Kids to get three more years in school

Education reform would give administrators more say over teacher workdays in order to extend the number of daily classroom hours

Teachers will be spending more time in the classroom in the years to come if the government is able to pass an education reform aimed at giving students an additional 30 percent more learning time during their first ten years of schooling. 

According to information obtained by Jyllands-Posten newspaper, the government’s plan, which has the support of opposition party Venstre, will set the minimum school week at between 30 and 37 hours, depending on the age group.

Instead of increasing school budgets to pay for more classroom hours, the government will work with councils, who are responsible for operating school districts, to force teachers to spend more of their working hours in the classroom.

Teacher working hours are currently regulated by collective bargaining agreements that see them spend a large part of their working day on preparation, as well as non-teaching tasks, including working as librarians and in computer support. 

With the reform, councils say they hope to be able to “modernise” the way schools are run by allowing administrators to determine what tasks individual teachers spend their time on.

Teacher representatives said the measure would decrease the quality of teaching, since it would reduce the amount of time teachers had to prepare lessons and to meet parents. 

They also expressed concern that the reform had been put together without their input. 

“The government has at no point expressed an interest in speaking to us about this, even though we’ve contacted the prime minister telling her we’d like to be involved,” Anders Bondo Christensen, the head of Lærerforening, the national teachers’ association, told Jyllands-Posten.

News of the reform comes as teachers are set to begin negotiations with councils over their next collective bargaining agreement. Michael Ziegler, the mayor of Høje-Taastrup, the councils' lead negotiatior, cautioned teachers into thinking the announcement was simply a part of its tactics. 

“We intend to implement this in full. We are serious about this.”

Parliament is expected to begin discussing the details of the reform next week. A vote in parliament on extending the school day will probably take place early next spring.