Can technology help Europe’s teacher resourcing crisis? 

Large classes, mixed abilities, budget cuts, low pay and language difficulties all combine to make teaching demanding and, often, unattractive. Conor Flynn, COO of Adaptemy, asks whether technology can solve the recruitment crisis...

The state of play

There are 10,000 unoccupied teaching positions in Germany and as many as 30,000 filled by non-qualified, retired, new or student teachers.

As France prepares to cut public service budgets in 2019, up to 1,800 secondary school positions will be scrapped with teachers expected to work longer hours.

In the UK, it is predicted 50,000 new teachers will be required by 2024 to cope with rising pupil numbers. European schools in Brussels face a similar struggle, where both staff and infrastructure have failed to adjust to increasing student numbers.

Can technology help?

David Klett, Managing Director at Europe’s largest educational publisher, Klett Group, believes technology will have the most impact in developing countries.

Speaking with Adaptemy’s COO Conor Flynn in episode four of the Future of Schools podcast, he explained that in educational situations where resources are extremely poor – where teachers barely exist at all – technology can have tremendous benefits.

Still, in well-developed educational systems such as those in Europe, technology is not going to save the day.

Will tech allow teachers to take a pastoral role?

Henry Warren, a former Director of Learning and Innovation at global education company, Pearson, believes tech will change the role of teachers.

In an interview with Tes he said: “I suspect what you are going to end up with is teachers taking a much more emotional role and leaving the content delivery to the computers… You can foresee a situation where you have someone who is effectively providing pastoral care. I don’t mean crowd control – I mean proper pastoral care.”

Could this make the job less demanding and more appealing?

Using technology as a homework tool can empower teachers to easily understand a student’s performance without marking assignments, essays or tests.” Conor Flyn

Do we need to value teachers more?

Perhaps Europe needs to echo Japan’s education system, where success stems from the government’s commitment to, and reverence for, the profession.

$2000 less is spent per student each year than in the US, yet equality of education is ensured across the country regardless of house price or household earnings.

Entry into the profession is extremely difficult, with just five in 200 passing the test in one year. Once qualified, however, teachers receive a permanent role, guaranteed pension and a job in the prefecture (state) until 60.

It’s equally taxing to become a teacher in Finland, another country that stands out for its exceptional educational reputation. Training teachers is considered as important as training doctors. Just 7% gained entry into the primary school masters degree programme in Helsinki in 2015, leaving 1,400 disappointed.

That 7% are still two years from graduating, but the in-depth training equips them with the autonomy to teach well, elevates their role and lessens the administrative burden.

I suspect what you are going to end up with is teachers taking a much more emotional role and leaving the content delivery to the computers.” Henry Warren

How technology is helping today

The jury is out on what it will take to attract teachers to work in Europe’s schools and teach its next generation of students.

Adaptemy has helped introduce adaptive learning technology to a number of schools throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Here are some of the benefits we’ve witnessed:

Increased engagement A recent study showed 88% of students were ‘in flow’ when using the technology

Grade improvements 26.6% grade improvement per concept for a group of maths students observed over a six month period

Enjoyment 97% of teachers believe students enjoy using the Adaptemy technology 

More time, less admin Tech steps in to deliver aspects of the educational experience. Repetitive tasks, in particular, when taught and practiced through technology, free up teachers to deliver real value in the classroom

Less admin, more data Using technology as a homework tool can empower teachers to easily understand a student’s performance without marking assignments, essays or tests. Using the technology’s rich data, they are then able to respond with lesson plans precisely tailored to the needs of the class

For more on the future of schools, subscribe to Adaptemy’s podcast.