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.



Strengthening accountability and capacity in Dutch school boards

School boards in the Netherlands enjoy extensive autonomy in various areas and have become increasingly responsible for the quality of education. However, their accountability is open to question. School boards, which vary in scale, sometimes also face significant capacity challenges. This chapter examines the major policy developments and performance of school boards in the Dutch school system. It explores how the accountability of school boards can be improved by making their workings more transparent, and opening up their operations to meaningful challenge. It highlights the importance of strengthened management capacity in school boards, which is balanced by giving more authority to school leaders.


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