26 SES 14 A, Comparing International Educational Authorities – Efficiency, Structure and Goal Fulfillment
Formally one of the most decentralized educational systems in the world, the Dutch education system is known for its high levels of autonomy for school boards combined with central accountability (OECD, 2016). This is a consequence of the Constitution holding the government accountable for the quality of education, but also providing school boards with many freedoms. The state only sets broadly formulated achievement aims without a national curriculum. School autonomy is balanced with accountability by means of national examinations and a national inspectorate. It is important to note that given the large autonomy of school boards, the legal position of (local) educational governors is rather weak in case of a troubles or crisis (Nolen, 2017). A recent research program illuminates how the Dutch government attempts to steer in this highly decentralised system (Waslander, Hooge, & Theisens, 2017). Findings point to the role of intermediary organizations. The government works with existing agencies – e.g. by funding specific programs –, sets up separate agencies, and/or organizes networks of agencies. These (networks of) agencies push forward policy priorities, operationalize policies, develop instruments for schools and/or help schools and teachers with policy implementation. Although the ministry has very little say about school practices, it does have a substantial impact by working with, through and by means of these intermediary organizations, that are almost all one way or another funded by the ministry. Central steering is very much there, albeit not always visible. This is the more so, because schools and other stakeholders do not always know who works on behalf of whom. Policy steering via agencies is currently largely focused on both teacher and leadership quality, instrumented through professional standards and register agencies. Although some support this as commitment to professionalization, many experience the registering is formal paper work decreasing energy among professionals. Partly due to the invisible ways of central steering and partly due intense work pressure stemming from large school autonomy, the ‘professional voice’ in response to such policy steering is not united and also late in time. However, next to a trend of teacher joining their voices through social media, board directors and school leaders increasingly join forces to stand up and take care of further professionalization of educators themselves.
References Nolen, M. F. (2017). De bestuurder in het onderwijs: De juridische positie van de bestuurder in vijf onderwijssectoren. [The governor in education: The legal position of the governor in five educational sectors. Dissertation]. Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit. OECD. (2016). Netherlands 2016: Foundations for the future, reviews of national policies for education. Retreived at http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264257658-en Waslander, S., Hooge, E., & Drewes, T. (2016). Steering Dynamics in the Dutch Education System. European Journal of Education, 51(4), 478–494. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12188
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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