16 Amsterdam schools to suspend classes over teacher shortage

All 16 primary schools managed by the Westelijke Tuinsteden foundation will close down temporarily in December as the organization tries to find a solution to deal with the growing teacher shortage in the Netherlands, reported broadcaster NOS. The decision affects the families of 5,400 students registered at one of the schools.

Classes will be cancelled for the week starting on December 9. The school system said it was looking to fill the equivalent of 25 full-time positions, up from 13 at the beginning of the school year, according to the Parool.

"It's crisis time," said the organization's director, Joke Middelbeek, in an email to parents. The large number of vacancies means about six hundred students do not have a teacher, she said.

If the situation does not improve, at least two of the group's primary schools could close permanently. 

Westelijke Tuinsteden had ten vacancies on its website when the announcement was made on Monday, including full- and part-time teaching roles. The foundation's schools are all based in the Amsterdam Nieuw-West district, including the Slotermeer, Osdorp, Nieuw-Sloten, and Overtoomse Veld neighborhoods, according to the organization's website.

Earlier on Monday the largest teachers union, AOb, said it was planning a two-day strike in January. Union members, including primary and secondary school teachers recently went on a one-day walkout in protest of a lack of structural funding to improve the education system, as opposed to the government's use of one-time lump sums to address systemic issues.

The government said it would invest nearly a half-billion euros to address the educators' complaints, which include low wages, wage disparity between primary and secondary school teachers, and a teacher shortage. The union said the latter is a primary driver in large class sizes and extremely high workloads for teachers.


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