Campaigns and activities
Equal access to national education, vocational training and lifelong learning systems
Educational settings - mainstream education
Education settings - special education
Collaboration between both systems
Teaching of compensatory skills made necessary by vision loss
Provision of accessible text books and other educational material
Provision of assistive technology
Since 1991 policy has been geared to integrating children with special needs in mainstream primary schools, under the motto "Going to School Together" (WSNS). The aim of this policy is:
- to enable pupils with special needs to attend mainstream primary schools;
- to control costs by awarding a set budget to consortia of mainstream schools and special schools for primary education, from which the latter schools and special facilities at mainstream primary schools are funded;
- to broaden and strengthen special needs facilities at primary schools 'basisscholen' so that more pupils with special needs can remain in mainstream education and all pupils receive the support they need, at the same time helping to eliminate waiting lists for admission to special schools for primary education.
Since 1991 policy has been geared to integrating children with special needs in mainstream primary schools. The aim of this policy is twofold:
Firstly, to enable pupils with special needs to attend mainstream primary schools.
Secondly, to control costs by awarding a set budget to consortia of ordinary schools and special schools for primary education, from which the latter schools and special facilities at ordinary primary schools are to be funded. Where possible, pupils are placed in mainstream education and given extra assistance. They are placed on special schools – preferably on a temporary basis – if unavoidable.
Prior to 1998 special schools speciaal onderwijs were governed by the Special Education Interim Act (ISOVSO). Mainstream schools and special schools were completely separate. On 1 August 1998 the Primary Education Act 1981 and the ISOVSO were replaced by the Primary Education Act 1998 (WPO) and the Expertise Centres Act (WEC).
Education of this type is divided into four categories:
In 2004 94.8% of pupils attended mainstream schools, 3.1% attended special schools for primary education and 2.1% attended a category of special school.
Mainstream primary schools are not obliged to accept children with special needs. They might for instance feel unable to provide the pupil with appropriate education. In such cases, placement at the school would not be in the interests of either the special needs pupil or his or her fellow pupils. The school may accordingly refuse to accept a pupil, though they must provide grounds for their refusal.
As a result of the WSNS policy, pupils with special needs are not automatically referred to special schools. The aim is to integrate them in mainstream schools. However, if parents and teachers believe that a pupil would be better placed at a special school for primary education, the parents can register the child with their local individual needs committee (PCL), one of which is attached to each of the above-mentioned regional consortia. The committee decides whether a pupil needs to be placed in a special school for primary education, or whether they require some other kind of special assistance that can be provided at their own school or at another school within the regional network. In line with the WSNS policy, the consortia must ensure that as many children as possible attend mainstream primary schools. Special schools for primary education are intended for children who cannot cope at mainstream primary schools, even with extra assistance. Part of the budget earmarked for special education now therefore goes to the consortia so that they can provide services for pupils with special needs. Children who qualify for special education are entitled to special funding.
Pupils can be referred from mainstream schools to the different types of special school and vice versa. Pupils can also move from one type of education to another when they finish primary school/special primary school. Individual needs committees and regional referral committees determine whether a child is eligible for admission to a special school. An independent committee decides in which type of school to place them and how much funding they will receive. Special education is provided at special primary and secondary schools, and at schools providing both special primary and secondary education.
The Going to School Together policy applies to schools that fall under the Primary Education Act.
Primary school teachers are qualified to teach all subjects at special schools. Most teachers who work at special schools also take a master's degree in special educational needs. After initial teacher training, usually as a primary or secondary school teacher, teachers can follow Special Education Training (OSO), under the auspices of the Platform on Special Education Training (WOSO). Depending on the field of work, it is possible to study for a specialised master's degree (for instance in teaching children with learning difficulties or disabilities). The institutions offering such courses decide who to admit. It is not compulsory to train as a special education teacher – it is possible to work in special education with mainstream qualifications.
Fontys OSO (Opleidingscentrum Speciale Onderwijszorg) is a higher education institute for continuing professional development in education, offering post-graduate courses at Masters level and post-Master professional development in the field of special educational needs and inclusive education. Through its collaboration with Roehampton University Fontys offers even access to the Roehampton EdD International.
OSO is a department in Fontys University of Applied Sciences. Through its consultancy programme Fontys OSO also supports schools and regional networks in developing high quality educational provision for all pupils, at primary, secondary and vocational level. In addition OSO department supports the development of interagency collaboration, focusing on education, child and youth care, social work, health care and employment agencies. Fontys OSO also has an exciting, developing research programme which is carried out by its four lectoraten (research centres).
Special schools are free to use whatever teaching methods they like. The content of teaching, teaching methods and teaching materials are not prescribed by government. Teaching materials are the property of the school. In the Netherlands, the production, distribution and sale of teaching materials are a commercial activity. The National Teaching Materials Information Centre (NICL) produces a consumer guide to teaching materials which schools can use to compare existing and new products. The NICL is part of the National Institute for Curriculum Development (SLO).
(Sources - http://www.european-agency.org/country-information/netherlands/