(Secondary) Special education is about offering children perspective. The new law that the government wants to introduce focuses on improving special education, including secondary special education. The most important thing is that we want to make sure that as many students as possible enter the labour market or continue their education and that as few students as possible unnecessarily end up in a benefit situation.
What the Ministry of Education wants to do is to oblige schools to make clear at a very early stage what they can do with each pupil; teachers and school leaders are also asked to substantiate this. And the ministry wants to ensure that three outflow profiles in secondary special education are drawn up and worked out in more detail.
With this new law, the ministry wants to facilitate the dreams and ambitions of pupils, but also of schools, and to ensure that they can come true. And we do that by using all these attributes in a certain way. It is very close by.
The most important reaction to the bill is: “It’s not that much news, we’ve been doing that for a long time”. Fine, that means that the legislation is in line with the practice and that the legislation further supports the good practices from the practice.
A second reaction that Post received, especially during workshops with players from the sector, was: “The new law does not go far enough at all. It is high time that you did something more”. Not ambitious enough. The ministry cannot do anything about this, because of course it has to pass through the Lower House of Parliament, but it does clearly demonstrate the ambition of the special education sector. The law means that what we want to do now must be done legally.
Some schools are already doing exactly the things that are required by the new legislation. So not much will change for them. But other schools will be obliged to adopt these best practices. Nevertheless, the new law will also have consequences for the schools that are now in the vanguard.
The fact that the school now “has to” do it, and can be judged by it, will make a difference in the perception of the school, the mindset of those involved or in the whole pallet of the educational process. The inspectorate has reported on the SO in its supervision.
In general: the pedagogical climate is to get through a rink (respect, safe school climate), but it is not so self-evident that pupils can go back to regular education, move on to further education, get a sustainable job or that they enter a care institution in the best possible way.
This means that, in the eyes of the inspectorate, the current result of (V)SO schools is still insufficient. The sector is on the right track, because the number of very weak schools has been halved. And that is an indication that we can do it, improve the quality.
But what else can we do, as schools and as a department? The department helps by means of legal regulations. And the school needs to look at what they can do for students and make a realistic assessment of how we can achieve that. That’s what we call development perspectives.
This sometimes evokes an association with predestination. Don’t we capture children far too early? Aren’t we leaving too little room for what they can achieve more? Some in the sector may have experienced expectations that are too low. It’s hard to get out of this, so they say: don’t fix it. The ministry then says: every teacher has an unspoken image of the pupil on the basis of knowledge, insight and experience when he or she has it in the classroom.
Isn’t it a good idea, on the basis of objective data, to start a discussion about this? A conversation between school manager and teacher, and between teacher and parent (or pupil) and this should be updated, evaluated and adjusted annually. Therefore, a pupil tracking system is mandatory.
Diploma, work and internship
This diploma can be regular, but with a profile of daytime activities or the labour market, then it is a VSO diploma. A VSO diploma does not have any transfer rights. The transition document indicates what the student needs to function in the next phase. The pupil (or parents) decides whether this document will be submitted.
In the labour market profile, internship is compulsory, starting at the age of 14 and, as he gets older, can be up to a maximum of 4 days a week.
If possible, we work towards certificates, because this offers the student more opportunities on the labour market, but it also provides him with mobility. The certificates are added to the folder that forms the VSO diploma.
Every pupil has to learn arithmetic and language, but if a pupil is labour market oriented, you have to integrate this arithmetic and language into practice-oriented subjects. However, you have to specify the minimum requirements, as functionally as possible.
Sometimes a certain activity or skill is not relevant for the pupil, it has to be taken into account within the learning lines or learning routes. This is essential for the success of the development perspectives. There are no minimum requirements for daytime activities; sometimes just being able to communicate is already a lot.