Teacher shortage far worse than previously thought; 40% of schools in trouble: Union

Primary school classroom
Primary school classroom Photo: racorn/DepositPhotos

The teacher shortage is taking on worrying forms, according to education union AOb. Four in 10 primary- and secondary schools are already dealing with a chronic shortage in teachers. In special education, the problems are even worse - two thirds of schools don't have enough teachers, the union concludes based on its own research among 6,200 teachers, the Telegraaf reports.

"There is often talk bout shortages, but nobody knew exactly how many teachers it was", AOb chairman Liesbeth Verheggen said to the newspaper. 

The teacher shortage often caused problems over the past years, but this year the problems are rearing their heads much sooner, Verheggen said. "In the past, schools only ran into problems during the flu wave in January. Now they are struggling with large deficits while the flu wave is yet to come. That will cause a lot of problems."

According to newspaper AD, another problem is that teachers are leaving the large cities in droves. A study by Center Data on behalf of Arbeidsmarktplatform PO showed that the number of teachers that left Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht per year increased from 128 in the 2013/14 school year to 818 last year. In the past more teachers got a job in the big cities than left, but last year only 448 new teachers arrived in the cities, leaving schools with massive gaps that can't be filled.

Schools across the country are taking emergency measures in an attempt to give all their pupils proper education, such as increasing their class sizes, implementing a four-day school week, or having unqualified people teach some lessons. In the worst case scenarios, kids are sent home. At least one school - the 16e Montessori in Amsterdam - closed its doors due to the teacher shortage, the school said. 

Next week Wednesday, teachers in primary- and secondary education across the Netherlands will strike for more money in education, partly to help solve the teacher shortage.