EU Policies on TE

Education and Training is one of the policy priorities of the European Union. And as the quality of the teacher is considered as the most crucial factor in the learning process of pupils and students, a considerable amount of policy documents and recommendations at the level of the Council of the European Union and the European Council is issued on the topic of teachers and teacher education

EU policy on Education & Training
The EU policies on education and training are formulated in the Education and Training 2010 Work Programme and its update Education and Training 2020.
Relevant document are listed below.

A strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’). Follow-up of the Education & Training 2010 Programme, May 2009

Progress report 2008

Progress report 2006

Progress report 2004

Detailed work programme on the follow-up of the objectives of Education and training systems in Europe. Work programme of the Council, 2002. (Education and Training 2010)

The concrete future objectives of education systems. Report from the European Commission, January 2001.

Recent policy documents on (teacher) education

The professional development of teachers and school leaders. Conclusions from the Council of the European Union, November 2009

Improving Competences for the 21st Century: An Agenda for European Cooperation on Schools. Communication from the European Commission, July 2009. 

Council conclusions on improving the quality of teacher education, November 2007.

Improving the quality of teacher education. Communication from the European Commission, August 2007.

Key competences for lifelong learning. Recommendation for the European Parliament and the Council, December 2006.

Common European Principles for Teacher Competences and Qualifications. Document from the European Commission, 2005.

The Open Method of Co-ordination

Although the European Union’s ambitions with respect to education are high, the authority of the European Council with respect to education is limited. The European Council has no legislative authority in the field of education. Legislation and regulations with respect to education and consequently with respect to teacher education, are the full responsibility of member states.
To support policies concerning education, a more in-direct strategy is used, called the Open Method of Co-ordination. This method is a way of co-ordinating and stimulating policy development at national levels by defining shared goals and timetables for reaching these goals, followed by a definition of qualitative and quantitative indicators and benchmarks, the development of national policy plans with targets, sharing of national experiences through peer learning and peer review and finally periodic monitoring and evaluation, both on the national and European levels

The open method of coordination in education and training. Document of the European Commission, 2007.

Examples of indicators in the area of education and training and the progress on these indicators can be found in the documents below.

Progress towards the common objectives in education and training – indicators and benchmarks. Performance and progress, 2004

A coherent framework of indicators and benchmarks for monitoring progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training. Council conclusions, 2007.

Progress on the E&T 2010 indicators and benchmarks 2009

Peer learning on teacher education policies

To stimulate policy development in member states, the Open Method of Co-ordination is support by a peer learning process, whereby both policy-makers and practitioners from one country learn, through direct contact and practical co-operation, from the experiences of their counterparts elsewhere in Europe in implementing reforms in areas of shared interest and concern. This peer learning is facilitated by peer learning activities (PLAs), thematic working conferences where specific policy issues are discussed through presentations of policy examples from the host country and other countries and where general conclusions are drawn.

Within the Education & Training 2010 agenda a number of peer learning groups have been created, one of which focuses on Teacher and Trainers. This cluster Teacher and Trainers has organized a number of peer learning activities. Below the reports on these peer learning activities can be found.

The EU peer learning process in the area of teachers and trainers has been evaluated by three members of the cluster in a paper for the TEPE conference 2008.


Other relevant documents


In 2008 and 2009 the OECD in co-operation with the European Commission started an international study on the learning environment and the working conditions of teachers in schools which aims to fill important information gaps in the international comparisons of education systems. The Teaching and Learning International Survey focuses on appraisal of teachers’ work in schools, the form and nature of the feedback they receive, teachers’ lifelong learning, teacher beliefs and attitudes and school leadership and management.
The first results of this Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) presenting data from are published in June 2009.

ETUCE: The Quality of Teacher Education, policy paper from the European Teacher Unions
The combined European teacher unions, collaborating in ETUCE/CSEE have issued a document on teacher education in Europe. Main message of the document is that initlal teacher education should be at master level, to enable teachers to face the challenges of the 21st century. The role of the teacher educators is crucial in this context, and the policy paper dedicates a separate section to address their qualifications and competences.
Another key message of the ETUCE policy paper is that continuous professional development must be an integral part of a teachers’ professional life. The policy paper also advocates for a more structured induction phase for the newly qualified teachers.
The ETUCE also recommends that measures are taken to improve teachers’ working conditions and working environment and that an increased effort is made to raise the status of teachers.

McKinsey: How the best performing education systems in the world come out on top. In 2007, McKinsey published a study in which 25 school systems, including the 10 top performing school systems, are compared. The study identifies aspects that make the top systems come out on top. These aspects are very closely related to teacher quality and cover:
• Selecting the right people to become a teacher
• Improving instruction through continuous professional development
• Creating systems and targeted support to ensure that every child benefits from excellent instruction.

OECD Teacher Matter Policy document from the OECD that gives the main elements of effective teacher policies.


Eurydice publication about Key Data on Education in Europe 2012: