Minister Wiersma of Education is structurally earmarking an extra 105 million euros for more extensive support for students in secondary education who need it.
Currently, more than 52 million is available annually for this so-called Learning Plus arrangement, but the cabinet will increase this to 157 million. As a result, 100,000 pupils at around 700 schools could benefit from extra support.
These are students who need specific attention to develop properly. For example, because of the family or the environment in which they grow up, they have a more difficult start in secondary school and this can continue to hinder their development.
“When it comes to increasing opportunities”, Wiersma writes to the House of Representatives, “I avoid the word ‘backlogs’ as much as possible. It can give the impression that children and young people fall short, while environmental factors beyond their control sometimes make them make it difficult.”
The schools can choose how they help these pupils: for example, by offering extra language lessons or homework assistance, or by teaching in smaller classes. The schools must be accountable for how the money is spent.
No broad bridging class
Wiersma also reports to the House of Representatives that there will not be a broad transition class, as the Education Council proposed two years ago. The idea was that all schools would introduce a three-year transition class at the same time. This would give the pupils more time to develop before a school type is chosen, which would help in the pursuit of equal opportunities for all pupils.
The minister thinks it is a sympathetic proposal and encourages schools that want to offer a broad transition class themselves. But he thinks the proposal to prescribe it everywhere now goes too far. He writes that this “turns secondary education upside down, without us having a clear view of the practical and financial consequences of such a system change”.
According to the VO Council, the association of schools in secondary education, the three-year transition class is necessary to tackle equality of opportunity in education. In particular, tackling the early selection of the school type for students “is one of the most important buttons to turn,” the association says in response to Wiersma’s announcement.
“National and international research shows that time and time again. Research into the consequences and conditions for such a system change is necessary, which the minister could in any case initiate.”
- Education Council: three years of ‘broad’ first class at all secondary schools