Retirees must address the teacher shortage – a drop in the ocean

Berlin. Thousands of teachers are expected to be missing in the next school year – nationwide. In order to fill this gap, ministries of education are increasingly turning to retired teachers. Can it solve this shortage of teachers? The Berlin example shows: No.

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Rolf Booth could have retired for a year and a half. But the primary school teacher at Christian Morgenstern Primary School in Berlin-Spandau continues to teach. The 67-year-old says the question if he wants to continue teaching was a bit surprising. “I wouldn’t have done it myself,” he says. At that time, he immediately agreed. “Today, at 67, we are younger than our grandparents at the same age. My grandfather was limping at the time.” Recently, Büthe has taught a total of 26 hours four days a week.

The teacher is one of six retired teachers at Christian Morgenstern. There, nearly 50 teachers teach about 580 students from first to sixth grade.

A total of 325 retired teachers are currently working in Berlin schools this academic year, the Senate Education Ministry announced at the end of July. According to a 2020 report by Tagesspiegel, there were about 140 teachers retired in the 2002/19 academic year, and 156 in the 2018/19 academic year.

“Berlin has trained very, very few primary school teachers at universities in recent years”

The year before last year, Büthe had had his senior year and originally wanted to leave school with the kids. “I’ve had the separation for a few years, and over time they grow together,” Büthe says. He no longer has his own class as a class teacher.

Büthe loves the idea of ​​bringing retired teachers back to school. It is not assumed that hiring retired teachers will solve the teacher shortage problem.

Press spokesman for the Federation of Education and Science (GEW) in Berlin, Markus Hansch, believes it makes sense to turn to retired teachers. However, he is of the opinion that the number of retired teachers cannot even begin to cover the current demand for teachers. In his estimation, the most qualified, who want, and feel able to do so, often already exist.

Berlin has about 700 public schools of general education – they had more than 330,000 pupils in the last academic year. In contrast, there are a total of 33,988 teachers – and according to Education Senator Astrid Sabine Posey (SPD), 920 teachers are expected to lose for the new school year.

“The teaching profession itself should be made more attractive, for example by reducing working hours”

«Berlin hat in den vergangenen Jahren deutlich zu wenig Grundschullehrkräfte an den Universitäten ausgebildet und zu wenig Referendarsplätze in dem Bereich bereitgestellt», kritisiert der Schulleiter des Immanuel-Kant-Gymnasiums in Lichtenberg, Arnd Niedermöller, der auch Vorsitzender der Vereinigung der Oberstudiendirektoren des Landes Berlin he is. The capital should have reacted much earlier to this deficiency.

Every year 2,000 to 3,000 teachers are needed in Berlin, says GEW spokesperson Hanisch. However, only about 800 to 900 teachers are trained each year at the three major universities. Hanisch calls for more effort in training. Additionally, in his opinion, existing staff should be better paid and distributed, and more non-teacher faculty should be hired.

However, according to the Federal President of the Association for Education and Training (VBE), Udo Beckmann, the problem begins early – that is, during studies. He criticized the number of dropouts from teacher training courses as high as 60 per cent in some areas. Politicians should increase study capacity and ensure there are not too many dropouts while improving study conditions.

The teaching profession itself must also be made more attractive, for example by reducing working hours, according to school director Niedermüller. “26 hours in high school is a disaster,” he says. “This is too much.”

Retired teacher Rolf Booth will be working less than before in the upcoming school year, so he is slowly winding down his teaching career. “At some point it’s fine too,” he says. News4teachers / Articles from dpa

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