Teacher shortage forces Haarlem school to send students elsewhere

Rudolf Steinerschool in Haarlem
Kids celebrate outside the Rudolf Steinerschool in Haarlem. 2 June 2017. (photo: Rudolf Steinerschool / Facebook)

A lack of available primary school teachers forced the Rudolf Steinerschool in Haarlem to put an early end to its Group 7 class on Thursday. The students from the Waldorf-style education program will be redistributed among similar schools in Haarlem, Hillegom, and Hoofddorp, up to 15 kilometers away.

"We've searched all over the country," said Lida Berkhout, the school's deputy director. "From Groningen to Brabant," she told the Volkskrant. 

"We have had more than thirteen different male and female teachers," a ten-year-old student told the newspaper. Their last day of class was on Thursday, with students getting a chance to say farewell on Friday.

It is the continuation of a problem that has become increasingly apparent in The Netherlands in recent months, especially in the greater Randstad region. Teachers union CNV and school associations asked school directors not to provide substitute teachers to force parents to confront the issue and put pressure on politicians.

Parents in Zaanstad expressed anger and dissatisfaction with two schools there that switched to a four-day school calendar at the beginning of the school year. In February, the director of CBS Tamarinde empathised with parents, but said no solution was determined.

"We have been structurally short on teachers since September, and we are unable to solve that. So we had no choice but to implement a four-day-school week," said Janneke Oosterman in response to parents complaining about the need to stay at home with their children even on work days.

Just two weeks ago, the Joppenszschool in Leiden was also forced to cancel its Group 8 class.

teacher's strike last month called for a €4 billion increase in government spending on education in part to raise wages, which can be considered very low at the primary school level. “We want to put this [extra funding] into, among other things, workload reduction, salary improvement for teachers, and teaching support staff,” said Dorien Konig, the leader of the AOb union. 

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