«SECONDARY EDUCATION IN THE NETHERLANDS : AGENDA FOR 2010 “The Pupil Captivated, the School Unfettered” CONTENTS 1. Foreword and structure 2. ...»
• I want to reach agreements with the organised sector that have significance in the schools with respect to results in order to achieve goals that can arise from the political-social discussion in the Netherlands or from European developments.
• The organised sector gives an integral account of the achievements that secondary education produces.
• With the organised sector, a code of behaviour will be set up for good governance, possibilities for internal monitoring, a clear division of authority between the school board and management, and oversight on this within the school, as well as internal and external accountability.
• I am steering the organised sector towards making agreements with parents and other relevant players to bring about real control over the school costs.
• The organised sector functions as the driving force and agent for innovation, policyimplementation capacity, professionalism and quality assurance. The sector organises its accountability and quality assurance itself. A sector that regulates itself must have an organisation that keeps an eye on quality and, where necessary, strengthen it sector-wide.
• I want to reach agreements with the sector on the further introduction of quality assurance systems. The lack of progress that the Inspectorate has continually seen for several years now calls for a more targeted approach.
• I want to make agreements with the sector on reducing the administrative red tape.
The reality of this moment is that secondary education is fragmented in its organisation: there are four large and several smaller school board and management organisations, there is the organisation School Managers in Secondary Education and there are four large parent organisations. Many school heads have said recently that the sector needs a branch or sector organisation that is able to serve and represent the diversity in the sector. This wish of educators is clear. And I share this desire with them. But it is up to the sector to set up such an organisation.
For employers, the recently established WVO (Employers Association in Secondary Education) is the designated discussion partner.
4.5. The Inspectorate of Education The Inspectorate oversees the quality of education. This monitoring role is based on the Education Supervision Act (WOT). The work method that the Inspectorate uses to perform its tasks is established in inspection frameworks. These inspection frameworks are established by the Inspectorate and have to be approved by the Minister. Before an inspection framework is established or changed, the Inspectorate consults representatives of the education world and other parties involved. In evaluating the performance of the schools, the Inspectorate looks at the way in which the attainment targets are given priority, what the transfer and graduating percentages are and at the results of the national content targets.
The WOT has a system of promotional and proportional quality inspections. This corresponds with the intended administrative relationships. The better the school performs and the more the school has its own quality inspection in order, the more the Inspectorate, in exercising its monitoring role, can make use of the result of the school's self-evaluation. In other words: by improving its quality assurance, the school 'earns', as it were, greater autonomy.
In the discussions on the direction of secondary education, it has been said several times that the assessment method of the Inspectorate and its reporting in the form of the quality card, sometimes does not take into account the specific situation of the school. As a result, some schools refrain from taking innovative initiatives.
Currently the WOT is being evaluated. The outcome of this evaluation of the operation of the Inspectorate's new inspection frameworks will be announced this year. This evaluation should make it clear (among other things) what the effect of the reformed inspection is on the self
The pupil captivated, the school unfettered
regulating capacity of institutions. I will discuss the results of the evaluation, together with the signals from the interactive discussion results, with the Inspectorate so that its vision, too, will be clear. In conjunction with this, I will consider the extent to which improvements and/or adaptations are necessary. Encouraging diversity instead of uniformity is my guiding principle for this.
When a school’s performance is very weak, the Inspectorate takes a closer look at the way in which the school plans to achieve its results and improvements and requires the school to come up with concrete plans for improvement, for the operations as well. The Inspectorate returns to the school soon for another inspection. Should this more intensive inspection not lead to improvements, then the school enters a managerial supervision phase. If still no improvement is achieved, the national government can, on the recommendation of the Inspectorate, move to end the funding.
Currently there are only a limited number of schools that are structurally below standard in their performance. I have agreed with the Inspectorate that this procedure will be applied consistently and that I will be informed about the schools whose performance remains below standard.
4.6. Municipality and province The municipal government has a number of important roles and tasks to fulfil with respect to
• The local government enforces the Compulsory Education Act.
• The local government has a role to play in reducing the school dropout rate and in reducing unemployment among the young, among other ways, by involvement in the Regional Registration and Co-ordination Centres or the Unemployed Mobilisation Act and the Regional Labour Platforms.
• The local government carries out a local youth and welfare policy that is important for the school and which has influence on the options that schools have. Particularly in the approach to young people with (learning) disadvantages and in the approach to safety problems (see the Plan of Approach for Safety of May 2004), the local government plays an important role.
• The local government is responsible for the housing (new buildings and radical renovation) of schools. (This task can be devolved to the schools on a voluntary basis). In this context, teachers and school heads regularly indicate that they would like to be less dependent on the local government. To support the necessary policy freedom given to the school, I want to strengthen the position of schools in the voluntary devolution of this authority to the school level. The legislative bill for this will be submitted to the Lower House this year.
From its responsibility as outlined above, the local government can, in close collaboration with the school, direct the chain (the system of assistance and care organisations) around the school. The idea is that this network around the school can offer extra facilities where young people need it.
The school can point out pupils’ problems and take initiatives so that each pupil receives the right care or assistance at the right time. The school and local government must work closely together to achieve this goal. My role in this – in the JONG project and in collaboration with the ministries of Justice, Health/Welfare/Sports, Social Affairs/Employment and the Interior – is to remove bottlenecks that inhibit this collaboration at the local level and to streamline the budgets.
The provincial government is responsible for youth care. The provincial government also has a required advisory role to fulfil in the planning for facilities. In my resolution to simplify the planning procedure, I question to what extent this required advice is still necessary.
4.7. Trade and industry, knowledge centres and other institutions Contacts with individual companies, business associations, the Chamber of Commerce or other institutions at the local and regional levels are necessary to find practical training positions or apprenticeship jobs for VMBO pupils or to find positions for a social-service practicum. Such
The pupil captivated, the school unfettered
positions can contribute to a further reform of education. For example: pupils run a shop in a nursing home and thus gain relevant learning experiences. The knowledge centres for the professional and business community have a role to play in the accreditation of companies for practical training jobs and are signatories of a practical training agreement. At the central level, intentions can be established, e.g. with (the departments of) MKB Nederland or VNO/NCW, in order to come to practical training positions, apprenticeship jobs or positions for a social-service practicum. This subsequently deserves to be developed concretely at the regional level, i.e.
around the school or the schools that are looking for such positions.
4.8. Modern legislation for modern administrative relationships In accordance with the modernisation of the administrative relationship between the national government and the education sector, I will broach the subject of suitable modern legislation so that the Secondary Education Act is modernised.
A new relationship with the schools also has consequences for the dialogue with the Lower House.
If clear frameworks are set, then developing the content of these frameworks will be a matter for the schools. Clear agreements are being reached with the sector concerning the achievements of secondary education.
From the perspective of this philosophy, it is logical that the debate between Parliament and the Cabinet over secondary education is focused on general points, in part based on the developments in the system as can be derived from the system indicators. It also provides us with the opportunity to discuss crucial issues in secondary education, beginning with this long-term policy plan.
Modernisation of the administrative relationships by:
• enabling the school to focus the education it provides on the pupil;
• bringing the sector in position;
• strengthening supervision and accountability;
• enabling the national government to supervise along general lines.
Agreements with the sector
• The national government is developing a set of system indicators in order to highlight the achievements of the system and, on the basis of this, reach agreements with the sector on the achievements of secondary education as a system.
• The sector is setting up a code of conduct for 'good educational management‘. This contains subjects such as the division of authority between school board and management, the internal monitoring of the school board and management and the internal accountability.
The development for this will last not more than 1.5 years and will be completed by 2006 at the latest.
• A code of conduct is being set up between the sector (especially school board organisations) and parents concerning the control of school costs. Based on a declaration of intent from before the summer of 2004, the code of conduct for 2005 is ready. If this cannot be brought about in this manner, the enactment of legislation will be considered.
• For 1 January 2006, the national government has reached agreements with the sector concerning the application of quality assurance systems at all secondary schools. The active support from Q5 will be continued starting in 2005 and will take the form of a quality assurance facility.
• In expectation of self-organisation by the sector, flows of funds earmarked for quality assurance and professionalisation (including those for Q5 and ISIS) will be combined and transferred if agreements can be reached on the efforts to be expended and the results to be achieved with School Managers in Secondary Education starting in 2004.
The pupil captivated, the school unfettered
Adaptations to the participation in decision-making
• An optional model for WMO/WOR will be introduced. In the autumn of 2004, an interactive process will be launched for the design of the optional model, so that in 2006 a legislative proposal can be introduced.
• The WMO will be expanded with the obligation to conduct consultation on the school costs:
what are the total school costs, what choices does the school make in this respect and what measures does the school take to control the costs. If possible, the amendment will be linked to the amendment of the WMO (see above).
• Starting in 2005, modernising and innovative initiatives will be requested and supported – via available innovation facilities – with respect to the operation of parent/pupil participation in decision-making, the involvement of parents and the improvement in the quality of the operation of parent/pupil participation in decision-making.
• To bring about an integrated inspection of the school. With the Inspectorate, CFI and the Auditing Department, agreements should be made on the link between the separate monitoring activities in order to bring about integrated monitoring of the school. Towards this end, a departmental project 'Integral monitoring' was set up in 2004 that will be completed in 2005.
• In order to take into consideration the differences and diversity in the monitoring and proportional monitoring, the Inspectorate will be consulted about improvements and adaptations starting in 2005. This will occur partly on the basis of the evaluation of the WOT, which will be made available for the end of the year 2004.
5. Conclusion I hope that this long-term plan, Secondary Education in the Netherlands: Agenda for 2010, will lead to a constructive debate in the Lower House of Parliament. We can, after all, make the plans for secondary education a success only if there is broad political support for them. In addition, it is important that all parties commit themselves to work together to give shape to Secondary Education in the Netherlands: Agenda for 2010. All parties involved have their own role to play in this, their own responsibility and (financial) possibilities. Together, we can achieve the goal of captivating pupils at school again and preparing them well for post-secondary education and playing a full role in society.