School inspectors warn on maths standards, many kids are failing


Dutch school inspectors have sounded the alarm about the poor standard of maths among a large number of secondary school pupils which, they say, raises questions about whether they will achieve the legally-required level at the end of their school careers. 

It is the first time the inspectors have carried out such a major review of standards in pupils at the end of their second year of high school. The figures are based on the 2021-2022 school year, when some coronavirus restrictions were still in force. 

Children in vocational training are supposed to reach arithmetic level 2F, but over 72% do not have this level of skills in the second year of vmbo school, the inspectors found.

Pupils in pre college or university education (havo and VWO), should reach the standard known as 3F, but again 20% are not at the proper level after two years of high school. 

“Pupils who do not have basic skills in arithmetic and maths will be limited in their future choices,” the inspectors said. 

There are a variety of causes for the poor skills, the report states. For example, different terminology is used in primary and secondary schools, and the teacher shortage may have made it difficult to recruit enough skilled staff. In addition, older children do not spend enough time on reinforcing skills learned at primary school, the inspectors say.

Secondary schools should, therefore, spend more time on maths lessons – the average is currently 2.5 hours a week – and teachers should be retrained to boost the quality of lessons, the inspectors recommend. 

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