'Nowadays more psychologists, pedagogues and educationalists graduate than teachers. Many of those people get jobs at institutions that have invaded education.'
'Nowadays more psychologists, pedagogues and educationalists graduate than teachers. Many of those people get jobs at institutions that have invaded education.'

Picture: Type tank

More and more helmsmen are ashore

The number of educational advisors is growing exponentially. Since 2008, the number of educational advice companies - mainly sole traders - has increased sevenfold to almost three thousand at the beginning of this year. "There are more and more talkers in education, fewer and fewer people who want to do it themselves."

In farewell interviews with teachers it is often about this: 'A layer of bureaucracy and administration has grown around the teacher. Today more psychologists, educators and educationalists graduate than teachers. Many of those people get a job at institutions that have invaded education," 81-year-old "teacher teacher" Janet Meys tells in the autumn of 2021. newspaper AD.

Inge Braam, who until last year was a primary school teacher and a former Education Magazine columnist, also pointed out earlier in the Education magazine on influential others: 'There is less reliance on the professionalism of the teachers, we now often have to implement what has been devised elsewhere.'


Figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) show that the shell around the teacher is growing. In 2008 there were still about 450 companies providing services to education. Think of companies in education and education advice, educational counseling services and companies in school choice advice and student exchange programs. Last year, the Netherlands had almost three thousand of this type of education service providers, 90 percent of which were self-employed. But the number of educational consultancy companies with up to fifty employees has also increased sharply.

Education advice 2008 2015 2022*
sole proprietorships 340 1335 2660
2 to 10 employees 60 160 235
10 to 50 employees 20 35  45
50 to 250 employees 15 15 15

source: CBS, companies and institutions by main economic activity (SBI 2008, category 8560 Educational Services)
*2022 are provisional figures

More and more Dutch people have a teaching job, but then outside the classroom. This is also apparent from the Labor Force Survey, which Statistics Netherlands conducts every year. According to this survey, the number of educational advisers, counselors and specialists increased from 41 thousand in 2015 to 54 thousand in 2020. Last year, 61 thousand people worked in such an advisory or coordinating position in the Netherlands. Regularly at the schools themselves, but also in organizations around education. Due to adjustments in the Labor Force Survey, this latest figure of 61 thousand is not easily comparable with previous years.

External parties

“There are more and more talkers in education, and fewer and fewer people who want to do it themselves,” concludes Ton van Haperen, economics teacher and columnist for the Onderwijsblad. According to him, the growing army of advisors on the one hand and teachers on the other are two circuits that operate largely independently of each other. “What they do does not affect my work in the classroom. Yes, unless it is necessary to renew and the school board hires external parties.”

This article is from the July Education Magazine. Do you want to stay informed of everything that is going on in education? Join the AOb and receive the Education magazine every month.


Education advisors usually work at separate agencies and institutions, Van Haperen thinks. “It doesn't make my work worse, but it doesn't get any better either. It has no effect on practice. Which is not good.” The growing shell is also related to the teacher shortage and appropriate education, thinks professor of the educational labor market Marc van der Meer. “A different kind of education model manifests itself in these figures. Larger classes, with fewer teachers and all kinds of guidance for students who need it.”

'If good teachers leave the classroom to work in that shell, that is undesirable'

According to fellow professor of education and the labor market Frank Cörvers, additional research is needed. For example, what educational advisors and specialists did before, what their previous education is. Cörvers: “Intuitively I see in these figures more and more attention for the educational process, for the guidance of teachers. Think of introductory courses for starting teachers or organizing intervision in the team. You partly need external parties for that. We know that outside support really does yield returns.” But if good teachers leave the classroom to work in that shell, that is undesirable, says Cörvers.

Professor Marc van der Meer does not want to conclude that the best helmsmen are now ashore: “The best helmsmen simply stand in front of the class.”

Lecturer Van Haperen thinks this will happen. “The first thing teachers who can do something often do is stop teaching. Or teach less.” Paula van Manen has also seen good colleagues opting for jobs outside the classroom for years. Van Manen wrote the book When will we have lessons again? about personalized education, which cost her her job as a teacher in secondary vocational education. “A somewhat ambitious teacher will look for different types of positions. Do you want a higher salary? Then you quickly have to coordinate or work in a policy position.” According to Van Manen, educational innovation is also responsible for the growth of the shell. “I see an enormous urge to innovate. From politics, but also at the schools themselves. Where has our autonomy gone? Teachers just have to do it all.”

Professors Van der Meer and Cörvers do not want to conclude that the best helmsmen are now ashore in education. Van der Meer: “The best helmsmen simply stand in front of the class.” Cörvers: “I find this a difficult one. We have also said for years: the teacher is too much king in his own classroom. I think it is useful that there are people on shore who say something sensible. Teachers benefit from listening to outside feedback.”

development work

This spring, Eva Naaijkens, director of the Alan Turing School in Amsterdam, jokes in the NPO radio broadcast Nails with heads that she would be better off working as an educational advisor. She is angry about the 'basic brigade'. Through this initiative by education minister Dennis Wiersma, schools can request help teams to boost the basic skills of their students. Naaijkens: 'I have the feeling that development work is being unleashed on us. I'm almost better off working as a consultant. I earn more then.' She sighs: 'Almost everyone is involved in education, education helps, but education no longer has enough people to help itself.'

It is therefore more and more often suggested to have the skin redecorated "the real thing". Jim Jimkes, retired deputy principal and former mathematics teacher, writes on the website of the trade magazine in February this year didactic: 'A large proportion now have to exchange their desk chair for work in the classroom for a few years. A win-win situation: the educational advisers and educationalists can contribute their knowledge to the school and reduce the teacher shortage by teaching themselves.'

'Teachers should be able to grow in salary without leaving the classroom'

Lecturer Van Haperen is not interested in people 'who do it against their will'. “We want colleagues who want it and who are properly trained for it.” Professor Van der Meer sees something in Jimke's suggestion: “Of course it is always based on people who are motivated and who are willing to work on it with full dedication. If you have studied youth psychology, you can of course become a youth psychologist in a practice for adolescents, but such people should also be able to make the transition to education more easily. You can create functions for that.”

And simply make teaching more attractive? That has to happen anyway, say both Cörvers and Van der Meer. They like the AOb that the workload must be reduced and the salary increased, followed by the status of the profession. Tamar van Gelder, chairman of the AOb: “We have been fighting for years that teachers should be able to grow in salary, without leaving the classroom. Agreements about this are still far too often not complied with by employers.”

A good school culture can also help retain teachers, says Cörvers. “Some schools are still old-fashioned, rigid organizations. At some point, a certain type of teacher finds it more fun to work in a more dynamic, somewhat more businesslike environment. And that is more in the companies around education.”

The Education Council did in 2019 research to educational service providers. Think of method makers, test developers, advisors, trainers and researchers. The conclusion was that the demand from the schools and the supply in the market do not match well. According to the Education Council, the market and funding are fragmented, there is a threat of monopoly formation in the field of educational materials and there is little insight into quality. The council also advised the government to exercise restraint with regard to temporary subsidies.
Two years later, in 2021, the cabinet will come up with a huge subsidy bag: 8,5 billion euros, under the name National Education Program (NPO). With this, education should mainly eliminate corona backlogs. To which the Education Council states that the NPO billions should be a prelude to sustainable investments in education.
Despite the fact that the growth of the shell started well before the pandemic, experts suspect that a lot of NPO money due to staff shortages in education external parties goes.

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