In secondary schools in particular, there is a shortage of teachers. The result is often missed lessons. Saxony-Anhalt now wants to go a new way. There is some harsh criticism.

Saxony-Anhalt wants to test a model with four face-to-face teaching days per week and one day for distance learning or practical days in companies at a dozen schools. A spokesman for the Ministry of Education in Magdeburg explained that the basis was a decision by the state parliament to test new models for organizing lessons in schools.

The schools would have responded to a corresponding call for tenders. However, the ministry does not see the model as an instrument against a shortage of teachers. “Spiegel Online” and the “Magdeburger Volksstimme” had previously reported. In secondary schools in particular, there is a shortage of teachers, which often results in the cancellation of lessons.

Specifically, the 4-plus-1 model is to be tested at twelve secondary and community schools in the new 2022/23 school year. The pupils are to be taught in the schools for four days. According to the ministry spokesman, the fifth day should be dealt with relatively creatively. Digital learning via apps or the Moodle portal is just as possible as visits to companies and practical learning days. The model project should run for a school year and then be evaluated, it said.

There was criticism from teachers’ associations. The Education and Training Association (VBE) explained that the model represented “a declaration of bankruptcy by the state of Saxony-Anhalt in the field of education”. The state chairman Torsten Wahl criticized: «Here life and learning time is clearly wasted at the expense of the students. Such a day must be planned, prepared, carried out and followed up very well in the teaching work. However, a distance learning day means an enormous additional burden for the teachers.»

Association: Lesson cancellation statistics would be massively embellished

Even the German Teachers’ Association doesn’t believe in a four-day week at school plus a distance day. “We see that extremely critically,” said association president Heinz-Peter Meidinger of the German Press Agency. “Not only do we suspect that a savings model is to be introduced step by step, but that the lesson cancellation statistics are also to be massively embellished.”

Meidinger said that distance learning may work at times in the upper grades, where young people are used to working independently. However, younger students need face-to-face classes.

The President of the Teachers’ Association is particularly critical of the fact that the fifth day should be flexible. “That means that it no longer depends on the specialist timetable, but that you can do whatever you want there.” Meidinger fears a “permanent drop in level”. Previously binding learning goals would be even less achievable.

“The desperate acts of the countries to cover up the long talked about shortage of teachers are increasing,” said the chairman of the Association for Education and Training, Udo Beckmann, the dpa. “The measure in Saxony-Anhalt is nothing more than an admission of a personnel policy that has failed for years and a veiled reduction in the hourly table.” He spoke of an emergency measure because it is increasingly being recognized that “the reservoir from which lateral and career changers or retired teachers could be recruited is largely exhausted”.