According to professionals in this field, students often leave a regular education due to a lack of adequate help and support. This concerns children with, for example, a mild behavioral disorder, problems at home or talent. With the accumulation of problems, they are increasingly turning to special education.
“Schools are doing everything they can to raise the level of child care to the level required, and this is not easy with a shortage of teachers,” says Johan van Trieste, head of the Specialized Education Sector Council. However, he sees more and more children falling between two chairs in regular education. “Children whose problems are only getting worse. The children you take with you when the holiday comes.”
There are various reasons for dropping out of formal education, for example lack of teachers and large classes. As a result, teachers and teachers have little time to listen to the child.
If such a pupil threatens to be derailed, there are very few support staff and behavioral therapists available at the school, says Carrie Rosemond, director of the Ingrado (National Association of Compulsory Education Officers). Due to the lack of help, the child’s problems accumulate. And if the problems become too complex, the child will be excluded from regular education.
“When will we take care of each other in this country again?”
Not that the schools themselves should provide all forms of care and support, but that help around schools often does not arrive on time, van Trieste sees it. “Think of the long waiting lists for young people’s care. It takes a lot of effort to get help at all when I was a kid. When are we going to take care of each other in this country again?”
“We see students with mild behavioral problems who don’t fit into regular education because they can’t receive treatment,” Rosmond says. “Together we know how to guide such a child, but there is no help available.”
A child’s physical limitations are also more likely to become a problem due to the current deficiency. Rosmond says Ingrado helps school attendance officials find extra money for specific students. “This is the last thing you should do for the parents.”
“Municipalities, for example, can help provide health care money. But often they don’t have money for extra support at school,” Rosmond says. And if the money paid by the nurse is not available, the child who must be on oxygen constantly will not be able to go to regular education.
The government wants to keep students in regular education
- The Appropriate Education Act has been in force in the Netherlands since 2014. The aim of this Act is to ensure that pupils who need more attention get a place in regular education that suits their abilities and qualities, so that they do not have to go to special education.
Children who suffer from the accumulation of problems in special education
The result is that there has been steady growth in the flow of students to Group 4 schools for two years, according to the Specialized Education Sector Council. Group 4 in Special Education is for students with serious behavioral or psychological problems.
Van Trieste: “We see, among other things, a group of children who would never have had to go to special education if their problems had been addressed earlier. Their problems became very serious over time.”
In addition, there are children who really need the help of a specialist for special education. “They’ve been pumped too long into the regular education light care system,” says Van Trieste. He also finds that students and their parents no longer want to leave special education when the weather improves. “They finally got our time and our attention.”
No queues, but not a good place for everyone
However, the increase in the number of pupils has not yet led to waiting lists in special education. Van Trieste: “We’re doing everything we can to prevent that.” According to him, his colleagues pass on a lot of knowledge to the pedagogical cadre in ordinary education, so that the children can stay there longer. “Although there are still cases that really need tighter supervision.”
Roozeboom receives signals from school attendance officials that there are students who have not yet found a suitable school. “They don’t know yet which school they can go to after summer vacation.”
Minister Denis Wiersma (Education, Culture and Science) announced in mid-July that he would provide additional support to vulnerable students. Among other things, he wants to make it clearer what help is available to students and parents. Roozeboom agrees with the proposed plans, but believes it will take a long time before they take effect. “It is of little use to children and their parents who are now in trouble.”