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Netherlands:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

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Overview Netherlands

Contents

Netherlands:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Netherlands:Historical Development

Netherlands:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Netherlands:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Netherlands:Political and Economic Situation

Netherlands:Organisation and Governance

Netherlands:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Netherlands:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Netherlands:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Netherlands:Organisation of Private Education

Netherlands:National Qualifications Framework

Netherlands:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Netherlands:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Netherlands:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Netherlands:Funding in Education

Netherlands:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Netherlands:Higher Education Funding

Netherlands:Adult Education and Training Funding

Netherlands:Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:Primary Education

Netherlands:Organisation of Primary Education

Netherlands:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Netherlands:Assessment in Primary Education

Netherlands:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Netherlands:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Netherlands:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Netherlands:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Netherlands:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Netherlands:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Netherlands:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Netherlands:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Netherlands:Organisation of Vocational Secondary Education (MBO)

Netherlands:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Secondary Education (MBO)

Netherlands:Assessment in Vocational Secondary Education (MBO)

Netherlands:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Netherlands:Higher Education

Netherlands:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Netherlands:First Cycle Programmes

Netherlands:Bachelor

Netherlands:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Netherlands:Second Cycle Programmes

Netherlands:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Netherlands:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Netherlands:Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Distribution of Responsibilities

Netherlands:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Netherlands:Main Providers

Netherlands:Main Types of Provision

Netherlands:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Netherlands:Teachers and Education Staff

Netherlands:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Netherlands:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Netherlands:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Netherlands:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Management and Other Education Staff

Netherlands:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Netherlands:Management Staff for Higher Education

Netherlands:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Netherlands:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Quality Assurance

Netherlands:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Netherlands:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Educational Support and Guidance

Netherlands:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Netherlands:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Netherlands:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Netherlands:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Netherlands:Mobility and Internationalisation

Netherlands:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Mobility in Higher Education

Netherlands:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Netherlands:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Netherlands:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Netherlands:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Netherlands:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Netherlands:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Netherlands:National Reforms in School Education

Netherlands:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Netherlands:National Reforms in Higher Education

Netherlands:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Netherlands:European Perspective

Netherlands:Legislation

Netherlands:Institutions

Netherlands:Bibliography

Netherlands:Glossary

Types of institutions

Types of education

Secondary education includes all types of education that follow on from primary education. Just as in primary education, there is a difference between publicly run schools and privately run schools schools. Broadly speaking, there are four types of secondary education:

1. Pre- vocational secondary education (VMBO):

  • Is intended as a foundation course as regards both the general and the pre-vocational component.
  • Lasts four years and is for pupils between the ages of 12 and 16 (average).
  • The pupils can choose between four learnings pathways:
  1. Theoretical programme (VMBO-T).
  2. Combined programme (VMBO-G);
  3. Middle-management vocational programme (VMBO-K);
  4. Basic vocational programme (VMBO-B).
  • Learning support (LWOO) is provided for pupils who need temporary help to cope with their chosen programme. It is available for pupils who are lagging behind the rest of the class or have other problems but who are nonetheless deemed capable of obtaining a VMBO certificate.

2. Senior general secondary education (HAVO):

  • Lasts five years and is for pupils aged 12 to 17 years (average).
  • HAVO provides pupils with a basic general education and prepares them for higher professional education. Pupils can also transfer to pre-university education (VWO). After completing a core curriculum in the three lower years, HAVO pupils enter the second stage where they choose one of four subject combinations. Each group of subjects includes a compulsory component and an optional component.
  • The first three years of senior general secondary education are part of general lower secondary education (ISCED 2).

3. Pre-university education (VWO):

  • Lasts six years and is for pupils aged 12 to 18 years (average).
  • The first three years of pre- university education are part of general lower secondary education (ISCED 2).
  • The second stage starts in the fourth year, when pupils must choose one of four subject combinations, each comprising a compulsory and an optional component. A ‘gymnasium’ offers a pre-university programme including the subjects Latin, ancient Greek and classical culture. Some schools offer bilingual programs in which, from the first year on, about half of the subjects are taught in English.

4. Practical training:

  • A type of education that is separate from the four learning pathways.
  • It is aimed at pupils who are realistically deemed unlikely to obtain a qualification through one of the learning pathways, even with learning support.
  • Unlike the four learning pathways, practical training does not lead on to secondary vocational education but prepares pupils for direct entry into the regional labour market.

Internationalisation
Internationalisation in secondary education takes place by bilingual education (tto). In this form of education at least half of all the subjects are taught in a foreign language, most of the time in English. There are 130 tto- schools in the Netherlands. For more information on internatilisation in secondary education, please see chapter 13.1.

School communities

Most schools in secondary education are part of a comprehensive school (school community). Most secondary teaching takes place in combined schools offering a number of different types of secondary education (VMBO, HAVO and VWO):

  • Some are narrow-based and consist of only one pathway.
  • Others are broad-based and offer all the different VMBO programmes as well as HAVO and VWO. Schools offering the VMBO theoretical programme only, together with HAVO and WVO, are known as combined schools for general secondary education (AVO).

Geographical accessibility

On average there are 660 schools in the Netherlands. The average distance for all the inhabitants to the closest school for secondary education is 2.4 kilometers. Every year, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science draws up a three-year plan for secondary schools  that aims to guarantee a balanced provision of educational facilities, taking into account the demand for education in each region.

Admission requirements and choice of school

Admission lower years secondary education

  1. Pupils are admitted to secondary education after leaving primary school or a special school for primary education, at an average age of 12.
  2. Decisions on admission to VMBO, HAVO or VWO are made by the competent authority (school board), which may appoint an admissions board to take such decisions under its aegis.The admissions board consists of the head and one or more teachers from the school. It may also include heads and teachers from primary schools. The head of the child’s primary school is required to draw up a report on his or her educational potential and level of attainment (educational report).
  3. For admission to VMBO, HAVO and VWO, pupils must be assessed to establish their suitability. The commonest method of assessment is the advice of the primary school. The pupils are also tested in the final year of primary school, using tests developed centrally to gauge pupils’ level of knowledge and understanding. Each year the National Institute for Educational Measurement (CITO)  publishes  a primary school leavers’ attainment test. A school in secondary education may not refuse a pupil based on the results of this test. There are also other tests available.

Since 2016, applications for admissions to learning support departments and training courses have been assessed by a regional committee. The committee then advises the school on whether to admit the child.

Choice of school

At secondary level, pupils are free to attend the school of their choice, provided they meet certain general conditions. In practical terms, pupil's freedom of choice is limited only by their primary school's advice on the most appropriate type of education and the admission requirements of the VMBO pathways, HAVO and VWO.

Age levels and grouping of pupils/students

  • Most schools make the year group system with children of the same age being placed together in the same class. Schools are free to group pupils by type of education or place pupils following different types of education in the same class. Combined schools often group their pupils in combined classes in the first year.
  • The sizes of the groups differ per pathway in secondary education. In general there is no lower and upper- limit. As upper limit most schools maintain 30-32 pupils per  group.
  • More than half of all first-year pupils are in mixed VMBO/HAVO or HAVO/VWO classes. VMBO pupils choose a sector and a learning pathway at the end of the second year.
  • HAVO/VWO pupils have until the end of the 3rd year to choose one of four fixed subject combinations. They are then often regrouped in accordance with the choices made.

Organisation of the school year

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science determines the dates of the school year and the length and dates of the summer holiday. In secondary education, the school year runs from 1 August to 31 July of the following year.

  • The summer holidays last six weeks and are staggered across the three regions (northern, central and southern) into which the country is divided for this purpose. The length and dates of the summer holidays, and how they are staggered across the country, are prescribed by the Minister. There are two weeks of Christmas holidays and one week of May Holidays. For the autumn holiday and the spring holiday there are advice data.
  • The dates of the shorter holidays (autumn, Christmas, spring and May holidays) can be decided by the competent authority of the school (school board), in consultation with the participation council, without having to obtain the Minister’s consent. The Minister recommends a period of one week’s holiday after every seven to eight weeks of school.
  • Per school year there is a maximum of 55 holidays, 12 rostered days off, and four free (public) days.

More information can be found in the Eurydice report ‘The organisation of School Time in Europe’.

Organisation of the school day and week

The participation council advises the competent authority of the school (school board) on the school timetable and any changes to it. The competent authority also determines when the school day starts and ends, and the duration of the lessons, with the approval of the parent and pupil representatives on the participation council.

Teaching hours in secondary education: statutory minimum norms

Since 2015-2016 there is no prescribed or advisory timetable, and no prescribed minimum for the number of teaching hours in each subject. The old norm is replaced by a norm per study field, set in the law ‘Wet modernisering onderwijstijd’  (Law modernisation of instruction time). Schools decide for themselves how these hours should be spread over the school year, as long as they maintain  the  norm for the hours throughout the whole studies:

  • 3700 hours in VMBO
  • 4700 hours in HAVO
  • 5700 hours in VWO

Another compulsory aspect is that there are at least 189 days of education. The length of the lessons can change roughly from 50-90 minutes.

There is no prescribed timetable or advice table. There is no box for a prescribed minimum number of teaching hours. However, there are requirements for teaching in physical education. It should be spread across all grades and spread over the weeks during the school year.
In the upper years of HAVO and VWO, the length of lessons and the length of the school day are also determined on the basis of study load. The study load is calculated on the basis of the time required by the average pupil to master a particular quantity of material, both at school and at home. This covers every element of the curriculum, including writing up projects, reading, using a resource center, excursions and homework.

For more information take a look at the Eurydice report 'Recommended Annual Instruction Time in Full-time Compulsory Education’.