Unevenly distributed teacher shortage putting education at risk: Inspectorate

Primary school classroom
Primary school classroom. (Photo: racorn/DepositPhotos)

An unevenly distributed teacher shortage is putting the future of Dutch education at risk, the Education Inspectorate said in its annual State of Education report. The quality of education is still on par on average, but to maintain that level, "hard choices" will have to be made, the Inspectorate said, NU.nl reports.

According to the Inspectorate, the "cracks" in Dutch education can be seen in the declining performance of pupils, unequal opportunities, and socio-economic segregation. These cracks threaten to deepen "partly due to pressure from an uneven teacher shortage", the Inspectorate said. 

Schools with a "complex pupil population" are more affected by the teacher shortage in primary education. The Randstad has the most open vacancies, and "the shortages are higher at schools with a larger share of pupils with a non-Western migration background, whether they are in an urban or less urban area", the Inspectorate said. The inequality of opportunities is an "undesirable development". The Inspectorate noted that in schools where "continuity and good quality of education are most necessary, these conditions are the most difficult to achieve".

This year the teacher shortage stands at 2,322 full-time teachers and directors. If nothing is done, the shortage will increase to 4,200 full-time vacancies in the 2023/2024 school year, and to over 8 thousand in 2027, the Inspectorate estimates.

The Inspectorate also noted that the connection of Dutch young people to the labor market is in many cases good, compared to other countries. But this connection must be improved, so that the changing requirements of the business community can continue to be met. To do so, schools are experimenting with new forms of education. That is good in itself, the Inspectorate said, but schools must share the results of those experiments more with each other. In this way it can be prevented that experiments are re-done while other schools already found that they do not work. The government can also play a role in improving the connection between education and the labor market, the Inspectorate said.