Appropriate education at primary school

Every child should attend a school that provides education suited to their talents and capabilities. About one in every five pupils needs extra assistance at primary school. With this in mind, schools adapt their teaching to the individual child's development.

Duty of care: a suitable school for every pupil

On 1 August 2014, a new law introduced a ‘duty of care’ for all schools to offer an appropriate place to children who need extra assistance, at one of the following locations:

  • the school where the child is currently registered;
  • another mainstream school;
  • a school providing special education or special secondary education.

Aims of appropriate education

By introducing the law on appropriate education, the government seeks to achieve the following aims:

  • every child will receive appropriate schooling;
  • every child will attend a mainstream school, or if that is not possible, a special school;
  • schools will get more facilities to provide tailor-made education;
  • the focus will be on a child’s potential and educational needs, not on their impairments or disabilities;
  • children will no longer spend long periods at home because schools cannot cater for their needs.

Adapting the curriculum to the needs of the pupil

It is possible to tell at an early stage, by testing pupils and observing them and by using a pupil monitoring system, whether a pupil is lagging behind or failing to make progress. If a pupil has learning difficulties, the school can for example:

  • adapt the curriculum to the learning difficulty;
  • help the pupil to plan their time;
  • help the pupil with their homework;
  • provide books and tests with large type;
  • place the pupil in a small group of other children at the same level.

If none of these approaches are successful, the pupil may be given extra supervision.

Basic support at every school

Every school must offer the basic support offered by the regional consortium  it belongs to. Within each consortium, schools agree on the services they will provide, such as:

  • support for pupils with dyslexia or dyscalculia;
  • preventing and tackling behavioural problems;
  • extra supervision for pupils with below or above average intelligence.

The quality of teaching must meet the norms laid down by the Education Inspectorate.

Extra supervision and individual development plan

In addition to basic support, some schools also provide extra supervision for pupils. Alternatively, they may set up special facilities, such as classes for autistic pupils.

The school draws up an individual development plan for all pupils who receive extra supervision in addition to basic support, describing the educational objectives for that pupil. It indicates the level that the pupil can achieve and the support that he or she will need to achieve it.

The school discusses with parents what form the development plan is to take. By introducing individual development plans, the government seeks to safeguard the quality of extra supervision in schools.

Adapting school buildings

Many schools have staircases and thresholds, making them inaccessible to pupils in wheelchairs. By adapting such features, mainstream schools can be made accessible to this group of pupils. This may involve adapting lifts, adjusting the height of desks and tables, organising pupil transport and providing assistance at gym lessons.

Attainment targets in special education

The special education attainment targets indicate what pupils must be able to do and know at the end of their primary schooling. Attainment targets were introduced into special education in 2009.

There are also a number of adapted goals for special education pupils. For instance, deaf and hearing impaired pupils must have a certain level of proficiency in Dutch sign language. Similarly, blind and visually-impaired pupils must be able to manoeuvre independently with a white cane. Schools are free to decide how these goals are to be achieved.