In school year 2013/’14, 70 thousand pupils (5 percent) received special needs primary education or attended a special needs primary school in the Netherlands. A new law on appropriate education is to take effect on 1 August. From that date, all schools will be required to offer every child a suitable school place, preferably within the system of regular primary education. The number of children requiring extra support differs strongly between regions.
Special needs education or special needs schools
Just over 1.5 million pupils were in primary education in the Netherlands in school year 2013/’14. By far most of them (95 percent) were in regular primary education. Just over 38 thousand pupils were in special needs primary education, where they received more support than regular primary education can offer. In addition, nearly 32 thousand pupils attended special needs primary schools These are children with learning difficulties, a disability, a disorder or an illness which prevents them attending regular primary schools. Most of them are children with physical or mental disabilities in a cluster 3 special needs school or children with a serious developmental disorder in a cluster 4 school.
Fairly stable percentage
The share of pupils who receive special needs education has decreased steadily in recent years. For children in special needs primary schools it rose until school year 2007/’08, and subsequently remained stable. In absolute terms it even fell slightly in the last two years. One reason for this was the option introduced in 2008 to enrol children aged 13 and older in special needs secondary education. Pupils aged 14 years and older are therefore less often included in special needs primary education.
Pupils in special needs primary education and special needs primary schools
Largest percentages in Limburg and Overijssel
At the moment there are large regional differences in the percentages of pupils in special needs primary education and special needs schools. In school year 2013/’14 the share was largest in the provinces Limburg and Overijssel. Drenthe had the smaller share. mainly because of the small share of pupils in special needs primary schools. These percentages are based on school locations. Some pupils may cross provincial borders to attend school, as not all regions offer all forms of special needs education.
Share of pupils in special needs primary education or special needs schools by province,2013/’14
Changes as a result of appropriate education act
To put appropriate education into practice, 77 collaborative groups have been set up. Within these groups, regular primary education, special needs primary education and clusters 3 and 4 of special needs schools are required to ensure that every pupil receives appropriate support. The support for children in clusters 1 and 2 special needs schools is organised nationally because of the necessary expertise and the scale of this operation. These are mainly pupils with an hearing or visual disability. Central government contributes to the extra support required: it funds 2 percent of all pupils in special needs primary education; for special needs schools, the national average is the basis.Astrid Pleijers