Since 2016, the Education and Training Association (VBE) has had school managements surveyed at regular intervals as to how satisfied they are with their job and has published the results at the opening of the German School Management Congress (DSLK) in Düsseldorf. This year, the opinion research institute forsa conducted a representative survey among more than 1,300 school administrators. The sixth job satisfaction survey among school administrators paid special attention to the issue of “violence against teachers”.
“The results on ‘violence against teachers’ are depressing. The fact is: Violence against teachers and school administrations is the order of the day and has become an increasing problem in schools since the beginning of the corona pandemic. In addition, we see a dramatic decline in job satisfaction among school leaders,” Udo Beckmann, Federal Chairman of the Education and Training Association (VBE), summarizes the results published today.
The results of the study reveal that the number of schools in which there has been violence against teaching staff in the last five years has leveled off at a high level. Almost two-thirds of the school administrations surveyed reported that there had been cases of psychological violence at their school within the last five years, for example in the form of insults, threats or harassment. A good third of school principals know that teachers have been victims of cyberbullying. Particularly frightening: In another third of the schools there have been violent physical attacks on teachers or school management in the last five years. For Udo Beckmann, this finding is a scandal: “If you extrapolate the percentages to the population of general education schools, this means that in the last five years there have been almost 20.000 Schools to mental and at each well 10.000 schools to cyberbullying or physical violence. This state of affairs is intolerable. The protection of teachers urgently needs to be on the political agenda.”
There are sometimes significant differences between the individual school types. For example, there were cases of direct physical violence at three out of four special needs schools, i.e. more than twice as often as on average, whereas only six percent of the headmasters at grammar schools found this to be the case. In contrast, cases of cyber bullying (13 percent) occurred less frequently at special schools and schools than was the case, for example, at secondary schools (55 percent) or high schools (45 percent).
Regarding this Beckman: “Even if the different types of school have to deal with just as different forms of violence, one thing is certain: every form of violence must be stopped, and every single incident is one too many. Politicians must give schools massive support so that they become largely non-violent areas as quickly as possible!”
To make matters worse, nearly half of those surveyed said the number of cases had increased since the pandemic began. 40 percent even saw a sharp increase in violence at their school. Irrespective of the type of assault and the occasion, the perpetrators are in a large proportion of cases parents and students. But adults who otherwise have no connection to the school also became perpetrators in the context of the pandemic.
When asked whether in most cases it was possible to provide sufficient support to affected colleagues, more than a third of the school administrations answered that cases of violence could only be partially or not at all dealt with. In most cases, this was because parents (78 percent) and students (75 percent) were not willing to cooperate and/or not insightful. But the bureaucratic effort involved in reporting violent incidents (57 percent) and the overload caused by the multitude of other tasks (55 percent) were also often cited as obstacles. Beckmann comments on the fact that 34 and 30 percent of school principals, respectively, indicated that the school ministry or the school administration would not adequately address the issue and 19 percent reported that the school authorities did not want the reporting of incidents to be reported: “If violent incidents are ignored by the employer or the school authorities do not want the report, it is simply a scandal. It is part of the employer’s duty of care to protect his employees and investigate such reports. The least teachers can expect at this point is to be able to go about their work unmolested and go home unharmed. In my view, if superiors do not adequately deal with the violence against teachers, this is simply a misdemeanor.”
This year’s responses to the survey’s annual recurring job satisfaction questions reflect the increasing stress that school administrators and teachers are exposed to. When it comes to the biggest problems at school, such as the shortage of teachers (69 percent) and the resulting workload and lack of time (34 percent), the situation has been getting worse for years. This tendency is also reflected in the main stress factors of school administrations. A constantly growing range of tasks, increasing administrative workload, too little time, the overburdening of the teaching staff, the shortage of teachers and the fact that politicians do not pay enough attention to the reality of everyday school life are all named as strong or very strong stress factors by more than 90 percent of school management .
The consequences: The number of school administrators who can only occasionally or never fulfill their professional tasks to their own satisfaction has more than doubled to almost 40 percent of those surveyed within the last four years. Likewise, school administrators are less and less willing to do their jobs. In 2019, an overwhelming proportion of 96 percent liked or liked running a school, today it is only 79 percent. On the other hand, the number of people who are rather or very reluctant to do their job has quintupled over the same period.
They also provided information on the question of what school administrations need in order to be able to do their job better. The demands are:
- More credit hours for colleagues to fulfill special tasks (97 percent),
- Increasing lead time in all schools (94 percent),
- More support from other educational professionals, keyword: multi-professional teams (94 percent),
- Better provision of non-teaching staff, such as caretakers or secretaries (89 percent) and
- Establish or maintain an extended school board for all schools (88 percent).
Udo Beckmann summarizes: “Without school management who enjoys their job and who have enough time resources available in everyday school life, school cannot function and it certainly cannot develop further. Given the conditions in which school leaders have to work today, it is not surprising that half of the respondents reported that they would probably not, if at all, recommend the school leadership profession to others. After all, their main task is increasingly to manage the shortage instead of being able to pursue their actual task of promoting school and teaching development. Politicians must finally provide school administrations and teachers with the framework conditions they need to fulfill their tasks. The school administrations quite rightly rate the school policy in their country at 4.3 – transfer at risk.”
Florence Fischer, Member of the Management Board at Fleet Education Events, emphasised: “We can see the gaps that still exist in terms of training. When more than half (57 percent) of school managements overall and even almost two-thirds (63 percent) of those under 40 years of age state that they see the expansion of further education and training as helpful or very helpful in order to be able to perform their tasks better , shows us that we are on the right track with the DSLK offer. This also confirms the feedback we have received from participants in past DSLKs. 88 percent of the participants from 2021 recommend the DSLK. For us, this is an incentive to continuously evaluate and further develop our offer and to maintain a balance between offers for school managements who are new in office or aspire to this office and those who already have a longer professional experience.