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Netherlands 2016

Foundations for the Future

image of Netherlands 2016

How can the Netherlands move its school system “from good to great”? This report draws on international experience to look at ways in which the strong Dutch school system might go further still on the path to excellence. Clearly the Dutch school system is one of the best in the OECD, as measured by PISA and PIAAC and is also equitable, with a very low proportion of poor performers. The report therefore proposes an incremental approach to reform, building on strengths while responding to some emerging challenges. The Netherlands should strengthen the quality of early childhood education and care, revisit policies related to early tracking with more objective testing and track decisions, and enhance the permeability of the system. It should develop the professionalism of teachers and school leaders through enhanced collective learning and working, while at the same time strengthening accountability and capacity in school boards. This report will be valuable not only for the Netherlands, but also to the many other education systems looking to raise their performance who are interested in the example of the Netherlands.

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Executive summary

The Dutch school system is one of the best in the OECD, as measured by the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). It is also equitable, with a very low proportion of poor performers. Basic skills are very good on average, while the system minimises weak basic skills among teenagers as effectively as the East Asian champions of Japan and Korea. This is supplemented by a strong vocational education and training system with good labour market outcomes. The system is underpinned by: a high level of decentralisation, balanced by a national examination system and a strong Inspectorate of Education; school financing which supports disadvantaged students; experimentation and innovation; and good data and research. Strong stakeholder intermediate institutions inform a lively research and policy debate. However, some challenges remain, and the Netherlands aspires to greater excellence.

English

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