Hoorn primary school asks parents to fill in for sick teachers

Primary school classroom (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Douglas P Perkins). (Primary school classroom (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Douglas P Perkins))

Primary school Het Kompas in Hoorn came up with an emergency plan to counter the growing teacher shortage. The school sent a letter to parents last week, asking them to fill in when teachers are sick so that kids do not have to be sent home, NH Nieuws reports.

This plan was made in preparation for the autumn period and flu season. Earlier this year the school had to send two classes home because no substitute teacher could be found. "We hold our hearts when someone gets sick", Jaap Muurling, director of Het Kompas, said to NH.

According to Muurling, this is an emergency solution, and it is not the intention that parents will be used for several days in a row. If no replacement can be found for a sick teacher, the pupils will be sent home on the first day. If on the second day there is still no replacement, a parent will be called in, he explained. 

"Then we make sure that there is all kinds of play material in the classroom. That is educational material we specially purchased. And then we ask parents to act as babysitter. They do not have to play teacher, but are present in the classroom. And in this way we ensure that the education of the children continues", Muurling said.

Although the initiative is not ideal, it is in line with the new vision for education Het Kompas strives for, Muurling said. This involves children no longer receiving lessons under a strict regime. "At the moment we see a considerable change in education", Muurling said. "We make children more independent and ensure that they can work independently for longer. In this way, children become in charge of their own development."

A number of parents responded positively to the proposal, according to the broadcaster. "I haven't singed up yet, but I'm going to", Lisa Frederiks, who has two kids at the school, said to NH. "On the one hand I find it very special that the school thinks with us as parents in this way. Because otherwise you will sit with your child that you have to keep home. On the other hand, I also find it a shame that this is necessary."