AOb-survey: 'NPO threatens to strand on teacher shortage'
Primary school teachers are happy with the money that schools will receive from the National Education Programme. But there are not enough teachers to eliminate the corona backlog, according to a AOb-survey.
All schools, from primary education to university, will receive a total of 8,5 billion euros for eliminating educational disadvantages that have arisen during the corona time. That money must be spent in two and a half years.
From a survey by the AOb which was completed by about seven hundred teachers, support staff and board members at primary schools, it appears that in addition to joy, there are also major reservations about the National Education Program (NPO).
'There are simply no people to carry out the NPO'
'I find the NPO to increase workload and not just a little bit,' says a teacher. "Because there are simply no people to carry it out." And with the temporary NPO money, you cannot hire permanent extra people as a school. 'My advice for smaller kindergarten classes is not taking over the board', says a teacher. 'Because they are afraid that they will be stuck with the new staff in two years' time.'
Furthermore, there is criticism of the fact that the money must be spent quickly. 'It's great that there is room for investment', says one of the respondents. 'But now a lot of money has to be spent in a very short time, so there is a risk that it will not be used in the right way.'
In total, half of all respondents think the NPO's time schedule is too tight. “It should be extended from two and a half to four years,” says Jelmer Evers, daily director of the AOb. “That gives air to use the money as carefully as possible.”
Furthermore, teachers want a clear voice in decisions about how the money is spent. That is also the intention of the NPO. “The backlog will differ per school, per class and per student,” says driver Evers. “The teacher is the professional who ultimately has the best idea of what the students in that class need at that school. That teacher must therefore have the decisive vote in the spending of the money. The team is on the move.”
Unfortunately that is not going well at the moment. Only a small majority of the respondents (58 percent) indicate that teachers or the teacher team participate in the decision-making process about the content of the school program to eliminate the corona backlog.
'Initially, the board wanted to use the money for personalized learning'
'As a team, we indicate which interventions we want to deploy. Each school can make its own choice in this regard,' says a teacher who works at a school where participation is well organised. 'Initially, the board wanted to use these funds to steer all schools towards personalized learning,' shares a teacher at a school where participation is not well organised. 'The management already has a picture in mind. Teachers do have something to say, but the management doesn't take everything with them.'
It is downright disturbing that some school boards skim the money before it goes to the schools. More than 10 percent of all respondents indicate that the money – about seven hundred euros per pupil – is skimmed off above school without consultation. "As far as I'm concerned, that is only justified if it turns out that this money can indeed best be used in higher education," says AObdriver Evers. “While the teams of those schools have to agree to that.”
Sometimes boards really go too far, according to open responses to the survey. 'The board has a competency study carried out at our school for each teacher. If necessary, an external person will come to look at your class'. “That is absolutely not the intention of the NPO,” says Evers. “It really needs to be ensured that school boards keep aloof as much as possible from the use of this money.”
By far the biggest disadvantage of the NPO is the lack of structural financing. The injection stops after two and a half years. Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed indicate that such a one-off investment does not solve long-term problems (such as the salary gap, the high workload, the acute teacher shortage). And 60 percent of the respondents indicate that eliminating the backlog is hampered by a lack of teachers.
'I see it as a bucket of money over the fence, a shot of hail'
'I see it as a bucket of money over the fence, a shot of hail', one respondent summarizes his objections. 'A lot is suddenly possible now, because of corona, but too quickly, with too little participation and not structurally.'
And the danger is that those structural investments will be put on the back burner when the cabinet is formed, says a strategically thinking teacher. Because education 'has already had 8,5 billion'.
“The teacher shortage, high workload and low salaries are not of today or yesterday,” says”, AObdirector Jelmer Evers. “These are structural problems and structural funding is needed for that. Many political parties have also included structural investment in education in their election manifestos. I am happy to remind them of this during and after the cabinet formation.”
Would you like to know more about the National Education Program? Check out our special page.