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Master plan should boost basic skills

A comprehensive plan for the next ten years should ensure that basic skills, such as language and math, progress step by step. AOb-chairman Tamar van Gelder: "Everyone in education wants to improve basic skills, but we just need more colleagues."

For example, teachers must be given time and space to train and to improve the quality of education. Today sent Minister of Education Dennis Wiersma (VVD) sent a letter to the House containing his ideas for improving the basic skills of students in primary education. It is a first draft, because the minister is now working out the plan further with teachers, school leaders, administrators, teacher training courses and other parties from education. He hopes to have it ready before the summer.

Van Gelder: “Improving basic skills is not a quick fix† The minister has listened and is also going for a long-term approach.”

To care

It is clear that something must be done, says Wiersma, who is very concerned about the level. He mentions the declining performance from international studies, such as Pisa and Timms/Pirls. "I don't want to accept this image," he writes. Too many students now leave education without mastering the basic skills, such as reading, writing, math, digital literacy and how we interact with each other in the Netherlands.

Schools can receive support in purchasing good methods

An overloaded programme, an outdated and unclear curriculum and a gap between science and practice are the causes of the lack of basic skills, the minister reports. Yet it is not just that: trends such as less reading and writing in leisure time, digitization and a decrease in the number of libraries are not helping either.


That is why Wiersma is now setting the contours for a major plan for the next ten years. The plan aims to improve teachers' ability to teach language, arithmetic, mathematics, citizenship and digital literacy. For example, they must be given extra time and space to acquire knowledge, but also be given more development time to be able to apply that knowledge in practice and to improve the quality of education. According to the minister, this means a shift in the curriculum. In addition, all schools must use effective teaching methods. Schools can receive support in purchasing good methods.

Monitor and focus

Monitoring developments and continuing to investigate is also important. The minister is thinking of visible improvements in international investigations, but also wants to monitor whether the interventions work and have an effect. It is also important that schools work with a clear curriculum. It must be clear what schools should and should not do.

But it's not just about schools. The parties around the schools, such as parents, childcare, cultural institutions and libraries can also work together better to improve basic skills.

AOb-chairman: 'A lot is already on the teachers' plate because there are also too few people and resources in other places'

“It is right that the minister is looking at what schools should and should not do,” says AObPresident Van Gelder. “However, a lot is already on the teachers' plate because there are also too few people and resources in other places. Think of safety, youth care and poverty policy. And if you are going to change, make sure that the teacher himself is involved through the professional status and employee participation.”


Wiersma states in his letter that he instructs the inspectorate to monitor whether schools are doing everything they can to improve basic skills. In schools that are lax, the inspectorate will intervene more quickly and enforce stricter enforcement, he announces.

Start right away

Schools that do not want to wait for the master plan and want to start improving basic skills in the coming school year can do so. There will be a 'basic brigade' that can help 150 schools. They provide extra hands, knowledge and help at school, according to the minister. In addition, 350 schools can apply for a subsidy to improve basic skills themselves.

Read also: priority for language and maths core objectives and a report of the basic skills debate. 

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