Dutch primary schools to start new year with 1,400 open vacancies

Primary school classroom
Primary school classroomPhoto: racorn/DepositPhotos

Schools in the Netherlands will again start the new school year with a considerable shortage of teachers and educational support staff. Currently there are 3,500 open vacancies for teachers in primary education, according to the council for primary education PO-Raad. The expectation is that 1,400 of these will not be filled by the start of the next school year. That makes the teacher shortage 5 percent larger than last year, NOS reports.

Primary schools are not only having a hard time finding teachers. Other staff are also scares. 400 educational support staff and 320 school leaders are currently being sought. Around 1 in 20 schools risk starting the new year with no headmaster or -mistress. 

Schools will have to be very creative to make sure all their pupils ge enough attention in the coming year, according to the PO-Raad. "School boards are optimistic and search hard for staff, but when shortages are filled, this is often at the expense of the school where the teacher comes from", Rinda den Besten of the PO-Raad said to NOS. "Half of the school boards have already indicated that they will be forced to send their classes home next school year, and a quarter say they will put unqualified persons in front of the class. That is really disastrous for the quality of education."

The PO-Raad noted that the number of schools facing a teacher shortage is decreasing, but the number of open vacancies is increasing. According to the council, this indicates that schools that are already in trouble have more difficulty finding teachers. As a result, there is an increasing inequality in education - something the Education Inspectorate warned about earlier this year. Schools with vulnerable pupils find it particularly hard to fill shortages, according to the council. Secondary special education - which also falls under the PO-Raad - is losing teachers to mainstream secondary education, because the salary is better there.

"The profession must become more attractive", Den Besten said to NOS. "The government has taken a small step by raising salaries. But now the next step is really needed."

The teacher shortage is expected to increase to over 10 thousand full-time jobs by 2027. Schools in the Randstad area in particular are affected by the shortages, but schools in other provinces are also noticing that it is difficult to find enough teachers.