Shortage of teachers: why the problem could be even bigger than expected – politics

Schools in Germany are facing difficult weeks – and an acute shortage of teachers. The number of infections, especially among children and young people, is reaching new highs every day, and the number of teachers who are temporarily absent is also increasing. Baden-Württemberg, for example, reported 1,132 teachers who tested positive for Corona on Monday and 807 who were in quarantine. Both values ​​are about twice as high as a week earlier. In order to fill gaps in care, Federal Minister for Family Affairs Anne Spiegel (Greens) has already offered schools and day-care centers reinforcements from pedagogical specialists who work for federal programs. It is important, according to Spiegel, “to mobilize all available resources”.

But a glaring shortage of teachers, which requires the mobilization of all available resources, is by no means a short-term problem caused by Corona for German schools. On the contrary: Primary and special schools in particular have been struggling for years with a massive shortage of teachers, which the federal states can only make up for in a makeshift manner with lateral entrants and reactivated pensioners. Many schools, the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) does not deny this, are facing not only difficult weeks, but difficult years. And the situation may be even worse than previously thought.

On behalf of the Education and Training Association (VBE), the renowned Essen education researcher Klaus Klemm examined how resilient the KMK-Prognosen to the teacher market for the years 2020 to 2030. His result, which he presented on Tuesday: The countries have miscalculated. According to Klemm’s calculations, there will be a shortage of 45,000 teachers in schools in 2025 – more than twice as many as calculated by the KMK. For the year 2030, Klemm even predicts a gap in the staff room of 81,000 people, almost six times as large as predicted by the ministries of education. And even that, Klemm believes, is only half the truth.

The predictions of the politicians are “highly dubious”

The forecast by the KMK assumes that between 2020 and 2030 a total of almost 350,000 newly trained teachers will leave the universities and be available to schools, an average of around 32,000 per year. Klemm believes it will actually be more than 60,000 fewer. The reason: the number of school graduates is currently falling, as is the number of students in the teaching profession.

However, such empirical data played no role in the projections in half of the countries, criticizes Klemm. Rather, from 2020 to 2030, North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, simply continues the figures of the previous year; Saxony even expects that year after year there will be exactly as many teachers available as the schools need. These predictions are “grotesque” and “highly dubious,” says Klemm. “They basically didn’t make any offer calculations.”

However, the educational researcher believes that the countries not only overestimated the supply of teachers, they also underestimated the demand. Klemm assumes that current educational policy decisions will significantly increase demand, without the federal states taking this into account in their forecasts. This applies, for example, to the legal entitlement to all-day care for primary school children, which the then black-red federal government decided in 2021. From 2026 onwards it will initially apply to first graders and then to all primary school children by 2029. If the whole day is not only to be used for care, but also for education, not only educators but also teachers would have to be planned for this. Klemm expects almost 20,000 jobs by 2030. However, they have not yet appeared in the statistics.

This also applies to the additional teachers who will be needed in the next few years for inclusion and support for so-called hotspot schools. Klemm estimates that about 25,000 more jobs will be needed each time. In Klemm’s forecast, a total of 75,000 people will be added to the gap of 81,000 missing teachers by 2030. This does not include measures that are intended to make up for the gaps in the pandemic and that could still be decided, emphasizes Klemm. So far, there has been a lack of reliable data for this.

Udo Beckmann, the chairman of the VBE, described the KMK prognosis as a “huge sham”. Politicians must “immediately and comprehensively derive the urgently needed consequences from the available knowledge and finally stop calculating the actual need for teachers”. Among other things, Beckmann called for a nationwide recruitment campaign for teachers and additional study places. The “attractiveness of the job description” must also be “noticeably” increased.

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