Bad marks for more schools: inspectors call for higher standards


School inspectors say an increasing number of Dutch schools are performing below par and a large group of children are no longer sufficiently equipped with the basic skills.

In particular, language, arithmetic and citizenship skills are on the decline, the inspectors say in their latest report on the state of Dutch education.

Of the 225 primary and secondary schools chosen for an in-depth inspection, over 20% were found to be failing. Most schools were also given instructions to improve because they were not operating in line with the law.

Although the results are concerning, the inspectors stress that most schools are doing well and that failing institutions can learn from monitoring those that have got it right. But that will require management by head teachers and from a political perspective, the inspectors say.

Chief inspector Ria Westendorp urged the four parties currently in talks on forming a new government to focus more on education. “Education should be high on the agenda,” she said. “Education is crucial when it comes to solving problems such as poverty”.

Education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf said in a reaction to the report that he is “extremely concerned” that equality of opportunity is worsening.

“Everyone in our country should have the opportunity and the guidance to become the best version of themselves,” he said. “I see this as an important task, to turn the tide together with schools and teachers.”

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