Methodology

Although the Education Council is funded by the Ministry of Education, Sciences and Cultural Affairs, it is completely independent in terms of content and method of operating.

The Council's method of operating

The Council will comprise no more than 12 members. They serve in a personal capacity and are appointed by royal decree. The members are independent and do not represent specific interest groups. Expertise is the primary prerequisite for appointment. This expertise may be based on experience gained in educational practice and/or on academic merits. An additional requirement is that the Council is pluriform, meaning that the members form a cross-section of the various religious and social movements in Dutch society.

The Council generally meets twice a month. Recommendations are prepared in committees consisting of council members, staff members and any external experts, and amended and ratified on a plenary basis. When necessary, the Council uses specific practical or academic know-how by enlisting the services of a ‘pool' of education experts from the primary, secondary, vocational and agricultural education sectors. The Council may also hire external experts to conduct research so as to obtain input for its recommendations.

Secretariat

The Secretariat supports the work of the Education Council. There are currently 20 staff employed in the Secretariat: 12 academic staff and 8 support staff. The General Secretary of the Council is also in charge of the Secretariat.

Quality as the starting point

As an independent, strategic, advisory body the Council strives to make a meaningful contribution to the quality of education and educational policy. Its most important tools are its recommendations, which must thus be of the highest quality. The Council adopts an integrated approach to all its advice requests and considers the following questions in formulating its recommendations:

  • Does the proposal create the conditions (and give guarantees) for high quality education?
  • Does the proposal fit within the constitutional framework imposed by the state?
  • Are the (scarce) financial resources being used efficiently?
  • Does the proposal take account of the changes in the social context in which education is delivered?
  • Does the proposal create opportunities for a good education for as many people as possible, with due regard for their capacities?
  • Is the proposal implementable?

It is precisely this independent position that enables the Council to make a real contribution to the quality of educational policy. Its recommendations constitute an important building block for political decision-making.