Government wants to act faster on failing schools

The cabinet has decided to give seriously failing primary and secondary schools, assessed as such by the Education Inspectorate, no more than one year to raise the quality of their teaching. A bill to this end has been proposed by the State Secretary for Education, Sander Dekker.

Currently, schools may seriously underperform for several years before funding is ended or the school is closed. Ultimately, it is pupils who pay the price as they receive inadequate education for too long. The government wants to act faster in these cases and has proposed a bill that would force schools to improve their performance within a year of being assessed as 'seriously failing'. The bill will emphasise prevention. As soon as a school's performance is less than satisfactory, they will be given a warning and helped to make improvements. Schools that are nevertheless found to be seriously failing will have one year to get their teaching in order. If they do not, the ultimate sanction may be imposed - funding may be stopped or the school may be closed.

The quality of teaching at most Dutch schools is satisfactory. According to the Education Inspectorate, some 25 primary schools and secondary school departments are 'seriously failing'. The teaching provided at these institutions has serious shortcomings. The number of seriously failing schools has fallen sharply in recent years. Most schools succeed in making the necessary improvements within a year, so that their pupils again receive the quality of teaching to which they are entitled. The bill will ensure this positive trend continues.

The cabinet has agreed to send the bill to the Council of State for an advisory opinion. The bill and the Council of State's opinion will be published when they are presented to Parliament.