The teacher shortage in special education leads to larger classes, changing faces for the class and waiting lists, according to research from NU.nl. Schools fear that this leads to unrest among their students.
NU.nl asked school leaders in special education and special primary education what consequences the teacher shortage has for their school.
238 school leaders participated in the study. Together they completed the questionnaire for approximately one third of schools in special education and special primary education.
Students sometimes wait a long time for special education
Several schools receive many applications and have enough physical space to hire new children. However, due to the shortage of teachers, these schools use a waiting list or placement list. According to a school in special primary education, children sometimes have to wait a year for a place. This means that children with learning difficulties have to stay longer in a normal primary school, or that pupils come to sit at home.
Special education is intended for children between 4 and 20 years old who, for example due to a disability, such as deafness or blindness, or a mental disorder, cannot go to regular education or so-called special primary education. This special primary education is for children with a learning disability that cannot be helped at a regular primary school.
See also: Why the number of students is increasing in special education
More often someone else in front of the class
Almost eighty percent of the participating special education schools currently have a shortage of teaching staff. In the majority of these schools, this ensures that the people who are there work more, students more often have a different face in front of the class and that students are occasionally sent home for a part of the day.
This causes a lot of trouble for the students. Marian van Ingen Schenau, school leader at the Berg en Bosch College in Bilthoven, a continuing special education school for children with a form of autism, explains that due to teacher shortage, changes in teachers and dropout rates occur more frequently. "This causes unrest and uncertainty among the students."
Ans Wildeboer from Mr. Schats Zuid in Rotterdam, a school for students with a behavioral disorder, states that her students need a steady face, but this is not always possible due to the teacher shortage. "These students get a bond with teachers, have to get used to the structure that a teacher offers, and cannot actually deal with changes and uncertainty."
"A lot of art and flight work"
Several school leaders say that, despite the teacher shortage, it takes a lot of time and energy to teach everyone at school.
"We do a lot of art and flying work", says Jenny Martijn, team leader of the Wim Monnereau school in Veendam. "We had a four-day school week last year to prevent one group of students from staying at home for longer."
Little attention for special education at the teacher training college
Schools say that in order to solve the teacher shortage, in general many more people need to be trained to become teachers. Moreover, special needs education should pay more attention in the teacher training colleges. Mellani Miedema of special primary education school De Vogelhorst in Barneveld says that there is little acquaintance with special education in the teacher training colleges. "For example, teacher training students only sporadically do our internship."
Wim Ludeke of the National Expertise Center for Special Education (LECSO) recognizes that there is little attention for special education at the teacher training colleges. "Often students can only follow special education courses on their own initiative."