Primary schools still lack up to 700 teachers

Teacher norm budget osloTeachers. Photo: Pixabay / NTM

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Primary schools have received the equivalent of 1,100 full-time teacher positions since last year but are still lacking up to 700 teachers before staffing norms are met.

The teaching norm was adopted in November 2017 and requires at least one teacher per 15 pupils in Grades 1 to 4 and one teacher per 20 pupils aged 5 to 7 as well as at the secondary school levels.

The Directorate of Education’s calculations show that up to 700 full-time teachers may still be required for all schools to meet the required teacher-student ratio. In total, this applies to 22 per cent of the schools mainly located in the country’s largest municipalities.

Lowest figure in eleven years
However, many schools barely meet the requirements. From Grades 1 to 4, 7 percent of the schools lack at least half the required ratio and 5 percent for students between 5 and 10 years.

The national average is now 14 pupils per teacher in Grades 1 to 4, while the total for primary school is 15.9 pupils per teacher. According to the Directorate, this is the lowest figure in eleven years but this is due to both more teachers and fewer students.

“The figures show that municipalities and schools do an important job of recruiting teachers. Not everyone is fully in line with the teacher ratio. It is therefore important that the municipalities continue their good work,” said Minister of Knowledge and Integration, Jan Tore Sanner (H).

A government-appointed committee suggested last week that the teaching norm should be lifted and justified this, among other things, with substantial funds being tied up in a scheme that is not flexible.

Sanner said that this is out of the question. 

Fewer unqualified teachers
The GSI or primary school information systems’ figures for the 2019 to 2020 school year show that more teachers have received professional specialization with higher education and there are fewer unqualified teachers.

“This shows that the government’s commitment to more teachers and further education works. The teaching norm has contributed to more teachers in the school, and students more often meet teachers with solid competence,” said Sanner.

“At the same time, the municipalities must do more for those schools that need more teachers and give priority to further education,” he added.

By 2025, all teachers who teach Norwegian, Mathematics and English will have a necessary number of credits and specialization to teach the subjects.

“Now there are more teachers and more teachers with sufficient expertise in the classrooms. Good teachers are the most important thing for children’s learning,” said Sanner.

The NIFU (Nordic Institute for Studies of Innovation, Research and Education) has been commissioned to evaluate the teaching norm in the period 2019 to 2022, and will, among other things, look at whether more teachers have influenced learning and whether it has strengthened pupils’ learning and well-being.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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