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Eurydice

EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Germany

9.Teachers and education staff

9.2Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

The staff of pre-school establishments are employed by the respective maintaining bodies (local authorities, churches and privately-maintained bodies), and paid in accordance with rates negotiated under collective agreements. As a rule, privately-maintained bodies are not subject to a collective agreement. At present and in the next few years there will be huge demand for skilled staff in pre-school education in some of the Länder. The reasons for this are above all the expansion of day care for children under three years of age and measures for quality assurance in the early childhood education and care sector. To cover the additional demand, the Länder concerned have increased their training capacities.

The legal position of teachers with civil servant status at public-sector schools is regulated by the civil service legislation of the Länder. Provisions on the salaries and old-age pensions received by teachers are contained in the civil servants’ remuneration acts (Beamtenbesoldungsgesetze) and civil servants’ pensions acts (Beamtenversorgungsgesetze) of the Länder. The basic structures of the status-related rights and obligations of local authority and Land civil servants is regulated by the federal Civil Servants Status Act (Beamtenstatusgesetz – BeamtStG), which contains provisions inter alia on the cross-Länder secondment or transfer of civil servants.

The legal position of salaried teachers corresponds to general employment law as well as provisions under the collective wage agreement.

The Federation and the Länder can pass their own regulations for their area in order to guarantee performance levels, awards and allowances. Individual aspects of the terms and conditions of employment of teachers (e.g. compulsory hours and release from duties) and career matters (recruitment, transfer, secondment and promotion) are regulated at Land level through ordinances or administrative regulations issued by the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs. A list of regulations of the Länder is available on the website of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz).

Planning Policy

Teacher demand in Germany differs by Land, school type and subject.

In some of the Länder, it will probably not be possible to meet the demand in certain regions for individual types of teaching posts and for certain subjects in the coming years. This is mostly due to the fact that there will be a large number of retirements from schools compared to an insufficient number of students entering study courses leading to a teaching qualification.

The Länder have adopted a wide range of measures to cover the demand for teachers, which varies according to subjects and the type of school. These measures include:

  • advertising measures to increase the number of new students in the teacher training field
  • expansion of study places
  • advertising campaigns for entry to the Vorbereitungsdienst (preparatory service) and offers of employment for those who have completed preparatory service
  • further training for teachers in order to provide teaching in subjects where the demand for teachers is particularly high
  • additional periods of access to the preparatory service
  • measures for increasing the geographical mobility of teachers
  • measures for the recruitment of higher education graduates without formal teacher training
  • optimisation of employment procedures
  • increase of the capacities of teacher training institutes
  • provision of wider access to the preparatory service for higher education graduates with Diplom and Magister degrees

In 2009 the Länder furthermore adopted joint guidelines to cover teacher requirements in order to ensure sufficient teaching staff which also provide for the required study places and the necessary capacities in the preparatory service. The measures agreed include, among others,

  • the development of a model calculation of teacher demand and teacher supply in the Federal Republic of Germany (Lehrereinstellungsbedarf und -angebot in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland), which is to be updated every two years or so
  • measures to ensure the required capacities for teacher-training study places and the preparatory service
  • exchange of information between the Länder on the likely development of teaching staff requirements and on measures to cover these

Since December 2018, the model calculation of teacher demand and teacher supply in the Federal Republic of Germany – summarized model calculations of the Länder (Lehrereinstellungsbedarf und -angebot in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland – Zusammengefasste Modellrechnungen der Länder) has been published annually. The report is based on Länder data and combines the current estimate of the demand for teachers in the various types of teaching career over the next few years with a forecast of students completing the Zweite Staatsprüfung (Second State Examination). The starting point for determining overall demand is the number of teachers considered necessary for existing and projected pupil numbers up to 2035. This should allow an assessment of how far demand for teachers in the various types of teaching career will be met by supply in the different Länder up to the year 2035. Summing up, the result of the model calculation is:

There are differences between the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany in the relationship between teacher recruitment needs and supply. For "general education subjects at upper secondary level or the Gymnasium", there will be an oversupply throughout Germany in the next few years. In all other teaching professions, the figures suggest that there will be a need, in some cases a considerable one.

The differentiation according to types of teaching careers and the subject-specific demand show that the problem of unfilled posts will continue to exist in all Länder. The situation remains tense for the teaching career "vocational subjects at upper secondary level or at vocational schools“ – especially in the eastern German Länder – as well as for the special education teaching career, where the demand is higher than the supply. However, there are also major bottlenecks in the "teaching careers at all or individual types of lower secondary schools".

The average annual need to recruit teachers will increase in almost all teaching fields. The main reasons for this are the consequences of changing birth rates and further immigration. However, the supply of teachers will also increase for the most part.

Entry to the Profession

Following successful completion of their Vorbereitungsdienst (preparatory service) newly-qualified teachers can apply for permanent employment at public-sector schools. Depending on the Land, the application should be sent to the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs or to the school supervisory authority responsible. A decision on recruitment is taken centrally on the basis of job vacancies and according to the criteria of aptitude, qualifications and record of achievement. In some Länder, some of the positions are also advertised with the profile of a particular school in mind and the respective school takes part in selecting the applicants. In such cases, the applications are sometimes to be sent directly to the respective school, however, the appointment is not made by the school itself but by the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs or by the school authority that reports to it. Successful applicants are usually appointed as civil servants on probation. The probationary period, which for teachers, as a rule, has a duration of 2.5 years (higher service) or three years (senior service), and which under certain circumstances may be reduced or extended (up to five years at the most), serves to test and determine the probationary further review of applicants with regard to his future appointment as a permanent civil servant. Salaried teachers have a six-month probationary period. In Berlin, at present teachers are only recruited as salaried employees. In Sachsen, fully trained teachers have been employed as civil servants since the beginning of 2019; this measure is currently limited until the end of 2030. In Thüringen, newly recruited teachers have been employed as civil servants again since 2017.

All graduates of preparatory service in a teaching career meeting the requirements of the Standing Conference’s agreements are to be given equal professional access to the type of teaching career corresponding to their degree.

Induction

The organisation of the induction period for newly qualified teachers has been a central topic of the Gemischte Kommission Lehrerbildung of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs. According to the recommendations the expert commission made in 1999, the provisions for the deployment of young teaching staff are to aim at a gradual development of professional competence. Furthermore, a system of support for the induction period for newly qualified teachers is to be established, including measures of in-service training particularly adjusted to the needs of newly qualified teachers. In the majority of Länder, concepts are currently being developed or have been put into practice for the organisation of the induction period. In the case of didactical and methodical problems, especially newly qualified teachers have the option to ask training staff from teacher training institutes or institutions for in-service teacher training for advice.

Professional Status

Teachers at public-sector schools in the Länder in western Germany are usually civil servants employed by the Länder. According to the career structures for civil servants, teachers are, as a rule, classified as belonging to either the higher service (gehobener Dienst) or the senior service (höherer Dienst) or to a specific entry-level office. According to the entry status of the respective teaching careers, teachers at Grundschulen and Hauptschulen as well as at Realschulen come under the higher service and teachers at Gymnasien and vocational schools under the senior service.

For teachers at special education institutions, regulations vary between the Länder. Once a teacher has proved his suitability and aptitude in the probationary period (two and a half to three years depending on the career structure, one and a half to two years in Bayern), he or she is appointed as a permanent civil servant.

The majority of teachers in the Länder of eastern Germany – with the exception of Brandenburg and Thüringen – currently hold the status of salaried employees.

Teachers in the Länder of western Germany can be taken on as salaried employees on the basis of fixed-term or open-ended employment contracts as well. This form of employment may be used in order to provide replacement for teaching staff who are on leave or sick and in cases where the requirements for civil servant status are not met.

Replacement Measures

Faced with the need to provide cover for absent teachers, the head teacher first of all can rely on existing teaching staff. According to the general civil service regulations in effect, teachers are under obligation to temporarily perform extra work for which initially no financial compensation is awarded. If the number of periods teachers are required to spend in class is exceeded by more than three periods per month, extra work compensation may be granted. In Sachsen, the special regulation that overtime pay is granted for the entire amount of overtime worked in the case of ordered or approved overtime for teaching activities still applies until the end of 2023. Extra work compensation for the single lesson is regulated by ordinances of the Länder.

Long term absences, such as maternity protection, parental leave, longer-term employment ban or sick leave of several months, may be covered by the appointment of teachers on a temporary contract. Another measure of providing cover for absent teachers can be the temporary merging of classes or courses, which is possible, however, in special cases only. The regulations for the duration of this measure vary between the Länder.

Supporting Measures for Teachers

If problems arise in relationships with colleagues or pupils, all teachers can turn to the head teacher. In the case of difficulties with other colleagues, teachers can turn to the staff council responsible for the school. In the case of a conflict with pupils, besides consulting the head teacher, teachers can call in the parents‘ council (Elternbeirat) or the lower-level school supervisory authorities (Schulrat, Schulamtsdirektor). This last option also exists if problems with colleagues cannot be solved on the level of the school. In the case of difficulties with colleagues or pupils that result from personality disorder or in the case of burnout, the school psychologist can be consulted. Various health prevention measures are offered to prevent burnout.

Salaries

Pedagogical staff in early childhood education and care

Erzieherinnen and Erzieher (state recognised youth or child-care workers) are generally paid in remuneration group S8a of the Collective Agreement for the Public Sector (Tarifvertrag für den öffentlichen Dienst – TVöD), with the salary levels of this remuneration group being based on professional experience. Erzieherinnen and Erzieher who already have professional experience are allocated to level 2 as a rule. Higher levels are achieved only after several years with the same employer. Employees in establishments bound by collective wage agreements are significantly better off than those in establishments not bound by collective wage agreements.

In public day care facilities for children, the average gross monthly salary for the pedagogical staff in 2021 was Euro 3,900 according to the Educational Finance Report. The expenditure in the Länder varies between Euro 3,800 and Euro 4,100.

Teachers

For the remuneration of teachers with salaried employee status the provisions of the Collective Agreement for the Public Sector of the Länder (TV-L) apply. In Berlin teachers are currently only recruited as salaried employees; the reintroduction of civil servant status for newly recruited teachers is planned for 2022. Sachsen has decided that from 2019 to 2023 for the time being newly hired teachers with complete training can be civil servants. In Thüringen, newly recruited teachers have been employed as civil servants again since 2017. In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the possibility of employment as civil servant exists.

Provisions on the remuneration of teachers are contained in the civil servants’ remuneration acts (Beamtenbesoldungsgesetze) of the Länder. The following illustration of salaries for civil servants reflects the situation in the majority of Länder.

As civil servants, teachers as a rule are classified – depending on their training – under the higher or senior service or a specific entry-level office. Following their studies and the Vorbereitungsdienst (preparatory service), teachers are usually placed on scales A 12 or A 13. Taking some of the teaching careers described elsewhere as a basis, the general allocation of salary groups and possibilities of promotion are outlined below:

Teachers at Grundschulen        

A12

A 13

Teachers at Hauptschulen     A 12
Teachers at Realschulen    

A 12

A 13

Teachers at special

education institutions
    A 13
Teachers at Gymnasien Studienrat   A 13 (plus post allowance)
  with scope for promotion to: Oberstudienrat A 14
    Studiendirektor A 15
Teachers at

vocational schools
Studienrat   A 13 (plus post allowance)
  with scope for promotion to: Oberstudienrat A 14
  Studiendirektor   A 15

There are teachers in some Länder who are not trained for a particular type of school but for a certain school level (primary, lower secondary and upper secondary). These teachers are as a rule allocated to the salary groups as follows:

Teachers holding a primary

level teaching certificate 
    A 12

A 13
Teachers holding a teaching

certificate for the

lower secondary level   
  Starting A 12
    On promotion A 13
Teachers holding a teaching

certificate for the

upper secondary level


Studienrat
 

A 13 (plus post allowance)
  with scope for promotion to Oberstudienrat A 14
    Studiendirektor A 15

The remuneration received by teachers with civil servant status consists of a basic salary, family allowance and other allowances. The basic salary depends on the salary group and the salary grade. When a teacher first becomes a civil servant, he usually starts out on grade 3-5, moving up to the next salary grade after two years initially, and then every three, four or five years. The teachers’ performance, as well as his experience, is to be considered before promoting them to the next salary grade. The highest salary grade, depending on the pay seniority set at the time of a teacher becoming a civil servant, will be reached between the ages of 50 and 55.

The family allowance varies according to the salary group and the family circumstances of the civil servant. Level 1 relates to the family situation of the civil servant, while levels 2 and above relate to the number of children he or she has.

Allowances may be provided for certain extra responsibilities.

The remuneration may also include a so-called annual special payment, the amount of which Federation and Länder are free to determine for their respective sectors. The special payment is paid either per month or per year. In some Länder the annual special payment has been abolished; in others it has been incorporated into the basic salary. In addition to the annual special payment, a special payment can be made for each child.

Tax is deducted from civil servants' gross salaries but, unlike for salaried employees, no social security contributions (pension, health and unemployment insurance) are deducted. Pension and unemployment insurance deductions do not apply because of teachers' civil servant status, under which they are entitled to retirement benefits. Health insurance contributions vary from case to case because civil servants usually have private health insurance, charges for which are not standard. In the event of illness, the employer grants his civil servants allowances. The civil servants' obligation to take out health insurance is limited to treatment costs that are not covered by the allowances.

The remuneration received by teachers with civil servant status is regularly adjusted by law to keep pace with the general economic and financial situation, taking into account the degree of responsibility associated with the duties of a civil servant. These adjustments correspond largely to the pay settlements for workers and salaried employees in the public sector.

As an illustration there follows a calculation of entry-level salary, salary after 15 years of professional experience and final salary of a teacher as a national average by education sector. The calculation is based on the legally or contractually agreed annual salaries of all teachers at public-sector schools. It includes allowances and special payments. The examples assume that the teachers have no children and are unmarried and that they are thus not entitled to a family allowance or to special payments for children.

Teacher at a Grundschule

a) The Grundschule teacher receives the starting salary. His gross annual salary in the school year 2021/2022 is Euro 55,551.

b) The Grundschule teacher has 15 years of professional experience. His gross annual salary in the school year 2021/2022 is Euro 67,605.

c) The Grundschule teacher receives the maximum salary. His gross annual salary in the school year 2021/2022 is Euro 72,349.

Teacher at lower secondary level

a) The teacher at lower secondary level receives the starting salary. His gross annual salary in the school year 2021/2022 is Euro 61,457.

b) The teacher at lower secondary level has 15 years of professional experience. His gross annual salary in the school year 2021/2022 is Euro 73,431.

c) The teacher at lower secondary level receives the maximum salary. His gross annual salary in the school year 2021/2022 is Euro 80,078.

Teacher at upper secondary level

a) The teacher at upper secondary level receives the starting salary. His gross annual salary in the school year 2021/2022 is Euro 64,010.

b) The teacher at upper secondary level has 15 years of experience. His gross annual salary in the school year 2021/2022 is Euro 76,317.

c) The teacher at upper secondary level receives the maximum salary. His gross annual salary in the school year 2021/2022 is Euro 87,323.

Working Time and Holidays

Working hours

The working hours of teachers comprise lessons and other responsibilities which teaching involves and which are very time-consuming and require considerable effort (e.g. preparing and reviewing lessons, marking pupils' work, attending meetings and organising and taking part in school trips and parents' evenings).

The number of periods which teachers are required to spend in class varies from one type of school to another as well as from Land to Land. A period is generally 45 minutes long. The following figures for the 2021/2022 school year serve as an example and are confined to types of school to be found in the majority of Länder:

Grundschule 26 to 28  periods per week
Hauptschule 26,5 to 28  periods per week
Realschule 24 to 28  periods per week
Schularten mit mehreren Bildungsgängen 23 to 27 periods per week
Gymnasium 22.2 to 28  periods per week
Gesamtschule 21.4 to 28  periods per week
Förderschulen 25 to 32  periods per week
Vocational schools 21 to 32  periods per week

In addition, the number of periods which teachers are required to give varies according to the type of school and also varies according to teaching qualifications and the subjects taught (e.g. the number of periods is higher for artistic/cultural and practical subjects). Teachers are also entitled to have the number of periods reduced for performing certain duties (such as administrative work in the case of head teachers and their deputies). In addition, the number of periods is also reduced for members of staff carrying out special tasks (e.g. teacher training, preparation of timetables and stand-in schedules, running of libraries for teachers and pupils and involvement in the work of pupils' representative bodies as a pupils' council advisor) as well as an age-related reduction of one to three periods a week from the age of 55 at the earliest. 

Because of the current fluctuations in the overall number of pupils, the increasing shortage of public spending, the rising average age of teaching staff, and the new tasks schools are required to perform, e.g. the further development of offers for intramural all-day supervision, some Länder have established planning groups which are to discuss alternative concepts for the regulation of teachers’ working time. Several Länder have by now introduced special models for teachers’ working time (working time accounts, model of anticipated teaching periods) which are to adjust the working time of teachers flexibly to the fluctuations in pupil numbers: For some years, teachers will have to teach one additional period. At a later date, the number of periods they are required to teach will be reduced by one period for the same duration of time.

Holidays

Entitlement to leave for teachers with civil servant status is based on general civil service regulations. Annual leave is taken during the school holidays. Periods of holiday which extend beyond leave entitlement are used for in-service training, for preparing and reviewing lessons, for other professional duties such as organisational preparations for the new school year and for compensation for extra work during teaching time extending beyond the standard working time in civil service. For salaried teachers, the corresponding regulations under collective agreements on wages apply.

Promotion, Advancement

Before a change in the status as civil servant takes place, for example a promotion, the professional performance of the teacher is assessed. In some Länder, teachers are assessed not only before a change in the civil servant status takes place but at regular intervals. The Ministries of Education and Cultural Affairs have issued appraisal guidelines for assessing teachers at public-sector schools. The guidelines lay down who is responsible for teachers' appraisals, state the reasons for them and when they should be carried out and specify the form such appraisals should take and what is done with them. Under these guidelines, an appraisal must cite the basis for assessment (e.g. talk with the teacher concerned, performance report by head teacher, visit to lesson) and the assessment criteria (knowledge of subject, teaching record, professional conduct). Apart from an overall verdict on the teacher's performance up to that point, the assessment usually ends with proposals on his future career. The professional performance of teachers who are employed as salaried employees is, as a rule, not regularly assessed.

The only relevant criteria for promotion are aptitude, qualifications and record of achievement, and not length of service. In the majority of Länder, senior positions may be established only in such cases where the functions associated with them are of tangibly greater value than those of the lower salary group. This means that nobody can be promoted to a higher scale or salary group without a change in his responsibilities or position.

Additionally, teachers may apply for the post of head teacher or, provided the teacher has the required aptitude, qualifications and record of achievement, be employed as a member of staff responsible for supervision of schools.

Teachers with civil service status who wish to work at a school in another Land within the Federal Republic require the consent of the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs responsible for their old school and that of the receiving Land. In an agreement adopted in May 2001, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder laid down two procedures for the Transfer of Teachers between Länder (Übernahme von Lehrkräften aus anderen Ländern). On the one hand, teachers can now participate at any time in the application procedure in another Land. In addition, they can apply for a posting in a different Land within the scope of the exchange procedure that was already in existence before the agreement of May 2001. This agreement is aimed, amongst other things, at increasing the mobility of teachers in Germany.

Salaried teachers are not bound by the regulations named; the contractually agreed notice periods apply for them if they wish to change to the education authority of another Land.

Transfers

A teacher with civil servant status may be transferred to another school if he or she applies to do so or if there are good professional reasons for a transfer. Teachers may be transferred without their consent only in cases where the new school is answerable to the same authority as the old one and the new position belongs to the same or an equivalent career structure as the present post and attracts the same final basic salary. Good professional reasons for a transfer may be deemed to exist when schools have amalgamated, or the number of teaching positions has been reduced owing to declining school rolls. The reason may also be directly connected to the teacher, such as his/her being considered suitable for other duties. A transfer will always be the consequence where it is the only way to bring a teacher's duties into line with his position. The responsibilities of a civil servant towards his employer mean that the teacher must accept a transfer even if it does not accord with his wishes. However, the school supervisory authority is required to consider significant personal circumstances which may make a transfer unreasonable (e.g. advanced age or poor health).

Dismissal

A teacher with civil servant status can only be dismissed – unless he or she demands his own resignation – under extraordinary circumstances:

  • if he loses his German citizenship or citizenship of another member state of the European Community
  • if he refuses to swear the oath of office prescribed by law or to take a vow prescribed in its place
  • if through the verdict of a German court of law in a criminal case he has been sentenced to a specific term of imprisonment

Disciplinary proceedings can also result in dismissal. Dismissal is possible during the probationary period if a teacher does not prove himself or if he commits a deed which, if committed by a permanent civil servant, would result in disciplinary measures as part of formal disciplinary proceedings.

Salaried teachers can terminate their working relationship under observance of the contractually agreed notice periods. Their contract of employment can also be terminated by the employer for reasons that lie within the individual themselves or that result from their behaviour, as well as for other reasons; the notice periods also have to be observed in such a case. The length of the notice period is proportional to the length of service.

Retirement and Pensions

Until 2012 teachers retired at the end of the school year or the term (half year) preceding or following their 65th birthday.

Since 2012 the standard retirement age is gradually being raised, first by one month per age group, and from 2024 by two months per age group, so that, as a rule, those born in 1964 will retire at the age of 67. In Rheinland-Pfalz, teachers are exempt from this regulation.

It is possible for teachers to apply for early retirement without proving that they are unfit for work from age 63 onwards or – for the severely disabled – from age 60 onwards.

In 2017, the following regulations generally apply to the provision of teachers with civil service status:

Any civil servant who has worked for at least five years is entitled to a pension. However, there is no minimum service requirement in cases where the teacher was prevented from carrying out his duties, for instance through illness. The pension is calculated on the basis of the basic salary, the family allowance and the pensionable allowances which the civil servant was receiving at the end of his service. The pension amounts to just less than 1.8 per cent of eligible earnings for each year of service which is counted towards superannuation, ranging from a minimum of 35 per cent up to a maximum of 71.75 per cent of pensionable pay.

The retirement pension of salaried teachers is regulated in Book Six of the Social Code (Sechstes Buch Sozialgesetzbuch – Gesetzliche Rentenversicherung)). It corresponds to the amount of the pension contributions made and the length of time over which they were paid. In addition to the old-age pension, salaried teachers receive an additional pension from the Federal and State Government Employees' Retirement Fund (Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder - VBL).