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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Primary education


5.Primary education

Last update: 26 September 2022


In Austria, general compulsory schooling starts on 1 September following a child’s sixth birthday. In the first four school years, compulsory schooling is generally accomplished by attending primary school. Primary school has the mission to provide a common primary education for all pupils in the first four school years with due consideration of the social integration of children with disabilities.

Language of instruction

The language of instruction in Austria is German. The following exceptions apply:

  • schools specifically designated for linguistic minorities,
  • private schools which select their pupils by language,
  • schools which – upon approval by the school authority of first instance – use a modern foreign language as their language of instruction (working language).

Teacher education and training

When the Federal Act on the New Teacher Training Scheme 2013 entered into force in July 2013, this marked the beginning of the implementation phase of the new teacher training programmes in Austria. These new programmes are provided both by university colleges of teacher education and by universities, which cooperate closely to provide teacher training programmes at tertiary level. Four regional development alliances have been set up to implement the new teacher training scheme. For the primary sector (6- to 10-year-olds), the new training scheme was launched nationwide on 1 October 2015. The new teacher training scheme for the primary sector replaces previous programmes to acquire a teaching diploma for primary schools or a teaching diploma for special needs schools.

The specialist areas of the study course for the primary level comprise the following areas:

  • general educational fundamentals,
  • primary level pedagogy and primary level didactics,
  • as well as practical teaching experience.

Applicants for the new teacher training programmes at university colleges of teacher education and universities need to complete an aptitude and admission procedure in several stages.

The study course comprises the following programmes:

Students enrolled in teacher training programmes for primary level are obliged to select a special focus. Possible special focuses include “Inclusive education with focus on disabilities” and also “Primary level pedagogy and didactics”.

Graduates enter the world of work in a one-year induction phase as laid down in employment legislation provisions, during which they are assisted by a mentor.

Teachers count among public servants.

Education policy focuses

The focus of the current education policy in the primary sector is on:

  • enhancing equality of opportunity in access to education irrespective of the first language or a disability,
  • newly regulating the transition from kindergarten to primary school by recording and considering the level of development and language skills of each individual child with a view to individual support,
  • extending school autonomy in decisions regarding the organisation of teaching (classes with homogeneous or heterogeneous age groups) and the pupils’ performance assessment (numerical marks or descriptions),
  • extending all-day schools.

Of the 2,930 primary schools in Austria (school year: 2020/21), more than 97 percent are public schools. Their maintenance is almost exclusively within the sphere of competence of the respective municipalities or associations of municipalities. The remaining four percent are private schools maintained by religious communities (mostly the Roman Catholic Church) and various associations. Public compulsory schools do not charge tuition fees. For public transport, a contribution of EUR 19.60 needs to be paid per pupil and school year. School textbooks are procured by the schools (in primary schools up to a value of EUR 50) and provided free of charge to the children.

Legislation references