Inspectors call for action to reverse decline in school standards


Action needs to be taken to reverse the decline in Dutch educational standards, particularly language and arithmetic, school inspectors say in a new report.

The trend needs to be reversed, the inspectors say, because a growing number of pupils are leaving school without proper skills. At a primary school level, arithmetic is a particular problem, at secondary school maths and reading skills are lagging behind.

Countries such as Sweden and Ireland have reversed a decline in educational standards by focusing on basic skills, and paying attention to increasing the knowledge and skills of teachers, the inspectors say.

At the same time, they have stopped imposing new tasks on the education sector so that teachers can focus on boosting standards.

With a coordinated approach, involving everyone across the education system, the  decline can be reversed within two years, the inspectors said.

Maastricht University professor Inge de Wolf told broadcaster NOS that schools and head teachers are being largely left to solve problems themselves. ‘Teachers and school heads are aware of the problems but end up unable to see the wood for the trees because of all the different solutions on offer,’ she said.

The education ministry says it is currently working on a plan to improve basic skills, and will also increase teacher pay and cut the pressure of work.

The inspectorate made a similar call for action last year.

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