The last SIRIUS National Round Table of 2013 took place in The Hague (The Netherlands) on 4th December 2013. The topic was early school leaving and about 25 people attended, from practice, policy and research. Included were people from minority organizations and a national organization of students in upper secondary education, from local governments, schools, and special programs for early school leavers.
The MoE co-hosted the meeting together with the Knowledge Centre for Mixed Schools. A senior official of the MoE welcomed everyone and explained the interest of the MoE in the meeting. The national policy of the Netherlands is a general one, that is to say it is targeted at all early school leavers. If an analysis of the regional and local situation asks for targeted measures for groups with a special background, however, national budget can be used to implement such measures. The national government facilitates the quantitative regional analyses, using their database. At the meeting three good practices were presented targeted at students with Roma and Sinti backgrounds, Moroccan background, and teenage mothers (with different backgrounds). In the group discussions also other good practices were mentioned.
Some of the main conclusions of the meeting were:
- we need very good teachers, that know the students and their background, and are able to take that into account; minority background might not be the main issue, it is more about social economic status and multi problem families; therefore we need teacher training for culture sensitivity /diversity and (multi) problem backgrounds;
- we need not only to look at the individual level but also at the school level and system level to prevent and combat early school leaving;
- parents are important; there are activities focused especially at parents;
- we need to share and exchange experiences in order to be able to learn from one another, and we need to discuss how we can utilize what we know about good examples (what works, for whom and why) and at the same time adapt such knowledge to the local situation.
Based on this meeting, SIRIUS should consider taking up the challenge of the Dutch MoE, and analyse the regional and local situation of early school leavers to see if targeted measures for groups with a minority background are necessary. If so, SIRIUS could have a direct policy impact with the support of the national budget to implement the suggested policy change.