Teaching unions, employers reach deal on primary school teacher pay

School chiefs and teaching unions have reached agreement on a new pay deal for primary school teachers which will see all teachers being placed in a 'much higher salary scale'. Teachers will also get a 2.5% pay rise in September,  a one-off payment of 42% of their new monthly salary and a maximum bonus of €750, depending on how many hours they work, the NRC reported on Thursday. Primary school teachers have been campaigning since last October for higher pay and less pressure of work, caused, in part, by a shortage of teaching staff. The deal still has to be approved by teachers themselves. Earlier this year, the national statistics office CBS said one in five primary school teachers are now is over the age of 55 and that means the number of teachers some 10 years away from retirement has almost doubled in the past 14 years. At the same time, the number of students at teacher training colleges has slumped, the CBS said. In the 2003/04 academic year, 10,000 people were attending pabo colleges to become a teacher. There are just 4,500 students in the current academic year. The CBS says the sharp drop is due to stronger selection procedures to become a teacher.  More >

Fewer children are bullied at school

The number of children being bullied at secondary school has fallen sharply following concerted efforts to tackle the problem, according to new education ministry figures. In 2014, 11% of secondary school pupils said they were bullied, but that has now fallen to 5%, the education ministry figures show. At primary schools, one in 10 under-12s say they are the victim of bullying, the same as in 2016 but down from 14% in 2014. Education minister Arie Slob described the reduction as a 'tremendous performance from schools, teachers, pupils, parents and everyone else who has worked on this.' Nevertheless, 'we must remain on top of the situation', Slob said, adding that reducing bullying requires a long-haul effort. Bullying at school hit the headlines in 2012 when three teenagers committed suicide in quick succession because of being bullied at school. In 2013, then-education minister Sander Dekker and the children's ombudsman drew up a plan of campaign to tackle the problem. In 2015, all schools were required by law to tackle bullying. Primary schools In May this year, a report by five Dutch universities and mental health monitor Trimbos found that only four out of 10 popular methods to combat bullying in primary schools actually worked. The report also showed 30% of primary school children experience instances of bullying at school and a smaller group, 1 in 14, is bullied more than once a week. Of this group a third does not tell anyone about the bullying and 97% of these children have been bullied over several years.  More >

Students furious, government ups loan bill

Student campaign group LSVB has reacted angrily to news that the government is planning to extend the fixed interest rate period for student loans from five to 10 years because repayments will be more expensive, broadcaster NOS said on Friday. Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven has sent draft legislation to parliament extending the fixed period from five to 10 years to all loans taken out from 2020. The measure was included in the coalition agreement. 10-year loans are more expensive than five-year ones and the minister estimates students will have to pay back an extra 18% a month on their loans - €82 rather than €70 on the average loan of €21,000. However, if students take the full 35 years to pay back the cash, they will be thousands of euros worse off, student groups say. The measure will raise some €226m for the treasury and is necessary to keep the student loan system affordable, the minister said. The government scrapped student grants in 2015 and pledged at the time the extra cash would be ploughed back into education. It also said the debt would not have an impact on mortgage applications. However, it has transpired in the last few days that loans are being included by banks on assessing mortgage applications and that the money saved by scrapping grants has not yet been put into higher education.  More >

Dutch scientist wins Kavli award

Dutch astronomer Ewine van Dishoeck has won the prestigious Kavli award for astrophysics for her work on the origin of stars and planets. She will receive the gold medal and €1m prize money from the hands of King Harald V of Norway on Tuesday. ‘I am still speechless after the phone call from the Norwegian Academy,’ Van Dishoeck, who became chairman of the International Astronomical Union in the same week, said. ‘It’s a great honour, especially for my young co-workers and colleagues worldwide. Thanks to them we are now in the Champions League of astronomy.’ ‘But is not just about pure science but the fact that we are helping to solve one of human kind’s greatest puzzles: are we alone in the universe?’ she added. The Kavli award is awarded every two years by the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters.  More >