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Netherlands: annual report shows increasing education inequality, including VET

An increase in inequality between pupils' educational opportunities was registered in The State of Education 2015/2016 annual report, published in April 2017 by the Dutch Inspectorate of Education.

The main reasons behind this inequality are identified as:

  • increasing differences between individual schools and programmes;
  • tendency to manage the education system on the basis of averages (instead of positive and negative outliers);
  • growing influence of, and intervention by, parents on the one hand and lack thereof at the other.

Although differences between schools and in parental involvement in school matters are not new, differences have grown over recent years.

In Dutch VET, the position of students from non-Western backgrounds is vulnerable when compared to native students; they have an 11.5% lower success rate in finding a training place or a job after completion. The inspectorate sees it as the task of VET schools to try to eliminate differences between the school careers of different students, both within the school and in preparing for internships and for the labour market.

The report outlines developments on key themes, such as level and performance, equal opportunities, and disparity between schools, teachers, and special education in vocational education. Dutch VET is general high quality. The number of VET colleges meeting the Inspectorate’s quality standards has not changed over the last three years. However, the Inspectorate sees serious differences in maintaining quality standards between teacher teams. Quality assurance and quality improvement in VET schools are not very well implemented at team level. A full quality assurance cycle, focusing on improving results on the work floor, is not always completed; on some occasions around a third of examination procedures are of insufficient quality.

Read more:

Staat van het Onderwijs: onderwijsverslag 2015/2016
The State of Education in the Netherlands 2015/2016
Summary profile of the Dutch Inspectorate of Education