The teacher shortage is making the foundation of children in the Netherlands shaky.
The teacher shortage is making the foundation of children in the Netherlands shaky.

Statue: AOb

Five vacancies, no applicants

A remedial teacher in front of the class, an intern with his own group: the need is increasing. Only national and long-term policy can limit the damage caused by the teacher shortage, the Education Magazine analyzes. Let's just hope that D66 leader Sigrid Kaag keeps her feet up at the formation table.

An elongated rubber band that is about to burst, that is how Mariël Jurgens describes the formation at her school. Just before the summer holidays she rings the bell at the Education magazine-editors. Her Godelinde School received zero applicants for five full-time vacancies. The school has more than six hundred students and is located in Naarden. “It's not a big city. And we are not a disadvantaged school. The rinse was thin before, but no one at all… that really shocked me.”

Jurgens summarizes the hastily set up emergency plan: “A remedial teacher will be in charge of the class. A lio intern gets a group – we will guide her as well as possible, of course. There is a retired teacher who works longer. And one of the initially six new kindergarten classes has been cut back. Not because there is no money, but because there are no teachers. That way we can just avoid a four-day school week.”

It's raining unfulfilled FTEs on social media

They're patches. Temporary solutions that further increase the pressure on qualified teachers. On social media, educational staff respond to the question whether their team is complete this school year. It is raining unfilled FTEs in the answers. Annemiek Wirsching works at a VSO school in Zaandam with an 'emergency scenario occupation picture'. The school lacks 1,4 full-time teachers. As a result, not every group has a teacher and some practical subjects are not taught.

Above all, Wirsching writes: 'Students don't get the attention they need. Although of course we work very hard to make sure that the children suffer as little as possible. It remains education.' She adds a wink, and the cynical remark: 'On to the new school year!'


Just before the summer, the Ministry of Education will Numbers to the outside world about the teacher shortage in the five major cities (G5). In February this year - if all semi-solutions for replacing qualified personnel are included - The Hague already has an average of 15 percent too few teachers. That is the same as in Almere. Amsterdam and Rotterdam come in at 13 percent, Utrecht at 5. Outgoing education minister Arie Slob 'broadens' the demand outside the G5, he tells the House of Representatives in June know. He expects figures from the rest of the Netherlands soon.

In recent years, Slob opted for a regional approach to the teacher shortage. When he explains this, it sounds very vague. In terms of deficits, the Netherlands is divided into 67 regions where 'many activities' have been initiated, writes he to the House of Representatives in December last year. 240 no less, according to the attached monitor.

The result of all these activities is that local cooperation has been 'strengthened', that 'success factors have been specified' and that 'concrete plans' and a 'common goal' help to reduce competition. 160 planned activities to reduce or prevent shortages - 40 percent of the total - have not yet taken place. These were mainly the activities where 'the involvement of teachers/teachers was necessary'.


Meanwhile, Slob's ministry is exposed. Thanks to the obligation on all departments to regularly screen their own work, ResearchNed and SEO Economic Research were allowed to teacher policy between 2003 and 2020 hold up to the light. Twenty grants, investments and schemes have been checked for their efficiency and effectiveness. Have they recruited additional teachers, or have they been able to retain more teachers for the subject?

The researchers can say little useful about this, is the painful conclusion. They speak of a 'plausible' but also 'very diverse' policy mix of which individual measures 'often (more or less) evidence based' to be. But they lack coherence and could not find a clear foundation in the piles of documents for the distribution of the money over all the different measures.

Teacher policy is a 'mammoth tanker'

According to OCW policy officials interviewed for the study, the ratatouille arises because 'interests, lobbies and perceptions of the most obvious abuses in education (such as class cancellations) often have the upper hand'. They call the teacher policy a 'mammoth tanker' that OCW tries to adjust with 'often relatively small amounts, compared to the lump sum'.

Meanwhile, Slob pushes the hot potato forward. A group of experts may consider the evaluation published in June, which does not only include Slob's term of office. "It is up to the new cabinet to start working with the results and recommendations of the evaluation," said the outgoing minister. to the House of Representatives.

The teacher shortage will continue to rise exponentially until 2030


Linked to policy or not: the teacher training college has grown in recent years. Already in 2021 it seems a turnaround to take place.

Influx figures 2017 2018 2019 2020
Pabo full-time 3766 4013 4128 5411
Pabo part-time and dual (often lateral entrants) 548 741 1073 1438
Lateral entrants in the profession* (go directly and subsidized for the class) 71 355 853 785
Total 4385 5109 6054 7634
Source: Association of Universities of Applied Sciences and DUO
* The number of approved applications for the subsidy Side entry into the profession

In any case, growth was not enough to reverse the trend, according to the latest Trend report on the labor market for teachers in primary, secondary and secondary vocational education. If policy or circumstances do not change, the teacher shortage will continue to increase exponentially until 2030. A principle that many people now understand. And this increase comes on top of the current situation, the researchers emphasize at the end of 2020.

The Netherlands will soon need more teachers, according to the report, because Statistics Netherlands expects more children in the Netherlands. The massive retirement of teachers, which was postponed for a few years due to the raising of the retirement age, is now really taking place. In addition, the economy is an important and at the same time uncertain factor in predicting teacher shortages.

For example, the forecast deficit in the 2020 calculation was lower than in the calculations of the previous year. This is partly due to the stormy increase in the number of lateral entrants, but also mainly due to the previously valid 'neutral' economic scenario, the reporters write. With the economy booming faster than expected, going to the classroom will once again become less popular than private sector jobs.

Not the teacher shortage, but inequality of opportunity is the subject of debate

Emergency signals

News reports about schools that are not getting their formation are reminiscent of the late summer of two years ago. In the second half of 2019, massive distress signals from education finally seemed to get The Hague in motion. But a few months later, corona came and overshadowed everything. Well, anything but inequality of opportunity. That topic gained attention through the lockdowns and the Human documentary series classes. And then became grateful fodder for debate.

Johannes Visser, for example, education journalist for De Correspondent, started a discussion around the elections to the House of Representatives earlier this year about whether education can actually be the equalizer. In March he writes: 'The dream that opportunities – and perhaps even outcomes – will one day become completely equal for everyone, thus becomes the cover of an unjust society.'

Former party chairman Klaas Dijkhoff of the VVD will institute in July newspaper NRC that education does not 'ensure full equal opportunities'. He writes: 'For a long time we bought off all the inconveniences about inequality with the call for more money for education.' You can also ask yourself how long Dijkhoff has puzzled over this sentence. Because with a 'call for' you can't buy much. At least not in the Rutte era.

'The appalling shortage will soon lead to situations in which we have to close schools'

Statue: AOb

The crux lies in the words 'completely right' and 'completely'. Everyone understands that if education were a super-oiled emancipation engine, all kinds of other things would still influence one's chances in life. But the point is that the engine falters. Five years ago, the Education Inspectorate noted for the first time that it is becoming increasingly important for a person's future which family he or she comes from. In fact, in places wherethe great equalizer' – as Dijkhoff describes education – is most needed, the engine is the first to stop.

canary pies

'The appalling shortage of teachers will soon lead to situations in which we will have to close schools,' said Education Alderman Hilbert Bredemeijer. He shares his doomsday scenario for the deprived neighborhoods in July with the newspaper AD. There, teachers have to deal with complex metropolitan problems. Bredemeijer: 'That has such an impact on teachers that they often opt for a quieter working environment.'

Jurgens, teacher at the Godelinde School, calls schools with a challenging student population the 'canaries in the coal mine'. The trend reporters of OCW agree with her. They write that staff will move, especially between nearby regions, which will partly eliminate large differences in the shortages. Erik Meester, teacher of educational sciences at Radboud University, says on LinkedIn: 'It will get much, much worse in the coming years. Sad, because this will greatly stimulate the rise of expensive private schools and especially disadvantage our most vulnerable children. A national disaster.'

All balls on Kaag

Election promises

At the end of August, Minister Slob announced that teaching staff at disadvantaged schools will receive an average of 8 percent extra wages over the next two years. This temporary wage increase should make working at these schools more attractive. But trade unions and employers' organizations see problems. “If you start rewarding better at one school, you pull teachers away from another school – for whom no one will replace them. While the children at that other school also have a right to education,” says AOb-driver Thijs Roovers.

Amsterdam is now the only city where a bonus is given to teachers in disadvantaged schools. School administrators from the adjacent Zaan region do not know what to do. Their teachers are moving to the capital for 'a job that makes more money', it writes Noordhollands Dagblad the end of June.


There's only one thing left at the moment. All balls to D66 leader Sigrid Kaag, in that other formation that is not going so well to say the least. D66 is the only winning party that has something to say about the formation of a new government and that wants to invest heavily in education. It is hoped that Kaag will fulfill her election promises. Or as she indicated in a interview with the Education magazine earlier this year: 'D66 is really committed to changing once and for all that education is seen as an item of expenditure.'

This article appeared in the September issue of the Education magazine.

AObPresident Tamar van Gelder yesterday, in a pink suit with a pink elephant, called on politicians to invest in education. The campaign was dominated by the 'pink elephant'. Because Merel van Vroonhoven, the driving force behind the fight against the teacher shortage, described the way in which politicians deal with the teacher shortage as a 'pink elephant': an animal that must be frantically ignored. Read: 'AOb protests against frantically ignoring teacher shortages'


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