Requirements for appointment
The regulations pertaining to the management of public education institutions are laid down in the Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education (67-68. §) and in Government decree 326/2013. (VIII.30.) on Teacher Promotion System and on the Implementation of the Act XXXIII of 1992 on the Legal Status of Public Servants in Public Education Institutions. The following conditions must be met in order to be appointed as a head:
- tertiary qualification at the level required to fill a teacher’s job in the institution they lead, a Master degree in case of upper secondary schools,
- qualification in institution management, which can be obtained at a teacher’s post-graduate specialist examination,
- minimum of four years professional experience in a teaching position, or in a teaching assignment involving the teaching of ten lessons or sessions per week.
- permanent full-time employment in an educational institution or permanent full-time employment as a teacher at the same time as the assignment
Provisions concerning heads of VET institutions (technicums, vocational schools) are set out in Act LXXX of 2019 on Vocational Education and Training (§ 44 - § 46) and Government Decree 12/2020 (II.7) on the implementation of the Vocational Education and Training Act (§ 124 - § 133). To be appointed head of a VET institution, the applicant must meet the following conditions:
- higher education qualification required for a teaching post in the VET institution and, in the case of a technicum, a master's degree or, in the case of a vocational school, at least a bachelor's degree,
- qualification in institution management,
- at least one year's experience as a head of an institution, or at least 120 hours of training in educational administration,
- at least three years' professional experience as a teacher or as a part-time teacher for at least ten classes a week.
In multi-purpose institutions, the head must meet the necessary conditions required for the management of any of the types of education performed in the institution. If any of the conditions require a master's degree, then this is required for the appointment as head of the institution.
As for the management of institutions receiving students belonging to an ethnic minority and students with special educational needs, special rules apply. Where the language of pre-primary education or school education is exclusively performed in a minority language, or where more than half of the students are instructed in two languages, those may be appointed as heads who meet the conditions to fill a teacher’s position in the given institution . During selection, preference is given to the candidate belonging to the given ethnic minority. No such condition applies in the case of vocational institutions, but when appointing and withdrawing the head of a VET institution involved in national minority education, it is necessary to consult the national minority municipality.
Heads of institutions for children/students with special educational needs must have relevant qualifications to this type of institutions (qualification as a special needs teacher, conductor, conductor teacher or therapist).
In both cases above, the additional requirements of the position must be met in order to be appointed as a school head (professional qualification and the required time of teaching experience).
There are rules pertaining to conflict of interests in connection with the appointment of heads. The maintainer of the institution and managing executives of the maintainer may not be the head of the institution. In church and private institutions, the members of the board exercising maintainer’s rights and in institutions maintained by ethnic minority or local municipalities the members of the maintenance body are not subject to the above restriction, they may be appointed as the head of the institution.
Heads of the institutions can be appointed by a public tender. The teaching staff have the right of delivering an opinion on the application submitted by candidates, including the managerial programme of the candidate, which is data of public interest. The mandate of heads is for five years. The head is not required to apply for the second term if the maintainer, or, in the case of non-state institutions, the government office and two-third of the teaching staff agree with the appointment. In the case of disagreement, and for the third or following terms, it is necessary to announce a new call for application and, if the former head requests to stay in the position in the same institution, he/she has to reapply as well.
The person responsible for assigning heads depends on the type of the maintainer:
- The heads of schools maintained by school district centres are appointed by the Minister responsible for public education.
- The heads of VET institutions are appointed by the head of the VET institution maintenance centre in agreement with the minister responsible for vocational education and training. (The minister can only refuse consent in the event of violation of the law.)
- The head of church-run and private institutions is appointed by the maintainer exercising employer rights with the consent of the minister responsible for the given type of education. (The minister can only refuse consent in the event of violation of the law.) In the case of church-maintained and private institutions, the operator may appoint heads even without issuing a call for tender or any other procedure.
- Heads of institutions maintained by local or minority municipalities, the appointment of heads is decided by the councils of municipalities.
The work of the head of a public education institution is supported by persons with a senior management or management assignment. (Government Decree 326/2013. (VIII. 30.) on Teacher Promotion System and on the Implementation of the Act XXXIII of 1992 on the Legal Status of Public Servants in Public Education Institutions, § 21.)
Conditions of Service
Salary of School Heads
In public education, the most important element of a school head’s salary is the level achieved in the promotion system of teachers. The detailed rules (2-5. § and 27/A §) of the promotion system of teachers introduced from 1 September 2013 are included in the 326/203. (VIII.30.) Government Decree on Teacher Promotion System and on the Implementation of the Act XXXIII of 1992 on the Legal Status of Public Servants in Public Education Institutions. In addition to the level in the teacher’s career model, the other element of the wage is the salary category achievable within the level, which increases with the number of years spent in the career. Besides, school heads may also receive management allowance, the amount of which depends on the number of children and pupils.A teacher who previously worked as a school head for at least two cycles, may receive an “honorary principal” allowance if he/she continues to be employed by the institution after the expiration or termination of his/her term as a school head. The rate of the allowance is 25% of the former executive allowance.
The regulations enable heads to receive other salary supplements as well, e.g. the financial recognition of further degrees and/or professional qualifications provided that these can be utilised in the institution. As of 2020, the salary of school heads may receive additional incentive pay supplements, if school achievements in national measurements, or decrease of students at risk of dropping out, or results achieved in national study competitions, or the better integration of students with special educational needs, or the results achieved in institutional developments (proposed by the supervision authority) justify it.
The remuneration of the head of a member institution, the head of an institutional unit, the deputy head of an institution, the deputy head of a member institution, the deputy head of an institutional unit shall be determined in accordance with the legislation referred to in the case of the head of institution. The rate of the allowance is generally half the allowance for heads of institutions.
In a VET institution, a deputy head may be appointed to assist and substitute for the head. It is compulsory to appoint a deputy head responsible for specialised vocational education.
Heads of institutions run by universities, VET centres, as well as church and private institutions, fall under the provisions of the Labour Code, as they are not public servants. These provisions are applied by their employer within their own relations and possibilities.
The working hours of the school heads is set forth by the Labour Code, which is 40 hours a week in Hungary (92. §). Within the above frame, Act CXC on National Public Education (62. § and annex 5.), and 326/2013. (VIII.30.) government decree on Teacher Promotion System and on the Implementation of the Act XXXIII of 1992 on the Legal Status of Public Servants in Public Education Institutions (17-18. §) arranges for the working time schedule of school heads. For heads of VET institutions, the Decree on the implementation of the Vocational Education and Training Act (§ 126) applies. A traditional requirement of Hungarian education policy is that heads should not abandon practical education and teaching. Thus, in addition to discharging management duties, compulsory lessons stipulated by law must be delivered within the framework of full-time employment. The (weekly) number of compulsory lessons of heads depends on the school level and type, and the size of the institution (number of students). The difference may be quite significant (it may exceed 10 lessons).
- Heads of kindergartens must spend at least 6, and maximum 12 lessons with direct educational tasks, depending on the number of children.
- In basic and upper secondary schools, as well as basic and upper secondary institutions educating exclusively students with special educational needs, and basic level art education institutions the weekly number of lessons of heads is between 2 and 8.
- In dormitories, 4-10 hours per week are compulsory for the education or care of children
Deputy heads are obliged to work one and a half to two times as many hours more directly in education as their heads. Apart from this obligation, school heads are entitled to determine the use and schedule of their working time.
Recruitment and Professional Mobility
The heads of educational institutions consist of teachers, which can be considered natural from the aspect that the teacher degree and qualification is a basic criterion of applying for the position of a school head. The fact that the heads of educational institutions are from the adjacent geographic area (typically from the local area) is probably in connection with the fact that regional mobility is rather low throughout the country.
The first typical step to become a school head in Hungary is obtaining the necessary degree or qualification that may be missing or needed in the meantime, or obtaining a higher level of qualification (for example obtaining an upper secondary teacher degree in a single structure school, or raising the college degree entitling for ISCED2 level to a teacher degree entitling for ISCED 3). The next most frequent step is the participation in post-graduate specialist courses which enable teachers to perform special and high-level educational and teaching tasks (e.g. expert, mentor). In addition, a significant path of mobility according to the current practice is the participation in institution management courses, which has been a statutory requirement for appointment since 2013.
It is usual, if a candidate with a teaching qualification who has previously worked in the education governance, rather than in an educational institution, applying for a job as a head of a kindergarten or school. Application for kindergarten and school head position is enabled by that the teacher’s professional experience required for the appointment as a school head can be obtained in the field of educational governance, pedagogical assistance service or pedagogical professional service as well. This path two-way channel of professional mobility in the teaching profession, which is just as much a route to institutional leadership as it is a route from institutional leadership to these areas.
Hungarian teachers in public education, also including school heads, shall participate in 120 hours of teacher’s in-service training every seven years, based on the law (government decree 277/1997 on Teachers’ In Service Training, on the Professional Examination of the Teachers and on the Allowances and Benefits of In Service Training Participants (XII.22.) ) to upgrade their knowledge and skills. Heads of public educational institutions shall participate in trainings with the aim of gaining and deepening their leadership skills.
The mandatory in-service training can be achieved by taking a teacher’s post-graduate specialist examination (including public education management), which provides tertiary education attainment. (It should be mentioned that public administration and institution development are among the topics of compulsory study fields in all majors.)
Teachers in formal vocational education and training shall participate in at least 60 hours of teacher’s in-service training every four years, in accordance with the provisions of the VET Act (§ 50). There is no further training obligation for heads of VET institutions.
Gaining the an expert status in public education is also an opportunity for professional development. In public education, the National Register of Experts is maintained by the Educational Authority. Experts applying for the National Register of Experts can choose from 11 areas of expertise. (for example, educational governance, pedagogical assessment or equal opportunities), with several specialisations within them. A specialization may be the level of education, or a priority field of public education (such as integration of disadvantaged students, child and youth protection, academic and career guidance, groups of professions, etc.) The Register was extended in 2015 to include the special fields of pedagogical-professional supervision and teacher qualification.
The nationally unified rules of retirement are applying to the school heads as well. The age limit of old-age pension has been increasing since 2010 from 62 years of age to 65 years of age, which first applies to those born after 01.01.1957. Pension may be received after a service period of at least 20 years.
The appointment of school heads lasts a maximum of 5 years. The termination of an institutional head position in institutions maintained by school district centres and municipalities is regulated in the Act XXXIII of 1992 on the Legal Status of Public Servants in Public Education Institutions. Ways of termination:
- The head may resign from his/her term of office as head in writing, the period of notice is 2 months.
- The maintainer may also discharge the head in writing, with providing actual and reasonable justification. In case of a dispute, the employer must prove the justification and reasonableness of the dismissal.
The employment of the former head after resignation, dismissal and the end of the fixed term of the mandate, shall continue in the position in which he/she was previously appointed.
The Labour Code applies to schools maintained by VET Centres, universities, churches and foundations. In compliance with that, the regulation and practice relating to the dismissal of heads are determined by school maintainers to exercise employer’s right.