Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Management staff for early childhood and school education


10.Management and other education staff

10.1Management staff for early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Early childhood care and education (ECEC) can be provided in ECEC centres or in family daycare. Pre-primary education for 6-year-olds is either provided in conjunction with basic education or at ECEC centres. Responsibility for the operations of an ECEC centre lies with the head of the ECEC centre, who is assisted by a deputy head when necessary.

Responsibility for the operations of basic education schools and upper secondary schools rests with principals (school heads), who are assisted by vice principals. In addition, vocational institutions also have heads of departments responsible for the running of different departments.

Requirements for appointment

The qualification requirements for heads of ECEC centres are a teacher in ECEC qualification and sufficient leadership competences. If the post is an administrative post and does not involve work with the children or providing professional support to staff, the qualification requirement is a master’s degree in a relevant field and leadership competences.

In basic and upper secondary education and training principals are generally required to hold a master’s degree and teaching qualifications for the level of education in question. In addition, they are required to have appropriate work experience and a certificate in educational administration or sufficient knowledge of educational administration.

There are no formal qualification requirements for vice-principals or department heads. As they are generally appointed from among the teaching personnel of the school, they hold teacher qualifications.

Conditions of service


Principals and heads of ECEC centres are recruited through an open process, and vacant posts are advertised publicly. The education providers set the criteria to be observed as part of each selection procedure.

Salaries are agreed on in a collective bargaining process with a few years’ interval. The salaries of heads of ECEC centres and principals vary according to the type and size of the institution. Salaries may also be affected by merits such as a higher academic degree i.e. licentiate or doctor’s degree.

The working time of heads of ECEC centres is 38 hours and 15 minutes per week. Most principals in basic and upper secondary education and training follow overall working hours. Overall working hours primarily refer to the public administration office hours (8.00–16.15). These are deviated from according to the stipulations in the collective agreements. Thus, the overall working hours are followed where applicable, bearing in mind the special nature of the principals’ work, which may also require flexibility.

The regulations concerning dismissal, retirement and in-service training are similar to those for teaching personnel.