Primary schools in Amsterdam are considering a four-day week to head off the shortage of teachers, although it is unclear as yet as to whether school inspectors would agree, Trouw reported on Monday.
The children would still spend the fifth day in school but it is not yet clear what activities they would be offered.
‘A four-day week is a real possibility,’ Lieke Thesingh of the primary school board association BBO told the paper. ‘The big advantage is that teachers’ workloads are reduced and they will then have time to check homework or prepare lessons.’
Schools have been asked by education minister Arie Slob to come up with solutions for the teacher shortages before the end of January. Amsterdam, for example, currently needs 384 full time teachers compared to 280 at the beginning of this school year.
‘It’s not ideal but the Amsterdam schools are trying to be creative,’ Nienke Meijer, who is responsible for teacher training at the HBO college association, told the paper. ‘It would be nice if the children were to do something extra in the area of technology or personal development on the fifth day,’ she said.
After a year of dispute and strikes, earlier this month unions and employers reached agreement on a new pay and conditions deal for primary school teachers and support staff.
The deal, which comes into effect on January 1, gives staff a pay rise of 4.5%, a one-off payment of 33% of their monthly salary and a one-off bonus of €875.
Despite the agreement, unions say strikes planned for the end of January will still go ahead as the campaign for a structural increase in funding for primary education continues.
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