Schools break the rules with extra tuition fees for smart kids, parents say

Schools break the rules with extra tuition fees for smart kids, parents say

The parents of children who have been classified as 'extremely intelligent' are spending hundreds of euros on extra school lessons for their offspring even though school is supposed to be free, the AD reported on Monday. Schools are only allowed by law to ask parents for a voluntary contribution, but the parents of bright kids are having to pay a small fortune for extra 'plus classes', the paper quotes parents lobby group Ouders & Onderwijs as saying. School inspectors have also urged parents to sound the alarm if they are being asked to pay for extra tuition in school time, which can be as much as €50 a week, the AD said. Three years ago, the government introduced new rules for primary schools requiring everyone to receive education appropriate to their abilities. This has so far mainly focused on integrating children with learning or behavioural difficulties into normal schools. Schools say they don't have enough money to organise special classes for highly intelligent children. 'Ideally we schools would offer the most appropriate education to every child,' Annemieke Kooper, spokeswoman for the Dutch schools platform PO-Raad told the paper. 'But in practice, the available budgets are inadequate and schools have been organising classes for highly intelligent children on their own initiative.'  More >

Teachers targeted with travel deals

Schools break the rules with extra tuition fees for smart kids, parents say Amsterdam city council has set aside €400,000 to pay travel expenses to new teachers in an effort to cope with the capital's shortage of teaching staff. The shortage of teachers at primary schools is forecast to rise to 400 by 2020 as high housing costs and expensive travel deter them from moving to the city, according to the Parool. New teachers who live at least 20 kilometres from the city will be able to claim up to €2,000 a year and the project will run for two years, the paper said. Schools are also being encourage to attract more people from other professions to move into education. The council has also allocated €100,000 to fund the special checks that people without teaching qualifications need to take the plunge.   More >

Quality plunge in crash swim courses?

Schools break the rules with extra tuition fees for smart kids, parents say Crash swimming courses may not teach children adequate skills, warns the Royal Dutch Swimming Federation on Wednesday. Ellen Julius, communications and PR officer, reportedly told the Telegraaf that the so-called ‘turbo’ courses – which can take just weeks rather than months to teach swimming proficiency – may not be enough. ‘You can learn the basics, but coordination between the arms and legs requires time,’ she said. ‘In addition, a child only really learns to swim well by repetition.’ The body, known as the KNZB in Dutch, is concerned about an apparent rise in parents choosing to put their children into crash courses rather than spending months carting them to and from weekly lessons. A spokeswoman from the national swimming diploma organisation, the NRZ, told the Telegraaf that currently anybody can offer a swimming diploma since they are not regulated by law. Press officer Marjolin van Tiggelen reportedly said: ‘You can just get a child to jump into some water one morning, swim back and forth three times, design a bit of paper and say: here’s your diploma.’ This is not the first time concerns have been raised about swimming courses. In May, two teachers and three swimming instructors were ordered by the courts to undertake 120 hours of community service for a lesser form of manslaughter, after a nine-year-old Syrian girl drowned during a school swimming lesson.  More >

Concern over standard of English on campus

Schools break the rules with extra tuition fees for smart kids, parents say Universities and colleges need to improve the standard of English on campus to avoid compromising educational standards, a report for the education ministry has warned. The research watchdog KNAW raised concerns that too many institutions lacked a coherent policy on the issue of using English as the language of instruction. It urged them to pay more attention to the language skills of both teachers and students. Around 20% of undergraduate-level courses were taught completely in English in the last academic year, a figure which rises to 60% for master's courses. For vocational colleges the proportion is 8%. The use of English is potentially a barrier to students from migrant backgrounds or with lower-level secondary education, but colleges need to balance this with the needs of an increasingly international student population, the report said. English did not necessarily affect the standard of teaching provided proper language and intercultural support policies were in place. The decision on whether to teach classes in English should be taken carefully and on a subject by subject basis, rather than automatically, the KNAW said. In subjects where English textbooks are used it made sense to use the language in the classroom, while for others, such as Dutch law, Dutch was a more logical choice.  More >

Children who missed school photo win case

Schools break the rules with extra tuition fees for smart kids, parents say A school in The Hague has been ordered to pay €500 compensation to two Muslim children who missed the annual school photograph because it clashed with the end of Ramadan. The Maria Montessorischool hired the photographer without realising the date coincided with Eid al-Fitr, and was unable to rearrange the booking by the time the mistake came to light. The district court in The Hague decided on Monday that the school had indirectly discriminated against the two children, breaching their legal right to equal treatment. The court decided there was no direct discrimination on grounds of religion because the school later arranged for the photographer to return and take the children's pictures separately. However, the school had failed to offer alternatives when it became aware of the error. Lawyer Laura Zuydgeest told Omroep West the parents were satisfied with the outcome of the case. 'They are disappointed that it had to go so far, but the school did not want to apologise or accept that it had acted wrongly and only wanted to discuss the matter if my clients observed the strictest secrecy,' she said. 'That was unacceptable for them.' Zuydgeest said the families planned to donate the money to charity. 'It is now set down in black and white that a school must take the faiths of all children in the school into account when offering services.' Editor's note: This article was amended on July 18 to correct the name of the Eid celebration.  More >