Ensuring attractive working conditions
Research evidence shows that adequate working conditions for staff, for example manageable group sizes and competitive salaries, affect staff job satisfaction and retention, which in turn contributes to the overall quality of the system (OECD, 2012). Competitive wages attract professional staff, increase their job satisfaction and performance, and may result in lower staff turnover rates (CCL, 2006). In Latvia, however, ECEC staff face high workloads and low salaries. These conditions have contributed to ECEC teacher shortages in the larger cities (MoES, 2015) despite several municipalities offering higher wages on top of the minimum salary funded by the state.
Since 2009, the introduction of the Assessment System for Teacher Performance (see Box 3.1, Chapter 3) has enabled ECEC teachers to receive an additional allowance based on their performance. Teachers who have been assessed as performing at levels 3, 4 or 5 receive an allowance of 8%, 20% and 25% respectively on top of their monthly salary. The evidence from our review suggests that these performance allowances have had a motivating effect on at least some of the ECEC work force.
in addition, as mentioned in Chapter 1, at the time of writing, MoES is piloting a new school funding model that includes increasing salaries of ECEC teachers to EuR 600 per month. The review team considers this to be a positive development that may help attract sufficient numbers of motivated and high-quality graduates to join the profession.
However, the proposed amendments do not resolve the salary differences between ECEC staff and those working at the primary level. under the new scheme the minimum proposed salary for primary school teachers is EuR 160 higher than that of their peers working in ECEC making it a more attractive career option for those considering education as a profession. Though such differences in pay are common, some oECD countries, like the Flemish Community of Belgium, Portugal and British Colombia (Canada), provide equal salaries to ECEC and primary teaching staff (oECD, 2012). The evidence suggests there is good reason for such measures. For example a research study demonstrated that giving fully qualified ECEC teachers’ salaries equivalent to their primary education colleagues resulted in student performance that was two or more times better in literacy and maths (Pianta et al., 2009).