A shortage of teachers in the Netherlands? What’s going on with Dutch schools?
They say teachers have the second biggest impact on young people after parents. I can recall my favourite teachers as clearly as I remember my disdain for the teachers I didn’t like. Unfortunately, Dutch primary schools have revealed there are 1400 open vacancies before school year starts.
Shortage of teachers in the Netherlands: Disastrous for education
A quarter of school boards in the Netherlands have said they will be forced to put unqualified people to teach a class in the coming year. An undesirable move but perhaps inevitable out of sheer desperation.
There are currently 3500 open vacancies for teachers in primary education and it is expected that half of these spots will not be filled by the start of the next school year. That is a 5 percent increase in teacher shortage compared to last year.
Teaching assistants, educational support staff and principals are also in need. Around 1 in 20 schools risk starting the new year with no headmaster or headmistress.
Reasons behind the teacher shortage in the Netherlands
The PO-Raad, the organization for primary education, noted that the number of schools facing a teacher shortage is declining but the number of open vacancies are increasing. This shows it is an issue of supply and demand.
Schools which have a higher proportion of non-Western migration pupils have a higher shortage of teachers, as specialised skills are necessary to cater to different student needs but said skills are not reflected through the pay.
Many capable teachers are leaving their expertise in special education and moving towards mainstream education because the salary is better there.
What we can learn from Finland? (is there anything we can’t learn from Finland?!)
When I first visited Finland, I stayed with a family from Helsinki. In our sauna one night (what a cliché) I mentioned I might want to become a teacher. They explained to me how teachers in Finland are valued to the same level as doctors or engineers.
The rationale behind the successful Finnish education system is that passion for the job should be kept alive by cultivating trust in the profession and granting flexibility and autonomy; and hard work acknowledged through adequate pay. Each pupil is assessed on their own merits and teachers are not saddled with paperwork showing what they have chosen to teach and why.
This forward-thinking philosophy is acknowledged in the Netherlands but is yet to be implemented. Den Besten, chairman to the PO-raad, commented to NOS:
“The profession must become more attractive…the government has taken a small step by raising salaries. But now the next step is really needed.”
What the future holds
The shortage is anticipated to increase to over 10 thousand full-time jobs by 2027. Schools in the Randstad area are feeling the brunt of the effects, but other provinces are also mentioning the difficulty of filling teaching jobs.
— Ronald Buitelaar (@RonaldBuitelaar) July 8, 2019
No word on a teacher shortage in the Netherlands when it comes to international schools, so feel welcome to fill us in at the comment section if you know more about that situation.
So what do you think of the shortage of teachers in the Netherlands? Any thoughts? Join us in the comments or go to the DutchReview group