Michael Piazolo takes a little time for what is perhaps the most important sentence. The Minister of Education (FW) actually invited people to the Munich Literaturhaus this Friday to talk about the new school year. Instead, it’s first about the past school years: about the teacher demand forecast, with which the ministry is trying to look into the future – and about the measures that were taken to acquire staff for Bavaria’s schools. The result, from Piazolo’s point of view: When it comes to teaching provision for the 2023/24 school year, things are better than in the previous year. And: “We are currently fully on schedule.”
Secure? Not everyone is equally convinced of this plan. School doesn’t start again until Tuesday – but what might be expected then has been criticized for days. The Bavarian Teachers’ Association (BLLV) assumes that classes could be canceled again in some places. Fürth’s school mayor warned Bavarian Radio, the shortage of teachers is primarily at the expense of additional offers such as the theater club. The Bavarian Education and Science Union (GEW) called for “the dramatic education crisis” to be addressed; most recently, more than 6,000 young people left schools without a qualification. And the SPD parliamentary group found: “Nice words at the start of school do not help Bavaria’s children.” Even if the Ministry of Culture likes to praise itself, the situation is “anything but satisfactory.”
Piazolo tried to counter the criticism on Friday. He explains that he is asking for understanding. And he refers to the statistics for the new school year. Accordingly, a good 3,700 new teachers were recruited; they are primarily intended to cover the permanent positions. In addition, there is an as yet unknown number of contract teachers, especially at primary and secondary schools. In addition, around 4,000 people are starting teacher training. Among them are 600 career changers who previously learned another profession and are now being retrained as part of a two-year traineeship. Piazolo thinks highly of the instrument of lateral entry; The hotline that the ministry set up for interested parties received “many inquiries”.
However, there is still a shortage of teachers. One reason for this can also be seen in the statistics for the new school year: across school types, around 1.67 million children and young people need to be taught and looked after – 31,200 more than in the previous school year. The increase is particularly large at primary and middle schools at 3.9 percent. On the one hand, this is due to demographics, Bavaria is a country of immigration. On the other hand, an additional 30,000 Ukrainian children need to be integrated into schools. In purely mathematical terms, that roughly corresponds to a high school year, says Piazolo, “that’s pretty massive.”
In the school family, they are of course aware of the resulting constraints. Some also assume that given the number of new hires, the new school year will actually go better than the old one. However, the amount of lessons that can ultimately be held varies from school to school. BLLV and GEW express a lack of understanding that the ministry is increasingly relying on lateral entrants – but is not pulling other levers hard enough to address the personnel shortage. For example, young, fully trained teachers are often denied employment, according to the GEW.
Even those who want to move to Bavaria from other federal states sometimes have a difficult time. One affected person told the SZ that she had even been advised to try it in Baden-Württemberg. Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) announced at the beginning of the year that he wanted to poach teachers nationwide. According to the Ministry of Culture, final figures on this are not yet available. There is an increase, says Piazolo, but “not a huge influx”. A teacher who has been teaching in Schleswig-Holstein for 20 years would probably not want to move to Bavaria – but perhaps a trainee teacher would.
However, even the best ideas cannot change the initial situation quickly. The shortage of personnel is therefore likely to remain the dominant issue in the following school years. For example, families with primary school children will have a legal right to full-day care from 2026 – which will require even more skilled workers than today. And there is also a staff shortage in the private sector. The state and the market have long been competing for a few people.
But now the 2023/24 school year is coming. Piazolo says he doesn’t want to sugarcoat anything, of course there are challenges. But he is surprised at the “furor with which the school is being talked down to.” Rather, school should be a place where people enjoy going.