession. A common initial teacher education for all teachers should help teachers feel part of a larger community of teachers that goes beyond school types and focuses on the common goal of raising achievement for all students in the education system as a whole. It is likely to create the basis for greater mobility and flexibility to teach at different school types and, therefore, reduce some rigidity in the teacher labour market. This is particularly relevant for lower secondary education where teacher education, like the teacher service codes, used to differ between teachers of federal and provincial schools at the same level of education. Together with the new teacher service code (more on this below), the new teacher education model, therefore, also constitutes a further step towards the creation of a common school form for all children up to age 14, and for raising the quality and profile of the NMS relative to the AHS.

The new teacher education scheme could also help raise the quality of initial teacher education in Austria more generally thanks to a number of positive changes. First, collaboration between university colleges of teacher education (PHs) and universities has the potential of bringing together the strengths of both types of institutions and to strengthen both training in subject-related theory on the one hand and pedagogical training on the other hand for all new teachers across the education system. Second, all new teachers will have to complete a master’s degree, including those wanting to teach at provincial schools. This sends a strong signal that teaching should be a highly-qualified profession and provides new teachers with the opportunity to gain additional competencies provided that the additional time studying is used well. Third, the introduction of a compulsory orientation and admissions procedure for prospective students in teacher education programmes at universities – previously, such admissions procedures were only required at university colleges of teacher education (PHs) – has the potential of raising the quality of prospective teachers and of providing guidance and orientation for prospective teachers if teaching is the right career choice for them. Finally, the creation of an independent quality assurance council (QSR) provides support for the development of new teacher education programmes as well as continuous advice for the further development of initial teacher education in Austria.

The new teacher service code (Dienstrechts-Novelle 2013 – Pädagogischer Dienst) has some beneficial aspects

There are a range of positive aspects in the new teacher service code that are likely to strengthen the teaching profession in Austria. First, while the review team notes that additional measures could be undertaken in the long run to develop further opportunities for teachers to take on different roles and responsibilities (see further below), the new teacher service code has created some specialist functions (Fachkarrieren) in addition to school principal and administrator roles (in federal schools only). Functions include mentoring roles for new teachers, learning and career counsellors (Bildungs- und Berufsberater), learning designers (Lerndesigner) (for more details, see Box 4.1), special needs and remedial pedagogues (Heil- und Sonderpädagogen), and mentors of teacher students (Mentoren für Praxisschulunterricht). Teachers who take on such roles will receive additional allowances of up to EUR 156 per month for their tasks and the new teacher education model should provide training in related competencies (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming).

Box 4.1. The creation of teacher leadership roles in Austria as part of the New Secondary School reform

In Austria, the New Secondary School reform (NMS) to transform lower secondary education also involved the creation of a new role of learning designers (Lerndesigners) with specific expertise in areas of curriculum and instructional development related to the reform goals of equity and excellence. As part of this initiative, each school designates a teacher to be the learning designer who acts as change agent in a shared leadership dynamic with school principals and other teacher leaders, such as subject co-ordinators and school development teams. As legislation and teacher statutes do not yet foresee an official function of teacher leaders, learning designers create their own role in the context of their school. The effectiveness of learning designers as change agents therefore depends to a significant degree on the culture and leadership in their schools.

Learning designers are trained and qualified for their role and attend national and regional workshops and local networking events. A two-year national qualification programme enables learning designers to acquire theoretical and practical insights in areas of expertise related to instructional quality, to develop the knowledge and skills to be effective teacher leaders and to network with one another. This programme also contributes significantly to their profile and professional identity. It comprises six development areas: mindfulness of learning, diversity, competence orientation, backwards design curriculum development, differentiated instruction and assessment. Learning designers earn a certificate worth 12 ECTS relevant for further study towards a master’s degree. The programme consists of national and regional symposia for networking and qualification purposes as well as a self-study component which is co-ordinated on line and includes practice based tasks for exploration in school based professional learning communities. A virtual networking and learning space is also available to connect learning designers across generations, to promote exchange, learning and development, and to foster a professional identity. To foster school networks and communities of practice and to support learning designers, federal education authorities established a National Centre for Learning Schools.

Learning designers are not alone, but as part of the educational reform several other teacher leadership roles have emerged. These include contact persons or co-ordinators with specific agendas required by the Ministry (e-learning, gender issues, culture and arts programming, standards and school quality), and school development team members and co-ordinators created at the school level.

Source: OECD (2013d), “Approaches to learning leadership development in different school systems”, in OECD, Leadership for 21st Century Learning,; OECD (2015d), Schooling Redesigned: Towards Innovative Learning Systems,

Second, the new teacher service code will harmonise the working conditions and remuneration of future teachers of different school types (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming). Therefore, the new teacher service code together with the new teacher education model (see above) provides the basis for the long-term development of a common professional identity among all teachers irrespective of the school they are teaching at. It provides the basis for greater flexibility and mobility for teachers to work in different school types, and it provides the same remuneration for teachers that have completed an equivalent teacher education programme. Like the changes to the teacher education system, this is particularly relevant for lower secondary education. Prior to the introduction of the new teacher service code, teachers in the NMS and in the AHS were employed and remunerated according to two different service codes (Bundeslehrer-Lehrverpflichtungsgesetz, BLVG and Landeslehrer-Dienstrechtsgesetz, LDG). However, considering prior differences in service codes and related working conditions, the new teacher service code may affect the attractiveness of teaching in provincial and federal schools differently. While new teachers in provincial schools seem to have opted for the new service code since its introduction, new teachers in federal schools seem to have been less likely to do so. Also, the new teacher service code only applies to future teachers and within the first five years, i.e. until September 2020, new teachers can choose between the old and the new system. It will, therefore, take about 40 years for the new service code to apply to all teachers. Until then, teachers will be employed on the basis of three different service codes. As some teachers remarked during the review visit, this may create problemsfor the school climate and between younger and older teachers.

Third, the introduction of the new teacher service code will also provide stronger in-service development requirements for all teachers. While a one-year induction phase (Unterrichtspraktikum) was previously only required for teachers of academic secondary schools, the new teacher service code will provide new teachers of all school types and levels of education with an employment contract from their first year onwards and support new teachers with experienced mentors throughout a one-year professional entry phase. The traditional induction phase for teachers of general secondary schools will be offered for the last time in the school year 2018/19 (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming). As the OECD review of teacher policies and OECD TALIS have pointed out, new teachers often face additional challenges, particularly in disadvantaged schools (e.g. in terms of classroom management and student behaviour and discipline) (OECD, 2005; OECD, 2009). If not addressed, these challenges can reduce teachers’ confidence and influence teachers’ decision to change careers. A difficult start to the career can, then, imply high costs for individual teachers as well as schools and students. Effective induction and mentoring arrangements can increase the effectiveness and job satisfaction of new teachers, and increase the likelihood that teachers grow into mentoring roles themselves and participate in professional development later on in their career. Experienced teachers can also benefit from their mentoring role as it provides a source of new ideas about curriculum and teaching and an opportunity to reflect about experiences and beliefs with regard to teaching and learning (OECD, 2005; Jensen et al., 2012; OECD, 2015e). However, the impact of the new induction and mentoring phase in Austria will also depend on the trainingand time that mentors receive for their role. In that respect, it is positive that the new teacher service code also includes two hours per week, which, among others, can be used for mentoring activities. In addition, all new teachers will be required to undertake 15 hours of professional development per year.

The introduction of systematic team teaching in New Secondary Schools (NMS) has the potential to improve teaching and learning

The NMS reform involved the introduction of teacher collaboration as one of its central elements. The reform provides additional teaching resources for the NMS to build teacher teams that work together in one classroom. While team-teaching was initially concentrated on specific subjects (German, mathematics and English), this restriction has recently been lifted and the NMS have more flexibility to decide about the use of the additional teaching resources, i.e. it is now possible to double-staff a third of posts for subjects other than German, mathematics and English with the overall number of hours remaining the same. The additional resources amount to six additional teaching units per NMS class. This systematic team teaching initiative provides an opportunity for teachers to learn from each other and to work together, but also to provide more individualised instruction and additional support for low-achieving students. The additional teaching resources should be provided by teachers from academic secondary schools so that a team is made up of one academic secondary school teacher and one New Secondary School teacher. Considering differences in the traditional model of teacher education between teachers of general compulsory schools and teachers of academic secondary schools – the former are educated at university colleges of teacher education (PHs) in more practical programmes, the latter at Universities in more theoretical programmes – this provides an interesting opportunity for teachers with different backgrounds to learn from each other. It also provides an opportunity for cultural change towards a common teaching profession and acceptance of more time in a common school. Furthermore, the NMS reform has introduced networking opportunities for teachers and school principals across New Secondary Schools with the creationof a Centre for Learning Schools (Bundeszentrum für Lernende Schulen) (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming).

However, it may be necessary to provide further support for the implementation of the team-teaching concept and collaboration between the AHS and the NMS, and to encourage school principals and teacher leaders to take greater responsibility for the management of team teaching. As interviews with teachers and students suggest, teachers may not be prepared to effectively work together to provide additional opportunities for learning. Teachers may simply use the support provided by each other to reduce their workload and the time required for preparation, and assessment and marking, for example. Concerning the collaboration of teachers from different school types and the use of AHS teachers in the NMS, there are no incentives for AHS teachers to participate in this initiative and collaboration depends on the willingness of individual teachers and school principals of different schools. Not all teacher teams are, therefore, made up of AHS and NMS teachers. In 2012/13, AHS teachers accounted for only slightly more than half of the total additional teaching time in the NMS, even though this differed greatly across provinces (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming). Teaching in another school also has costs for individual teachers in terms of time, e.g. for participation in teacher conferences at two schools. As mentioned in Chapter 2, the split in regulatory competencies between the federal and provincial governments for AHS and NMS teachers makes it difficult to monitor and manage the secondment of AHS teachers. The secondment of AHS teachers would, therefore, benefit from an ending of the formal divide between federal and provincial schools as well as between federal and provincial teachers.

The Austrian education system provides additional teaching resources for students with particular learning needs

In primary education, students at risk of falling behind can benefit from one remedial teaching hour (Förderunterricht) per week – either separately as an additional lesson or integrated within the regular schedule (also see Chapter 3). Students with particular language needs can also receive additional teaching resources. Students with difficulties to follow the language of instruction when starting school can receive special support for up to two years as “non-regular students” (außerordentliche Schüler). Classification of “non-regular students” typically takes place when children enter school, but is also possible if students migrate to Austria at a later age. Schools receive up to 11 lessons per week depending on the number of non-regular students, and lessons can be integrated or parallel to regular instruction. If provided in integrated form, the additional weekly instruction time for a student must not exceed five hours. The federal government also provides funding for specialised staff within the general staff allocation so schools can offer additional language courses (German as a second language) for students who are not classified as “non-regular students”. Besides additional teaching resources for remedial teaching, “non-regular students” and German as a second language, the provincial school boards have some discretion to allocate additional teaching resources if such needs are identified, often through the school inspection (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming).

While these additional teaching resources exemplify that Austria pays attention to providing additional teaching resources to particular learning needs, there is also scope for improvement. As Nusche, Shewbridge and Lamhauge Rasmussen (2010) pointed out multilingualism in Austria is sometimes still seen as a problem rather than a resource and the allocation of additional resources focuses on children’s deficits. This might lead to a labelling and stigmatisation of students and lower expectations by teachers. Also, additional instruction focuses on students’ progression in language learning rather than on the standard subject content. It provides resources only at the beginning of a student’s schooling even though it is important to support the continuous language learning of students also in the higher grades. And it leaves the organisation of additional instruction entirely to schools, which might lead to an inconsistent provision of additional resources and to the additional resources not being used in the best way. Furthermore, while the resources are provided by the federal level, the way they are used in schools is not controlled or monitored, and since classification of students as “non-regular” is only possible when students enter the education system and is not based on a standardised process, there can be an incentive for school principals to label students pre-emptively to receive the additional teaching resources (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming).

Schools have a fair degree of pedagogical autonomy and Austria has taken steps to build school leadership

As highlighted in Chapter 2, the review team gained the impression that Austrian schools (as well as individual teachers) have a relatively high degree of autonomy in some pedagogical matters, i.e. in choosing preferred teaching methods and in developing new subjects. Curricula are developed by the federal ministry, but schools have some autonomy in how to implement them. Within the pre-set framework curricula, schools can develop their own specific profile and set priorities by modifying the number of instruction hours for subjects, introduce additional compulsory or non-compulsory subjects and offer tutoring (Förderunterricht). Pedagogical autonomy for schools to develop a school profile is greatest in lower secondary and upper secondary education. In addition, teachers have full autonomy in choosing the methods they deem appropriate to implement the curricula and achieve set learning objectives (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming; Eurypedia, 2015).

All schools visited as part of the review visit offered additional subjects or had created a specific profile (e.g. with a focus on specific pedagogies). One primary school, for example, had developed a focus on Montessori teaching methods as well as a transversal focus on ecology and nature that was implemented across all subjects. One NMS had developed a technical profile; another NMS had decided to offer bilingual and mother-tongue instruction in Bosnian, Serbo-Croatian and Turkish. One AHS had introduced optional subjects in health and sports, management and leadership, and chess; another AHS had introduced a focus on Croatian-language instruction as a minority language, sports, music, and autonomous learning.

Comparative data from Education at a Glance 2012 and OECD PISA 2012 also suggest that schools have a relatively high level of pedagogical autonomy. According to Education at a Glance 2012, lower secondary schools make 88.9% of decisions related to the organisation of instruction, compared to 75.4% on average across OECD countries (OECD, 2012).4 For PISA 2012, Austrian principals also reported having a say on a number of curricular issues, but more principals than in other countries reported that higher authorities are also involved in the decision-making process (see Table 4.2). This most likely reflects that specific curricula as implemented by schools are developed within national framework curricula and need to be presented to the school forum and be reported to the school inspection (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming). Principals and teachers have relatively high levels of autonomy (similar to the OECD average) with respect to choosing textbooks, deciding on the course offer and determining the school content. Fewer students were in a school whose principal reported to be involved in the establishment of student assessment policies, which reflects that assessment criteria are set out in federal legislation (OECD, 2013b).5 However, one needs to bear in mind that most 15-year-olds in Austria already go to upper secondary schools. This complicates comparisons of structural aspects with other countries where 15-year-olds typically still attend lower secondary education (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming).

Table 4.2. School autonomy over curricula and assessments, PISA 2012
Percentage of students in schools whose principals reported that only “principals and/or teachers”, only “regional and/or national education authority”, or both “principals and/or teachers” and “regional and/or national education authority”, or “school governing board” has/have considerable responsibility for the following tasks:


OECD average

Principals and/or teachers

Both principals and/or teachers and regional and/or national education authority or school governing board

Only regional and/or national education authority

Principals and/or teachers

Both principals and/or teachers and regional and/or national education authority or school governing board

Only regional and/or national education authority

Establishing student assessment policies







Choosing which textbooks are used







Determining course content







Deciding which courses are offered







Source: OECD (2013b), PISA 2012 Results: What Makes Schools Successful (Volume IV): Resources, Policies and Practices,, Table IV.4.3. and Figure IV.4.3.

Schools often seemed to draw on teachers’ interests and competencies beyond their qualification for a specific subject when developing optional subjects. The creation of individual school profiles also seemed to help schools respond to students’ background and interests and attract students to their school. However, various schools also mentioned that resource constraints, i.e. the lack of teachers and teaching hours, can make it difficult to use this pedagogical freedom. This may be particularly challenging for small schools. One school, for example, was interested in offering nutrition, but did not have the teaching hours to do so, and the principal of one larger school commented that only the large number of students made it possible to maintain the wide range of optional subjects currently available at that school. In addition, several principals mentioned that the number of autonomous hours had been reduced in recent years. As far as teaching methods are concerned, various interview partners also mentioned that the introduction of educational standards and standardised assessments may lead to some reduction of pedagogical autonomy.

As part of its work programme for 2014-18 and as part of its six-point programme for education, the Austrian federal government plans to extend current school autonomy, including the autonomy to manage pedagogical matters. Planned measures include the introduction of alternative assessment and grading up to Year 3, more flexible time structures (e.g. combination of classes, more project-based work and more flexible breaks), more scope for the development of school profiles, additional quotas of hours and cross‐location pools of hours to meet support needs in the form of “project pots” (subject to budgetary limits), especially in primary education, and more freedom to co-operate with other institutions and associations within the region and municipality (e.g. kindergarten, sports clubs and music schools, arts and cultural institutions) (BMBF, 2014; Austrian Federal Chancellery, 2013). The November 2015 reform package proposed by the federal government also intends to give schools greater autonomy, including further responsibilities for pedagogical matters. As is planned, schools should have more flexibility to devise learning groups according to pedagogical targets and more opportunities for the flexible formation of classes and groups, and they should have greater autonomy to determine their focus and curriculum timetables where this will enhance the quality of learning (BMBF and BMWFW, 2015; see Annex 1.1 in Chapter 1).

The review team also notes that Austria has implemented some measures to strengthen the leadership capacity of schools over the last 15 years, even if more still needs to be done in this area (see further below). Since 1997, school principals have been required to undertake compulsory training within the first four years of their first appointment and initial preparation has now been strengthened with the introduction of the new teacher service code in 2013 that will require school principals to undertake preparation before taking up a position. This is in line with recommendations from an international research project on Improving School Leadership in Central Europe which suggested reconsidering the induction requirement for recruitment and to introduce preparatory training prior to appointment instead (Schratz et al., 2010).6 In 2004, Austria undertook a further step towards the professionalisation of school leadership with the creation of a Leadership Academy. While professional development for school principals was previously organised through short-term training at university colleges of teacher education (PHs), the development of a Leadership Academy has established more systematic opportunities for ongoing professional learning. The Leadership Academy seeks to develop leadership at all levels of the education system, from principals to managers in the school administration, the inspection and teacher education (Schratz, 2009; NLQ Hildesheim, 2011). In addition, the new teacher service code provides more time for school principals to focus on their leadership tasks by eliminating school principals’ teaching obligation if their school has at least ten teachers, and by reducing school leaders’ teaching duties if they manage a small or very small school. This reflects a growingrealisation that it may be necessary to reduce school leaders’ teaching role to fulfil their increasingly complex role (NLQ Hildesheim, 2011).


There are a number of rigidities in the organisation of the teacher labour market

The OECD review team formed the impression that there were a number of rigidities in teacher recruitment and allocation that formed obstacles to a more efficient organisation of the teacher labour market. First, the complex distribution of responsibilities for the employment of human resources between federal and provincial levels makes it difficult to organise the teaching workforce efficiently and to steer and monitor the use of teachers in schools across Austria (more on this in Chapter 2). The distinction between provincial and federal schools and teachers in lower secondary education also makes it difficult for teachers to work in different schools at this level, although the team teaching arrangements in the NMS have created first opportunities for teachers from the AHS to work in both school types.

Second, despite some initiatives to give schools more input into the selection of teachers and informal opportunities to influence selection decisions and plans to extend schools’ human resource management autonomy as part of the November 2015 reform proposal, schools are still limited in their autonomy to manage their human resources (also see Chapter 2 and Figure 4.2). The selection of staff is largely the responsibility of the provincial school boards and the school departments of the provincial governments. This may not always ensure that the allocation of teachers matches schools’ needs, although input of the school inspections – which have, however, limited capacity – may facilitate some steering. An important criterion for the allocation of teachers seemed to be new teachers’ age and the age profiles of schools rather than the schools’ profile and needs. It was also not clear in how far the allocation of teachers reflected equity concerns and in how far the best teachers were allocated to the most disadvantaged schools. In addition, teachers interviewed by the OECD review team voiced concerns that they had little influence on where they would be allocated and contract teachers might face particular challenges of only being informed at short notice of where they would have to teach.

Figure 4.2. School leader reports on school responsibility for resource management, PISA 2012
Percentage of students in schools whose leader reports only he/she and/or teachers are responsible for:

Note: Countries are ranked in descending order of schools principals’ and/or teachers’ responsibility for selecting teachers for hire.

1. Not an OECD member country.

Source: OECD (2013b), PISA 2012 Results: What Makes Schools Successful (Volume IV): Resources, Policies and Practices,

Third, the current definition of teachers’ remuneration does not set incentives to organise the teaching workforce more effectively. According to the old and the new teacher service codes, teachers with a given set of qualifications and seniority receive the same pay irrespective of other factors that could steer the supply of teachers to areas most in need, such as specific school contexts (e.g. rural schools, disadvantaged schools) and subjects with a shortage of qualified teachers. More generally, teacher mobility seems low and it can be difficult for teachers to move to another school, as interviews during the review visit suggest. Low teacher mobility can be an obstacle to the sharing of practices and spread of knowledge across the education system (OECD, 2005).

Finally, teachers at general compulsory schools interviewed by the OECD review team noted that their employment by the provincial level makes it difficult for them teachers to move to another province. The statutory rights which teachers acquire through seniority, such as the progression in the salary scale and pension entitlements, may not always be recognised in a different province. This essentially reduces teachers’ mobility and creates regional labour markets with different balances of demand and supply.

The complex governance structure complicates the monitoring of the teacher labour market and the effective steering of the supply of teachers

While detailed data are not available, there does not seem to be a shortage of teachers across the Austrian education system overall. According to OECD PISA 2012, school principals believed that teacher shortages hindered instruction less than in many other countries (OECD, 2013b, Figure IV.3.5).7 However, as various stakeholders reported to the OECD review team, the situation differs greatly between different provinces and regions. In Vorarlberg and Vienna, for example, it has apparently become more difficult to fill vacant teaching positions. Vorarlberg seems to compete for teachers with neighbouring Switzerland and the working conditions offered there. In Vienna, authorities already had to employ AHS teachers prior to completing their post-graduate part-time professional practice as well as non-qualified staff on special contracts to compensate for a shortage of graduates in certain teaching subjects. These regional differences are also related to demographic developments and an increase or reduction of the school age population in different parts of the country (see Chapter 3). Vienna, for instance, is projected to grow in population and concentrates a considerable share of international migrants to Austria. The need for new teachers is, therefore, likely to increase in the future, whereas rural areas of Austria such as parts of Carinthia and Styria are projected to lose population (parlamentarische Anfrage Nr. 8597/J-NR/2011).

As reported by some of the OECD review team’s interview partners, it has become more difficult to find sufficient teachers for specific subjects, such as mathematics and the natural sciences. In these subjects, stakeholders raised concerns that a number of teachers teach in subjects for which they are not qualified. This seems to be a particular problem in the NMS and small schools. A further hidden form of teacher shortage is the significant use of overtime. For the school year 2010/11, the Austrian Court of Audit reported that, on average, federal teachers in lower and upper secondary education taught 2.7 hours a week more than their stipulated teaching time. This amounts to 3.74 million hours of overtime for all 36 500 federal teachers in lower and upper secondary education (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming). However, the use of overtime also seems to create a certain level of flexibility for the management of the teaching workforce. Compensation for overtime is cheaper than the recruitment of additional teachers and overtime can be reduced or increased more easily according to changing student numbers than teacher positions.

To get a complete picture of the teacher labour market and to steer the supply of teachers effectively, processes to analyse demand and supply and a possible shortage or oversupply of teachers across the country need to be in place. Considering the large number of teachers who are expected to retire in the near future, sound forward planning and monitoring will be essential to identify existing and emerging teacher shortages. Austria disposes of measures for forward planning and labour market monitoring (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015). However, the distribution of responsibilities for the employment, monitoring and data management of human resources between federal and provincial authorities for different school types (also see Chapter 2) seems to make projections and forecasting overly challenging. Forecasting and planning seem to require a substantial amount of co-ordination between the different responsible authorities (the Ministry for Education and Women’s Affairs, the provincial school boards and the school departments of the provincial governments). For example, to gather data on the share of teachers who teach a subject they are not qualified for, it would be necessary to analyse all individual teachers’ working contracts filed at the level of the nine provincial school boards or provincial school departments. None of the authorities seemed to assume the overall responsibility for planning and monitoring the supply and demand for future teachers across the education system as a whole and for taking steps to mitigate potential bottlenecks in the supply of new teachers. For the Ministry for Education and Women’s Affairs (BMBF), which holds responsibility for teacher education at university colleges of teacher education (PHs), it is difficult to take on such asystem-wide planning and monitoring role considering the lack of easy access to data on provincial teachers. For example, there are no national data on the number of counsellors (Beratungslehrer) employed at special needs centres (Sonderpädagogische Zentren) as these are provincial teachers (Schmich, 2010).

There are challenges related to the implementation of the new initial teacher education scheme

The introduction of the new initial teacher education system entails a number of promising features that have the potential to raise the quality of the future teaching workforce. However, the impact of the reform will necessarily take time and depend on how it is implemented. The success of the reform rests to a large extent on the ability of university colleges of teacher education (PHs) and universities to develop new curricula and to raise the quality of teaching. As a monitoring report of the quality assurance council pointed out, each of the two types of institutions faces their own challenges considering their particular traditions and strengths and weaknesses (QSR, 2015). At university colleges, this concerns the institutions’ limited capacity to undertake research and their relatively low managerial and organisational autonomy – university colleges are directly dependent on the Ministry for Education and Women’s Affairs (BMBF). At universities, this concerns in particular the institutions’ more limited tradition in offering students more practice-oriented professional education. There are limited links between universities and schools, and universities are not involved in the further professional development of teachers which could ensure links between initial education and actual practice.

The quality assurance council’s report further identified the lack of sufficient qualified staff and personnel and adequate organisational and managerial structures at both institutions as a major challenge for effecting real change in the quality of teacher education (QSR, 2015). Besides long-term strategies such as the development of doctoral schools for teacher education, this will require adequate collaboration between institutions, the development of profiles and areas of expertise in different institutions, and the development of joint organisational and administrative units. The implementation of the reform through collaboration of institutions in four regions should help in this regard. Considering that university colleges and universities are under two different ministries (the Ministry for Education and Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy respectively), the effective steering of the new teacher education also requires productive collaboration between the two ministries. According to a judgement of the quality assurance council, however, collaboration between both has been good so far and platforms that have been built should be maintained. More generally, all institutions involved in teacher education should take shared responsibility for developing and offering a high quality education (QSR, 2015).

Stakeholders interviewed during the OECD review visit pointed to further concerns, in particular how the new teacher education scheme and the increasing length of programmes will affect the attractiveness of the profession. While this constitutes a valid concern, the longer duration may also influence and raise the profile of future students. The number and quality of enrolments will, therefore, be an important area to monitor. A further concern relates to the feasibility of new teachers completing the required master’s degree programme while working in schools.

A stronger professional approach to conceive teaching might be needed

The quality of teaching is key for effective learning and considered the single most important factor within schools that impacts student learning. Austria has taken some important steps to increase the quality of teaching, such as the introduction of a new initial teacher education system (see above) and the development of quality assurance, school development and self-evaluation practices through the SQA and QIBB initiatives (see Chapter 2). However, the review team noted that there seems to be a need for further reflection in Austria about the nature of teachers’ professional work today in a context of changing conceptions of teaching and learning. The OECD review team formed the impression that the main lever of the Austrian education system to raise student performance was seen to be the provision of additional teaching hours rather than the implementation of steps to improve teaching practice in schools, which also requires the development of greater capacity for the school-level management of teachers and the learning environment (more on this below). The main political debates about education focus on governance and the distribution of responsibilities for the employment of teachers, but less on the nature of teachers’ work in schools and classrooms.

Recent research on organisational learning has stressed the importance of new ways of working in schools that focus on collaboration in teams and larger professional learning communities. This requires teachers to adapt to collaborative work cultures based on shared goals, continuous professional development, reflective practice, peer observation and feedback on a daily basis (OECD, 2013a; OECD, 2013c). In Austria, both policy and practice do not yet fully reflect such reconceptualisations of the teaching profession. As elaborated further below, the new teacher service code, for example, failed to create a real change in the conception of the teaching profession, teachers’ working time and teachers’ roles and responsibilities. During its school visits, the review team gained the impression that teachers mostly identify with their own school rather than a larger profession. Teachers seemed to be rather isolated in their classrooms and schools did not seem to manage teaching and learning collectively. OECD TALIS 2008 and PISA 2012 substantiate these impressions. Data from OECD TALIS 2008, for example, suggest that teachers in Austria are more likely to favour simpler exchanges and co-ordination over more in-depth forms of professional collaboration than teachers in other countries. In the PISA 2012 index of teacher participation in school management, Austria ranked comparatively low. For instance, 11.2% of students were in a school whose principal reported that they never engage teachers to help build a culture of continuous improvement in the school or at most 1-2 times a year (OECD average: 7.7%). Only 15.2% of students were in a school whose principal reported that they do so more than once a week (OECD average: 23.3%) (OECD, 2013b, Table IV.4.8).

There are limited opportunities for horizontal and vertical differentiation of the teaching career

Even though the new teacher service code constitutes a step into the right direction, teachers in Austria do still not benefit from distinct and flexible pathways that would help schools meet their needs and give teachers more development opportunities and recognition, including for those teachers who wish to remain focused on classroom teaching. The new teacher service code provides limited opportunities for specialist functions (Fachkarrieren), the NMS reform has created some additional teacher leadership roles such as teacher leaders with specific expertise in instructional development (Lerndesigners) and co‐ordinators of specific areas, such as e-learning, gender issues, culture and the arts, and the introduction of the SQA process has created the role of SQA co-ordinators. There is also a school pilot on middle management that provides opportunities for teachers to take on roles for prevention and integration, school development, assessment and evaluation, community relations, etc.).

But there could still be more systematic opportunities for horizontal differentiation of the teaching career across the entire education system as part of a defined teacher career structure (e.g. co-ordinators of in-service training, school project co-ordination). This would better reflect that teachers need to take on a greater range of tasks and responsibilities and that teachers can also exercise leadership in different roles. According to the new teacher service code, salary progression is still defined in terms of qualifications and seniority and there are no opportunities for formal promotion within teaching (only out of teaching into school principal positions). This traditional approach does not convey the important message that the guiding principle for career advancement should be merit and it does not provide possibilities to reward teachers who choose to remain in the classroom. The lack of opportunities for promotion may reduce the attractiveness of the profession, possibly contributing to both attrition among young teachers and burn-out among older teachers (OECD, 2005; OECD, 2013c).

The conception of teachers’ working time does not promote greater teacher professionalism and teachers and school principals spend considerable time on administrative tasks

Employment is conceived of mostly in terms of teaching hours (as opposed to working hours)

While the employment of provincial teachers is based on overall working hours and an annual standard that allocates working time to three different task categories (teaching; preparation, follow-up and correction; and other activities), the employment of federal teachers in Austria is limited to teaching hours only. The new teacher service code that will apply to all new teachers from 2019/20 onwards similarly conceptualises teachers’ working time in terms of teaching hours only, even if two hours are allocated to other tasks, such as mentoring, for example.

Such a regulation of teacher employment does not reflect current conceptions of teacher professionalism and effective teaching that entails a range of further activities within the school beyond classroom instruction. It constitutes an implicit assumption that teachers work further hours to complete tasks like the preparation of lessons and the assessment of students’ work, but fails to explicitly recognise these tasks and responsibilities. It also limits teachers’ engagement in whole-school responsibilities, such as collaboration and peer feedback among teachers, school self-evaluation and improvement planning, which are important for raising the overall quality of teaching and learning at schools (OECD, 2005; OECD, 2013c).

For general compulsory schools, the change from the old teacher service code that defined annual working hours to the new teacher service code may also reduce schools’ scope and autonomy to strategically organise teachers’ working time. Furthermore, the current and future conceptions of teachers’ working time in Austria do not differentiate between teachers with different work experience. As Jensen et al. (2012) argued, it is likely to be inefficient to have teachers of different levels of effectiveness and levels of experience having the same teaching responsibilities. Giving more experienced teachers more teaching hours or more students or classes to teach and reducing new teachers’ teaching hours so they can focus on developing their teaching skills at the beginning of their careers could improve teaching and learning.

Teachers and school principals have to fulfil various administrative tasks

As already mentioned in Chapter 2, the review team noted that many schools lack administrative support staff. While both provincial and federal schools may employ secretaries and administrators, and while higher authorities may take on some administrative responsibilities, logistical and secretarial tasks tend to be taken over by school leaders and teachers in return for a reduced teaching load. This means that not all teachers and school leaders are able to fully focus on their core pedagogical responsibilities and tasks, including preparation and follow-up of classes. Some teachers pointed out that the distribution of administrative tasks among teachers in a school may come at the expense of beginning teachers who are asked to take on tasks that no one else wants to take care of, thus placing an additional burden on new teachers. And as the Court of Audit has highlighted, it is also very costly to have teachers take over administrative tasks that could be fulfilled by less expensive administrative staff (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming).8 In this context, it is also important to bear in mind that the lack of sufficient career differentiation for teachers means that administrative tasks, such as the co-ordination of IT, provides one of the few possibilities for teachers to take on more managerial tasks.

The lack of administrative support is also an issue that came across in OECD TALIS 2008. According to lower secondary principals’ reports, there was one administrative or managerial staff available for about 23 teachers, compared to a TALIS average ratio of 1 to 8, by far the worst ratio among participating countries (OECD, 2009, Table 2.4). When looking at the ratio of administrative staff to students, the picture is similar. In Austria, there was one administrative or managerial staff for 221 students. Only schools in Turkey had less administrative support in relation to students among the countries participating in the survey (Schmich, 2010). Not surprisingly then, more than three out of four lower secondary teachers were in a school whose principal reported that instruction was hindered to some extent or a lot by a lack of other support personnel (77.5%, compared to a TALIS average of 45.9%) (OECD, 2009, Table 2.5).

In the general compulsory school sector, the municipalities as school maintainers (Schulerhalter) are responsible for the employment of administrative personnel, while the provinces are responsible for the employment of teachers. The local organisation of administrative staff has advantages as it allows, in theory, to organise staff needs so they meet local needs. But the split in responsibilities also means that the provinces cannot influence the employment of administrative staff to ease the administrative burden on their teachers while municipalities may have little financial means to employ such staff or simply be unwilling to do so as the provincial and federal levels compensate by increasing the number of teachers’ working hours. Municipalities may, furthermore, lack pressure from their school leaders to employ secretarial staff as they are content to accept these tasks themselves or to delegate them to their teachers (see below). In addition, in the absence of a mechanism that would equalise funding levels across municipalities (see Chapter 2) some municipalities may have less means to hire administrative staff than others. This can create inequities between schools in the education system. In the case of federal schools, the federal government has taken some steps to address the lack of administrative staff. It has pledged to provide up to 2 000 additional administrative staff for schools (e.g. through the redeployment of civil servants who have become redundant in other public services) and started to organise administrative staff more innovatively (e.g. by providing IT support to groups of schools within a region). Nevertheless, funding constraints (for federal schools and provincial schools) and governance arrangements (for provincial schools) posebarriers for employing and organising sufficient administrative personnel in all sub-systems. The current governance arrangements prevent a systematic reflection of the effective use of human resources in schools. Also, there are no roles for particular tasks in Austria, such as the management of the school library and lab facilities, a further issue mentioned during school visits.

There are challenges for the school-level management of the teaching workforce

School principals are not equipped to manage the teaching workforce effectively at the school level

Despite some efforts to foster school leadership, particularly with the establishment of the Leadership Academy in 2004 and the strengthening of the preparation requirement for new school principals with the introduction of the new teacher service code, school principals in Austria do often not yet focus on their pedagogical leadership (and tasks such as strategic goal-setting and monitoring, human resource management, and the development of strong relations with the community) which research indicates has the potential to have a great impact on teaching and learning (Leithwood et al., 2004; Day et al., 2009; Louis et al., 2010), As OECD TALIS 2008 indicated, school principals in Austria are less likely than in most other participating countries to favour instructional school leadership (OECD, 2009). More recent data from OECD PISA 2012 paint a similar even if slightly more mixed picture, which may also be related with the constructs that are measured (OECD, 2013b, Tables IV.12, IV.13, IV.14 and IV.15). Principals in Austria practice slightly more instructional leadership than principals in other countries and economies, but they are less involved in framing and communicating the school’s goals and less active in promoting instructional improvements and professional development. Principals in Austria are also less likely to involve teachers in the management of the school. This was also the impression the review team gained through its interviews with school principals and teachers. School principals did not perceive their role as a pedagogical one, but rather as administrative and managerial in nature. In fact, school principals seemed quite content with this role. This is also true for the level of school autonomy. With the exception of teacher recruitment for which school principals wanted to have a greatersay, school principals did not seem to want greater overall autonomy. School principals were, in particular, wary of more managerial autonomy that could place a further burden on them. The review team also had concerns about the employment conditions of school principals. These do not necessarily ensure that school leadership is attractive and that the most qualified candidates are selected. Interviews with teachers and school principals provide anecdotal evidence that the school leadership profession is not very attractive and that compensation may not reflect the higher level of responsibility. Data collected by Eurydice (2015) indicate that both minimum and maximum gross statutory salaries do not differ greatly between school principals and teachers (see Figure 4.1). Nevertheless, the new teacher service code may lead to some improvement, especially for younger teachers, by removing age-related aspects in the determination of school principal allowances. Both federal and provincial schools, and particularly small rural schools, struggle to find a large number of candidates (Bruneforth et al., forthcoming). These issues may become more pressing considering that the current school leadership profession is ageing. There are no detailed statistical data on the age distribution of school principals, but according to the latest national education report (Nationaler Bildungsbericht 2012, NBB) 2 out of 3 school principals are between 50 and 59 years-old (Vogtenhuber et al., 2012).

Concerning the recruitment of school principals, even though aptitude tests and assessment centres have become more prominent in recent years, the selection process is often considered as being driven by political networks rather than by an objective assessment of the candidates’ skills and competencies (Schratz, 2009; Bruneforth et al., forthcoming). This was also mentioned in the review team’s interviews. The risk for “political” appointments stems from the political nature of the federal and provincial bodies responsible for the selection process. In particular, the members of the collegiate boards of the provincial school boards are nominated by the political parties relative to their number of seats in the provincial parliaments (Chapter 2). In addition, there are no professional standards for school leadership that could provide a clear and transparent reference of necessary competencies for the selection and recruitment process. The November 2015 reform package may lead to some changes, however, with the introduction of a standardised job profile and recruitment process (BMBF and BMWFW, 2015, see Annex 1.1 in Chapter 1).

Similarly, the review team considers it necessary to improve the working conditions of school principals so as to facilitate greater pedagogical leadership. First, schools lack administrative support personnel and, therefore, school principals often have to deal with many secretarial tasks. This was also the result of a study by Huber, Wolfgramm and Kilic (2013). Schools typically do not have any deputy principals or secretarial staff, even though the situation may be slightly better in academic secondary schools where administrators typically provide some support to school principals. Second, the concept of distributed leadership has not yet gained ground in schools in Austria and school principals are often still “lonely fighters” as Schratz (2009) put it. This can be a hindrance for school principals to concentrate on pedagogical leadership and also lead to burn-out problems for engaged school principals. Third, schools’ limited autonomy for resource management, in particular for the management of human resources (e.g. the selection of teachers), can be a barrier to pedagogical leadership. And fourth, the small size of many schools in Austria does not give all school principals the leeway to exercise pedagogical leadership (more on this in Chapter 3).

There are almost no possibilities for school leaders to incentivise high performance or to respond to underperformance

Schools’ and school principals’ responsibility for human resource management decisions in Austria is very limited (see Figure 4.2). This restricts school principals’ scope for encouraging improvement among their teachers and for responding to concerns about a teacher’s performance through human resource management decisions (e.g. through influence on teachers’ salary progression). Besides school principals’ limited autonomy, the lack of sufficient horizontal and vertical differentiation of the teacher career in Austria also weakens school principals’ possibilities for setting incentives and for rewarding teachers for their work (e.g. through promotions to middle leadership positions).

It is, therefore, no surprise that teachers in lower secondary schools reported for OECD TALIS 2008 that a teacher’s performance would not lead to positive or negative consequences. Teachers in Austria were less likely to believe that they would be rewarded for high performance than teachers in other countries and teachers in Austria were less likely to believe that consistent underperformance would be picked up or addressed than teachers in other countries (see Figure 4.3) (OECD, 2009).

Figure 4.3. Teacher rewards and incentives, TALIS 2008
Percentage of teachers of lower secondary education who agree or strongly agree with the following statements about aspects of appraisal and/or feedback in their school:

Source: OECD (2009), Creating Effective Teaching and Learning Environments: First Results from TALIS,, Table 5.9.

Teachers have few opportunities to receive feedback and professional development is not used strategically

While school principals are, in theory, responsible for appraising their teachers, both school principals and teachers interviewed by the OECD review team repeatedly indicated that, given the heavy workload of school principals, such formal appraisal was not always systematically implemented for all teachers. Appraisal seems too often to be concentrated on the least experienced teachers and to be less common for more experienced teachers. For OECD TALIS 2008, 18% of Austrian lower secondary teachers reported that they had never received any appraisal/feedback from their school principal (against a TALIS average of 22%) and 29% reported that they had received such appraisal/feedback only once every 2 years or less (against a TALIS average of 13.7%) (OECD, 2009). As already stated above, the review team also gained the impression that there seems to be little tradition of peer feedback, classroom observation and collaborative professional learning among teachers in Austria. Few teachers seemed to work as “critical friends” or peer mentors for one another in developing their practice. In small schools, the sheer size of the school limits teachers’ opportunities for feedback from one another (also see Chapter 3). Furthermore, teachers in Austria have limited sources of external feedback and there is no external teacher appraisal process in place. For OECD TALIS 2008, 42.5% of teachers reported that they had never received any appraisal or feedback from an external source (against a TALIS average of 50.7%) and 39.8% had received such external feedback only once in two years or less (against a TALIS average of 24.4%) (OECD, 2009). In Austria, externalappraisal typically only takes place in case of serious or frequent complaints of parents about a teacher. In such cases, the school inspectorate may initiate a special appraisal of the particular teacher (OECD, 2013c).

If teachers are appraised by their school principal, the process seems to have only a weak formative function and a limited impact on teachers’ professional development. Only 41.4% of Austrian teachers indicated that appraisal or feedback that they had received contained suggestions for improving certain aspects of their work (against a TALIS average of 58%) (OECD, 2009). School principals have full autonomy in deciding how to appraise their teachers and, as a result, teacher appraisal is likely to vary across schools in terms of the methods used, the criteria applied and the use of the results. There are no teacher standards which could inform appraisal and provide a reference against which teachers could be appraised (OECD, 2013c). Nevertheless, according to OECD TALIS 2008, teachers in Austria tend to be more likely to agree that their appraisal and feedback was a fair assessment of their work (OECD, 2009), and the introduction of national standardised assessments has introduced some element of external feedback to work with teachers to improve the quality of their practice.

With regards to the planning of professional development, strategic approaches to teachers’ professional development in schools seemed to be rather rare and professional development seemed to be mostly the choice of individual teachers. Teacher appraisal in Austria does not systematically feed into a professional development plan, even if it may lead to a professional development plan or mandatory training for teachers in case of underperformance (OECD, 2013c). For the OECD TALIS 2008, only 21.2% of teachers surveyed in Austria agreed or strongly agreed that a development or training plan would be established for teachers in their school to improve their work. This was the lowest proportion among all TALIS countries, against a TALIS average of 59.7% (OECD, 2009). There is clearly further room in Austria for establishing teacher appraisal as a formative process and for better linking teacher appraisal to individual professional development. This is crucial given that teacher development is one of the main functions of teacher appraisal (OECD, 2013c). Concerning the quality of professional development, as some teachers and school principals pointed out during the review visit, the current offer of courses and programmes may benefit from more stimulation and input from external trainers and providers. Teacher trainers at university colleges of teacher education (PHs) that are in charge of professional development may fail to provide a new perspective on teaching and learning as well as new subject knowledge.

Schools may require greater support from pedagogical support staff, such as social workers and school psychologists

The OECD review team’s interviews with school principals, teachers and parents raised concerns on whether sufficient pedagogical support staff was available to provide support for solving social, intercultural and behavioural problems. Social workers and social pedagogues, for example, are not typically available in schools. OECD TALIS 2008 substantiates these claims. According to school principals’ reports, in 2008 there was one pedagogical support worker for 24 teachers, compared to a ratio of 1 to 13 on average across countries participating in the survey. This was the worst ratio of any country in the survey and was not related to class size (OECD, 2009, Table 2.4). From a student perspective, the situation is slightly better, also bearing low student-teacher ratios in Austria in mind. There was one pedagogical support staff for 263 students in Austria. This was, however, still much less than in various other countries like Denmark, Hungary, Norway and Poland. In Norway, the country with the lowest ratio, there was one pedagogical support worker for 78 students (Schmich, 2010). A relatively high proportion of lower secondary teachers in Austria were in a school whose principal reported that instruction was hindered to some extent or a lot by a lack of instructional support personnel (68.7%, compared to a TALIS average of 47.5%) (OECD, 2009). However, TALIS data do not give any information about the kind of pedagogical support personnel that is available and which kind of staff may hinder instruction the most.

There also appear to be some differences between the AHS and the HS (which have been replaced by the NMS). According to an analysis by Schmich (2010), there was less pedagogical support personnel available at the AHS than at the HS, which may also reflect the more disadvantaged student intake in the HS. But the use of pedagogical support staff seemed to be better targeted in the AHS. In AHS with a higher proportion of students with a non-German mother tongue, more pedagogical support staff was available than at schools with lower proportions of students with this background. Besides concerns about the number of pedagogical support staff, the review team’s schools visits also suggested that there were concerns regarding the organisation of support services in schools and that pedagogical support may be more difficult to access compared to other countries like Finland which follow a more child-centred and open approach. School psychologists, for example, were only available through a number of school psychological service units which may not facilitate a close collaboration between teachers and school psychologists.

The lack of sufficient pedagogical support staff and an inefficient organisation of the staff that is available can have a number of negative consequences. For teachers, it can take time and focus away from their core task of teaching, as they are required to spend time on tasks for which they are not sufficiently qualified. And it means teachers may lack the support they need to provide differentiated teaching in classrooms. For students, it can mean that psychological and individual support is not available if needed. The lack of pedagogical support staff is also of concern considering the apparent problem of bullying in schools. According to data from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey for 2009/10, 40% of children aged 11, 13 and 15 reported having been bullied at school at least once in the past couple of months (UNICEF Office of Research, 2013).9

Like the lack of administrative support personnel, the lack of pedagogical support staff is linked to the distribution of responsibilities for human resources in the Austrian education system which does not enable decision-making about staff recruitment based on a more general view of the staffing needs in schools and which gives schools a limited say in such decisions (also see Chapter 2).

Policy recommendations

Austria has undertaken important steps to improve the management of its teaching profession with the implementation of a new initial teacher education scheme and a new teacher service code. Both initiatives provide an important basis for the creation of a single teaching profession beyond school types, and, in fact, a common school until the end of lower secondary education (see also Chapter 3). They also have the potential to improve the quality of future teachers, as they aim to offer a more attractive career and improved initial education, induction and professional development. However, fundamental challenges remain to raise the quality of teaching and to make the most of the human resources that are available. This should be a key objective in the Austrian education system.

Two issues stand out. First, as discussed in detail in Chapter 2, the complex system of governance hinders the effective use of human resources across the education system as a whole. This concerns the split of responsibilities for funding, distributing and managing human resources between federal, provincial and municipal levels in the general compulsory school sector, the distinction between provincial and federal sub-systems, and the lack of school autonomy for human resource management. These features of the Austrian education system prevent a holistic vision and approach to the use of human resources in Austria’s schools and set incentives for the allocation of human resources that does not necessarily best meet the needs of schools. The unnecessary complexity involved in the monitoring of the teacher labour market is a case in point, as is the lack of administrative staff, particularly in provincial schools, the general lack of pedagogical support staff, and the limited targeting of such staff to school needs in provincial schools.

Second, it is essential to develop a stronger professional approach to teaching in Austria that reflects the need for schools to become innovative learning-centred organisations that build on a better understanding of local processes and mechanisms to improve teaching and learning in partnership with parents and the community. Teachers’ employment framework and conditions, that is the teacher career structure and working time arrangements, should reflect that teachers should be able to take on a broader range of roles that form an integral part of the teaching profession and collaborate to raise the quality of education at their school. This also requires a better local management of human resources in schools facilitated through greater school autonomy in this regard and greater capacity for pedagogical school leadership.

Teacher labour market and initial teacher education

Create greater transparency about the human resource needs of the system and steer the supply of teachers more effectively

While there appears to be no overall shortage of teachers in Austria at the moment, it is essential to ensure an adequate supply of qualified teachers. There already seem to be hidden shortages in certain geographical areas and specific subjects and Austria faces a considerable retirement wave of teachers in the next decade. This represents a loss of experienced teachers, but also an opportunity to renew the teaching workforce and to provide the system with new ideas and perspectives of greater teacher professionalism (more on this below). To steer the supply of new teachers more effectively and to address potential shortages and/or oversupply in specific geographical areas or subjects it is important to create greater transparency about the future demand for teachers which is linked to an overall concept of schools sizes and pedagogical concepts, like team teaching. Better information about the needs of the system could be useful both for teacher education institutions to define their offer and for graduates from secondary schools interested in teaching to gain a better picture of future opportunities to work in education. This requires a more systematic analysis of the teacher labour market overall, and the need for new teachers in different parts of the country and specific subjects. More systematic data on other aspects of the teacher labour market, such as teacher attrition and retention of old and young teachers should also be more readily available for analysis of the teacher labour market.

While there are some forecasting and planning processes in place, the current governance arrangements make these processes overly complicated. In particular, data on provincial teachers seem to be fragmented across provinces and not easily available for system-wide monitoring. Steering responsibilities are not clearly defined. Placing the responsibility for the employment of all teachers into one hand (see Chapter 2), would facilitate greater availability of data on the need and supply of teachers that could be used for systematic analysis and steering through one responsible institution. Considering the responsibility of the Ministry for Education and Women’s Affairs (BMBF) for parts of initial teacher education, and its potentially central role for the funding of teachers (see Chapter 2), the ministry could take on such a role. Alternatively, another central institution such as the central statistical office (Statistik Austria), which already works with data on teachers, could take responsibility for the analysis of the teacher labour market if it is provided with a comprehensive reference framework to fulfil this role.

Improved availability and accessibility of information could also be used by the responsible authorities to steer the supply of teachers and to implement possible measures to further increase the attractiveness of the career (e.g. through greater teacher professionalism and a new teacher career, see below). Possible measures include, for example, scholarship, grant or loan programmes for subjects for which it is difficult to attract teachers; financial bonuses for specific geographical regions; and recruitment campaigns to attract teachers in areas of needs. Furthermore, the effective steering of the teacher labour market would benefit from eliminating current rigidities and barriers to teacher mobility. Teachers should be able to carry their statutory rights with them when moving to another province, but the streamlining of responsibilities for the employment and funding of teachers would also help. Austria should also consider the introduction of regulations or incentives to encourage greater teacher mobility between schools.

Give school leaders a greater say in the recruitment of teachers

As elaborated in Chapter 2, schools in Austria should gradually receive greater autonomy to select their personnel and teachers while maintaining the equity benefits of a more central teacher recruitment system and while possibly putting further mechanisms into place that work towards equity in teacher allocation. The introduction of salary allowances for schools in disadvantages areas, for example, could be one option. Such policies have been found to have clear positive effects on teacher recruitment (Falch, 2010). Greater school autonomy for human resource management could help promote pedagogical leadership. Despite long-standing efforts, it has been difficult to foster a cultural change towards greater pedagogical leadership and to change school leaders’ practices in Austria. This is related to a number of challenges such as the lack of middle leadership structures and administrative support, but greater school autonomy for human resource management would help communicate that the school-level management of teachers, from selection to appraisal and development, is one of the key responsibilities of school principals. As Halász (2009) argued, school leaders also require a certain degree of autonomy to become pedagogical leaders. Also, giving schools more influence in selecting their teachers according to particular criteria (e.g. teaching methods, extracurricular activities, etc.) would allow schools to more effectively shape their profiles and meet the needs of their students.

Ensure the careful implementation and follow-up of the new initial teacher education scheme

The new initial teacher education model has great potential if all involved stakeholders work together with the ultimate goal of improving teacher education in Austria. As far as the government is concerned, the responsible ministries should continue to collaborate through the channels of communication that have been established and follow up on the suggestions of the independent quality assurance council to ensure the success of the reform. As highlighted by the QSR (2015), teacher education institutions require better personnel and organisational structures, i.e. an adequate supply of qualified staff and management structures with the capacity to manage quality development and create the desired changes in teacher education. Both ministries should support teacher education institutions to develop this capacity. This could imply the creation of doctoral schools that ensure a greater supply of research and teaching staff in the future. More funding opportunities for basic educational research could also strengthen the research capacity of institutions.

In addition, institutions could be supported and encouraged to collaborate further through the creation of common organisational structures and specific profiles of expertise. Both university colleges of teacher education (PHs) and universities also have their particular challenges in raising the quality of education. university colleges of teacher education would benefit from greater autonomy to manage their human resources; universities would benefit from stronger links with schools and the current teaching profession. Although this might be difficult to realise as universities are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, universities could be involved in the new induction process for all teachers and further professional development for teachers. Universities’ involvement in teachers’ ongoing professional development would also address some concerns about the current quality of professional development and a lack of external input and expertise.

A number of further points merit further attention. It is essential that the teacher education reform helps to create a common teaching profession and raises the quality of education for all levels of education and school types. To this end, it would be important to incentivise universities to become sufficiently engaged in the preparation of primary teachers as well, traditionally the remit of university colleges of teacher education (PHs). Concerning the design of new curricula and programmes, these should foster greater teacher professionalism (more on this below) and foster a new conception of the teaching profession. This would help make teaching more attractive among young people and support other reforms, such as the effective implementation of new pedagogical approaches and team teaching in the NMS. It will also be important to monitor the ways in which the new teacher education model affects the supply of new teachers and students’ progression through teacher education. Study regulations between different institutions should be harmonised and adequate guidance and counselling should be available for students. The feasibility for students to complete the required master’s degree will also need to be evaluated and new teachers be supported to fulfil this requirement and to reconcile work, life and study.

Teacher professionalism

Develop a vision for teacher professionalism

While it is important to distribute responsibilities for the employment of teachers more effectively and to align funding and spending for human resources to ensure a better use of human resources in the Austrian education system (see Chapter 2), it is equally important to build a new conception of the teaching profession. A vision that promotes schools as professional learning communities that work together to improve teaching and learning for all students would help improve the quality of education. It would also help make teaching a more attractive career and create a more positive discourse around teaching. As the OECD (2015d) argued, “innovating learning environments offer a far more promising route for enhancing the attractiveness of teaching than backward-looking definitions of professionalism seen as the right of the individual teacher to be left undisturbed in his or her own classroom.” The argument for greater teacher professionalism is further substantiated through an OECD report on teacher professionalism. Analysis of data from OECD TALIS 2013 suggests that teacher professionalism, and the development of teacher knowledge and collaboration/peer networks in particular, are positively associated with job satisfaction, confidence in the ability to teach and perceptions of the status of the teaching profession (OECD, 2016).

The OECD Innovative Learning Environment project formulated a number of principles that bring teachers’ work in line with innovative ways of organising learning:

  • Teachers should share a clear priority about the centrality of learning, for their students and themselves, and be fully engaged in meeting that priority; teachers as well as students should understand themselves as learners.

  • Teaching should not be regarded as an individual matter and should often be done collaboratively.

  • Teachers should work formatively – with their learners and with organisational strategies of design and development using rich evaluative information.

  • Teachers should be strongly connected - across activities and subjects, in- and out-of-school, and with other partners and other schools and organisations.

  • Schools should recognise diverse teacher motivations and understand that their professional performance is intricately linked to emotions (satisfaction, self-efficacy, avoidance of helplessness and anxiety, etc.).

  • Schools should be sensitive to individual differences in the capacities and experiences of each teacher and build on those in personalised ways as well as through shared professional development (OECD, 2013a).

To support the development of a new vision of teacher professionalism, the OECD review team recommends developing a national teacher profile or standards of practice for the Austrian teaching profession. Such a national teacher profile would establish a foundation for teachers to explore their practice and for school to develop initiatives to improve. It would also provide orientation for the overall teacher development framework, including initial teacher education, professional development and appraisal. Tools and processes like school development planning and self-evaluation through the School Quality in General Education (SQA) process, more systematic work in schools with educational standards and assessments, and new opportunities for schools to collaborate could be used to help promote the new vision.

At present, there appears to be little organised engagement of teachers in professional matters and there is no professional organisation of teachers or a teaching council. The views and experience of effective teachers and school leaders should, however, be central for the development of their profession. Teachers themselves should be given greater responsibility for the self-regulation of their profession (e.g. in the development of professional standards, the design of teacher education programmes and the definition of entrance criteria) and the teacher union should recognise its responsibility for the development of the profession beyond the representation of teachers’ political interests in terms of employment rights and working conditions. In other countries, teacher professional organisations have a lead role in determining processes for the development of teachers, such as the development of professional standards and teacher appraisal. In Australia, teaching colleges/institutes as independent statutory bodies provide teachers with professional autonomy and self‐regulation and the right to have a say in the further development of their profession. The country has also established an Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL),10 with the ambition to establish a nationally shared understanding of what counts as accomplished teaching and school leadership. This institute has developed the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers to provide a national measure for teaching practice, in close collaboration with the profession, employers and teacher educators. In New Zealand, the New Zealand Teaching Council (NZTC) acted as the professional body of teachers holding the leading role in defining standards for the profession, with the extensive involvementof the teaching profession, employers and teacher unions (OECD, 2013c). In 2015, New Zealand introduced a new professional organisation for teachers of all education levels with a wider mandate to lead the teaching profession, promote good practice and raise its status, The Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.11 The Council seeks to strengthen accountability and to bring consistently high standards across the education system. It is independent and sets its own agenda, commissions its own research, leads public discussions about teaching issues, and takes a position on education matters.

Similar professional bodies have also been established in some European countries, such as Ireland and Northern Ireland and Scotland in the United Kingdom. In Ireland, The Teaching Council takes core responsibility for the self-regulation of the profession, for promoting professional standards in teaching, and for supporting the quality of teaching and learning more generally.12 As part of its recent programme of work, the Council has achieved establishing standards for all stages of teachers’ careers, a new pilot model of induction and probation, the drafting of new registration regulations, the review and accreditation of all programmes of initial teacher education, preparation for Fitness to Teach and the commencement of consultation on a National Framework for continuing professional development (CPD) (OECD, 2015b). Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) provides a further example with the introduction of its General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland in 2002.13 Similar to the other countries, the Council acts as a professional and regulatory body for teachers. It provides a research-informed voice on behalf of the profession on all matters relating to teaching and is in charge of establishing and promoting professional standards for teachers, developing and applying a code of professional practice for teachers, professional registration of teachers, accrediting education courses for teachers and pre-service teachers, and working closely with government and employers to promote continuous professional learning by teachers (Shewbridge et al., 2014). In Scotland, the General Teaching Council for Scotlandis the independent professional body which sets teachers’ professional standards and accredits initial teacher education. It also oversees a number of key programmes in induction, professional learning, and student placement (OECD, 2015c).14

Reconceptualise teacher employment on the basis of a workload system

Working towards a new concept of teacher employment could further facilitate the development of a new vision of teacher professionalism. While this may not be a present priority considering that a new teacher service code is currently being introduced, it should be an objective in the medium term to further develop the conception of employment and working time (possibly together with harmonising working conditions and education requirements for the early childhood education and care sector as part of a new service code in the future). Austria should consider moving to employment under a workload system, whereby teachers work a specified number of hours per week (e.g. 40 hours). This would involve stipulating the required number of working hours (and possibly hours required to stay at the school), but not necessarily the number of teaching hours. This conception of teacher employment recognises that teachers need time for engaging in a range of other tasks, including the adequate preparation of lessons. It is also likely to improve the opportunities for teachers to formally engage in activities other than teaching at the school level. In particular, school management would be in a better position to foster teacher collaboration, promote whole-school planning and develop professional learning communities. This would also favour the promotion of peer feedback and joint work among teachers. Of course, it is also important that school buildings and facilities provide the conditions for teachers for doing so. A number of countries require teachers to engage in non-teaching tasks during their statutory working time (see Box 4.2 for information on non-teaching tasks as part of teachers’ working time from OECD Educationat a Glance).

Box 4.2. Non-teaching tasks are a part of teachers’ workload and working conditions in a number of countries

According to information collected for OECD Education at a Glance 2014, individual planning or preparing lessons, teamwork and dialogue with colleagues and communicating and co‐operating with parents are the most common non-teaching tasks required of lower secondary teachers during their statutory working time at school or statutory total working time. These tasks are required in at least 20 of the 34 countries with available data for 2012. Marking/correcting student work, general administrative communication and paperwork and professional development activities are also required in around half of the countries with available data. Lower secondary teachers are required to supervise students during breaks, provide counselling and guidance to students, and/or participate in school management in around one-third of the countries. Eight countries require that lower secondary teachers engage in extracurricular activities after school. In most countries that record the non-teaching tasks required of teachers, the specific number of hours allocated for each task is, however, not specified. In Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Slovenia, any of these non-teaching tasks may be required of teachers, but the decision is taken at the school level.

Source: OECD (2014), Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators,

Create further opportunities for teachers to take on other tasks and responsibilities as part of a dedicated career structure

The new teacher service code provides some further opportunities for teachers to take on additional roles in schools. However, the new service code has not yet created a dedicated career structure that provides teachers with opportunities to develop professionally and to take on a variety of roles and responsibilities. The lack of a real career structure fails to reflect the different needs that teachers may have at different stages of their career. And it fails to provide school leaders with the possibility to tailor teachers’ roles to the needs of the school and to distribute leadership more formally. In the medium term, Austria should therefore consider the development of a differentiated career structure that allows for vertical and horizontal progression (see Box 4.3 for an example of a teacher career structure). A career structure would contribute to promoting a new conception of the teaching profession and increase the attractiveness of the teaching career. The development of a career structure would also provide an opportunity to rethink the administratively complex system of salary allowances for school-level staff which furthermore lacks transparency. The career structure could build on the promising roles that have been established as part of the new teacher service code and the NMS reform (e.g. Lerndesigners) and create further roles for school development. The experience of school pilots on middle management could also be institutionalised through the new career structure. Progression in the career structure should be voluntary and be associated with a formal process of evaluation to promote the principle of merit.

Box 4.3. The development of a teacher career structure in Estonia

The teaching profession in Estonia has typically been differentiated vertically through a multi-step career structure. This was originally implemented through an attestation career system, but in 2013, a new system of teacher professional qualifications was been introduced in association with a new career structure. Unique features of the career structure are that it has no formal links to salary levels and access to its higher levels is voluntary. Its main aim is to serve as a reference for teachers’ competency development. There are four career grades, which reflect different levels of professional competencies and experience:

  • Teacher (level 6): applies only to pre-primary teachers upon entrance in the teaching profession, following the completion of an initial teacher education programme (at bachelor’s degree level) or following the recognition of professional qualifications for this level by the teacher professional body. This career stage is awarded indefinitely.

  • Teacher (level 7.1): is awarded upon entrance in the teaching profession, following the completion of an initial teacher education programme (at master’s degree level) or following the recognition of professional qualifications for this level by the teacher professional body. This career stage is awarded indefinitely.

  • Senior teacher (level 7.2): is awarded to a teacher who, in addition to conducting teaching activities, supports the development of the school and of other teachers and is involved in methodological work at the school level. This career stage is awarded for five years, period after which the teacher needs to submit a new application.

  • Master teacher (level 8): is awarded to a teacher who, in addition to conducting teaching activities, participates in development and creative activities in and outside his or her school and closely co-operates with a higher education institution. This career stage is awarded for five years, period after which the teacher needs to submit a new application.

The career structure is associated with a set of teacher professional standards, which define the competencies associated with each career stage. The development of the teacher professional standards is the responsibility of the Estonian Qualifications Authority while the certification processes to reach the different career stages are the responsibility of a teacher professional organisation (the Estonian Association of Teachers). Teachers can apply for certification at any of the levels twice a year (April and November). The certification procedure involves two stages: i) an evaluation of a set of documents submitted by the candidate; and ii) an interview. The certification procedure is undertaken by a three member committee. A separate career structure, based on a distinct set of professional standards, exists for teachers in vocational education who teach vocational subjects.

Source: Santiago, P. et al. (2016a), OECD Reviews of School Resources: Estonia 2016,

Management of the teaching workforce

Develop pedagogical leadership in schools

Research has highlighted the importance of school leadership for teaching and learning, which provides a strong rationale for implementing policies that ensure the effective management and development of the school leadership profession (Pont, Nusche and Moorman, 2008, Day et al., 2009, Louis et al., 2010). Furthermore, as school leaders constitute a relatively small, but central, group of actors in any education system, policies that target school leadership constitute highly cost-effective measures for improving education (Louis et al., 2010). It is against this background that various education systems, such as Australia (Victoria), Canada (Ontario), Chile and New Zealand, have implemented coherent school leadership development strategies (OECD, 2013c). In the Austrian context, the further development of the school leadership profession is also key considering the current calls for greater school autonomy. As pointed out in Chapter 2, greater school autonomy will need to go hand in hand with greater capacity and accountability of school leaders.

Austria has already undertaken steps to foster effective school leadership, but the past initiatives have failed to create a cultural change towards pedagogical leadership. The current age profile and the retirement of many school principals provide a window of opportunity for recruiting a new generation and profile of school leaders. However, to ensure that promising candidates are selected, the recruitment process will need to be further professionalised to reduce the risk for political appointments, as is already envisaged in the federal government’s November 2015 reform proposal (BMBF and BMWFW, 2015). Necessarily, the employer of school principals should take responsibility for the management of school principals, including the recruitment, but the responsibility for recruitment should not be in the hands of a highly politicised body such as the collegiate boards of the provincial school boards. Irrespective of the institution that will take over the employment of school leaders following the governance reform (e.g. the proposed education directorates), the recruitment process should be managed by an administrative body that has the capacity to conduct a high quality recruitment process. To increase objectivity and to match the selection better to the needs of the school, further actors, such as the school inspectorate and the school forum, should have greater prominence in the selection process. Involvement of the school inspectorate would bring in additional expertise and involvement of the school forum would strengthen horizontal accountability. In some countries, school boards take on a very prominent role for the employment of school principals. School boards can even take complete responsibility for the school leader selection process and propose a ranking of candidates from which employers are then required to choose, or draw up a profile of a desired candidate thatthen serves as a reference for a central recruitment process. In some countries, school boards can also propose the dismissal of a school principal or initiate an evaluation process in the case of concerns.

The development of professional school leadership standards would also help introduce greater objectivity in the selection process by providing a clear reference what kind of skills and competencies school principals should have. More generally, such standards would help promote a vision of pedagogical leadership. In the development of professional school leadership standards, involvement of the school leadership profession should be central. Austria has taken part in other international projects on school leadership that it could build on in the development of professional standards (e.g. Halász, 2009; Schratz, 2009; Schratz et al., 2010; Schratz et al., 2013). Considering the apparently low number of applicants, it would be important to further analyse the attractiveness of the school leadership profession, including the competitiveness of current school leader remuneration compared to teachers and other professions and the possibility to create career development opportunities for school leaders (e.g. system leadership roles, such as learning consultants in Denmark or national and local leaders of education in England (United Kingdom), see Nusche et al., forthcoming).

To improve pedagogical leadership in schools, the employer of school principals – the federal, provincial or new hybrid administration as proposed in Chapter 2 and as part of the November 2015 education reform proposal – should take more responsibility for the ongoing management of individual school leaders. This could involve the development of personnel management processes such as the mandatory individual appraisal of school leaders. Individual appraisal constitutes a tool to set clear expectations, to provide school leaders with formative feedback, and to hold principals accountable for their performance (Radinger, 2014; OECD, 2013c). The School Quality in General Education (SQA) process also provides a tool for providing school leaders with feedback on their work as part of conversations around targets and performance agreements for the school.

Creating more opportunities for schools to collaborate and facilitating school leadership networks can be a further strategy to foster greater pedagogical leadership and to improve the quality of education across the education system more widely. For example, New Zealand has initiated “Learning and Change Networks” to establish a web of knowledge-sharing networks among schools, families, teachers, leaders, communities, professional providers and the Ministry of Education. Network participants work collaboratively to accelerate student achievement in Years 1 to 8 and address equity issues (OECD, 2015d). Chile has established local networks of small rural smalls (microcentros) that offer opportunities for regular development and exchange. Schools meet on a monthly basis for two-hour workshops to analyse the situation of learning in schools, reflect on the pedagogical work of teachers to decide on the necessary innovations to improve student learning, exchange educational experiences, develop teaching strategies that suit the local contexts, agree on criteria for the formulation of improvement plans according to the needs of the students, and receive the support of the advice of the Ministry of Education or technical assistance institutions where appropriate (Ministerio de Educación de Chile, forthcoming; Santiago et al., forthcoming). And in England (United Kingdom), The London Challenge and City Challenge initiatives to improve education in London, Greater Manchester and the Black Country were built around a belief that school-to-school collaboration has a central role to play in school improvement. Some of the best schools and best principals were, therefore, encouraged to lead improvement networks with other schools and other school leaders. The lead schoolswere designated as teaching schools as hubs for professional development and their principals as national and local leaders of education (NLEs and LLEs) with an outreach responsibility for the improvement of other schools (Baars et al., 2014). In Austria, the new initiative of Centre for Learning Schools (Bundeszentrum für Lernende Schulen) could be expanded to the whole system beyond New Secondary Schools, if successful. This could also facilitate collaboration between school types.

Also, school leaders in Austria will need to benefit from greater support structures in the form of administrative support staff (see further below) and middle leaders (see further above on the development of a teacher career structure). Some countries, such as Chile, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, have established subject committees and teacher councils in schools that provide a structure to facilitate exchange and collaboration, for example (Santiago et al., 2016b; Santiago et al., forthcoming; Shewbridge et al., forthcoming).

Ensure that all teachers have opportunities for regular professional feedback and relevant professional learning

As highlighted above, teachers do not have sufficient opportunities for regular professional feedback, especially as they progress in their career. School principals should appraise their teachers, but owing to a heavy workload, appraisal often only focuses on beginning teachers. To strengthen school-based teacher appraisal and feedback it is important to enhance pedagogical leadership in schools as just described. This would imply improving school leader’s skills for effective observation, feedback and coaching.

In this context, it is also important to promote more distributed leadership and involvement of senior peers in regular teacher evaluation, classroom observation, and planning of professional development in line with a new conception of the teaching profession. Incentives could be provided for teachers to engage in informal observations of each other’s practices with the objective of fostering mutual learning among teachers. Younger teachers may also be able to support their senior peers, e.g. in using new technologies and media. These practices can clearly benefit from a new concept of teacher employment based on working hours (rather than teaching hours, see above) whereby the formal recognition of activities other than teaching at the school would promote collaborative work among teachers.

For teacher appraisal to have an impact on learning outcomes in the school, it needs to be closely connected to professional development. This link is not well established in Austrian schools. At the school level, teachers’ individual choices of professional development should be more strongly influenced by i) their own appraisal results and identification of areas for improvement, and ii) priorities of the school development plan and self-evaluation results from the SQA process. Effective teacher appraisal should give teachers a choice from a range of professional learning activities that meet their individual needs in relation to the priorities of the school’s overall development plan. The appraisal results of individual teachers should also be aggregated to inform school development plans. In order to guarantee the systematic and coherent application of school-based teacher appraisal across Austrian schools, it would be important to ensure external validation of the respective school processes (e.g. through the introduction of an individual school leader appraisal process).

Administrative and pedagogical support staff in schools

Find ways to increase the availability of both administrative and pedagogical support staff

In Austria, there are serious concerns about the lack of sufficient administrative and pedagogical support staff. As a result, school principals and teachers have to take over many of the related tasks. This takes away time and focus for teaching and learning, which teachers generally value very highly. As research suggests, teachers in general are typically motivated by the intrinsic benefits of teaching – working with children and young people, helping them to develop, and making a contribution to society – and structures need to ensure that teachers are able to focus on these tasks (OECD, 2005). Specialised pedagogical support, such as school psychologists, are not always easily available for students if needed. Considering the current need to integrate a large number of young refugees and asylum seekers into the education system, the need to provide more pedagogical support staff in schools might become more pressing in the near future. Also, the lack of administrative support staff will make it difficult to give schools greater autonomy as this implies more tasks and responsibilities for school leaders.

As suggested in Chapter 2, and also in the November 2015 reform proposal (schools are planned to be able to convert 5% of their teaching staff into pedagogical support staff), Austria should, therefore, find ways to increase the availability of both administrative and pedagogical support staff. This should not necessarily involve an increase in overall staff numbers, but involve a reflection of how human resources can be shifted to better meet schools’ and students’ needs. Most importantly, a reform of education governance which places the responsibility for human resources (and teachers and other pedagogical support staff, in particular) in one hand and gives schools a greater say for human resource decisions could help the responsible agencies develop a more strategic approach to the distribution of human resources that meets schools’ needs. Under the current system, provinces have an incentive to hire teachers at the expense of other pedagogical support staff as the number of required teachers is part of the negotiations of staff plans with the federal level. And although more pedagogical support personnel seem to be available in provincial schools despite this disincentive to hire such staff, provinces do not seem to target the recruitment of such staff at the schools with the greatest needs.

With regards to administrative staff, the lack of such staff seems greatest in provincial schools, even though there are concerns about an adequate supply at federal schools as well. For provincial schools, the current model of municipalities holding responsibility for financing and managing operational costs as school maintainers reflects that related expenditures depend on many diverse factors and local prices of inputs (e.g. the price of energy expenditure and communal services). It avoids trade-offs between investments in infrastructure (such as modern heating) and maintenance staff and it theoretically ensures proximity to the community for the local recruitment of administrative and maintenance staff, such as cleaners and janitors. However, like provinces in the case of pedagogical support staff, municipalities have little incentives to hire sufficient administrative support staff such as secretaries as costs for teachers that take over administrative tasks in the absence of such staff are covered by the provincial/federal levels. Also, different municipalities may have different means to finance and hire administrative support, thus possibly creating inequities between schools. If the policy options suggested in Chapter 2 are implemented, the employment of other pedagogical support staff could become part of the responsibilities of the new authority responsible for the employment of teachers, while schools could assume responsibility for the recruitment of administrative and maintenance staff, for example. But to limit the administrative burden on schools, the responsibility for the recruitment of administrative staff could also be delegated to the same level as the recruitment for teachers and other pedagogical staff.

If the streamlining of overall human resource responsibilities does not prove feasible, the federal authorities could take advantage of their power to set central policies and regulations. Federal authorities could consider the introduction of central standards or guidelines on minimum staff-teacher or staff-student ratios for pedagogical support staff and a minimum number of administrative staff for schools of a certain size. For pedagogical support staff, other contextual factors, such as the proportion of disadvantaged students, could also be taken into account to ensure that schools with the greatest needs have the support they require. Minimum regulations or guidelines could help ensure a baseline level of support in schools and work towards an equitable distribution of pedagogical and administrative support staff irrespective of school type and maintainer. Of course, in the case of administrative staff, under the current model of governance, potential inequities between municipalities and funding constraints by individual municipalities would have to be taken into account and be addressed in the case of provincial schools (e.g. through an equalisation mechanism, see Chapter 2). A further alternative lies in including decisions about the recruitment of pedagogical support staff in the negotiation of staff plans between the federal and the provincial authorities.

In addition, Austria could further test out innovative and cost-effective ways of organising schools and administrative and pedagogical support. If municipalities maintain their role as school maintainers, this could involve the collaboration of different municipalities, particularly in rural areas (e.g. through Schulgemeindeverbände). And schools could be encouraged to collaborate more with other social services and non-formal education initiatives to provide support for children and young people in a more open format.

Besides the implementation of steps to make more administrative and pedagogical support available in schools, there seems to be a need to clarify teachers’ roles and responsibilities as part of the new conception of teacher professionalism and the development of a teacher career structure. Teachers often seem to understand tasks related to student assessment, school self-evaluation and subject co-ordination as administrative tasks, even though such tasks should be seen as part of their involvement in school development. A new teacher career could also provide an opportunity for creating additional roles in the Austrian education system, such as school librarians and lab assistants, which could support teachers and students.


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← 1. The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

← 2. For federal schools, the collegiate board (Kollegien) of the provincial school board (Landesschulrat and Stadtschulrat in the case of Vienna) selects a shortlist of three candidates from all applications. The school community committee or the school forum (Schulforum) as well as the teaching staff representative body have the right to comment on the applications received and, while not binding for the collegiate board, these comments still form an important basis for the board’s decision‐making process. Ultimately, the education minister selects one candidate from the three‐candidate shortlist and proposes that candidate to the federal president for appointment. For provincial schools, the provincial government is responsible for selection and appointment through the office of the provincial government (Amt der Landesregierung) and the respective school department (Schulabteilung) of that office. According to the service code for provincial teachers, the regional boards of education (municipal board of education in Vienna) have the right to submit a shortlist of three candidates. School forums have the right to provide their opinion on the suitability of the candidates within three weeks, which is not binding, but needs to be considered by the board. In some provinces, the selection and appointment process may also involve the provincial school board. The province of Vienna, for example, has transferred its competencies for the appointment of its school principals to the provincial school board.

← 3. See

← 4. The domain “organisation of instruction” includes the following areas: student admissions; student careers; instruction time; choice of textbooks; choice of software/learningware; grouping of students; additional support for students; teaching methods; day-to-day student assessment.

← 5. Almost all 15-year-olds were in a school whose principal reported that “only school principals and/or teachers” or that “both school principals and/or teachers, and regional and/or national education authorities or the school governing board” chooses which textbooks are used (OECD average: 92.0%). Eighty-two percent of students were in a school whose principal reported that “only school principals and/or teachers” or that “both school principals and/or teachers, and regional and/or national education authorities or the school governing board” decided which courses are offered (OECD average: 81.8%), and 74.1% of students were in a school whose principal reported that “only school principals and/or teachers” or that “both school principals and/or teachers, and regional and/or national education authorities or the school governing board” determine the school’s course content (OECD average: 75.5%). 76.8% of students were in a school whose principal reported that “only school principals and/or teachers” orthat “both school principals and/or teachers, and regional and/or national education authorities or the school governing board” establish student assessment policies (OECD average: 87.1%).

← 6. Austria participated in a three-stage project on school leadership realised within the framework of collaboration between five countries (Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia) in form of the Central European Co-operation for Education (CECE), under co-ordination of the Tempus Public Foundation, and with support of the Hungarian Ministry of Education and the European Commission.

← 7. According to OECD PISA 2012, 14% of 15-year-olds were in a school whose principal reported that a lack of qualified mathematics teachers hindered student learning “to some extent” or “a lot” (OECD average: 17%); 16% of 15-year-olds were in a school whose principal reported that a lack of qualified science teachers hindered student learning “to some extent” or “a lot” (OECD average: 17%); 14% of 15-year-olds were in a school whose principal reported that a lack of qualified language-of-instruction teachers hindered student learning “to some extent” or “a lot” (OECD average: 9%); and 21% of 15-year-olds were in a school whose principal reported that a lack of qualified teachers of other subjects hindered student learning “to some extent” or “a lot”(OECD average: 21%).

← 8. The Court of  Audit stated in a recent report that at federallevel out of a total of 36 500 federal teachers (full-time equivalents) around 2 500 fulltime equivalents (i.e. about 6.8%) were withdrawn from teaching to execute functions of school leadership, administration and IT maintenance in 2011/12 (Rechnungshof 2013/5). The Court of Audit estimated cost savings of EUR 13 million per year if support functions at federal schools were executed by administrative staff instead of (more expensive) teaching staff.

← 9. The 2009/10 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey asked young people aged 11, 13 and 15 how often they had been bullying others and how often they had been bullied by others at school in the past couple of weeks. The children who took part in the survey were given the following definition of bullying: “We say a student is being bullied when another student, or a group of students, say or do nasty and unpleasant things to him or her. It is also bullying when a student is teased repeatedly in a way he or she does not like or when he or she is deliberately left out of things. But it is not bullying when two students of about the same strength or power argue or fight. It is also not bullying when a student is teased in a friendly and playful way.”

← 10. For further information, see (accessed 25 March 2016).

← 11. For further information, see (accessed 25 March 2016).

← 12. For further information, see (accessed 25 March 2016).

← 13. For further information, see (accessed 25 March 2016).

← 14. For further information, see (accessed 25 March 2016).