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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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This new relationship towards schools also has consequences for the dialogue between the Cabinet and the Lower House of Parliament with respect to secondary education. If we accept it is the business of politicians to set clear frameworks and it is the business of schools to give content and substance to education, then the political debate in the Lower House must concentrate on the big picture and not on the specifics.

The pupil captivated, the school unfettered

3. Agenda for 2010: the pupil captivated, the school unfettered A sector ‘with spirit’. That is my ambition for 2010. By 2010, secondary schools will be – (even) more than they are now – pupil-oriented, responsive and innovative, making use of the professionalism in and around the school. This chapter offers a perspective for realising this ambition.

Captivating pupils and preparing them well for their next phase of development requires making these pupils the centre of focus. As a consequence of this, the learning of pupils, not teaching, must be the main priority. The team at work in and around the school – teachers, school heads, supporters – is exhorted to work with the community to provide for education and special needs in a way that provides variety and that utilises the professionalism in and around the school. This requires a number of measures to be taken to enable schools to do this. These measures are described in this chapter.

To formulate a new policy, there are a number of principles to follow. The measures should firstly make a positive contribution to the quality of the education and care given to the pupils and provide answers to the social issues faced by the school. In other words, the pupil should notice this in a positive sense. Secondly, if the frameworks are more general, I assume that the professionals in and around the school will, on the basis of their professionalism, provide better quality than would be possible under detailed and uniform national regulations. This reinforces the sense of responsibility among professionals in and around schools. Thirdly, the frameworks provide an impetus to strengthen the teaching and innovative capacity of both the secondary education sector and the individual schools and education professionals. Finally, at the school level, good guarantees are necessary to ensure that the choices made there both fit the expectations of the recipients of education (pupils and parents) and the community, as well as the insights of the teaching staff. The flip side of being given and taking greater freedom is that schools must be accountable for the choices they make, in the first place to those directly involved in education.

In this chapter, all of the resolutions are described. Firstly, in section 3.1. I will discuss the measures that affect the pupil, through which he notices that the school is better able to meet his

needs. The pupil can be 'captivated' (again) from a number of interrelated perspectives:

a. The educational career and continuous learning lines;

b. Dealing with differences such that special attention is given to disadvantaged pupils, special needs provision and guidance, problem pupils and safety;

c. The social commission and the involvement of players from outside the school in the learning and developmental process of the pupil;

d. Connections to professional practice;

e. The manner of administering examinations (central examinations).

Section 3.2.

describes how the schools and the professionals working there are 'unfettered', how the opportunities for making the learning of the pupil the centre of focus are increased: in regulations for the organisation of teaching, the course programming and in the provisions. In this respect I give special attention to VMBO in order to strengthen this sector further, in view of the fact that 60% of young people of compulsory school age attend one of the many programmes that VMBO offers.

It is extremely important to maintain the cohesion between the total package of measures. If a school, for example, over time wants to offer subjects in connection with each other and in concentrated form, then the school must be able to organise this. To do so it will need to have flexibility with respect to subject matter, as well as flexibility in time and personnel. The second section of this chapter also discusses this.

Innovation is the subject of section 3.3. The needs and opportunities that a school observes in class are the starting point for innovation. In this section, I present my innovation strategy for the

–  –  –

coming years. A number of specific spearheads, such as promoting interest in the exact sciences and in technical subjects, and the use of ICT in the teaching process, will be given added attention.

3.1. The pupil captivated 3.1.1. Continuing to learn: continual learning lines Seen from the pupil's point of view, secondary education is ‘only’ a link in his educational career.

At the same time, the success of secondary education from this perspective is increasingly measured against the question of how the pupil is doing in post-secondary education, given his starting position in the first year of secondary school. That is why it is important for the links in the chain, from primary education up to and including post-secondary education and the labour

market, to run from one to the next as smoothly as possible:

• Between primary education and secondary education

• Between the first and second stages of secondary education and

• Between secondary education and post-secondary education and the labour market A smooth transition between the links, firstly, means that they inform each other well with respect to the – required and obtained – baggage of the pupil. It is the shared responsibility of primary and secondary schools to exchange the knowledge and data on the pupil in such a way that the pupil can continue on the path he has chosen as much as possible. Continual pupilmonitoring systems and digital portfolios could be important instruments for accomplishing this. A good exchange of information between primary and secondary education is certainly important for pupils that need extra attention. In addition to the transfer of information about the required and obtained baggage of pupils, there should also be a careful transfer of information on the care provided to them so that the pupil continues to be given the care he needs.

The system in the links of the chain differs in certain areas, for instance in the area concerning the competencies of teaching staff, the area of setting indicators for special needs arrangements and the area of funding. I will not regard the various systems as the same, they are sufficient in themselves and differ with reason. So, in view of the large focus placed on the content of subject matter, especially in the second stage of secondary education, it can be clarified that in the competency system in secondary education greater attention is given to specific subject requirements than in primary education. Also, the difference in the funding system can be explained by the difference in the scale of administration. So I am focusing on the differences between the systems, but from these differences I will strive to remove as many as possible of the obstacles the different systems yield.

In the transition from primary education to the first stage of secondary education, I am working to improve the connection between the educational content of programmes by co-ordinating the attainment targets as much as possible. Continual programming is just as necessary in the practical and special needs parts of the education. The work placements in MBO can get more out of the pupil if they build on the practical experience of VMBO. These are examples of transitions in the system where a lot of work still has to be done to achieve continual programming. The realisation of a good connection between VMBO and MBO is especially important because, through this, school dropout rates can be reduced. Here educators emphasise that the risk of a pupil dropping out of school is greatest in the basic vocational programmes of VMBO and the next stage at levels 1 and 2 in the Regional Training Centres. Talents are also not optimally utilised and appreciated if the work experience gained by these young people cannot be recognised in a basic qualification at the level of MBO-2. Targeted actions to improve this connection, collaboration or continual programming, or to recognise each other's acquired competencies, can produce a lot of good results. With respect to this last point, consultation is underway with the Adult and Vocational Education Council. The starting point in these consultations is that the recognition of each other's acquired competencies should take place at the Regional Training Centres.

The pupil captivated, the school unfettered

The pupil in primary education that has become used to having one teacher that stays with him throughout the year, is suddenly confronted in secondary education with the fact that he sometimes has up to fifteen different teachers. Some pupils find this very refreshing, but others experience it as a loss of security. Also, moving on to a school with several hundred pupils requires some first-year secondary school pupils to adapt considerably. Increasing numbers of schools take this into consideration and deploy permanent teaching teams that supervise the pupils for the first couple of years. In VMBO, such a teaching team often stays with the same group of pupils for the entire school career. This is also preferred by the teachers, because it reduces the number of different pupils that they teach each week. This is only one of the many examples that show how secondary education has learned to anticipate and meet the specific needs of pupils in their transition from primary education.

I take seriously the remarks from educators and experts that, if I ask teachers to work better with one another in order to promote the transfer of pupils from primary to secondary education, then I must also ensure that obstacles to this transfer between the systems are removed.


• Facilitate the transfer between different systems in education.

• Streamline the different systems so that bottlenecks are removed.


Based on (current) inventories of the trend interruptions between and within different sectors, a plan of approach with a package of measures will be drafted before the end of 2004 that will be

implemented starting in 2005. The following actions, in particular, come to mind:


• Sample projects will be facilitated.

• Connection between sectors will be included in quality assurance systems.

• A benchmark aimed at a service-oriented information policy will be established.

• The national government will ensure, within the (inter)departmental organisation, that there is good co-ordination between the policies for the different sectors.

Specifically for primary education – secondary education:

• Inventories will be taken of current continual pupil-monitoring systems/educational reports.

We will investigate the possibilities for special needs and testing records that can be used for taking decisions on the arrangement for the special needs of a pupil.

• Based in part on this inventory, the development of continual pupil-monitoring systems and digital portfolios will be facilitated.

• The pupil transfer policy of schools will be given greater emphasis in the supervision of the Inspectorate. The Inspectorate will be expressly asked to make sure that the school, in accordance with the Organisation of Teaching Decree, bases its consideration concerning the admission and placement of the pupil, in the first instance, on the recommendation of the primary school and, in a support instance, on a study into a pupil's suitability for secondary education, such as the CITO test (CITO = National Institute for Educational Measurement).

Specifically for the connection between VMBO - MBO:

• Based on the experiences with offering the training for assistant-workers in VMBO, it will be determined – preferably at the start of the 2007/2008 school year – whether and in which manner this possibility can be anchored legally. Recognition of one another's earned competencies is an important point for attention in this area.

• VMBO schools and institutions for Adult and Vocational Education will receive more possibilities to develop attractive arrangements aimed at providing tailored education to pupils.

• The law will be amended to make it possible for VMBO schools, starting 1 August 2006, to transfer resources to, for instance, the Regional Training Centres if, in any year, a pupil

–  –  –

makes a mid-term transition from a VMBO school to a Regional Training Centre.

• Obstacles to continual learning lines in the funding system will be removed.

3.1.2. Dealing with differences Choosing for the pupil is choosing to deal with differences. Each pupil is different, each learns differently. It is the task of the school to provide each pupil with an education that addresses his particular talents, learning style, baggage and background. Because of their situation at home, some pupils come to school with a disadvantage when it comes to understanding and speaking our language and, as a result, find it difficult to fit into the education we provide. Others bring serious problems from home to school. Still others are struggling with their own social-emotional problems. Some pupils have serious behavioural problems, which not only their fellow pupils but also the school staff can experience as threatening.

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