Dutch primary schools are changing their timetables

Dutch primary schools are changing their timetables

In order to cope with the growing shortage of teachers and volunteers, Dutch primary schools are having to change their timetables.

Shorter lunch breaks and shorter days

A report by the Dutch education agency DUO has found that more and more primary schools in the Netherlands are changing their timetables in order to cope with the ever-increasing shortage of teachers and volunteers. DUO spoke to 400 school directors while conducting its survey.

One in four schools said that they have changed their timetable to include a shorter lunch break, lessons finishing at 2.45pm and no classes on Wednesday afternoon. A similar number of schools offers the same start and end times across all five days.

Only one in three primary schools has kept to the traditional school schedule of an 8.30am to 8.45am start time and a 2.30pm to 3.30pm finishing time, with children mainly going home for lunch and no school on Wednesday afternoon. Back in the 2011-2012 school year, 77 percent of schools stuck to this schedule - a great deal more than nowadays. 

A lack of volunteers

According to DUO, “many schools are finding it difficult to get enough parents or other volunteers to supervise the children during the long lunch break.” A shorter lunch break also affords parents extra flexibility, as it is spent at school rather than at home, meaning that parents only have to take their children to school once a day.

Primary schools in the Netherlands are free to set their own timetables, as long as they comply with certain stipulations: children must be at school five days a week and must be guaranteed at least 7.520 hours of class during the eight years they spend at this level of school.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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