I've been interested in schooling in Holland lately. I was wondering what the options where if I would have a child. So I did a little research and these are the results:
There are three types of schools: 1. Public, 2. Special, 3. Private. Public and special are both state funded, and thus, state regulated. Public is run through the local (city) government and special is run by a school-board. Special is usually a religiously affiliated school, but there are other types as well. These other types have to do with a certain education philosophy or system, although these exist only at the elementary level. Those schools/systems have gone through a cycle of state acceptance before they were granted public funding status.
In order to be allowed to teach in a state regulated school you need to have a diploma from a special teacher's college (4 years).
Testing is standardized. At 12 years of age (the last year of the elementary school) everyone takes a nationalized test. There are three levels you can graduate from at 'middle school' (age 13-16, 13-17 and 13-18). These levels also have nationalized tests. The reason this is important is because the Dutch university/college system uses 'middle school' diplomas for admission. Generally your grades don't matter as long as you have the diploma (for doctors your grades matter and there is a selection plus a random draw). This means that you cannot get into a college or university based on their own tests (or another solution), because they don't offer them.
Currently, books in middle school have to be bought, but often there is a school-fund and/or some other way to lower the cost for the parent (with likely some state funding). However, from 2009/2010 all books at state funded schools will be entirely state funded too.
The cost of admission for a state funded school used to be 936 euro per year/child. Now it's free.
The cost of private school is roughly 15,000 euro per year/child. (excluding cost for special materials and whatnot).
There are roughly 2.4 million children in Holland between the age 5 and 16. The law says you must receive schooling between those ages. There are roughly 3,000 children in private middle school. There are 0 children in private elementary school. There are roughly a few hundred children being homeschooled.
To give you an idea of the percentages:
In order to be allowed to homeschool your child, you must either have a traveling home (like a circus) or you can get an exception based on your 'life philosophy'. You can only get this if your child has never been entered into a school. Also, a school with your 'life philosophy' cannot be in the area where you live (and you have to apply/notify for it every year). 'Life philosophies' that have currently attained this exception are: (fundamentalist) baptism, (spiritual) Holism, holistic pacifism and ecological awareness, (holistic) humanism, (messianic) Judaism, Paganism, mystical Christianity, Sabbatical Christianity, and Seventh-day Adventism.
The person deciding whether to accept your claim or not is the school inspector from your city district. Numerous court cases exist on this. Generally these act as precedent. Here
is a pro homeschool website that also has example letters. Interesting to note is that if you mention the quality of schooling of available schools in any way, the city will immediately move to legal proceedings against you.
The economics of the situation is simple: once you start subsidizing something, you will get more of it. The private schools cannot compete with free books and free schooling. Now only the rich can afford private school. The Dutch government is all about the welfare and regulation. If it weren't for that, maybe private schooling would cost a small part of what it does now (together with economies of scale), but that's not the case. Furthermore, all diplomas are nationalized and you need one to get into college/university. So even the private schools have to teach the children the same things. All in all, almost everyone sends their child to a public funded school, and 99.98% of children learn the nationalized material.
Contrast this with unschooling
. Unschooling is a form of homeschooling. The idea however is not to sit at the kitchen table and go through the same material as they would get in a public funded school and make the same tests. That would be a big missed opportunity.
Unschoolers commonly believe that curiosity is innate and that children want to learn. Some argue that institutionalizing children in what they term a "one size fits all" or "factory model" school is an inefficient use of their time because it requires every child to learn specific subject matter in a particular manner, at a particular pace, and at a particular time regardless of that individual's present or future needs, interests, goals, or any pre-existing knowledge he or she might have about the topic.
Many unschoolers also believe that opportunities for valuable hands-on, community based, spontaneous, and real-world experiences are missed when educational opportunities are largely limited to those which can occur physically inside of a school building.
Dayna Martin explains very nicely what unschooling is here:
(don't click on the 'better version')