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.


The Dutch education system

The Dutch education system is a strong performer, with outcomes for cognitive skills that are both strong on average and in terms of equity. These outcomes emerge from a system that balances a high level of decentralisation and school autonomy with a strong set of accountability measures. But challenges remain, and the Netherlands rightly aims high. Early childhood education and care, while extensive, faces quality issues: the integrity of early tracking faces growing difficulties because of variations in the initial track selection, student motivation is low, and there are few really strong performers. As in all countries, the quality of teachers and school leaders is critical to educational performance, but collective learning and working is underdeveloped. School boards are not always as accountable as they should be.


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