Two thousand school psychologists. The state will start paying them in three years, but they can still miss out

Recent events, such as the covid epidemic or the war in Ukraine, have highlighted the need for school psychologists. However, the schools don’t get any money from the state, and the unclear funding is one of the reasons psychologists don’t play there. The Ministry of Education wants to pay for them from the state budget from 2025. But even then it will not be certain whether schools will get them. Psychologists prefer to practice in private.

970 children attend the Vladislav Vančura Elementary School in Prague-Zbraslav, including 80 Ukrainians. Whether they are in good mental health or what their classroom relationships are like is managed by two psychologists who work here part-time. They carry out prevention programs and interventions in the classroom, solve crisis situations, children can go to them for consultations.

“Children often have unresolved relationship issues in the classroom, they can’t deal with their emotions. And it’s beyond the power of the teacher to deal with it in the classroom, so intervention has taken place,” describes the director of the school Tomáš Obdržálek.

According to him, psychologists have an important role and represent a significant help, but it is not enough for such a large school. “The psychologists do not have a free minute with us. They are still solving something. We would like at least half an hour more, if not all of it. But we have nothing to pay”, warns Obdržálek.

Many other schools solve a similar problem because psychologists do not receive state money. For example, that of Mladá Boleslav, which has 800 students and 70 employees. Here too, the psychologist only works part-time and shares it with another school. “He is paid partly out of founder’s money and partly out of Ministry of Education money. If the founder did not contribute to his salary, it would not be possible to employ him. Due to financial reasons nor can we afford to employ a full-time school psychologist Milada Mizerová.

Most psychologists now pay for schools through so-called models. Simply put, the school can choose a grant program to receive money from the European Union. Some choose psychologists they otherwise could not afford. If paid by the state, schools could buy other necessary things from the funds or recruit staff, such as teaching assistants or nannies for kindergartens.

“We have no other projects, everything is based on two psychologists and a specialized pedagogue. We could use the money for something else, there are many possibilities, but it is important for us”, adds the director Obdržálek.

Work only for two years

According to teacher and chair of the Teachers’ Platform Petra Mazancová, psychologists are not currently rushing into schools due to unclear funding. “The grant title is time limited, you know you have money for a part-time psychologist for two years. The psychologist starts working on something and it happens that after two years he doesn’t “There’s more money for that. Nobody wants to have a job for just two years. So psychologists prefer private practice that’s more financially rewarding and offers the security of professional growth,” says Mazancová. has a huge shortage of school psychologists.

This is also confirmed by the president of the Association for School Psychology, Jan Mareš. “According to the Czech School Inspectorate, 700 school psychologists are missing. Many of them have left the profession in recent years due to financial and professional uncertainty,” he warns.

The numbers also bear this out. According to the Ministry of Education, there are only 284 psychologists in primary schools. Their lack is also reflected in the individual regions. For example, in the Pilsen region, there are 53,000 pupils in primary schools, but there are only six full-time equivalent psychologists. There are 96 psychologists in schools in the Central Bohemian region and 55 full-time equivalents. Nearly 140,000 students attend primary schools in the region.

According to Mazancova, psychologists urgently need schools. “I dare not deal with a 15-year-old girl who she is hurting herself, which is a common example. It also leads to great frustration for the teacher – she has a child in the class who needs help. help but can’t do anything about it, she has no one to turn to because there is no school,” notes Mazancova.

According to her, psychologists are even more needed due to the covid pandemic, which has often changed relationships in the classroom, and children are under pressure to catch up, as well as the integration of Ukrainian children who may come with difficulties. mental health problems. The fact that they would need more school psychologists is also confirmed by the spokespersons of the two regions mentioned. However, for schools to acquire them, they should provide them with a stable career opportunity.

The change will come in three years

The Ministry of Education now promises to anchor the funding of psychologists in law. However, the change will not take effect until three years later. From 2025, psychologists should be paid from the state budget, there should be a claim for more than 2100 jobs. “Primary schools will be able to draw funds for these support teaching positions depending on the number of pupils or the share of pupils with special educational needs”, describes the spokesperson for the ministry Aneta Lednová.

Until then, psychologists will continue to be funded through models. The ministry is counting on the use of European money from the Jan Amos Komenský operational program, within the framework of which it wants to test the prepared model, funding should start in May.

“We will use European money last time, but in a systematic way – it will be according to the size of the school, the composition of the pupils. Depending on this, schools will be able to request models. from January 1, 2025 , we are planning a shift from European support to national funding,” says Pavla Katzová, Deputy Minister for Management of the Economic and Legislative Ministry of Education.

The ministry has yet to release details of the project. However, the minutes of the meeting with the representatives of the School Psychology Association show that schools with more than 180 students should be entitled to a part-time psychologist, schools with more than 400 students for full-time. “Primary schools with less than 180 pupils will be entitled to a short-term school psychologist who will be an employee of the educational and psychological counseling centre,” the minutes state.

Psychological research. Mark: urgently

But it will still be necessary to decide where to take the psychologists. The Ministry of Education says that based on the analysis of the number of graduates, it is realistic to gradually provide the necessary jobs. “We will continue to strive to increase the interest of psychology and special education graduates to work in education. The institutionalization model is the first step in motivating graduates to join the education sector, as it will ensure the professional stability of employees,” the spokesperson adds. Lednova.

The head of the teachers’ platform agrees with the ministry’s proposal, but according to her, the problem will fill the position. “While schools will get money for a psychologist from 2025, it’s a question of whether they’ll get it because they’re not currently and making a career elsewhere. I don’t think it will be interesting for a psychologist in private practice to go to school and seek them out and provide them with career opportunities,” notes Mazancová.

The president of the Mareš Association for School Psychology has similar concerns. “Since the current ministry proposal indicates grade 12, many colleagues will find more lucrative work. The advantage of school work is that it is more diverse and interesting work, but then comes the time to pay the bills,” he added.

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