Danish Model Reprised

The Danish Model is a system where two parties: the employer and the employee can sit down and work out terms of employment. Compromise is expected. It seems to me that the biggest advantage of the Danish Model, is that the terms of someone’s employment is usually rather technical.

To someone outside of a particular job, the things that employees might stick on may seem overly pernickity.

Who really understands what anyone else does? Until you build code or fight crime or clean offices; you can only imagine (and romanticise the details).

As with all cases of confirmation bias, even as people patiently explain to you, for example: ‘no, that word means this’ and ‘that is not what people are fighting about’, people hear what they want to hear.

If someone has convinced themselves that all Danish teachers are lazy and useless, then no teacher (even a hard working, blameless British teacher), has any chance of changing their mind with their daring tales of hard work and success in the classroom.

If another person has decided that, as hard working as Danish teachers are, they are not working the same hours as everyone else then no clarification of what ‘normalisation’ is can ever hope to get through.

The government wanted to force these changes through. Had the Danish Model been allowed to run as usual, then the suggestions given by the government would have been weakened. Not by much, if you look at the course of the negotiations.

There were two things that the teachers’ unions stuck on.

1) Teachers over 60 should be allowed to have a reduced timetable on full-pay

2) Headteachers should not get the absolute final call on how to assign teacher’s activities. There should be an upper limit of lessons a week (25 hours) and a “pool” of preparation hours that the head can assign as they will.

The government, in their intervention, refused both. And so, now the terms of employment are that reduced timetables for teachers over 60 will be phased out and that headteachers can assign teachers to as many lessons a week as they want and (therefore), some lessons will have no paid preparation time at all.

Under the Danish Model, if the government has to break the deadlock, it cannot be one sided and both parties need to come away with something. I got a pay-bump of 300 kroner a month (Gee, I hope that’s after tax, I cannot WAIT to spend it), and the offer of extra training.

There was also an ‘assurance’ that teachers would not have to work evenings or weekends.

I doubt headteachers would want to treat their staff badly and would not want to overschedule their staff. But they will not be given enough money to be professionally considerate. And thusly, the buck stops with them (and not the government or the kommunes).

If I am given too many lessons a week to prepare for, then of course I will have to take work home. I just will be expected to work more hours than everyone else on my pay grade.

Most non-teachers have no idea what is about to happen to Danish schools. They are completely ignorant of how damaging these changes will be.

If this had run on the Danish Model, then teachers would have been able to modify the plans according to their professional needs and not solely due to budgetary requirements.

What gets me the most, isn’t the lack of sympathy strikes or the lack of peaceful direct action or the way that we have been taken for granted. It’s not people calling me lazy or a liar or freeloader. It’s not the loss of income. It wasn’t even misinformed people insisting that I could stop the lockouts singlehandedly by child minding teaching children in defiance of the rules.

What gets me the most is that the children of Denmark lost four weeks of schooling, so that the government could pretend that they were independent of these changes.

They wanted to bypass the Danish Model but not get in trouble for doing so.

They refused to release documents where the stated aim was “To prepare for the employment negotiations” because “they have nothing to do with the employment negotiations”. They insisted that they needed to do the intervention because “in the Danish Model sometimes lockouts happen and this has gone on too long”. They expected the people of Denmark to believe that they wrote 70+ pages of documentation about the new changes overnight. They claim that there is nothing odd about consulting the employers about how to make the intervention but not the teachers.

And, as usual, they got away with it because everyone is too apathetic to lift a finger to save what they say they believe in.

Four weeks with no schools, in a ‘democratic’ country.

For a game.

I am not sure who won but I know who lost.

3 thoughts on “Danish Model Reprised

  1. I think it’s terrible. We went to Denmark for our exchange without pupils or teachers. I think my pupils enjoyed themselves despite everything. We saw teachers at the side of roads and in town squares running and demonstrating. We wondered where everyone who was not at school was. I spoke to a few people about the situation and remained surprised about why the parents didn’t take action. I was glad to go home to the Czech Republic where as a British person teaching in state schools there are things that frustrate me but I know that schools will never be closed for 4 weeks without a good reason.


      1. Well I hope for your sake and for the sake of the many great Danish teachers I have met over the years that things turn out better than they look at the moment.


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