Lateral entry as a teacher: a concept to combat the shortage of teachers

Lateral entry as a teacher: a concept to combat the shortage of teachers

In 2018, a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that by 2025, Germany would be short 35000 teachers in elementary schools alone. The Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs previously assumed a much smaller number and had to react. It was quickly determined that the impending deficit could only be countered by measures at several levels.

There is a growing shortage of teachers – what to do?

The main concern is the sufficient training of junior teachers. Because the shortage will occur primarily at elementary schools – and logically there first – more young people must be persuaded to enter the elementary teaching profession. However, this does not come cheap: As motivating factors, aspects such as pay, retirement benefits and security of dismissal play a considerable role. In addition, to accommodate the increased number of students, university capacity must be increased. The idea of bringing elementary school teachers’ salaries in line with those of high school teachers is also on the table and would incur additional costs.

Even if enough money actually goes into these measures, there will most likely be a bottleneck. The teacher training program is quite long. The majority of those who decide to do so now will not have completed their studies by 2025, let alone their traineeships.

Many question marks for existing teachers

The situation is serious. The overall strategy does include other components. But there is a lot of uncertainty involved in some of them. For example, in elementary schools, women make up the clear majority of teachers. Many work part-time, often because they have children of their own to care for. While better child care services might encourage female teachers to work more hours. But it is impossible to reliably predict how many will actually increase their hours in the end. This lack of predictability also prevails with regard to older teachers, who are being persuaded to postpone their retirement through advantageous financial conditions.

Hopes rest on lateral entry into the teaching profession

This is why the approach of recruiting teachers through lateral entry is such an important pillar of the overall strategy. It should be greatly facilitated and encouraged. However, there are also fears that this could lead to losses in the professional and pedagogical quality of teaching.

It will definitely be a balancing act to ensure both more staff in a short time and good teaching. But there seems to be no alternative to it: Recruiting new teachers via lateral entry is indispensable part of the catalog of measures.

Policy failures

Education policy is a matter for the states. However, since the growing shortage of teachers affects the whole of Germany, it can be assumed that similar mistakes have been made everywhere. The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Lander in the Federal Republic of Germany (in which all the Lander are represented) used an estimate from 2013 as a basis until the Bertelsmann study came to its attention. Afterwards, no one seems to have given a second thought to whether the numbers would actually hold. The increase in the birth rate since 2011 was slept through, and as a result, too few teaching staff were trained.

Moreover, even measured against the outdated estimate, the training volume of new teachers is barely sufficient. It was hoped to get by with as few teachers as possible, because people wanted to save money and feared possible overcapacity, which could have led to teacher unemployment.

In the reality of the school world, however, unforeseen bottlenecks occur time and again, for example when more teachers in a college become pregnant or more teachers are ill or take early retirement than expected. As a consequence, it is a sad standard in everyday school life that teachers are repeatedly overworked and lessons are cancelled.

Lack of appreciation for education

This reveals a general attitude problem in politics and society. It is namely about the appreciation of education and its quality. A good education does not come for free. Instead of thinking about saving money, it would have been possible to train a lot of teachers and hire them even when there was a surplus. In good times, there would then be double staffing in classes, which generally makes pedagogical sense and would even be urgently necessary in numerous classes. For worse times and shortages, there would then be enough staff to provide all classes with at least one teacher per lesson.

Becoming a teacher via lateral entry: the best prospects

Due to the situation described above, the lateral entry into the teaching profession offers a job guarantee, provided that the right combination of subjects and targeted type of school exists.

Almost all elementary, secondary and vocational schools are desperately looking for teachers, and this is the case in all federal states. Where this is not yet the case, it will soon be the case. This does not apply to grammar schools for the time being. For this reason, attempts are also being made to persuade trained grammar school teachers to switch to teaching.

Lateral entry as a teacher: a concept to combat the shortage of teachers

Those who have studied mathematics are in demand

In principle, those who can teach the so-called MINT subjects (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology) have excellent chances. Moreover, there is a demand for teachers of religion, music, physical education, art, English and German in most states and at most schools. It is almost always sufficient if only one of the two subjects that can be taught is a deficiency subject. In the latter, however, the respective teacher will then also be predominantly deployed, in the other, however, hardly or not at all.

Prerequisites for a lateral entry into the teaching profession

The conditions for lateral entry into the teaching profession are best understood in comparison to the conventional training pathway. The usual teacher training consists of a pre-study and a main study (Bachelor/Master), which ends with the 1st state examination. The first state examination is completed. This is followed by a preparatory service of up to two years, commonly referred to as the Referendariat, in which didactic practice at school is practiced. The final degree is then awarded in the form of the 2. State examination.

  • Side entry into the teaching profession

A distinction must be made between lateral entry and lateral entry into the teaching profession. Lateral entry can be completed more quickly. The prerequisite is a non-teaching degree from a university or university of applied sciences. After a positive decision on the application, a pedagogical introduction follows for lateral entrants instead of a traineeship. This relates to one subject, lasts for one year and can also be completed part-time. The 2. State examination is not applicable.

A position can therefore be taken up quite quickly. However, there are disadvantages associated with this. For example, a civil service position is out of the question. There are also states that do not hire lateral entrants, or only use them in certain schools. Another shortcoming is that lateral entrants are often only given a temporary function. They are employed on a permanent basis, but are assigned where it is most needed without any significant say in the matter.

  • Lateral entry into the teaching profession

The basic prerequisite for a lateral entry for future teachers is a non-teaching degree in a subject for which there is a high demand. In addition, competence in a second subject is required, but this may be less well-founded. A completed bachelor’s degree, for example, would be sufficient. The fulfillment of this condition replaces the usual first long part of the teacher training course. The 1. State examination including the associated examinations is of course also omitted.

Who would like to complete the lateral entry to the teacher, must however the Referendariat and the 2. Get the state examination behind you. Once you have mastered this, you are a fully-fledged teacher and can also become a civil servant. However, there is an age limit for this, which is approx. is between 40 and 45 years old. Beyond this age, therefore, one cannot be accepted into government service.

Here, as in general, the exact conditions for admission to lateral or lateral entry into the teaching profession, as well as the horizon of subsequent opportunities, differ from state to state, because they are determined at the state level.

Lateral entry into the teaching profession is not advisable for everyone

All interested persons should honestly consider the question of whether they are suitable for this profession. If you want to become a teacher via lateral entry, you need to be able to work with children and young people, and have patience, the ability to work in a team and stress tolerance. It is possible to better assess oneself in this respect by means of a school internship or job shadowing.

Not everyone has a desirable degree of natural authority. When teachers can’t get a handle on their classes, it can degenerate into an agonizing struggle for which even the many benefits of the profession are probably not enough compensation.

Lateral entry as a teacher: a concept to combat the shortage of teachers

Working with children should be a pleasure

Imparting knowledge and skills with joy and motivation is a very important quality if you want to pursue this profession – for the benefit of the students, of course, but also for the teacher him/herself. Those who cannot draw strength and new motivation from a sense of achievement will probably find the teaching profession thankless and too strenuous.

High workload at the beginning

If you are planning to become a teacher via lateral or lateral entry, you must be aware that the initial period in particular is associated with a high workload. This is especially true, of course, when pedagogical training is part-time. Without practice, lesson preparation, exam design and correction are very time-consuming. Many people are not aware that there are other duties beyond teaching, such as parent-teacher conferences and meetings. After the lateral entry to become a teacher has been formally completed, it might therefore make sense not to start the entry into working life with the maximum number of hours.

Lateral entry into the teaching profession: extremely rewarding, if it fits

Teachers with the right qualifications are virtually rolled out on a red carpet. This is not only good in terms of prospects, but also provides the pleasant feeling of being really needed and wanted. In addition, this opens up the possibility of a greater say or choice with regard to the number of hours per week and the place of work. A possible Verbeamtung has of course enormous advantages, and generally teachers/inside do not draw a bad salary. For those who enjoy working with children and have some talent, teaching in a school is a very nice profession that gives a lot back.

Other questions?

If you are interested in a lateral entry into the teaching profession, you will find a lot of information on the Internet. Ultimately, however, the ministries of education of the federal states are the points of contact for questions involving details. There you can get information brochures and learn the details of the requirements and everything necessary for the application process.

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