The history of Dutch education in the light of inclusive education


We review below the history of Dutch education in the light of inclusive education.

In 1985 Primary schools were established by combining elementary schools and kindergartens. Education began at age 4, becoming compulsory from 5 years onwards. Children who at an early age (before their fourth year) were recognized as having problematic development, were sent directly to institutions for special education by infant welfare centers and pediatricians and continued special education throughout their school years. These students were not accepted in primary schools.
Students in primary education who could not cope with the classroom-based, mostly frontal, education were referred to schools for children with learning difficulties (MLK) or for children with learning and behavioral difficulties (LOM).

i In 1992, the concept of "Going to School Together '(WSNS) was introduced. Here, attention was focused on tearing down the walls between the educational systems for children with learning difficulties (MLK), those with learning and behavioral difficulties (LOM), pre-school children with a problematic development (IOBK) and primary schools.
MLK, LOM and IOBK were combined into special primary education (SBO). Like the primary schools (BAO), the special primary schools (SBO) under the new law were also schools for primary education.
The goal of WSNS was to break down the many special education institutes. Schools were required to offer students who had been previously referred to MLK and LOM the primary care they needed. Each school was required to formulate individual plans according to the needs of the student and to design a support structure within the school. The role of 'internal coach' made its debut in order to coordinate care within the school. Regional groupings (SWV) were formed between primary schools and special schools, with the aim of exchanging expertise.

In 1995, the Secretary of Education established the 'Rispens' committee with a mandate to formulate policies leading to increased opportunities for parents to choose any school they wished for their children, regardless of any physical or mental educational barriers they might have.
The result was that by 1 August 2003 the 'personal student budget 'law took effect., whereby any student selected by an independent committee as a student in need of special support, would receive a pupil-funding package (LGF), also called a 'rucksack'. This package consists of three elements:
1. funding for outpatient counseling that should be spent in a school for (secondary) special education;
2. funding for additional professional help at the school where the student is registered;
3. funding for materials.
This "rucksack" is only provided when the student is admitted to a regular school. For those admitted to schools for special education, the funding is provided through the usual channels.

The schools for special education are organized into 'regional expertise centers' (REC). Within these REC's, peripatetic tutors (AB) are appointed who with their expertise guide teachers in regular primary education in the teaching of students with a 'rucksack' (LGF). Furthermore, the REC function also provides education in special schools.

In primary education, the greater diversity of students requires different methods of teaching, from frontal, supply-driven towards more differentiated demand-driven education.

Since 1992, there has been a perceptible change in the population of primary school pupils. One can now find pupils in mainstream schools that formerly would have been referred to MLK or LOM schools. Even students with a need for special education remain increasingly in mainstream education with a "rucksack". A support structure has been created in regular education that is oriented towards the support that is needed for every student..

In 2008 the policy document "'Appropriate Education" was published. 'Appropriate education' is synonymous with 'personalized learning', i.e. education for each individual student that matches his / her capabilities and talents. All schools are required to draw up a "care profile". School-boards have a duty to provide appropriate education for all pupils with special care needs who want to be enrolled or who already are enrolled in their schools. The set of profiles within the partnership of a primary school and special provisions has to ensure a broad spectrum of educational care within the network.

In 2012, the provision of pupil-funding was abolished. The funds for pupil-funding that were given directly to the schools up until 2012 are now being given to the network of primary schools and special provisions , which then determines the allocation of funds to the various schools.
The organization of education must be adapted to the desired change in the content of education. This requires attention to money, space, time and resources. However,..appropriate education fundamentally stands or falls with the attitude of the teacher. The teacher is expected to see the potential of each student to deal with the differences between the pupils, to supply their educational needs and to give the support that enables them to develop at their own level. There will be a shift from following the "we have to finish the book " method towards individual development targets. This shift cannot be realized all at once but each step in the right direction is a step forward. Our experience since 1992 shows this. In the classroom, children will naturally realize that there are differences between them. The teacher's task is to teach children how to deal with these differences and see them as a positive source of opportunity.

Over the years, a series of changes has occurred as regards inclusive education. Education is very active in constantly adapting to new regulations; there are always new challenges. Once the education 'fits', another new challenge comes along.
The ultimate goal is to achieve adequate education for all.