The number of pupils attending special needs schools in the Netherlands rose by 30 percent in the period 2003/’04 - 2011/’12. The increase mainly took place in secondary education. The number of boys in cluster 4 of special needs secondary education rose in particular. This group is intended for pupils with severe behavioural problems or learning disabilities.
More than 70 thousand pupils in special schools
Many children with a disability, disorder or disease, or those who have learning disabilities can attend special needs education. In school year 2011/’12, over 70 thousand pupils were attending special schools in the Netherlands. This is the equivalent of nearly 2 procent of all 0-24 year-olds in education. In school year 2003/’04, the number was still only 54 thousand pupils.
The increase took place mainly in schools providing special needs secondary education. The number of pupils in these schools rose from just over 20 thousand in 2003/’04, to around 36 thousand in 2011/’12. The number of pupils in special needs primary schools remained at around the same level.
Pupils in special schools
More than 2.5 times as many boys as girls in special schools
In school year 2011/’12, more than 2.5 times as many boys as girls attended special schools. The number of boys in special needs education rose strongly, from nearly 38 thousand to over 50 thousand in 2011/’12. The percentage of boys in cluster 4 of special needs secondary education rose especially strongly. This cluster caters mainly for boys with severe behavioural disorders or learning disabilities. The number of girls in special schools has remained almost unchanged in recent years.
Pupils in special schools by sex
Relatively many special needs pupils in Overijssel and Limburg
The largest shares of pupils in special schools are reported in the provinces Limburg and Overijssel. Limburg has the highest share of pupils in special needs primary schools, Gelderland the largest share in special needs secondary schools. The province of Drenthe has only few pupils in these categories.
The shares of pupils per province are based on the location of the school. As not all regions in the Netherlands provide all categories of special needs education, pupils may have to cross provincial borders to attend school. For this reason, too, pupils may choose to attend a mainstream school with special personal funding available for this purpose, instead of a special needs school.
Share of pupils (0-24 years) in special schools by province of school location