The continuing education and training (CET) of kindergarten teachers is regulated in provincial law. There is an obligation to undergo continuing education and training in nearly all federal provinces. The extent varies between two and five days per year. There are also different regulations regarding whether in-service training is to be completed during or outside of service time. The selection of contents for the continuing education and training offers, which are usually in the form of courses, training programmes or workshops, is done in consultation with the management of the child education establishment. In-service training events are offered by:
- the competent bodies of provincial governments (departments for in-service training),
- the providers of kindergartens (such as Caritas, the municipality, diocesan administrations),
- large CET providers (e.g. adult education centres and CET institutions of the social partners, WIFI and bfi) and
- university colleges of teacher education (Pädagogische Hochschulen).
The events are usually funded by the organisers, contributions can be collected.
In order to support language promotion measures, the course “Early language promotion” is offered at university colleges of teacher education throughout Austria with a total of 6 ECTS. According to the agreement pursuant to Art. 15a B-VG between the Federal Government and the federal provinces on early childhood education for the kindergarten years 2022/23 to 2026/27, all teachers employed in early language promotion must, if possible, complete the qualification for early language promotion according to this course. Likewise, the above-mentioned agreement provides for two compulsory continuing education and training days per kindergarten year.
Teachers at primary and secondary level
Continuing professional development measures mean all personal development, in-depth subject-specific or occupational field-related offers which serve the purpose of
- the professionalisation of teachers,
- improving teaching quality
- and developing the school.
While in-service training is not primarily a matter of obtaining further qualifications and authorisations but rather acquiring, adapting, deepening or extending professional competences, continuing education and training offers lead to additional qualifications which are often also connected with new authorisations (e.g. training to become a mentor for the induction period).
Since the school year 2014/2015 a new Service Code has been in effect (cf. 2013 Amendment to the Service Code). The new Service Code applies to all teachers who entered the school service (primary and secondary level) since school year 2019/2020.
According to the old Service Code, the following regulations apply with regard to continuing professional development:
- According to the Service Act for teachers employed by provinces, teachers at general compulsory schools, i.e. at primary and lower secondary level, are required to take part in in-service training events for 15 hours (as part of the annual standard). This in-service training is compulsory and, preferably, must be fulfilled when there are no lessons.
- Teachers at intermediate and upper secondary schools at federal level (i.e. at upper secondary level) in an employment relationship under public law are then obliged to participate in courses if this is required in the interests of the service. Continuing professional development is therefore an employment obligation but this is not quantified (i.e. there is no defined minimum duration). There is no obligation to undergo personal development.
According to the new Service Code, all teachers – irrespective of the school at which they teach and which subject they teach – are obliged to undergo part-time further development measures to improve their profession-oriented competences. By order they are required to attend in-service training events for up to 15 hours per school year while there are no lessons. In-service training programmes may be connected with an omission from teaching only if in the significant interest of the service. [More]
Regarding the organisation of continuing professional development activities, they can be offered
- either for teachers of a school (in-house in-service teacher training – schulinterne Lehrer-Fortbildung or SCHILF)
- or for several schools (in-service teacher training for various schools – schulenübergreifende Lehrer-Fortbildung or SCHüLF).
There are also regional, province-wide and nationwide offers as well as subject-specific and interdisciplinary programmes. The main themes of continuing professional development activities cover a wide spectrum. The focuses are in the areas of general pedagogy, subject-specific academic theory, subject-specific didactics and personal development.
Continuing professional development events are primarily offered by university colleges of teacher education (PHs). Information on nationwide offers is published on the website of the Education Ministry. Teachers can register for these events via the system ‘PH-Online’ in order (depending on the duration of the event) to be granted leave by the school management or the school supervision to attend this event.
The specific design of the continuing professional development offers is the responsibility of the respective PHs themselves. However, in the form of decrees, the Education Ministry defines the essential framework conditions:
- The ‘Decree on Continuing Professional Development of Teachers at University Colleges of Teacher Education’ (from 2007) regulates the basic tasks of continuing professional development (CPD), in addition the organisation and scheduling of CPD courses and also the quality assurance and quality development in this area.
- The decree ‘Quality of Continuing Professional Development of Teachers at University Colleges of Teacher Education’ (from 2011) defines quality standards for CPD.
- With the decree ‘Focuses in the Area of Continuing Professional Development from 2014 – 2018 at University Colleges of Teacher Education (from 2014) longer-term focuses on CPD are set out.
Incentives, supporting measures and funding for participation in continuing professional development (CPD) activities
In Austria there are no monetary incentives (such as allowances) for people to take part in continuing vocational education and training (CVET) events. This concerns both the field of early childhood education and also the primary and secondary level of pedagogy. The main motivation for participation is to keep subject-related knowledge up to date or obtain better qualifications for a future application (such as school head).
There are no uniform national provisions on the coverage of costs for continuing education and training. However, many courses are organised free of charge or with a very low co-payment by the further training institutions of the provinces or legal entities.
The university colleges of teacher education are also increasingly offering continuing education and training courses for early childhood education staff, such as the university course “Early language promotion” or courses on transition support. Programmes offered at university colleges of teacher education are free of charge. In addition, all provinces offer advice or training in the field of language promotion in ECEC services / institutions, often in cooperation with the university colleges of teacher education.
Teachers at primary and secondary level
Certain activities and functions which teachers are able to carry out in addition to their teaching work require the completion of compulsory continuing education and training programmes (e.g. mentor work as part of the induction period, educational counselling and career guidance at schools). These activities/functions are also connected with financial allowances.
Continuing professional development in the area of early childhood education is financed with provincial funds, in the area of primary and secondary level pedagogy federal/provincial funds are used. The funds are provided directly to the provider establishment so that participation is free of charge for the teachers.