Dutch education system benefits from decentralisation ‘balanced by strong accountability mechanisms’

By on 27/05/2016

The Dutch education system – described by the OECD as “the highest performing” across its member countries, benefits from a high level of decentralisation which “is effectively balanced by strong accountability mechanisms,” according to a new report.

In its review of national education policies in the Netherlands, published on Wednesday, the OECD says that the degree of autonomy given to regional education authorities “encourages innovative educational practice and facilitates a central government approach that is backed by a widespread commitment to evidence-based policy making.”

Other strengths the country has are “a strong vocational and training system; school financing that supports disadvantaged students; and a tradition of experimentation and innovation.”

However, it also argues that “growing inequity and an increasing rigidity in track placement has led to increased pressure” and that “student motivation is inadequate and there are too few top performers, given the overall high standards.”

Montserrat Gomendio, deputy director of the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills, said there are “very large performance differences between schools” and that “improving equity through fair selection and making the tracking system more permeable will be essential to help ensuring consistently high standards across schools”.

The report argues that educational quality of early childhood education and care should be improved, because most parents use childcare facilities fewer hours a week than in most OECD countries – despite high participation rates.

It also says that more efforts should be made to attract high performers to the teaching profession, especially as many teachers in the Netherlands are approaching retirement age.

A more systematic approach to professional development is needed, together with improved mandatory training for new teachers and greater teacher collaboration between and within schools, the study finds.

For this to happen a leadership strategy is proposed to ensure school leaders continue to develop their capacity and are able to create the conditions for schools to develop as learning organisations.
Click here to read the full report

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About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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