6.2 Administration and governance
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Partnership between education and youth care
All children and young people have the right to the best opportunities to develop themselves. Preconditions for this are the cohesion between and the good quality of upbringing, education, support, help, care and guidance. This requires close cooperation between all parties concerned, to work on a comprehensive offer for children and young people.
Appropriate Education Act
The aim of the Appropriate Education Act (Wet op het passend onderwijs), which came into force on the 1st of August 2014, is that all children get placed in a school that fits their qualities and capacities, also when they need extra support. That is why schools in the same region work together in a partnership. The law says that these partnerships are obliged to have a supporting plan with at least agreements on:
The level of basic support available at the schools;
The way the support system is organised in and between the schools;
The distribution of means.
According to the Appropriate Education Act a partnership of schools is also obliged to adapt their support plan to the municipal policy plan. Sometimes it is necessary for education, youth care and the municipality to adjust their responsibilities and actions concerning the individual support of a child.
A school has to offer every pupil enrolled at the school a well-matched form of education. This is compulsory by law. If the school cannot provide the required education it is obliged to propose a better offer to the parents at another school within the partnership.
All schools, including schools for special education, receive a set amount of money for basic costs per registered pupil. The partnership of schools also receives an additional budget for extra support, related to the number of pupils in the partnership schools together. Before the Appropriate Education Act entered into force (1st August 2014) the means for extra support were distributed unevenly throughout the country.
Evaluations of appropriate education
The introduction of appropriate education has improved the organisation of support for pupils and students. The organisation of support for pupils is less complex and less rigid and, in most regions, there are sufficient facilities to support various groups of pupils. Most parents and pupils are satisfied with the support provided. However, schools' duty of care does not always prevent parents from continuing to look for a suitable place themselves. The effect of the new Act on Appropriate Education on pupils and students cannot be properly determined. These are the conclusions of the final report of a five-year evaluation study (Eindrapport evaluatie Passend Onderwijs) (2020) by researchers of the Kohnstamm Institute (Kohnstamm Instituut), the TIAS School for Business and Society of Tilburg University and KBA Nijmegen.
The researchers experienced difficulties in determining whether pupils receive more tailor-made support since the implementation of appropriate education. In their report The state of education 2020 (De Staat van het Onderwijs 2020) the Inspectorate of Education (Inspectie van het Onderwijs) also concluded that since the introduction of appropriate education, there is a lack of insight on the national level into pupils who need extra support. This makes it difficult to determine to which extent pupils are being offered appropriate and effective support at school and what barriers they encounter.
In addition, the Kohnstamm Institute, the TIAS School for Business and Society and KBA Nijmegen found that schools appreciate their freedom to organise support. Consultation between education and youth care takes place, but in practice education and youth care are often two separate domains. Schools experience difficulties in making arrangements with youth care providers about support for pupils: they have to deal with changes in youth care teams, with a lack of clarity about the coordination of care, and with waiting lists for examination and treatment. Furthermore, schools and parents are troubled by discussions about cost bearing. Especially schools for special education experience these challenges. The Inspectorate of Education shares the conclusion that organising extra support has become more complex due to the decentralisation of youth care in 2015. The inspectorate’s report also shows that special education schools have more pupils with more complex problems.
25 measures to improve appropriate education
In 2020 the Minister for Primary and Secondary Education and Media (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) announced 25 measures to improve appropriate education, in response to the outcomes of the aforementioned five-year evaluation study (Eindrapport evaluatie Passend Onderwijs) of the Act on Appropriate Education (Wet op het passend onderwijs). Concerning cross-sectorial cooperation, schools must better use the expertise of youth care services. Schools, municipalities and (youth)care organisations will have a legal obligation to make a plan to offer appropriate education to pupils and their parents. The letter Evaluation and Improvement Strategy Appropriate Education (Kamerbrief Evaluatie en Verbeteraanpak Passend Onderwijs) that was sent to Parliament on 4th November 2020 lists all measures taken.
Alignment with support and care under the Child and Youth Act
With the Child and Youth Act (Jeugdwet) (see for more information paragraph 1.2) municipalities are responsible for all support, help and care for youth. In line with this law, municipalities write policy plans for prevention, youth care, child protection measures and youth probation periodically. The plans encompass the vision and goals, coherence in youth policies, the aimed results, monitoring and outcome criteria.
According to the Child and Youth Act the municipal youth policy plan has to aim at, among other things, prevention and early detection, and the strengthening of the educative climate in families, neighbourhoods and schools. Communication and connection with the education sector are necessary. Municipalities are therefore obliged to coordinate their youth policy plan with the support plan of the primary and secondary schools’ partnership in their municipality. Coordination of the youth policy plan with vocational education is desirable, but not legally required. If professionals deem this necessary, the municipality has to consult with youth care organisations and educational institutes about individual treatment and support. This applies to primary, secondary and vocational education.
Central government provides each municipality with basic funding per youth to pay for all support, help and care related to the Child and Youth Act (Jeugdwet). According to an objective distribution model some municipalities receive extra budget based on risk and protective factors, such as poverty or psychiatric problems of parents. Paragraph 1.7 explains this in more detail.
Pilot projects to better combine care and education
In a pilot project the national government, together with initiatives in which care and education are combined, examines custom-made solutions to better arrange both care and education for youth with (considerable) needs. Between May 2021 and June 2022, 15 living labs (proeftuinen) that offer a combination of education and care are supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport). The living labs should generate customised solutions for youth who need additional care and educational support. The results will be used to improve services, funding and legislation for these children and young people.
Financing care during school hours for youth with complex needs is simplified through collective funding instead of separate financial flows for different types of care. This is also examined in a pilot project.
The online file on ‘Connecting education and youth care’ (Verbinding onderwijs en jeugdhulp) on the website of the Netherlands Youth Institute (Nederlands Jeugdinstituut) provides best practices, tips, quality indicators and information about the connection between education and youth care for municipalities, partnerships, school boards, schools for secondary vocational education (MBO) and youth care organisations. More information about appropriate education can be found on the English website of the national government as well as the governmental website in Dutch. Information on funding and all laws and regulations concerning the youth sector in the Netherlands is described in paragraphs 1.2 and 1.7 as well as the factsheet ‘Find your way in the laws of the youth system’ (Wegwijs in de wetten van het jeugdstelsel) (2015) of the Netherlands Youth Institute.
Overall responsibility for the education system lies with the State, specifically the Minister of Education, Culture and Science and the State Secretary (junior minister) for Education, Culture and Science. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science lays down statutory requirements for early childhood education, primary and secondary education and secondary vocational education, and has overall control of adult general secondary education (VAVO). The government lays down the framework within which higher education institutions (higher professional education and universities) have to operate, but it is the responsibility of the competent authority of each institution to expand on the government framework in the teaching and examination regulations. The provincial authorities’ role in education is limited to supervisory and legal tasks. The administration and management of primary and secondary schools and schools for secondary vocational education is organized locally.
The Netherlands is divided into 12 provinces. The involvement of the provincial authorities mainly takes the form of statutory supervisory and judicial duties. The Provincial Council ensures the availability of adequate numbers of publicly run primary and secondary schools and acts as the appeal body for private schools with regard to decisions taken by the municipal authorities. With regard to the management of schools and the curriculum, the role of the provinces is limited, partly because they cannot be the competent authority of an educational institution.