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Fight for higher salary scale frustrates educational staff

Educational staff often struggle for years in vain to get into the right salary scale. Nearly a thousand testimonials of attempts to climb, across all educational sectors, paint a picture of arbitrariness, training and favoritism. For some, the process results in burnout or leaving education.

Education staff's responses to a Education sheet call read in September as a black book of bad employment practices. In total almost responded thousand persons*Just over a third of the 986 people who shared an experience work in primary education, just over a third in secondary education and fourteen percent in MBO. The rest are employed in higher professional education and university education. including about seven hundred teachers, almost three hundred support staff and a few managers to the question: 'What is your experience with (trying) to get into a higher scale?'.

Remarkably often they describe that moving on to a higher scale is a 'no chance', 'impossible', or simply 'impossible'. As a result, staff withdraw into the classroom, become overworked, or even leave education. The process also often causes bad blood between colleagues. Just over thirty of the thousand people who responded describe a positive experience.

You can still share your experience: check the survey.

Function mix

Almost fifteen years ago - for teachers - agreements were made for better pay and career prospects. Under the heading of job mix, percentages have been determined for the distribution of teachers per salary scale. This spring, the Education Inspectorate that the number of teachers in primary and secondary education moving up to a higher scale is stagnating, especially outside the Randstad conurbation. In MBO, the number of teachers in the higher scales is falling sharply.

Eight conclusions can be drawn based on the responses. The anonymized, sometimes abbreviated responses are exemplary of most experiences.

  1. The conditions for getting into a higher scale are unclear

'It is unclear and hardly transparent what you have to do and show in terms of concrete behavior in order to move up a scale. When I ask this to my manager, she does not answer this or refers to the job classification, which states in loose words that people must 'innovate', but how often, how much is not known.' (hbo teacher)

'Reported several times to the department manager (…). At some point you give up. You feel totally undervalued. Even if you do all kinds of extras, you get great ratings there… (…) There are no guidelines to follow, complete arbitrariness.' (secondary education teacher)

'The requirements for LB to LC (1. Cross-curricular projects, 2. Coach colleagues and 3. Educational innovation) seem clear but can be explained in many ways. In any case, I was told: you don't have to focus on coaching colleagues, we have enough people for that. And then Corona came and I was suddenly training and coaching everyone in digital education with a small group of enthusiasts. That didn't help, by the way, because I didn't get it the next round either.' (secondary education teacher)

  1. The process is long and grueling

'I did this once (1) and it was a nightmare. It was promised in advance that after obtaining the BKO I would be placed in scale 2015, but it turned out to be a nerve-wracking process in which all kinds of stones were placed in the way to slow down or make this process impossible. thanks to persistence (and support from the vawo) I got through this (I did end up with a tinnitus).' (teacher wo)

'It ultimately contributed to me getting a long burnout'

'Unclear requirements, vague applications, lack of a (clear) procedure, inexplicable choices and also empty promises. Acting and functioning at master level apparently has no value. As a result, a lot of sense of injustice and, in my view, years of unjustified rejections. (…) Mad and maddening. Demotivating. Ultimately contributed to me getting a long burnout and still lingering doubts about staying in the current workplace or even education' (secondary education teacher)

  1. The opportunity to climb rarely arises

“When I first interviewed for LC, I was told I was too young. Then someone was appointed who was a year younger. (…) Seven years later there was another round. Three of the twenty candidates were chosen. Despite the fact that I am a first grade and taught in the upper classes, it was wrong again. No explanation was given. (…) And if a teacher starts asking difficult questions, something will be made up at the next performance appraisal (…). After all, there are enough wishes and complaints from parents and students.' (secondary education teacher)

'Already 10 years in the last step LC. None possible until the next scale LD. No future perspective because there is no money. It will take at least seven years before space becomes available, they say. Constantly proving that I'm LD worthy. Because suppose that. I meet the requirements of the school for LD, first degree active in school with committee contact with universities, committees outside of school etc. It goes through my head to start a lawsuit. You comply, you work for it, but you don't get the corresponding reward.' (secondary education teacher)

'Terrible, after years of being served a gingerbread, still not getting it without any clear explanation why not. Making people jump through hoops. There must be clarity (…).' (secondary education teacher)

  1. Reasons for rejection are vague

'A very difficult promotion from the LB to the LC scale in MBO. My supervisor had made all kinds of promises, but had not been fulfilled. (…) When I started the conversation to ask what else I had to do to successfully get through this process, I was told vague terms like 'you're still missing a helicopter view' or that I had to take on more tasks.' (mbo)

  1. The procedure causes bad blood among colleagues

'I can write a book about it. (…) It was like an Idols match. Received incorrect, incorrect feedback just to get rid of me. And now colleagues who earn more while we do the same (or even more) with the same passion. Very unfair and unjust. And if I wanted to go through with the objection, there had to be a hearing. Good for the working atmosphere?! (…) In addition, there are people in LC who are no longer in front of the class. Totally unfair. (…) And absolutely no follow-up and aftercare. (…) It bothers me every day.' (mbo)

  1. Assertiveness is more important than quality

'I'm not a show horse, but a workhorse and unfortunately I can't make it with that as far as (…) LC is concerned. I do so much (…). Mentor in heart and soul, passionately engaged in my profession (…), always trainees in supervision (…). Member of the core team giftedness (…). Study (…) talent supervisor completed. POP supervisor (...), chairman of our active GSA (...) So yes, shoot me. (…) Really I feel sooooooooo wronged.' (secondary education teacher)

'It is fighting for your place, a lot of 'fitting into the picture', not very objective. Feels unfair because colleagues who are less assertive or inconspicuous will never qualify.' (secondary education teacher)

  1. Staff lose the motivation to go the extra mile

'People who don't even teach get an LC position. How? I have stopped running my legs for my school and many with me. It doesn't motivate you to go the extra mile. Many have stopped, are running their lessons and are not doing more than is absolutely necessary.' (secondary education teacher)

  1. Sometimes a futile attempt at climbing leads to farewell to education

'Been in the last step of LB for years. It's pure favoritism and nothing more. I have a MEd degree (…), that didn't help either. Followed dozens of courses, that also did nothing. Had above average scores on 360 degree feedback rounds, that also yielded nothing. I left education after seventeen years, they don't know what they had in store.' (mbo)

'If every individual employee has to prove through opaque procedures in which scale they belong, then you ruin the atmosphere'

AObchairman Tamar van Gelder said in a first reaction: “These are not incidents, this is a structural problem. If each individual employee has to prove through obscure procedures in which scale it belongs, then you spoil the atmosphere. There is a collective agreement. There is the signature under it, the school boards and directors must adhere to it. We know that many people leave education, that is also because of this.”

According to the employers' organization PO Council, every case of careless or non-transparent grading is one too many. Spokesperson Thijs den Otter: "It is of course an illusion to think that at some point everyone will be satisfied with their salary." Information officer Stan Termeer of the board of directors of the VO-raad e-mailed: “It is difficult to respond to the various individual and diverse situations. Sometimes there will be good reasons why a teacher cannot move to a higher scale and sometimes there can also be bad employership. Of course, we try to prevent the latter from the VO Council.”

Until 2014, the job mix agreements resulted in a strongly growing share of teachers in the higher LC and LD scales in secondary education. From 41,4 percent in 2009 to 68,1 percent five years later. Since then, the proportion of LC and LD teachers slightly decreased to 65,4 percent.

The extensive response of the MBO Council to the experiences of the teaching staff here.. MBO is the education sector where it has been least successful in achieving the target percentages of the job mix.


Van Gelder of the AOb continues: “A warning to all those unwilling principals and school boards: work must pay. Complaining about shortages, but not appreciating your staff in the meantime, does not go together. You know it's not supposed to be like this and we're going to help our members."

This week the AOb seven webinars for AObmembers about job evaluation.

This is the first publication from Making Together, a project by the Education magazine. The most important trade magazine for education on the bus every month?

Word AObmember!

Many supporters also responded to the call. Read: 'AOb: Pay teaching assistant who independently takes over class decently'


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