An increasing number of Dutch primary schools are changing their timetables to cope with the mounting shortage of teachers and volunteers, according to a report by educational research group Duo.
In particular, lunch breaks are being shortened and schools are closing earlier in the day, Duo said, after carrying out a survey of 400 school directors.
Only a third of primary schools now start at the traditional time of 8.30 to 8.45am and close between 14.30 and 15.30, with children mainly going home for lunch and no school on Wednesday afternoon. In the 2011-2012 school year, 77% of schools kept to this schedule.
One in four of the schools in the survey said they have now introduced a roster with a short lunch break, no lessons on Wednesday afternoon and an end to formal lessons at 2.45pm.
A similar percentage offer the same start and end times over all five days.
‘Many schools are finding it difficult to get enough parents or other volunteers to supervise the children during the long lunch break,’ Duo said.
Parental pressure is also having an effect. The shorter lunch break, spent at school rather than home, means parents only have to take their children to school once a day, giving them more flexibility as well, Duo said.
Primary schools are free to set their own timetables, as long as children are at school five days a week and are guaranteed 7,520 hours of lessons during their eight years of lower school.
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