Primary school tests cancelled, school leaving exams still up in the air

The school finals are still in doubt. Photo:
The school finals are still in doubt. Photo:

There will be no year 8 tests at Dutch primary schools this year because of coronavirus, education minister Arie Slob has confirmed.

By scrapping the exams, teachers will have more time to organise and introduce home schooling, Slob said in a briefing. ‘We are asking a lot of our teachers at the moment and they are using all their creativity to ensure children still get an education,’ he said. ‘That is the priority for schools.’

Children will now be allocated a secondary school stream purely on the basis of teachers’ assessments, Slob said. Dutch pupils are streamed at the age of 12 into pre-college, pre-university and vocational training.

Earlier the education ministry said that internal school leaving exams will continue as scheduled but that officials have yet to decide if the central exams will go ahead. The central exams are due to start on May 7 and a decision on whether or not to postpone them will be taken by April 6, Slob said.

Meanwhile, schools nationwide are coming up with remote learning programmes to ensure that pupils keep up with their studies.

‘It all seems to be very well organised,’ the mother of one 14-year-old girl at Amsterdam’s Fons Vitae high school told

‘Our daughter has to log in and open a link to prove she is online, and there are various interactive tools so she can speak or ask questions,’ she said  ‘Even the gym classes are going ahead, with challenges like keeping a loo roll in the air.’

Facetime is allowing the pupils to chat to each other during breaks to keep up the semblance of a normal school day. ‘Actually, she took her first class in her pajamas,’ her mother said.

‘My son’s teacher put a workbook together for the whole 3-week period, including exercises for gym and recipes for cookery class, and sent it out on Tuesday,’ said the father of a 14-year-old boy in special education in Oegstgeest.

‘She’s also sending out daily emails, not just to check up that the children are working but to make sure they’re coping all right with self-isolation. It’s a real lifeline.’

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