One in five primary school teachers are over 55

In the 2017/’18 school year, 21 percent of primary school teachers were 55 years of age or older. During 2003/’04, this share was still 11 percent. The number of older male teachers is relatively large: one in three primary teachers are 55 years or over, according to results from an analysis which Statistics Netherlands (CBS) has conducted on behalf of the Dutch public broadcasting association WNL.

The teaching workforce in primary education is currently ageing. In the 2003/’04 school year, 11 percent of primary teachers were 55 years of age or over, as against 21 percent in 2017/’18. Male teachers in particular are ageing rapidly: currently, over one in three teachers are aged 55 or over. Among their female counterparts, this share stands at nearly one in six (18 percent). In ten years’ time, the majority will have left the classroom.

Primary school teachers
   2003 (%)2017 (%)
Men15 to 24 yrs2.33.6
Men25 to 34 yrs16.325.0
Men35 to 44 yrs18.617.9
Men45 to 54 yrs41.917.9
Men55 yrs or older20.935.7
Women15 to 24 yrs10.04.8
Women25 to 34 yrs26.728.6
Women35 to 44 yrs26.725.4
Women45 to 54 yrs29.223.8
Women55 yrs or older7.518.3

Fewer students in primary teacher training

The number of potential new teachers has declined relative to school year 2003/’04. For example, out of all first-year students at universities of applied sciences (HBO) in 2003/’04, 9.7 thousand were in primary teacher training (PABO). At 4.5 thousand, this number had more than halved in 2017/’18. This number has started to go up again slightly over the past three years.
In recent years, PABO teacher education has been affected by tighter admission requirements. These changes were intended to improve the quality of training, but have also had consequences for the number of entering first-year students.

Male PABO students have been underrepresented for years, but their number has been fairly stable at 1,000. The number of female students attending PABO is falling. During school year 2003/’04, there were 8.3 thousand women among first-year PABO students, versus as few as 3.3 thousand in 2016/’17.

First-year students in teacher training (HBO)

A job outside primary education

Not everyone with a degree in primary teacher training will become a classroom teacher. Among male PABO graduates, 6 in 10 are engaged in a profession other than teaching. Some are teachers in secondary education (6 percent) while others have become managers (10 percent). Women with a PABO diploma who do not work as primary school teachers are relatively often childcare group leaders, teaching assistants (9 percent) or teachers in secondary education (4 percent).

Infographic, Beroepen van mensen met een pabo-opleiding 2014-2015

Fewer primary school pupils

The number of children at primary school age has already fallen and will continue to do so in the future. According to CBS’ population forecast, the number of children between ages 5 and 12 will continue to decline by 70 thousand over the next ten years. In primary education, the number of teachers is not fully aligned with the number of children due to the fact that many teachers work part-time.