Staff shortages, overtime, poor pay, as well as challenges such as the corona pandemic, all-day expansion or the integration of refugee children and young people: The education system and its staff are reaching the limits of their resilience.
Sometimes quality simply begins with the right numbers: group sizes of a maximum of 15 children and a personnel key of 1:3 for crèche children and 1:7.5 for children from the age of three – these are prerequisites for childhood educator Rahel Dreyer that “specialists can respond to the needs of children […]” in the daycare center. However, this has little to do with reality, hardly any federal state meets this requirement. And this despite the fact that daycare centers set the course for later educational success. “Several studies show that children develop linguistically, cognitively and socially unfavorably when these standards are undermined,” says Dreyer in the “Spiegel+” interview. In this context, the scientist criticizes that the federal government has left the use of the funds to the federal states in the “Good Kita Act”. Instead of investing in quality, some countries preferred to relieve parents of daycare contributions.
Shortage of skilled workers hits the weaker particularly hard
The shortage of personnel in dealing with children and young people from socially disadvantaged families has a drastic impact, because they need a lot of support at school. A study by the Joint Welfare Association showed that 72 percent of employees who work in daycare centers in socially weak environments can “not at all or rather not” meet this need for support due to the too low personnel key. A problem that many focal point schools also know. Like Hamburg, Saxony or NRW, Baden-Württemberg is now planning to introduce a social index for the targeted promotion of these schools. Hamburg schools in socially disadvantaged districts, for example, get up to 50 percent more staff.
“Young people from difficult situations need both, attention and trust in teachers,” says Prof. Dr. Riecke construction leak. The head of the Center for School Quality and Teacher Education (ZSL) Baden-Württemberg also emphasizes in the journal of the Philologists Association Baden-Württemberg: “Teachers are managers and practice one of the most important professions in our society. They enable the education and democratic ability of the next generation.” But although they are so important, they are missing in many places – including vocational schools. Many teacher positions remain vacant there every year, thousands of lessons are cancelled, especially in the STEM subjects. According to Pankraz Männlein, Chairman of the Federal Association of Teachers for Vocational Education and Training, the number of teachers who leave due to age. V. (BvLB), “far higher than the number of teacher training students who are moving forward”.
Young talent is crucial for the future
Professionals must therefore not only be recruited, but above all trained in higher numbers. For example, the fact that the number of dropouts in some teacher training courses is almost 50 percent is a clear sign for the GEW trade union for “significant shortcomings in the courses of study”. Chairman Maike Finnern calls for the improvement of study conditions, the training capacities in studies and legal clerkship to be increased and the Numerus clausus (NC) to be abolished for all teacher training. It is high time to oblige the federal and state governments to “make a promise to invest ten percent of gross domestic product in education and research.”
“With more staff, working conditions for everyone improve. This increases the chances that more people will decide to work in a daycare center or school and at the same time the existing specialists remain at work,” sums up Anette Stein from the Bertelsmann Stiftung. However, the way is still a long way to go, and only through an interplay of different measures can a way out of the hamster wheel called “skill shortage” be found.
About didacta – the education fair
From 07. to 11. March 2023, didacta, as the world’s largest and Germany’s most important education fair, will once again bring together teachers, educators, trainers and representatives from politics, business and science in Stuttgart.