The Austrian school year started on September 2nd in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland and on September 9th in the other Federal Provinces.Parents’ Health Platform – Plattform Elterngesundheit (PEG): In September 2013 PEG, EPA’s Alcuin Award Winner 2012, founded an independent association to engage more effectively for and with parents.
Lack of teachers: the school year started with a debate about available teachers: Media complained and parents’ representatives warned that not enough teachers would be available to provide the required lessons. The Minister of education and other school representatives denied. Though negligible vacancies were reported it is a fact that several “reserve teachers” are employed to provide the required capacity. Many of them are student teachers without final qualification.
Parents are concerned about the promise “one sports’ lesson every day”. Lobbying came from the Federal Austrian Sports’ Organisation, confirmation and promise from political representatives. But neither teachers, nor sports’ facilities and required scheduling time are available. Should it finally be extracurricular activities paid by parents?
For about a year new legal regulations for teachers’ employment and career were negotiated. Parents’ representatives clarified not to engage in employment regulations. But they clearly demanded a better profiling of teachers’ duties focusing on the “fuzzy” out-of-classroom tasks (seeing parents, preparing lessons, correcting homeworks etc.). Media finally end in bashing the teachers’ trade union, trade union talks about strikes – and parents are annoyed that their demands have been completely ignored in the draft. Hopefully there will be a restart after governmental elections.
Dramatic decrease of non-teaching staff employed at Austrian schools: School psychologists as well as secretaries and house care personnel are not replaced after retiring. External services are provided but cannot replace the qualified persons. Parents’ concerns have not been answered by political representatives.