School headmasters resign on account of wage inequalities. 2,500 headmasters and deputy headmasters have signed an open letter to the Government

Bucharest, 29 august 2023. At the dawn of the 2023-2024 academic year, the headmasters of educational establishments, together with AVE România (The Association for Values in Education) and the two major federations of pre-academic education unions, the Free Trade Unions’ Federation in Education (FSLI) and “Spiru Haret” Trade Unions’ Federation in Education (FSE “Spiru Haret”), acknowledge the critical status quo. As such, 2,500 headmasters and deputy headmasters throughout the country have signed an open letter in which they demand urgent wage grid rectification measures.

Government Emergency Ordinance no. 57/2023, enacted in June, has determined wage increases for pre-academic education teachers, however, with no correlation for the management staff, as well. Consequently, a school headmaster may currently earn even up to 2,000 lei less than a teacher. According to Law no. 153/2017, in its applicable form, the teaching staff’s base salaries start from the salary bonus for 0 length of service and increase as per the length of service tier, whereas the base salaries of headmasters and deputy headmasters, as well as of the other management positions, are not correlated with the length of service. The wage gaps between the regular teaching staff and the management teaching staff, to the latter’s detriment, began emerging as far back as 2019, however, the changes brought to Law 153/2017 in June 2023 have worsened them significantly.

As a reaction to this situation, the end of June saw the birth of the Adequate salaries for school headmasters Initiative. Backed by AVE, 2.500 headmasters and deputy headmasters throughout the country adopted an open letter, which proposed to the Government three urgent action scenarios that would temporarily restore wage balance, until the enactment of a new unified wage framework law.

„Being a school headmaster nowadays in Romania is a luxury I cannot afford, which is why I resigned from the position of headmaster at Popricani Middle School in July. As a headmaster, my salary in July was 5,302 lei (the figure is after the June increase) and, as a primary school teacher, I will be earning as of September 6,100 lei, considering that I shall have a teacher workload of only 15 classes/week. Comparatively, a headmaster does 40 classes/week, to which one adds extra classes and weekends, all unpaid. As opposed to a teacher, who enjoys a 62-day annual leave, last year I had, as a headmaster, 25 days of which I only took a 5-day leave, having worked the rest. From a headmaster position, I was active in the development of Popricani Middle School, which currently makes it one of the best-fitted and most renovated schools in the region. In 2022 alone I drew in EU funds amounting to nearly 100,000 Euro, plus 60,000 Euro from the Local Council, budgets forwarded exclusively to address the school’s needs”, said Simona Elena Voinescu, headmaster of Popricani Middle School, Iași county, during the 2012 – 2023 period, the recipient of the Headmaster of the Year Award for Entrepreneurship as part of The Headmasters of the Year Awards Gala organised by AVE in 2022

The three proposals that 1 of 4 school headmasters in Romania rallied under, also backed by FSLI and FSE “Spiru Haret”, are:

  • Amending the current wage framework law (Law no. 153/2017), in the sense that the base salaries of headmasters and deputy headmasters should start from the same salary bonus for 0 length of service, thus allowing a proper application of salary bonuses specific to length of service categories

  • Providing the possibility to choose the salary headmasters may receive: between the salary specific to the headmaster position and the salary they would be entitled to as teaching staff, provided that both options benefit from an embedded 10% increase of the base salary (currently enjoyed by form masters, primary school teachers, nursery school teachers and elementary teachers);

  • Granting a monthly bonus to headmasters and deputy headmasters, from September 2023 to the entry into force of the new wage law, for a net amount of 1200 lei a month.

These proposals were also submitted to the Government, as part of a meeting attended by three of the headmasters’ representatives and AVE.

“Headmasters deserve higher salaries. And they are not the only ones that do. All the employees in the educational system must be paid what they are truly worth. Also, one of the items on the list to be negotiated with the Government was Eliminating existing anomalies in the draft law on the method of calculating management allowances for the teaching staff. The Government, after the strike was suspended, promised us they would come up with solutions, yet to be presented. According to the agreement we came to with the Government coalition’s representatives, they also undertook to follow a timeline. I hope they will stick to it and not push us to other protests. We do not wish to take it again to the streets and, even worse, to halt work”, said Marius Ovidiu Nistor, president of FSE “Spiru Haret”

“FSLI acknowledges the justifications behind the headmasters’ wage increase demands. The salaries are below many executive positions, meaning that the same person would earn more money if they were to hold a teacher position then if they were to work as headmaster. Headmaster wages are no longer appealing. We are wondering why a person with 25-30 years of experience would spend 8-10 hours at school. Throughout the civilised world, managerial positions are remunerated significantly better than those of operating staff”, said Simion Hăncescu, FSLI president “The position and status of school headmasters, in Romania’s educational context, are in jeopardy. In correlation with the strategic role a headmaster has within the Romanian education system, they deserve institutional respect and wages matching the role. We are at a key moment, on the verge of adopting the new legislative framework, and experienced headmasters will play a vital part”, said Andreea Nistor, AVE Managing Director

About AVE (The Association for Values in Education)

AVE (The Association for Values in Education) is a non-profit organisation whose main goal is to bring the educational system in Romania to Europe’s top 10 by 2035. AVE supports school headmasters who wish to become genuine managers and leaders of the communities they belong to, through programmes that develop skills, thus allowing headmasters to transform they schools they manage. Full details are available at