The results of the exploration of the position of support staff.
The results of the exploration of the position of support staff.

Image: Labor market platform for primary education

Educational support staff often work outside of their own duties

Almost 60 percent of educational and teacher support staff carry out activities that fall outside their range of duties. For example, oopers indicate that they stand in front of the class when a school board is at a loss for a sick teacher. This is more common due to the corona pandemic and the teacher shortage.

That is one of the conclusions from one recent report of the Labor Market Platform Primary Education, a cooperative organization of unions and employers. For the research, the platform launched an online survey in which 360 oopers participated. Employers were also able to share their experiences. 570 administrators, directors and HR managers completed the questionnaire. In addition, seven assistants were interviewed.

In front of the class

The results show that support staff often perform tasks that should not be on their plate: 57 percent say they do this. About a quarter do not know whether this is the case and 17 percent say they only perform tasks for which they were hired. It is striking that administrators are much less likely to believe that this group of employees performs tasks outside their job profile than the assistants themselves.

The results show that support staff often perform tasks that should not be on their plate at all

Both groups indicate that assistants are put in front of the classroom especially in emergencies when no qualified teacher is available. Since corona and because of teacher shortages, this has been necessary more often. Usually this involves replacing a teacher who has been ill for a short time. Still, some of the assistants indicate that it is not just about incidental replacements. They run a class independently several days a week. In one of the interviews, a teaching assistant says: 'I am a fourth-year teacher training student. Due to the dropout of a colleague, I started teaching for 3 days a week this school year. My LIO will start here in January. I enjoy doing it because I am also following a teacher training course in addition to my work. It is true that this is often also the cheapest solution, because I don't get anything extra for this. '

Ooper who independently teaches a class: 'It is true that this is often the cheapest solution, because I don't get anything extra for this'

One fifth of the employers indicate that teaching assistants are put in front of the classroom independently in emergencies. An HR officer says: 'Because of corona, some oop'ers in need stand independently in front of a class. However, this is only allowed in an emergency and for a short time. This was not the case for the corona. '

It does not stop at stepping in for a sick teacher, schools also use assistants for administration and janitorial activities, cleaning (more often due to the hygiene measures of the RIVM), parent discussions, analyzing tests and action plans (drawing up, implementing and evaluating).


Because of corona, 15 percent of the assistants see that their work has changed permanently, so they work more online. The vast majority, 85 percent, see no change. A third of administrators expect assistants to need different skills in the future, especially digital so that they can provide teachers with more support in remote lessons. More knowledge about learning pathways, giving instruction and communication skills are other areas where knowledge is needed, the employers believe.


In general, the oops and the teacher support staff are satisfied with their range of duties. Eight out of ten assistants indicated this in the survey. Cooperation with colleagues is also good, according to 94 percent of the respondents. They are less happy with the financial valuation. "They are generally not compensated when they replace a teacher," the report said. "They would like this."

Supporters are generally not compensated when they replace a teacher

Job descriptions

In the youngest Collective labor agreement for primary education an agreement has been made about the often outdated job descriptions of support staff. The intention was for support staff to move up more quickly to higher salary scales, because new positions are added with salary scales 5 and 6. Many oops are 'stuck' in scale 4. School boards therefore had to examine the job classification system thoroughly. That has not happened everywhere yet: almost 29 percent of education and teacher support staff say that the job descriptions at their school have been revised. 60 percent of the directors indicate that they have done this correctly. One in five support staff is also dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the new job description and the extent to which it fits in with daily practice. Dissatisfaction also reigns about the new job classification, the substantiation thereof and the salary.


The group of support staff in primary education has increased in recent years. The labor market platform sees this in the number of vacancies, for example. That has increased from 1950 in 2018-19 to 2320 vacancies in the following school year. More teaching assistants are also graduating. The number of support staff has increased by about 2015 percent between 2019 and 30.

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