A government advisory body on education has backtracked on its initial report which said children should start learning English as soon as they begin at a Dutch primary school at the age of four.
The formal recommendations now say children should learn English at a young age but that it is up to schools themselves to decide when to introduce the subject. What counts, the body says, is that children have reached a certain standard at the end of their primary school career.
The Education Platform 2032 was set up to advise on the future of the Dutch educational system and to establish what skills and knowledge children should develop if they start school in 16 years’ time.
The finalised report also states that children’s personal development is as important as learning facts and figures and that children must learn to make choices and take responsibility for their actions.
A spokeswoman for the primary school head teachers’ association PO-Raad said the revised report is to be welcomed. ‘It is important that schools help pupils in their personal development,’ Rinda den Besten said.
She also said it is right that schools can decide themselves at what age English lessons should begin. ‘We thought that here in the Netherlands we were good in this language, but we are beginning to trail behind,’ she said. ‘And that is because we start too late.’
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