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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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Most of these pupils come from weaker socio-economic environments. For these pupils, extra effort is necessary in order to give them a fully fledged place in our society through secondary education. Truancy as an expression of such problems is a reality, as is the risk that in more serious cases the pupil will give up and drop out of school early. In the large and mid-sized cities, especially, there are schools with relatively large groups of pupils for which these problems are accumulating. This makes these schools, generally VMBO schools, vulnerable.

*** In my view, this is very disconcerting. All the more reason to realise arrangements for the education and special needs of these pupils as well that will encourage them to finish their school career successfully. We cannot let ourselves be satisfied with a situation in which we cannot reach certain pupils. The aspects outlined above occur both as independent incidents and as

interconnected problems. In the coming period, I would like to take significant steps towards:

a. Removing language disadvantages and ensuring there is sufficient guidance given to pupils;

b. Realising a tailor-made special needs support structure inside and outside the school as a guarantee that pupils with behavioural and learning problems are given the guidance they need in time and in a sound manner;

c. Reinforcing the relief facilities for those pupils that temporarily cannot be kept in regular education.

This effort will contribute, in conjunction with the establishment of appealing educational programmes, to reducing the school dropout rate. Below, I will explain how.

Removing language disadvantages and providing sufficient pupil counselling (guidance) My objective is for the available money to be given to those schools with a concurrence of problems, such as schools located primarily in the large and mid-sized municipalities. Through a new arrangement for the educationally disadvantaged (LeerPlus), I am committed to removing language disadvantages and preventing pupils from dropping out of school. Schools, local governments and the national government are working closely together on this. The main features of this arrangement are described in the outline memorandum on education arrangement policy that was submitted to the Lower House in June 2004.


To remove disadvantages and to realise sufficient counselling for pupils with behavioural and learning problems.


• The extra funds made available for pupil counselling will be deployed in 2005 via the Plan of Approach for Safety.

• As of 2006/2007 a new scheme for combating educational disadvantages (LeerPlus) will be introduced.

• The mixed special needs model will be evaluated in 2006; based on this, it will be determined

–  –  –

how it can best be simplified. This will be carried out between 2007and 2010.

Local governments are responsible for supervising compulsory school attendance. This task primarily has the character of social work and therefore is closely connected to the local government's responsibility for the local youth policy. Local governments work together on this because many pupils attend a school in a different municipality from the one in which they live. By virtue of the Act bearing on the Regional Registration and Co-ordination Centre (RMC), the local governments also have a duty to track down and provide process counselling to pupils of compulsory school age who have no basic qualification and have dropped out of school. The measures that need to be taken are outlined below.


Increase the effectiveness of enforcement of the Compulsory Education Act by improving the collaboration between the school and other players, such as the local government.


• In the framework of the Handhaven op Niveau programme [Maintaining Levels] in 2004/2005, a model will be developed for enforcing compulsory school attendance based on pilot projects in three municipalities and in one region.

• Through the dissemination of information, the application of the available model will be promoted starting in the spring of 2005.

• The reporting of truancy and school-leaving will be simplified and made more complete via the use of the education number. A bill will be introduced in Parliament towards this end in 2005.

Continual special needs support structure: aligning internal and external special needs support The ambition is to provide all pupils that have behavioural and learning problems with the counselling they need. This requires a complementary special needs support structure (inside and outside school) that guarantees early detection and effective intervention for pupils with behavioural and learning problems. The school needs good pupil counselling in order to pick up signals in advance that point in the direction of a pupil leaving school early or to enable the staff to identify socio-emotional problems and, if necessary, to call in assistance in time. In the interest of the pupil, the school must be able to call on special support providers outside the school in the community’s support system.

Along with its surrounding community, the school is responsible for providing a sufficient system of assistance and care for special needs. The national government has the task of setting sufficient preconditions for this and of removing obstacles to it in regulations. Based on this responsibility, the measures for the coming years are aimed at improving the collaboration between the participants in the system.

Schools experience bottlenecks in the connection between external and internal care for special needs. The collaboration and co-ordination between the different facilities could be improved – there are waiting lists or the school cannot obtain the special needs care it seeks, the division of responsibility is not clear and the management of the chain falters or is lacking. The ambition is to come up with a suitable supply of care for special needs in 2007 in and around all primary and secondary schools by setting up a national infrastructure of special needs support networks.


To realise a suitable special needs support structure in and around the school.


• Via participation in the JONG project, obstacles at the level of national government are being removed in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

The efforts from the side of secondary education are aimed at:

- identifying bottlenecks in the policy and regulations starting in the autumn of 2004,

The pupil captivated, the school unfettered

- developing a benchmark instrument and quality standards throughout the sector starting in the autumn of 2004,

- reaching agreements with local governments, provincial governments and the education sector starting in the autumn of 2005,

- supporting and monitoring regional actions starting in the spring of 2004.

• The definitive Youth Agenda (vision document of Operation JONG) was submitted to the Lower House in June 2004 and will be implemented starting in the autumn of 2004.

• In the spring of 2005, the first interim report of Operation JONG will be realised.

A safe school A safe school climate is an absolute condition for ensuring that pupils can perform well. Schools are investing considerable effort in this area and are often successful. Attention is given to bullying and the promotion of respect between pupils, parents and personnel is actively worked on. Schools continue to look for ways to improve their performance in this respect.

The discussion on safety often focuses on scale. A small-scale organisation of education is important, it was revealed in discussions held at schools, but that doesn't mean that the school as such may not be large. More important than the size of the school is its actual organisation and suitable housing so that a 'small-scale atmosphere' is experienced. The school should be organised to create a learning and working environment in which pupils and staff feel safe and familiar. The Social and Cultural Planning Office and the Inspectorate of Education have recently conducted studies into the relationship between housing size, on the one hand, and quality and safety, on the other, and have established that there is no significant interrelationship. Large schools, too, have been successful in creating a safe school climate. Problems, if any, were more related to the nature of the school population than to the size of the school. Despite this, I will continue to monitor developments in this area, which for years have been reported in the education report of the Inspectorate, and I will continue to discuss these developments with the Inspectorate.

Within secondary education, at a limited number of VMBO schools, there is more amiss: here the problems of pupils accumulate in one school. At these schools extra efforts are being made to ensure safety.

Pupils with serious behavioural problems Recently, voices have been raised calling on so-called problem pupils to be taken out of regular (VMBO) education – to separate them from other pupils. In this discussion, it is necessary to make a distinction between pupils with specific needs, on the one hand, due to their learning and educational or socio-emotional problems, and pupils that (temporarily) cannot be kept in regular education, on the other. In this last case, there should be sufficient possibilities for placing the pupil somewhere else (temporarily). It would help the pupil in question, it would help the other pupils that suffer the consequences of their behaviour, and it would help the staff that often have to devote too much attention to these pupils and that are often also bothered by their behaviour.

To make it possible for schools to fill this responsibility, measures will have to be taken at the levels of prevention, correction and restraint. By strengthening pupil counselling, expanding the facilities for severely maladjusted children, creating rebound facilities and taking support measures, schools will be given the possibility of identifying and tackling the problems early and, if necessary, taking radical measures.

Effort: Giving schools the ability to create a safe school climate.


• Implementing the Plan of Approach for Safety in education and the facilities for high-risk pupils. Including the measures developed, the plan of approach was submitted to the Lower

House in May 2004 and will be realised starting in 2005:

- the pupil counselling will be reinforced,

- the number of facilities for severely maladjusted children will be increased,

–  –  –

- rebound facilities will be created,

- schools will be supported by extra measures.

• Consultation with the Inspectorate will be held on school size in relation to education quality and safety at the larger locations.

3.1.3. Learning can take place anywhere For a long time now, schools have not had a monopoly on teaching. Young people can learn things anywhere. In a weekend job at the supermarket or on a farm, or even while chatting with friends in Thailand, Australia or Utrecht. At the same time, outside the school there are numerous opportunities for learning that could be given an explicit place in the course programme. In this way, the cultural vouchers were a success. Also, in the context of sports and exercise, there are countless opportunities for pupils to gain learning experiences and to test skills.

In short, the pupil can achieve more and at a higher level and can use his talents better if we are successful at integrating learning inside and outside school, as well as formal and informal learning, into the regular course programme better and recognise different learning experiences via, for instance, a portfolio. Pupils, parents, teachers and management all expect that such an approach to education will motivate and appeal to the pupil much, much more. Particularly for those pupils that feel more at home in the practical world than at their school desks, this could be just the ticket needed to get them to continue their education instead of leaving school without a qualification.


• To promote the integration of learning inside and outside schools, formal and informal learning into the course programme.

• Broader recognition of different learning experiences.


• Continuing on from the development in the first stage of secondary education, VMBO and the second stage, more possibilities will be provided to integrate both learning outside school and informal learning into the course programme and to recognise these learning experiences, e.g. analogous to competencies acquired elsewhere or by means of portfolios.

The realisation of this starting in 2005 will be included in the contents of the innovation policy (see § 3.3).

• The dual training and work placement routes in VMBO will be expanded starting in 2007.

The manner in which this will be done shall be explained in 2005 in a report submitted to the Lower House with an option for (pilot) projects up to 1 August 2007.

3.1.4. Examinations: proof of personal ability Pupils in secondary education want to be tested. They want to be subject to requirements. They want to be challenged. They also want to know how they have performed and to see this performance converted into a diploma. Many pupils, according to the discussions on the course of secondary education, see a diploma as the first proof of what they can accomplish. It is their admission ticket for a subsequent step.

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