Half of heads of primary and special needs schools think using commercial agencies to fill vacancies should be banned for being too expensive, a survey by school heads’ association AVS and the Volksrant found.
Some 586 heads participated in the survey, most of whom work in primary and special education, the sectors most affected by the current teacher shortage.
Schools are increasingly turning to commercial agencies to supply teachers, for both permanent and temporary positions. One in three school heads has used their services, with an almost equal number refusing to use them on principle, the paper said.
Many school heads said they were angry because some mediators lure teachers into freelancing by giving them extras which schools can’t afford, such a higher initial salary.
No-one knows much extra public money is spent on jobs agencies but from the amounts mentioned by the school leaders the paper concludes ‘millions’ are involved. One school leader said a replacement teacher hired for four months via an agency costs around €20,000 more than when recruited via the normal channels.
‘There is so much public money to these agencies. It’s all money that should by rights be spent on pupils and schools,’ Nicolette Schippers, interim head of the Eenhoorn school for children with special needs, said.
AVS chairwoman Petra van Haren said that while an agency teacher costs 30% to 50% percent more, a ban should not be necessary. ‘Heads have the option to use and agency or not,’ she told the paper.
Eight Amsterdam school administrations which together represent 125 primary schools have already decided not to use commercial agencies. They cited ‘absurdly high hourly rates’ while the teachers themselves only earn a fraction more than the regular teachers.
In a reaction education minister Arie Slob said he applauds the Amsterdam schools for their decision because the agencies are unfairly profiting from the lack of teachers by raising rates. However, he said an official ban may be against the law.
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