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Netherlands:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School 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

Quality of education

The government attaches great importance to good-quality education. In primary education it aims to improve both the quality of education and that of teachers and school management. Efforts to improve secondary education are focused on reducing the number of drop-outs and tackling seriously failing schools. Such schools are inspected more frequently by the Education Inspectorate.

Responsible bodies

Early childhood education

The Opportunities for Development through Quality and Education Act (OKE) entered into force on 1 August 2010. One of its aims is to increase and improve the provision of preschool programmes in day nurseries and playgroups. Primary schools also provide early childhood education (ECE). Under the OKE, the Education Inspectorate is responsible for monitoring the quality of ECE.

The Municipal Health Services (GGD) inspect the basic quality of childcare, covering health and safety issues as well as factors that influence the quality of ECE: the choice of preschool programme, the number of hours devoted to the preschool programme per week, group size, the number of staff per group, and training and professional qualifications of staff teaching the preschool programme. The GGD notifies the Education Inspectorate if it finds that an establishment falls short of the quality requirements.

Primary, secondary and special education

Primary and secondary schools, including those that provide special education, bear primary responsibility for the quality of teaching and describe their system of quality assurance in their prospectus and school plan.

External school evaluations are carried out by the Education Inspectorate, a semi-autonomous body falling under the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. The Inspectorate’s senior management is made up of the Inspector-General;

  • a chief inspector for primary education and the expertise centres (which are responsible for special education);
  • a chief inspector for secondary education, adult and vocational education and higher education.

Education inspectors’ statutory tasks and the parameters for quality and supervision are laid down in the Education Inspection Act (WOT). Within these statutory parameters, it is up to the schools themselves to set their own quality targets and standards and to decide how quality is measured and evaluated. Taking the results of schools’ self-evaluation as a guideline wherever possible, the Inspectorate assesses whether the teaching provided is up to standard, based on data such as exam results, annual reports and information they receive directly or via the media. The Inspectorate supervises government-funded institutions as well as non-government-funded institutions that award a recognised qualification.

The Inspectorate conducts a full inspection of every school at least once every four years, the results of which are laid down in an inspection report. It also issues a school inspection card that indicates the inspection status of the school in question. The card includes a link to the inspection report. See: school inspection card and report (only in Dutch available).

Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance

Internal and external evaluation of early childhood education

Internal evaluation

To ensure the quality of early childhood education, there must be at least two playworkers per group, with each group consisting of no more than 16 children. At least one of the staff must have a Level 3 Social and Community Work (SPW3) qualification or the equivalent. Municipalities provide funding to improve playworkers’ professional qualifications.

To prevent people who have committed a criminal offence from working or continuing to work in childcare, staff must have a certificate of conduct (site only in Dutch available) issued on or after 1 July 2013.

Organisations or schools providing early childhood education must regularly check whether their programme satisfies current quality standards and is in line with their own and the municipality’s policies. Organisations bear primary responsibility for evaluating the quality of their programmes. They are generally expected to do this once a year and to report on the results. The evaluation should in any case address the following:

  • parents’ participation;
  • quality of the programme offered and the extent to which it is in line with existing agreements;
  • staff members’ knowledge and skills (education theory and practice);
  • the physical learning environment;
  • individual needs provision, including the use of an observation system;
  • continuous progression of learning from preschool to primary school programmes

External evaluation

Two inspection frameworks have been established for early childhood education (only in Dutch available): one is used to draw up an overview of the quality of early childhood education provided in all municipalities in the Netherlands, and the other is for signal-driven inspections, i.e. when the Inspectorate has received signals of possible shortcomings in early childhood education in a particular municipality.

The Education Inspectorate provides an overview of the quality of all subsidised early childhood education programmes at playgroups and day nurseries.

The OKE provides that all reports must be publicly available. Inspection reports on ECE in all municipalities  (only in Dutch available) since 1 August 2010 can be found on this website, as well as reports on the individual playgroups, day nurseries and schools that offer ECE programmes. In August 2013 the Inspectorate published its overall findings on the quality of early childhood education in the Netherlands, in which it called for a stronger effort to tackle disadvantage in young children (in Dutch only).

Internal and external evaluation of primary and secondary education

External evaluation of primary and secondary education

Evaluation at school/institutional level
The Education Inspectorate, for which the Minister of Education, Culture and Science is responsible, supervises the quality of education by:

  • assessing the quality of teaching on the basis of checks on compliance with legislation;
  • monitoring compliance with legislation;
  • promoting the quality of teaching;
  • reporting on the development of education;
  • performing all other tasks and duties required by law.

These tasks are laid down in the WOT. The Inspectorate bases its assessments on the principle that institutions themselves bear primary responsibility for the quality of teaching.

Supervision and quality
In the first instance, schools evaluate themselves and learn lessons from the results of their evaluations. In addition, it is the Inspectorate’s task to assess the quality of teaching. Every year, the Inspectorate checks schools for any indications that the quality of education is below standard. In principle, it conducts a full inspection once every four years. The intensity of inspections is based on the outcome of a risk assessment and, if necessary, further inspection. In conducting the school inspection, the Inspectorate relies as much as possible on the results of the school’s self-evaluation. The inspection results in a report (only in Dutch available) which is posted on the internet.

The inspection framework 2012 (only in Dutch available) describes the Inspectorate’s methods, the specific indicators evaluated during inspections, and the standards that schools must meet. The framework thus offers guidance to schools and school boards.

The Inspectorate’s methods are based on the following principles:

  • inspectors deal directly with the school board;
  • inspections are customised and based on a risk assessment;
  • inspections aim to prevent at-risk schools from (seriously) failing or reverting to this category;
  • inspections are also aimed at programme-based enforcement.

Inspection cards
School inspection cards contain the Inspectorate’s assessment of the school and the proposed form of supervision.
 
Since August 2007 the Inspectorate has taken a risk-based approach to inspections. It carries out annual checks of all schools to assess whether there are any risk factors that may affect the quality of education. Specifically, the Inspectorate considers:

  • yield: pupils’ results in the primary school leavers attainment test, national examination results and success rate statistics;
  • signals: such as complaints or negative reports in the media about a school;
  • annual documents: such as the prospectus and financial documents;
  • compliance with legislation.

Depending on the outcome of these checks, the Inspectorate decides the inspection status of the school, which is noted on the school’s inspection card. The Inspectorate does not publish a report unless it has conducted a further inspection, in which case a link to the inspection report is provided on the school inspection card. There are four levels:

  • Basic inspection status: the Inspectorate has identified no risks and the school complies with legislation.
  • Increased risk (quality): the Inspectorate’s risk assessment and further inspection has revealed major shortcomings in the quality of education (in terms of either pupils’ results or the educational process). Inspection of the school is intensified, based on the shortcomings identified in the report of findings, which is published with the school inspection card.
  • High risk/failing (quality): the Inspectorate’s risk assessment and further inspection has revealed that the quality of education has fallen below acceptable quality standards (in terms of both pupils’ results and the educational process). Inspection of the school is heavily intensified, based on the shortcomings identified in the report of findings, which is published with the school inspection card.
  • Increased risk (compliance): a school that does not fully comply with legislation may also be subject to intensified inspection. More information can then be found in the quality report or in a separate report about compliance with legislation.

Inspection cards for special schools
A new inspection framework for special education was introduced in the 2012/2013 school year. It contains separate frameworks for special primary schools and special secondary schools. More information can be found in the brochure on the inspection framework 2012 for special education (in Dutch only).

Over the next few years the Inspectorate will focus on teachers’ qualifications (only in Dutch available) in special education and whether teachers have a certificate of conduct. Inspections will be carried out first at schools where there is doubt about full compliance with these two criteria and at schools currently subject to an inspection of quality improvement.

The Special Education (Quality) Act entered into force on 1 August 2013 and aims to improve the quality of special education at both primary and secondary level. In particular, it is designed to promote a more results-driven approach to teaching. The Act requires all schools to draw up an individual development plan for each child and to monitor their development towards one of three post-school scenarios:

  • further education: pupils work towards a mainstream school-leaving certificate;
  • labour market activities: pupils are equipped for activities on the labour market, under a long-term employment contract if possible;
  • daily activity: readiness for engaging as independently as possible in daily activities.

Based on the individual development plan, pupils work towards an appropriate post-school scenario, thus increasing their chance of participating in society after they complete their schooling.

The Special Education (Quality) Act can be found here (in Dutch only).

Primary school leavers attainment test
The National Institute for Educational Measurement (CITO) has developed a primary school leavers attainment test, a relatively short but wide-ranging test, which gives a general indication of individual pupils’ level of attainment. The test consists of four sections on language, arithmetic, study skills and environmental studies. Schools may, if they wish, omit the section on environmental studies. Participation in the test is still optional, but will become compulsory in 2015 for all pupils in the final year of primary school.

Besides measuring the performance of individual pupils, the test also shows how well a particular school is performing. Every school that uses the test is sent two reports, one comparing its performance with all the other schools that used the test and the other comparing its performance with all the other schools with a similar pupil population. This gives the school in question an indication of the effectiveness of its curriculum. The Inspectorate also uses the test to assess and compare schools’ performance.

Schools must be able to account for their results. Many do this through the school leavers attainment test, but they are allowed to use alternative means such as a pupil monitoring system or pupil portfolios.

The Inspectorate also conducts investigations into general issues that are not specific to individual schools, such as language teaching at primary schools or the number of teaching hours in secondary education. The Inspectorate’s reports on these issues are published on its website (only in Dutch available). The Inspectorate announces its priority themes and focus areas in its annual work plan (only in Dutch available).

Inspectors
School inspectors are employees of the Education Inspectorate. They must hold a university degree and a certificate of conduct, and must be familiar with one or more educational sectors.

Internal evaluation in primary and secondary education

There are various instruments available for setting and monitoring standards within schools: the school plan, the school prospectus and the complaints procedure. These have been compulsory for primary and secondary schools since 1998. Schools themselves bear primary responsibility for the quality of teaching. They describe how they aim to guarantee quality in their prospectus and school plan.

School plan
The school plan, which must be updated by the school board every four years, describes the steps being taken to improve the quality of education. Every school must regularly assess its own performance. This information forms the basis for the school plan, which must be approved by the participation council. Through this document, the school renders account to the Inspectorate for its policies. The requirements to be met by the school plan are laid down in section 12 of the Primary Education Act and section 24 of the Secondary Education Act.

School prospectus
The school prospectus contains information for parents and pupils. It is updated every year on the basis of the school plan and describes in more detail what goes on in the school, its objectives and the results achieved. It thus serves as a basis for discussion between parents and the school about the school’s policy. The prospectus includes information on the parental contribution and the rights and obligations of parents and pupils. It also describes the provision made for pupils with learning difficulties or behavioural problems. The school sends a copy of its prospectus to the Inspectorate, to which it is accountable for its policy on quality. The Inspectorate may decide to verify whether the statements made in the prospectus accurately reflect the situation in practice. The requirements to be met by the school prospectus are laid down in section 13 of the Primary Education Act and section 24a of the Secondary Education Act.

The Inspectorate checks that schools have submitted these statutory documents, and that their contents satisfy the requirements. Based on these documents, it also checks whether schools meet the statutory requirements for teaching hours.

Evaluation of teachers

Evaluation of teachers in early childhood education

Staff must be trained specifically to teach early childhood education (ECE) programmes. They can, for instance, attend courses provided by commercial ECE programme developers, participate in further training under the ‘Vversterk’ project or take government-funded ECE courses taught at regional training centres or institutions for higher professional education. In any case the courses must have been taken recently (less than five years ago).

Organisations that offer preschool education are legally required to draw up an annual training plan to keep staff skills and knowledge up to standard. This requirement does not apply to ECE teachers at primary schools.

The Education Inspectorate publishes periodic overviews of the quality of subsidised early childhood education programmes at playgroups and day nurseries. Its assessments focus strongly on staff pedagogical skills, such as treating children with respect, setting limits to behaviour and/or helping children develop social and other skills. Preschool staff and teachers of ECE programmes at primary schools usually meet the necessary pedagogical standards. In fact 16% of playgroups or day nurseries with ECE programmes scored so well that they serve as an example to other such organisations. On the other hand, the Inspectorate found scope for improving the learning environment at 40% of locations offering preschool programmes. It usually advised creating a more language-rich environment, for instance by labelling objects in the room.

Evaluation of teachers in primary, secondary and special education

As of 1 January 2014 the Inspectorate also checks the qualifications and skills of teaching staff as a whole, during its routine evaluations of school quality. It does not assess individual teachers. It is important that pupils are taught by qualified teachers. This is also underscored by the National Education Agreement (only in Dutch available)m which includes provisions on creating a Register of Teachers. In assessing the quality of teaching at primary and secondary schools, inspectors observe a sample of lessons and fill out a standardised observation form. The form is also used to evaluate teachers in special schools.

Basic teaching skills
All but a small minority of teachers demonstrate the requisite basic teaching skills: they explain clearly, they create a task-oriented learning environment and invite pupils to participate actively during lessons. About a third of all teachers also show more advanced teaching skills, such as dealing with differences between pupils and adapting lessons to accommodate these differences. There are large differences within and between schools and institutions. These findings are similar to those for 2011/2012 and can be seen across all education sectors.

Professional development
Teachers generally feel they have sufficient scope for further professional development and many also make use of the opportunities offered. Pressure of work is often cited as a reason for not engaging in professional development. A wide range of in-service training and professional development activities are available. They are not all strictly focused on improving teaching skills.

Teaching skills definitions

Basic teaching skills

  • The teacher can explain things clearly.
  • The teacher creates a task-oriented learning environment.
  • Pupils participate actively in educational activities.

Advanced teaching skills

  • The teacher adapts their instructions to pupils’ needs.
  • The teacher adapts practical assignments to pupils’ needs.
  • The teacher adapts the teaching time to pupils’ needs.
  • The teacher systematically records and analyses pupils’ progress (primary education).
  • Support for individual needs is provided in a structured way (primary education).
  • The teacher checks whether pupils understand the lesson (secondary education).
  • The teacher gives substantive feedback (secondary education).

Click here to read more about what makes a good teacher (only in Dutch available).

 

Quality of teaching staff - Teacher 2020 action plan

The government is taking steps to improve the quality of teaching staff, notably through the teacher development grant and the Register of Teachers. The National Education Agreement states that education policy will continue to focus on quality. An extra €75 million has been earmarked to boost the quality of teaching staff and school leaders.
 
The Teacher 2020 action plan  (only in Dutch available) sets out the government’s measures. They include:
•the teacher development grant, which enables teachers to study for a bachelor’s or master’s degree;
 •more job diversification by introducing a broader mix of posts and salary scales for teachers;
 •the Register of Teachers. All qualified teachers in the Netherlands are eligible for enrolment in the Register of Teachers. They can also indicate the area of professional development in which they are engaged. Enrolment in the register is currently optional but the government wants to make it compulsory from 2017.
 
Teacher 2020 is not the only measure for improving teacher quality. The government is implementing several other strategies to enhance education quality:
 •the action plan for school improvement, which has dramatically reduced the number of schools that are rated as ‘seriously failing’;
 •the action plan for secondary education, which has served to tighten up examination requirements;
 • the 2011-2015 Focus on Expertise action plan for secondary vocational education (MBO). Among other things, it seeks to improve examination quality and facilitate the transfer from pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO) to vocational secondary education (MBO) to higher professional education (HBO).
 
Boosting the quality of school leaders

Education policy is geared to quality, so the standard of school leaders is a key issue. An extra €75 million has therefore been set aside to boost the quality of teaching staff and school leaders.
 
International studies show that school leadership has an impact on pupil outcomes. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has therefore earmarked an extra €29.5 million per year for training primary school leaders. This works out at around €2,000 per school leader per year.
Further professional development of primary and secondary school leaders and of middle management in secondary vocational education (MBO) will take place between 2012 and 2015. By 2016 all school leaders must comply with the statutory requirements. More information about the professional development of teachers can be found in the 2012 policy document on working in education (Werken in het onderwijs).