So now we are move towards GCSE examination results on Thursday here in England. These are national qualifications for school children aged about 16 and some would say we don’t really need them.
There will be much interest in GCSE English, which suffered an ‘episode’ last year, culminating in a High Court case.
The sciences will be another area to discuss, as with the wider impact on school accountability of exam results in core subjects.
But I want to look at education somewhere else, just over the English Channel … to the Netherlands.
Because I am wondering whether the most useful international educational comparisons are close to home.
I’ve previously looked very briefly at New Zealand, another country beginning with the letter N. Others have also looked far afield: a recent book comparing US education with Finland, Poland and South Korea is reviewed here.
Finland is an obvious choice as it does well on international PISA comparisons, but there is some evidence to suggest that this is due to very unique circumstances, plus that all is not completely well in Finnish school mathematics. Separately OECD’s approach to international educational testing is under attack from various quarters.
So why the Netherlands? Here are five reasons to start things off.
- I didn’t want to look at the other UK nations. An interesting recent paper on these focuses on Scotland, but captures aspects of Northern Ireland and Wales within it.
- The Netherlands came up in my last post on skills and the link with academic and vocational routes at university and equivalent levels.
- It shares similar long-term cultural attributes as England e.g. a sea-faring nation with an international outlook, but is also different enough socially and educationally speaking, and sits on the European Continent.
- English is readily used in the Netherlands as a key language for academia, business and employment, unlike France, another neighbour of England’s.
- It has an independent Education Council which advises the Government on school reform. Sounds very sensible to me.
Now I just need to find out more about education Dutch style …