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EU had 5.24 million school teachers in 2021

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In 2021, 5.24 million teachers were employed in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education in the EU (ISCED levels 1-3). To celebrate World Teachers’ Day, we are highlighting the most recent data on teachers.

As in previous years, women continued to make up the majority of the teaching workforce, accounting for 73% (3.8 million) of teachers employed in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education in 2021, while men accounted for 27% (1.43 million).

Infographic: School teachers in the EU in 2021, %

Source dataset: educ_uoe_perp01

In terms of age, in 2021, only 8% (393 428 teachers) of the total teaching workforce were younger than 30 years old in these three education levels in the EU. In contrast, 2.1 million teachers were 50 or older, accounting for 39% of teachers at these levels.

Almost half of the male teachers over 50 taught in upper secondary education

In primary and secondary education (ISCED levels 1-3), nearly half (46%) of the male teachers over 50 were teaching in upper secondary education, while 38% were teaching in lower secondary and less than one-fifth (16%) were teaching in primary education. 

For female teachers over 50 in ISCED levels 1-3, the split was more evenly distributed, with 40% teaching in primary education, 32% in lower secondary and 28% in upper secondary.

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Number of pupils per teacher averaged 12.1 in 2021

In the EU in 2021, the average number of pupils per teacher at primary, secondary and upper secondary levels - the ratio of pupils and students to teachers - was 12.1. This was a decrease of 0.2 percentage points compared with 2020 (12.3). 

The number of pupils per teacher has been decreasing since 2013 when this data collection became mandatory. In that year, the ratio was 13.3, indicating a 1.2 percentage point decrease compared with 2021. 

Bar chart: Ratio of pupils and students to teachers in primary to upper secondary education, 2021

Source dataset: educ_uoe_perp04

The highest ratios were reported in the Netherlands (16.4 pupils per teacher), France (14.9), Slovakia (14.3), Romania (14.1) and Ireland (13.4). Meanwhile, the lowest ratio was recorded in Greece (8.2), followed by Malta (8.7), Croatia (9.1), Belgium and Luxembourg (both 9.3). 

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Methodological notes

  • Primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education: levels defined in accordance with the ISCED classification.
  • The data on teachers and pupils used for the calculation is expressed in full-time equivalents. The comparability of pupil-teacher ratios across countries may be affected by differences in class size by grade and in the number of hours taught, as well as different school spatial distribution, practices on school shifts and multi-grade classes.
  • Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Slovenia: definition differs with regard to the ratio of pupils and students to teachers. Please see the metadata

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