The Netherlands Educational Agreement

Nieuws | de redactie
7 september 2012 | With only seven days to go until the Dutch national elections, the education field and McKinsey created a plan to improve education in the next decade. Some very implementable improvements have been made worldwide, they note. What should Dutch politicians learn from Saxony, Hong Kong or Korea?

Consistent and coherent policy

Dutch teachers have seen over thirty education reforms in thelast  decades, alas this did not improve the overall quality.What actions should the new government take to improve thequality? Saxony shows that improvement can be catalyzed byconsistent and focused policy. Once lagging behind after theFall of the Berlin Wall, it has become a frontrunner in modernGermany within twenty years through declaring education the toppriority. 

Improvement of teacher education

By far the most important factor to improve Dutch education isto enhance the overall quality of the teachers, the best way toachieve this is to invest in future teachers. So how do you lurethe best students into teaching and how do organize an excellentteacher education.

In Long Beach, California the teacher education cooperates withlocal schools so that students interact with good teachers duringtheir study. In this way their technical knowledge on teaching willget an impulse from the experience of the experts. 

Professionalization of the teachingprofession

Solely investing in future teachers is not enough, also existingteachers need to get the chance to improve their educationalskills. The best scoring countries have developed substantialprograms to stimulate learning from fellow teachers. For exampleSingapore has focused on strengthening the networks of ProfessionalLearning Communities in schools that encourage teachers tocollaborate with one other in reviewing and improving theirclassroom practice. 

To put this success in the words of one system leader: “As theskills of our educators rose, we needed to change our approach inhow we managed them. We could no longer prescribe what they did, wehad to treat them like professionals who had good judgment, knewtheir students well, and who could make their owndecisions.” 

Improving the school leaders

Research has shown that 25 percent of the difference in studentperformance can be explained in the quality of the schoolleader.  Only 43 percent of School leaders in the Netherlandscoaches or supports their teachers once a week. In countries withexcellent school systems this is on average 74 percent. In Ontariothere is a much larger exchange of knowledge between school leadersas groups of school leaders cooperate to tackle common problems intheir schools. 

McKinsey states that the combination of these three measures canboost Dutch education from good to great within the time-span ofseven years. After the elections when the new education plans havebeen written there is little to sojourn this broadly basedagreement, since no extra money is needed to attain this vitalimprovement.  

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