German states try to stem burn-out

21st March 1997 at 00:00
Increasing pressures on the teaching profession in Germany are encouraging ever-greater numbers to seek early retirement.

But since one in three teachers in Germany is over 50 and more than half will reach retirement by 2010, the trend is causing headaches for the 16 German states, which pay teachers' pensions.

Most teachers are employed as civil servants, and can retire early with full pension rights if certified unfit for work by an official doctor.

A survey in industrial North Rhine Westphalia found that many people are using this right: only 3 per cent of teachers serve until 65 - the average retirement age is 58.

This pattern is similar in other states, especially in western Germany. "The average age of retirement is rapidly steering towards 50," the prime minister of Schleswig Holstein said recently.

The federal interior ministry has calculated that the cost of providing pensions for civil servants, including teachers, will double by 2008. By 2022 spending on pensions will have become intolerable, it says.

The ministry wants to lower the rates of pay rises for civil servants after 2000 and channel the extra money towards pensions. Some politicians also favour cutting pension payments, which are 75 per cent of a person's final salary.

A recent report by the Conference of Education Ministers (KMK) investigated strategies for preventing early retirement. The most effective way would be to tackle the root cause of early retirement - "teacher burn-out" - and rehabilitate teachers, it said.

The KMK suggests ageing teachers might also be encouraged to stay if they were allowed to work part-time and receive part-salary and part-pension payments.

Teachers who want out of the classroom could also be transferred to other, lower-grade, jobs within the profession, it said, with the states reimbursing the salary difference so that employees did not lose pension entitlements.

But some individual states are now taking a harder line: they are beginning to cut civil-servant status for teachers, as a cheaper, more flexible, employment option.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now