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Netherlands:Separate Special Education Needs Provision 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

Definition of the target group

Special education caters for children with special educational needs, such as children with a chronic illness or a disability, and children whose education requires a special approach. There are special schools for the primary age group and for the secondary age group. Special schools in the Netherlands fall under the Expertise Centres Act. They are divided into four categories:

  • Category 1: schools for the visually impaired or for children with multiple disabilities including visual impairment. Most visually impaired pupils attend mainstream schools, with special facilities and guidance.
  • Category 2: schools for hearing impaired children and children with communicative disabilities (due to hearing, language or speech difficulties) or for children with multiple disabilities including hearing, language or speech impairment. This category of school is also intended for children whose communicative disabilities are connected with certain forms of autism.
  • Category 3: schools for physically and/or intellectually disabled children and children with a chronic physical illness, such as epilepsy
  • Category 4: schools for severely maladjusted children and children with mental or behavioural disorders, including schools attached to paedological institutes.

If a child qualifies for special education, but their parents prefer them to attend a local mainstream school, a personal budget is awarded to finance special facilities and support for the child.

Mainstream schools and special schools for primary education cater for special needs children with milder forms of disability, or learning or behavioural difficulties. Mainstream secondary schools for pre-vocational education offer children with learning difficulties practical training or learning support programmes. Temporary special schooling ('time-out’ facilities) is also available for children who have been temporarily removed from school and require extra support.

Until 1 August 2014, after which new legislation will come into effect, pupils can be referred from mainstream schools to the different types of special school and vice versa. Pupils can also move from one type of education to another when they finish primary school/special primary school. Individual needs committees (PCL) and regional referral committees (RVC) determine whether a child is eligible for admission to a special school for primary education, or practical training or learning support at a school for pre-vocational secondary education. A referral to a special school in one of the four categories is assessed by an independent committee (CVI), which also decides how much funding the special school will receive for the pupil in question.

Parents can opt to enrol their special needs child in a mainstream school. The child is then allocated a personal budget, which is intended to pay for staffing and equipment costs and any adaptations that may be necessary to meet the child’s needs. Compensatory policy is applied in the case of children whose language development lags behind and children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

New legislation
The Appropriate Education Act will come into effect on 1 August 2014. The Act will impose a duty of care on schools to offer all pupils an appropriate place. Under the old system, parents themselves had to find an appropriate school if their child required extra assistance or facilities. As of 1 August 2014 they can enrol their child in the school of their choice and it will be the school’s responsibility to arrange an appropriate place for the child: within the school, at another mainstream school or at a special school. Mainstream schools and special schools (categories 3 and 4) have formed regional consortia to ensure that all children can be placed at the school that best meets their needs.

The allocation of personal budgets will end on 1 August 2014. Instead, these resources will be allocated to the regional consortia, which will be responsible for deploying the funds to support special needs children in mainstream education.

The Expertise Centres Act (WEC) sets out the goals of special education, the categories of special school, and the types of school and institute. It also lays down how special schools must be organised (curriculum, attainment targets, quality, school plan, school prospectus and complaints procedure). The WEC regulates the position of teachers, pupils (admission) and parents. It also contains provisions on establishing and closing schools, and provisions on funding.

Special secondary education
Pupils in special schools usually transfer to secondary school or special secondary education after turning 12. Any such transfer must take place before the end of the school year in which they turn 14. Pupils can attend special secondary school until their 20th birthday. Schools for special secondary education are divided into the same four categories as special primary schools.

Special secondary education offers pupils three types of pathway, based on their development potential and aimed at three post-school scenarios: daily activity, labour market activities or further education. Each pathway has its own attainment targets. Pupils preparing for further education work towards a school leaving certificate. Pupils taking the other two pathways receive a testimonial on leaving special secondary school.

Special schools for primary education
Besides special primary schools (‘speciaal onderwijs’), the Netherlands also has special schools for primary education (‘speciaal basisonderwijs’) for pupils with milder forms of disability, such as children with learning or behavioural difficulties and children who need special facilities or extra assistance.

Special schools for primary education have the same attainment targets as mainstream primary schools, but pupils are given extra assistance to achieve them. The classes have fewer children and there are more specialised staff members. Pupils can attend special schools for primary education until their 14th birthday. They can then transfer to pre-vocational secondary education, practical training, other forms of mainstream education or special secondary education.


Admission Requirements and Choice of School

Teaching at special schools is geared to the developmental potential of the individual child. Special education aims to promote the development of children’s emotions, intellect and creativity and the acquisition of essential knowledge together with social, cultural and physical skills in an uninterrupted process of development. The aim is to enable as many pupils as possible to transfer or return to mainstream education. An individual development plan is drawn up for each child, including the pathway considered attainable by the child. Special schools must monitor each child’s development towards the expected post-school scenario. The individual development plan is discussed with parents/carers and the pupil concerned at least once a year and adapted if necessary.

The minimum age at which a child can be admitted to special education is four, except in the case of deaf and hearing impaired children, who can be admitted at the age of three. The upper age limit for special secondary education is 20. In exceptional cases, however, the Education Inspectorate may allow a school to admit a younger child, provided it is in the child’s interest, or allow a pupil to stay in school beyond the maximum age limit, so that they can complete their course, for instance, or because it would improve the pupil’s prospects on the labour market. Such exemptions to the age limits are only granted for periods of up to one year.

Admission to special schools for primary education
Until 1 August 2014 parents/carers who want to enrol a child in a special school for primary education (‘speciaal basisonderwijs’) have to apply to their regional individual needs committee (PCL), which determines whether the child is eligible for admission to such a school based on criteria laid down by the regional consortium. Parents/carers who object to the PCL’s decision can turn to an objections committee (BAC).

New rules apply as of 1 August 2014. As of that date, the competent authority of the school attended by the child or where the child has been enrolled must request a statement of needs from the regional consortium. The latter must obtain expert advice on the child’s eligibility for special education. The mandatory application to the PCL will be abolished, but regional consortia can still consult the PCL for advice on special assistance.

Admission to special schools
Until 1 August 2014 parents who have reason to believe their child needs special education can apply to their regional expertise centre (REC). Each REC has an independent committee (CVI) which decides on the basis of set national criteria whether the child should be placed in a special primary or special secondary school, in which case they will also qualify for a personal budget. If it is decided that the child needs special education, the parents can opt for either a special school or a mainstream school in the vicinity. In the case of schools for visually impaired children, the application does not go through the above-mentioned committee but through the schools themselves. Parents who object to the PCL’s decision can turn to an objections committee (BAC).

A new procedure applies as of 1 August 2014. As of that date, the set national criteria for special education in categories 3 and 4 will lapse. A pupil’s eligibility for admission to a special primary or special secondary school in one of these two categories will depend on the statement of needs drawn up by the regional consortium, based on the consortium’s own eligibility criteria. Regional consortia must obtain advice from an external expert on the child’s eligibility for special education.

In view of the advantages of scale and clustering specialist expertise, the Appropriate Education Act will introduce a national system of referral and admission to schools for the hearing impaired (category 2), similar to the existing procedure for schools for the visually impaired. Children with hearing and/or communicative impairments will be educated at a smaller number of institutions spread throughout the country. These institutions will also deal with referrals and provide support to mainstream schools where such pupils are placed. Existing category 2 schools will be merged with the new institutions.


Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils

Special schools are free to organise their classes as they wish. Classes are smaller than in mainstream schools and may contain children of different ages. Both the age and level of the children is taken into account. The size of the class depends to some extent on the type of special education.

 

Curriculum, Subjects

Special education aims to promote the development of children’s emotions, intellect and creativity and the acquisition of essential knowledge together with social, cultural and physical skills. Attainment targets have been laid down for special primary education and for each of the three pathways in special secondary education. For more information, go to Attainment Targets in Special Education (in Dutch only).

Areas of learning
The Minister of Education decides what areas of learning must be taught by special primary schools. Under the terms of the Expertise Centres Act (WEC), the following subjects must appear in the curriculum, where possible in an integrated form:

  • sensory coordination and physical education;
  • Dutch;
  • arithmetic and mathematics;
  • a number of factual subjects, including geography, history, science (including biology), social structures (including political studies) and religious and ideological movements;
  • expressive activities, including use of language, art, music, handicrafts and play and movement;
  • self-reliance, i.e. social and life skills, including road safety;
  • healthy living;
  • English.

Although these subjects are compulsory, schools are free to decide how much time they devote to each subject.

Special education for children with an intellectual disability or multiple disabilities (including intellectual disability) must comprise the following areas of learning, offered where possible in an integrated form:

  • sensory coordination;
  • physical education;
  • self-reliance, i.e. social and life skills, including road safety;
  • healthy living;
  • expressive activities, including in any case the use of language, art, music, handicrafts and play and movement;
  • at least one factual subject, including in any case science.

In special secondary education, there is a different curriculum for each pathway.

For pupils taking the pathway leading to further education, the curriculum is based on:

  • the attainment targets of the lower years of mainstream secondary education;
  • the examination requirements for the school leading certificate pupils are working to obtain;
  • cross-curricular attainment targets aimed at general social participation skills and personal development.

The curriculum for the labour market activities pathway is based on:

  • cross-curricular attainment targets aimed at general social participation skills and personal development;
  • attainment targets for the various areas of learning (Dutch language and communication, English, arithmetic and maths, mankind and science & technology, mankind and society, cultural orientation and creative expression, sport and movement);
  • attainment targets aimed at readiness for the labour market (vocational orientation, development of career skills, development of labour market skills, development of professional skills).

The curriculum for the daily activity pathway is based on:

  • cross-curricular attainment targets aimed at general social participation skills and personal development;
  • attainment targets for the various areas of learning (Dutch language and communication, English, arithmetic and maths, mankind and science & technology, mankind and society, cultural orientation and creative expression, sport and movement);
  • attainment targets aimed at readiness for daily activity.

The language of instruction is Dutch. However schools in the province of Friesland also teach Frisian, for which attainment targets have also been drawn up, and may teach other subjects in Frisian as well.

Teaching Methods and Materials

Special schools are free to use whatever teaching methods they like. Teaching content, methods and materials are not prescribed by government. Teaching materials are the property of the school. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science funds the publication of a consumer guide to teaching materials which provides a quality-based analysis of all the products available for a particular subject. The National Institute for Curriculum Development (SLO) (in Dutch only) also has a website where schools can assess and select existing and new teaching materials.

Schoolbooks
Schoolbooks are supplied free of charge to all pupils in special education. Special materials are available for children with reading difficulties, such as software for dyslexic readers, audio schoolbooks, braille books, magnifying equipment and books with tactile illustrations. These are supplied at no extra cost to schools or parents.

Progression of Pupils

The competent authority of a special school is required by law to monitor the progress in pupils’ development. The competent authority (school board) issues reports on the progress of each pupil, either to the child’s parents or, in the case of pupils over the age of majority (18 years) who are legally competent, to the pupil him or herself. There are no statutory rules about when pupils may move up to the next year and when they may not. Individual schools lay down procedures for this in their own school plans.

Repeating a year
If a child’s results and performance are unsatisfactory, the school may decide to keep them back a year. The school bases this decision in part on the level attained by the child’s classmates. The school informs the child’s parents/carers if a child has to repeat a year. Schools set out their pass standards in the school prospectus.

Certification

When a pupil leaves a special primary school or special school for primary education, the head, in consultation with the teachers and the assessment board, draws up a report for the benefit of the child’s new school. This is also done for pupils leaving a special secondary school and going on to secondary vocational education. The assessment board may re-examine the child for the purpose of drawing up the report. Depending on the age and legal competence of the pupil, a copy of the report is sent either to the parents or to the child.

Pupils at special secondary schools may take their school-leaving examinations at a mainstream school, an institute for adult general secondary education (VAVO) or their own school if it is authorised to conduct these examinations, or they may sit the state examination.

Certification in special secondary education
Pupils complete special secondary education in one of the following ways.

1. Pupils completing the further education pathway

  • are awarded a certificate by the mainstream school where they were taught for part of the time; or
  • are awarded a certificate by the state examination board after passing the state examination; or
  • are awarded a certificate by their own special secondary school. This option is restricted to secondary education certificates. The school in question must also be authorised to conduct examinations and must satisfy the appropriate regulations.

2. Pupils completing the labour market activities pathway

  • are given testimonials by their special secondary school.

3. Pupils completing the daily activity pathway

  • are given testimonials by their special secondary school.