Primary schools that ask parents to take the place of absent teachers will not be penalised if they are facing a genuine emergency, education minister Arie Slob has indicated.
The long-running recruitment crisis in the sector has led schools to adopt a range of measures to make up for staff shortages, such as a four-day week or scrapping some subjects from the curriculum.
Officially schools are banned from allowing untrained personnel to take classes and a four-day week is only permitted for a maximum of seven weeks. But Slob, who held talks with school officials two weeks ago, said the law would be applied flexibly if schools were unable to find enough teachers.
Six weeks ago organisations responsible for providing education in the four largest cities plus Almere wrote to the minister outlining the ‘acute and concerning situation’ in the classroom. There are currently around 1,400 unfilled vacancies for teachers nationwide.
The ministry told Het Parool that schools would have to draw up emergency plans showing that no alternative was available and giving reasons to show that the measures taken were designed to maintain educational standards. They will also have to report all deviations from the law to the inspectorate and secure the consent of parents’ and advisory councils.
‘We are adjusting to the current reality and looking at the reports we receive in context,’ said education inspectors’ spokesman Daan Jansen. ‘But schools still need to be able to explain what they are doing and why. That will ensure we can continue to think carefully about these measures.’
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