Friday, 17 July 2015

Going Dutch - Schools

I have encountered a system I don't really understand it's amazing. School in Holland. It's so different from the UK so I have a few disclaimers that I have observed. If you are moving to Holland from the UK especially a city like London these things will surprise you. 

Ofstead does not exist. I know cry with Joy you teachers no more silly inspections that cause you to cry. No more measuring system that means you have to push to only one uniform standard or face failing! However without it how do you know a school is a good school?  What is a good school? They also don't have league tables! So there is no measuring device for your children. How can we competitive parents cope without measuring how good our little darling is against other little darlings? Is it possible for our little darlings to achieve in life without measuring them against social norms from birth?! I might be oversimplifying the system or maybe I don't fully understand it yet however in essence after looking at several schools, government websites and blogs from expats this is really the bottom line. 

There is no Ofstead there is no league tables at primary age children. I will write about secondary school when we get there. 

As liberating as I find this being an ex teacher! As liberating as I find it as a parent of a child who I want to develop at their own natural rate. It left me after two school visits confused with what to do with myself. 

My second observation and maybe this is exclusive to the smaller cities that the big ones. However there are no fences! You know what I mean. In the UK where I live you have to scale incredible fences to get into the school or if your sensible go through lots of security gates and buzzers before being allowed in. Here the playground is open. There might be a small hedge or line on the floor or little hoops that distinguish the school playground from the grass it sits in. My little darling on his first visit was taken to the red lines on the ground and told not to pass them without an adult. I nearly fainted but apparently this works! I am serious little four and five year olds as well as massive 11/12 year olds don't just walk out and disappear and also strange people don't just walk in. This is going to take some getting used to. I mean I am glad the kids won't be fenced in sort of. 

The size of the play area. Baffled I was to see small playgrounds outside the school which the children used! I thought the Dutch were outdoors play based learning people and there was this tiny space outside with no fence outside. I was then told not to worry and as I looked up children were being taken all over the place for fun. I am pretty sure they didn't tell the parents they had a class trip. Oh boy this is going to take getting used to. I even went to a school where the children cycled from one sight to another unsupervised so they could use their new classroom. How can I do this. 

The great Dutch Half day. I kid you not most Dutch primary school children get a half day! In the area we will live the children get two half days! I am not joking. Two days a week they finish at 12. They still manage to have high literacy rates and highly educated people on half day school attendance! People in the UK could never cope with this. As it is they are trying to increase the school hours. Imagine what it might be like if your children were expected to be raised by parents and not the state. 

Overall I found the experience of being in Dutch schools off putting, exhilarating, thrilling and sometimes I must confess a little overwhelming. The teachers seem to genuinely love what they day and want what is best for your child. 

Most surprisingly I found that the teachers wanted what was best for my little stars! It didn't matter what it meant to the school what was important was my child getting the best they needed. 

I am not sure what the school will be like when we finally arrive but guess what I have hope. It's been a long time since I had hope in an education system. 

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