The Netherlands has the most decentralised education system in the OECD. On average, 86% of decisions in lower secondary education are made at the school level, compared to the OECD average of 41%. 100% of decisions related to the organisation of instruction, personnel management and resource management in education are made by the school. Further, schools are responsible for 59% of decisions related to planning and structure in education.
There are multiple routes into teaching in the Netherlands, particularly for secondary and vocational education. This is in order to attract a more diverse group of candidates into ITE programmes and to address teacher shortage in some subjects and some geographical areas. In some subjects such as hard sciences or languages, financial incentives are being offered to potential teacher candidates.
As part of the 2013-20 teacher agenda, the government has raised entry requirements for teacher training and introduced measures to improve the knowledge and level of expertise of teachers and to reduce drop-out. For example, those entering into primary ITE programmes are also tested on their knowledge in several subjects (history, geography, nature and sciences). At the end of the first year of primary ITE, all students must pass literacy and numeracy tests.
61 knowledge bases were developed by the Universities of Applied Science (HBO) to describe the knowledge a teacher candidate must possess in order to graduate from an initial teacher education programme in the Netherlands. Each knowledge base describes the content of an ITE programme, for example the 14 knowledge bases for primary education describe pedagogical & didactic knowledge, mathematics, Dutch language, history, etc. Teacher education institutions can adapt the knowledge bases to their needs. The knowledge bases do not have a legal status. They were developed at Bachelor and Master’s level within the framework of the Association of HBOs.
In the Netherlands, an accreditation body approves each school-university partnership before it is funded by the Ministry of Education. The body determines if there is a clear and manifested vision, a shared focus on improvement, leadership, cooperation and self-management, and a commitment to improving learning for students. Partnerships are also reviewed after they receive funding.
In 2012 the Dutch Association for Teacher Educators (VELON) published professional standards for all teacher educators. The standards describe the competencies of an average experience teacher educator, including quality levels of professional tasks. If they meet the professional standards, teacher educators obtain a VELON registration valid for 4 years.
According to collective labour agreements, all teachers (both temporary and permanent) have the right to induction time in their first year of teaching, with negotiated release time and reduced workload (e.g. no extra-curricular duties). Further, schools can decide if the tasks of school-based mentors and coaches are included as part of non-teaching time.