Guest speaker: Mr Hans Huizer, Director, Johan De Witt College.

Title: Johan de Witt College

Abstract:

Hans Huizer began his talk by saying that the school was proud to bear the name of Johan De Witt, one of Holland’s important statesmen. The College was the only secondary school in the centre of The Hague and served the city’s poorest areas; which were also some of the poorest parts in the whole of The Netherlands. The College was first founded in 1922 in Scheveningen and the current school was created some five years ago from five separate colleges. It was now one school operating from four locations. In 2011 the school had opened with 1.250 pupils but now had 1.750. Its pupils came from 65 different nationalities, some of whom were born in The Netherlands and some overseas, with 180 teachers and 70 supporting staff. Following a report from the Education Inspectorate, which said that the school was inadequate, it was decided to move the focus to the core business of education and away from social care.

The goals set for students were to attend school consistently, be actively involved in learning, to succeed academically and to live and learn in a safe, supportive and stable environment.

Many students lacked role models so that the school needed to provide additional support. Students were street-wise but not school-wise. Only 8% of the students were born in The Netherlands with most being the children of non-western immigrants. Many have Dutch as their second language and on admission, many are two-three years behind in their education. The school was committed to the development of its teaching staff with 10% of time devoted to continuing professional development. Teachers evaluated each other.

The school climate was based on safety first with three basic rules – respect, communication and no trespassing. Hans explained about the curriculum; which focused on the core subjects but also included other subjects, sports and the arts. He explained about the school’s links with its feeder primary schools and the extra-curriculum activities, the Saturday school, the Holiday school and the Homework academy and described the special education that helped 400 newly arrived migrants learn Dutch every year.