Shortage of schools: How countries attract teachers

As of: 01/27/2023 6:52 p.m

Bavaria is trying money, Brandenburg is tempting with quick official appointments, Saxony-Anhalt with a four-day week, others rely on pensioners: the federal states are taking remarkable steps to recruit teachers.

He prefers not to reveal his name. Just this much: He is in his mid-forties and has been a primary school teacher in a small community in southern Brandenburg for two and a half years. A career changer job.

The man was a successful salesman in the field from the outset: time pressure, long working days, but also a company car, a good salary and some amenities. He traded all of that for a job in elementary school. Instead of economic and financial mathematics, he now explains the basics.

From the point of view of Brandenburg’s state government, far too few people are still taking this path. Around 15 percent of the teachers in the country are currently not originally trained educators. In view of the need for 1,600 teachers in the coming years, politicians must urgently take countermeasures. Nationwide, the numbers are even more dramatic: According to forecasts, 158,000 teachers will have to be replaced in the next ten years or so.

A bachelor’s degree should suffice

In Brandenburg, the prospect of quick official appointments is said to be attractive, in the future also for career changers who only have a bachelor’s degree, i.e. who have only studied for three years. “Our goal is to give those colleagues who are no longer able to study a second subject to become a full-fledged teacher a permanent good perspective in the school service,” explains Brandenburg Minister of Education Britta Ernst (SPD). Their goal: The teachers, who have sometimes been perceived as second-rate, should at some point be allowed to lose the stamp of lateral entrants.

A problem that is definitely confirmed by lateral entrants like the elementary school teacher from southern Brandenburg. “There is already a prejudice that graduate teachers are better teachers,” he reports. A fact that might well deter people from doing the same.

Bavaria lures with money

That is why almost all federal states are now taking steps to raise the status of lateral entrants. Bavaria, for example, relies primarily on financial incentives. In the future, even teachers in elementary and secondary schools should be able to receive the very high salary group A13, which was previously reserved for secondary schools.

Brandenburg, on the other hand, is pushing ahead in terms of status: it is the first federal state to lower the requirements for civil servants at Bachelor level. However, applicants must have completed an 18-month continuing education course.

Hartmut Stäker from the Brandenburg Association of Philologists nevertheless recognizes a weakness in the draft law. The highest level of civil service, A13, will continue to be awarded only to fully qualified teachers. For the others, one step below is the end. “That’s why I’m afraid that there may be disputes in the teachers’ rooms in the future,” Stäker said rbb.

And who teaches? There is an acute shortage of teachers in many schools.

Image: dpa

A “civil service light”?

The state parents’ council, on the other hand, is on the barricades against the project: In an open letter to the Minister of Education, there is talk of “second-class teaching”, which will be introduced with the civil service light. “Poor school results of the fourth graders, deficits after the corona pandemic, frequent cancellations of lessons,” diagnoses state parent council spokeswoman Ulrike Mauersberger in the education system.

She concludes from the situation: “All teachers must be qualified in such a way that they teach our children with the same quality.”

Only four days of lessons in Saxony-Anhalt

But what to do when these teachers are becoming fewer and fewer? The federal states sometimes develop remarkable creativity. A model project in Saxony-Anhalt is testing whether children could only be taught for four days. The teaching capacity would then increase somewhat by itself.

Baden-Württemberg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Berlin ask retired teachers to come back for a certain period of time or pay bonuses if teachers stay instead of retiring. There are also various programs to recruit teachers from abroad.

However, the ministries of education seem to be discovering the greatest potential in career changer or lateral entrant programs. There are comparable approaches in twelve of the 16 federal states. “There is no getting around the increased recruitment of career changers,” admits Heinz-Peter Meidinger, President of the German Teachers’ Association. “But you have to qualify them properly and not throw them directly into the class. Nothing works without a three to six month preliminary phase.”

Torture for career changers

An ordeal that the career changer from the southern Brandenburg primary school has behind him. “When I think about the hours I scrubbed through in the first year to get ready for the job and to prepare my hours,” he describes in retrospect. “I sat there all night. From today’s perspective I wouldn’t do that again.”

Rather, this preparation should be carried out by qualification institutions such as the Potsdam further education association WiB. In-service training courses are organized here in cooperation with the university of the state capital. The man in his mid-40s from southern Brandenburg has now also landed here. His goal: to become a civil servant as soon as possible. “I enjoy working with the children and I did it voluntarily,” explains the father of three. “But now I would like to improve in terms of salary and security.”

A feeling with which various state governments want to lure career changers by becoming civil servants. However, no other state has gone as far as Brandenburg: according to the Conference of Ministers of Education, official status after only three years of study will only be available here for the time being.

source site