Extra 105 million for equal opportunities in secondary education

Education Minister Wiersma provides an additional 105 million euros structurally for broader support to secondary school students in need.

More than 52 million are currently available per year for this so-called Learning Plus program, but the Cabinet will increase that number to 157 million. As a result, 100,000 students in around 700 schools could benefit from additional support.

These are students who need special attention to develop properly. For example, due to the family or environment they grew up in, they find it more difficult to start secondary school, which further hinders their development.

Wiersma writes to the House of Representatives: “When it comes to raising the odds, I avoid the word ‘waiting list’ as much as possible. While it can give the impression that children and young people are missing out, it is difficult for them to have environmental factors that are sometimes beyond their control.”

Schools can choose how to support these students: for example, by providing additional language classes or homework assistance, or by teaching smaller classes. Schools should be responsible for how money is spent.

No wide bridge class

Wiersma also informed the House of Representatives that there will not be a large transitional class as the Education Council had proposed two years ago. The idea was for all schools to start a three-year transitional class at the same time. This will give students more time to develop before choosing a school type, which will help strive for equal opportunities for all students.

The minister finds the proposal sympathetic and encourages schools that want to offer a wide transitional classroom. But the proposal to make it mandatory everywhere is now too heavy for him. He writes that this “turns secondary education upside down without having a clear view of the practical and financial implications of such a system change.”

VO Council

According to the VO Council, the association of secondary schools, a three-year transitional class is required to address equality of opportunity in education. The association says specifically about Wiersma’s announcement that tackling early selection of school type for students is “one of the most important knobs to turn.”

“National and international studies show this time and time again. There needs to be an investigation into the consequences and conditions of such a system change that the minister can certainly initiate.”

Source: NOS