Education in the Netherlands is compulsory for all children of school-age. School attendance is compulsory according to the 1969 Compulsory Education Act. Children attend school unless parents succesfully apply for exemption. The research carried out aims at:

In Chapter 1, parents' reasons and motives for choosing for home education are summarised. Reasons are broadly grouped into two categories (which are consequently subdivided):

  1. Dissatisfaction with education in schools
  2. Enthusiasm about the intrinsic values of home education

The diversity of backgrounds, reasons and motives is emphasised and demonstrated.

In Chapter 2, research concerning the results of home education is summarised. Intellectual feats and socialisation are dealt with in separate sections. The lack of significance of parent income, parent level of education and parent teacher certification with regard to home education results is discussed.

In Chapter 3, the way in which parents and children home-educate is described in five sections:

  1. Parent roles
  2. Child discipline
  3. Curriculum
  4. Time management
  5. Resources

Care is taken to stress that no two families home-educate in the same way.

It is put that present-day home education differs fundamentally from pre-war home education.

A number of success-engendering factors are identified:

  1. Parents are very concerned that their children receive a fitting education
  2. Parents are willing and able to devote a lot of time to raising and educating their children
  3. Any curriculum is adapted to the needs and possibilities of the child concerned
  4. Curricula and schedules are frequently reviewed and adapted
  5. Children take an active part in deciding what they learn, when and how
  6. Children experience various types of discipline
  7. Parents and children use a wide variety of resources, both inside and outside the home
  8. Life and learning are not artificially separated

Chapter 4 contains information on how public authorities in the United States and England safeguard the home-educated child's right to education. Various support organisations are described. The concept of flexi-time is illustrated.

Chapter 5, discusses whether home education is legal in the Netherlands.

Home education is no ground for exemption under the 1969 Compulsory Education Act, i.e.: parents cannot refrain from sending their children to school solely on their wanting to home- educate their children. Parents applying for an exemption would have to prove:

As yet, there is no precedent for such an application.

In the Netherlands, parents are in principle entitled to found a government-funded school in order to ensure that the education their children receive is according to their wishes. Would home education be legal under the auspices of an existing or new- founded school? Three possibilities were investigated:

  1. A new government-funded school, aiming to enable the children to be home-educated
  2. An existing school, offering flexi-time arrangements
  3. A new private school, aiming to enable the children to be home-educated

Option 1 is out. Options 2 and 3 are only open for parents with a teacher certification and will need the consent of the Ministry of Education. Both options are unprecedented.

In Chapter 6, an inquiry into the level of support for home education is described. Presently, there is no public demand for home education.

Government policy with regard to education can be characterised as follows:

  1. Compulsory education is necessary
  2. Education must come about through schooling
  3. Schools are responsible for the children's learning, social development and preparation for society
  4. Compulsory education lasts from ages five through to sixteen. This period is considered to render a minimal guarantee for competence in society. During this period, attendance should be full-time
  5. The four major political parties were asked to reflect on the findings of Chapters 1, 2 and 3.

Three political parties would not consider home education as a option which they would support, because:

  1. There is no public demand for home education, nor is there likely to be any sizeable demand in the near future
  2. Education in Dutch schools is of a satisfactory standard
  3. School attendance is indispensable for the personal development and social skills of children
  4. Inspection of home-educating families can hardly be conducted in an effective and efficient way

One political party regarded home education as a highly interesting phenomenon. Whereas they agreed to the reasons 1, 2 and 4 given above as correct, they did not regard school attendance as indispensable for the personal development and social skills of children. This party would not reject out of hand a change of law to allow home education. Dutch society has strong egalitarian tendencies. Home education is by and large seen as counteracting those tendencies and is therefore rejected by most parties concerned.

Lex Wakelkamp

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