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«SECONDARY EDUCATION IN THE NETHERLANDS : AGENDA FOR 2010 “The Pupil Captivated, the School Unfettered” CONTENTS 1. Foreword and structure 2. ...»

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The pupil captivated, the school unfettered


“The Pupil Captivated, the School Unfettered”


1. Foreword and structure

2. Secondary education of tomorrow

2.1. The pupil captivated, the school unfettered

2.2. Developments in society and in and around the school

2.3. The task before us: new answers to new challenges

2.3.1. Challenges for secondary education

2.3.2. The task of the school

2.3.3. From teaching to learning

2.3.4. Choosing diversity and professionalism

2.3.5. Education is people work

2.3.6. Specific points for attention

2.3.7. New relationships

3. Agenda for 2010: the pupil captivated, the school unfettered

3.1. The pupil captivated

3.1.1. Continuing to learn: continual learning lines

3.1.2. Dealing with differences

3.1.3. Learning can take place anywhere

3.1.4. Examinations: proof of personal ability

3.2. The school unfettered

3.2.1. A personal face in the programme and in the structure

3.2.2. Social commission: collaboration for the pupil

3.2.3. Staff: the link between learning and the pupil

3.2.4. Funding as the basis

3.2.5. More freedom and a boost for VMBO and employment-oriented training.................24

3.3. Development as fixed value: the school innovates itself

3.3.1. Innovation strategy

3.3.2. Spearheads for innovation

3.3.3. Teaching time and development time

4. Modern administrative relationships

4.1. National government: frameworks, conditions and inspection

4.2. The school: open in good governance

4.3. Limiting bureaucracy: shared responsibility

4.4. Need for an organised education sector

4.5. The Inspectorate of Education

4.6. Municipality and province

4.7. Trade and industry, knowledge centres and other institutions

4.8. Modern legislation for modern administrative relationships

5. Conclusion


1. List of abbreviations

–  –  –

1. Foreword and structure This paper is titled Secondary Education in the Netherlands: Agenda for 2010: “The pupil captivated, the school unfettered”. This document sets out the vision of the government Cabinet for the future of secondary education. The primary message here is that the pupil is the centre of focus. This pupil must be able to develop his potential as fully as possible and earn the highest academic degree that his potential permits. The goal is to prepare young people as well as possible for living in our society so that they can play a full role in it.

Secondary Education in the Netherlands: Agenda for 2010 came to be written in an interactive process. Representatives of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science held many discussions with pupils, parents, teachers and other education personnel, school heads and school board members. I took part in a great many of these discussions. We also consulted with the organisations for administration and management, School Managers in Secondary Education, trade organisations and the administrative representatives of parents and pupils on the PupilParent Board. In addition we discussed specific subjects in greater detail with experts and other parties involved in in-depth discussions and other gatherings.

The results of the interactive process are the most important source for the long-term policy. I strive to establish policy that reflects practical realities in education. That is why I listen carefully to what is said regarding bottlenecks, wishes and possible solutions and directions to take. Based on what I hear, I determine the direction we must go in the years to come.

The most remarkable thing about the discussions we held was the enormous commitment to education that everyone showed. This gives one hope for the future. Furthermore, the secondary education sector is expressly asking for the time and freedom to develop and for the trust of government. This serves as an important guiding principle in my eyes. A detailed description of the results of the discussions held on the direction of secondary education can be found on the enclosed CD-ROM. This CD-ROM also contains the reports on these discussions and videos taken by pupils.

Chapter 2 outlines the social developments and the developments within secondary education that were raised during the discussions held with educators. On the basis of these developments, I give my vision for secondary education on the way to 2010.

In Chapter 3, I translate this vision to an agenda with three main points of focus:

• The pupil captivated

• The school unfettered

• Development as a permanent value: the school introducing innovations Based on these main points of focus, concrete actions to improve secondary education are placed within a framework. This concerns both current and new actions. In an appendix, all the actions are outlined in an overview, accompanied by a timetable. This agenda for the coming years is updated annually and included in the budget.

Chapter 4 describes the consequences of the policy for the (administrative) relationships, roles and responsibilities of the government, school board organisations, schools, local governments and other partners. A conclusion follows in Chapter 5.

Of course, there is much more to say about secondary education. And without a doubt, more matters will be discussed in the coming years than are covered in this document. Secondary Education in the Netherlands: Agenda for 2010 deals with the main points of focus in the policy and the associated actions. It is meant to be a source of inspiration and, at the same time, an effective encouragement to place the pupil in secondary education at the centre of focus in real and practical terms.

The pupil captivated, the school unfettered

–  –  –

2. Secondary education of tomorrow

2.1. The pupil captivated, the school unfettered I emphasised earlier that I am not looking to solve the bottlenecks in education by making large changes to the system, which education in the 1990s was subject to. In this respect, peace has returned to secondary education and I would like to keep it that way. But that does not mean that I want to keep everything as it is. Changing political and social relationships, problems in society with which education is confronted and the international position of Dutch education make it necessary to shift the emphasis. If we want to make the pupil the real centre of focus, schools will need more scope to be able to provide tailored education and to work towards improving and modernising the education they provide to pupils as they see fit.

My ambition therefore is to give schools greater freedom and to put them in a position to carry out their own policy. The legal frameworks of attainment targets, exit qualifications, examinations, quality and accountability will form the boundaries for this. They should provide sufficient freedom to schools and, at the same time, make it crystal clear what the minimum requirements are that education must meet. This means that we will have to make important choices in the relationship between national government and the education world. This will require some time and we must also take the time to accomplish it. That doesn't mean we can afford to rest on our laurels. We have made a good start, i.e. with the proposals set forth for the first stage of secondary education. This must now be given a decisive follow-up.

The pupil captivated and challenged Secondary education is the link between primary education, on the one hand, and post-secondary education and the labour market, on the other. In this phase, young people go through a radical development that is vitally important for their further role as a citizen in society. In addition to the parents, this places a large responsibility on the schools and the people that work there on a daily basis. In recent months I have repeatedly noticed that they are fully aware of this responsibility.

My discussions with people in the education world have strengthened my conviction that the responsibility for designing and organising education should and can primarily and substantially rest with the school.

The school has more to offer than education alone. In the time they are enrolled in secondary education, pupils develop into independent people that can fully contribute to our society. It is essential that young people learn to form their own well-considered opinions. The guidance they are given during this period is therefore very important. The parents are the ones primarily responsible for providing this guidance. But the school also makes a significant contribution to the process of becoming an adult.

Instead of concentrating on the curriculum, schools want to place the learning process and the educational career of the pupil at the centre of focus. I agree with this view wholeheartedly.

Education should motivate and challenge pupils at their own level of development. It should be relevant; not only in the view of the school, but also and especially in the eyes of the pupil himself.

For secondary education, the differences between pupils are the starting point. It goes without saying that the pupil himself also bears responsibility for the success of his own educational career.

To realise real, continual learning lines, the differences between sectors – primary education and secondary education, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as those within secondary education itself – should not form an obstacle. The transition from one sector to another often causes problems at present. Among other things, this concerns the alignment of teaching, the alignment of programmes (attainment targets), the system of qualifications and the special needs support structure. Our entire system of education could be more effective if we can prevent it from continually stalling during the transitions pupils make between sectors.

The pupil captivated, the school unfettered

The school unfettered ‘Unfettered’ has a double meaning. To begin, schools are in a figurative sense ‘freed from fetters’ and are given greater freedom. Furthermore, I also assume that schools use this freedom to initiate reforms in the interest of the pupil. I choose to use diversity as the point of departure for my policy and set general objectives (exit qualifications and attainment targets) for the education that the schools provide.

Education takes on a concrete form in the school. Within legal frameworks such as attainment targets and exit qualifications, and provisions on accountability and quality, schools are given the freedom to make their own professional policy decisions, for instance on the structure of the teaching process and the organisation that it requires. The responsibility for innovations that are tailored to the pupil is a part of this. The team of teaching professionals plays a crucial role in this process.

The role of policy and administration The policy of the national government and of the management and the board of the school is aimed at the level of both the pupils and the teachers, as well as at their educational environment.

The policy should be focused on supporting the different relationships in and around the school.

Education is always an interplay between different parties. In the first place, there is the interplay between teachers and pupils, who could not move forward without one another. There is also interaction between teachers themselves. Teachers influence one another (through things such as peer assessment and review) and their trade organisations support them in their professional development, their development as teachers and their development in their subject. Other parties involved, such as parents, companies or local governments, also maintain relationships with the school and the teaching staff.

A school is a creative learning environment. Good employers and leadership are essential so that professional educational choices can be made from a shared vision of education and of the role that the school wishes to fulfil in society. The freedom provided should be noticeable and available to everyone. It is definitely undesirable for school boards to limit the freedom that the government has provided. Moreover, it is even the responsibility of school boards to enable schools to actually utilise this greater freedom. The school management, in its turn, should tap the innovative capacity of the teaching staff by providing inspiring leadership. In this context, they have the responsibility to use resources in such a manner that they optimally benefit the primary process of education.

New administration, new legislation Less centralised regulation means that more choices are made at the school level. This can mean that existing, 'historically developed' situations are brought up for reconsideration. Even the differences within the school with respect to the willingness to change (e.g. differences between the school management and teachers, or within the teaching staff) can lead to tension. Still, I believe that the professional education choices in the school should be made by the entire staff.

That is also where the discussions should be held that underlie the choices finally made. In some situations, this will create unavoidable commotion. But I am convinced that the school has to go through such a phase in order, in the end, to find a clear place in its own surroundings.

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