SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – School boards are urging teachers to give primary school children the benefit of the doubt when deciding what sort of secondary school, they should go to, because of the additional disadvantages generated by coronavirus and the lockdown.
Teachers are responsible for deciding what sort of follow up education children should have, and the PO-Raad says they should opt for the higher level if they are not sure which stream children should enter.
Dutch children are streamed at the age of 12 on the basis of their teacher’s advice and national tests. Those tests were cancelled last year because of coronavirus. The council is particularly concerned that children from disadvantaged backgrounds may be put in a lower stream because they have missed out on physical lessons.
Last year, Oxford university researchers said the suspension of face-to-face teaching in Dutch primary schools has had a more serious impact on children whose parents have lower levels of education.
The researchers compared the result of school tests before and after lockdown in spring 2020 and in the previous three years and found that there had been what they called a ‘learning loss’.
‘These results imply that pupils made little or no progress while learning from home and suggest much larger losses in countries less prepared for remote learning,’ the report said.
Amsterdam University researcher Thijs Bol told the Volkskrant at the time he had the impression that parents without a college or university education had spent less time helping their children with schoolwork during the lockdown.
In addition, poorer families did not always have a laptop or tablet which children could use, he said. ‘I had expected this would impact on standards, and the Oxford study bears this out,’ he told the paper.