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Dutch News
Too many pupils resit a year; minister gives extra money for solution 4/12/2015

Schools must do more to prevent secondary school pupils having to resit a year, the schools inspectorate said in a report on Friday. In Dutch schools 5.8% of pupils need to resit a year, which is high in comparison with other countries, the inspectors said. Schools should be offering more help, such as special lessons, for pupils who look likely to fail a year, the report said. A contributing factor is that only one-third of schools look at themselves and the quality of their lessons for the reason why a pupil may have to resit a year. Most schools consider that it is the fault of the pupil. Only half of the schools think that a resit is of any use. Junior education minister Sander Dekker has informed parliament about the report and is making €9m extra available to pay for ways of bringing down resits, such as setting up summer schools.

Railways to take extra measures to protect staff

Dutch railway company NS is to increase the number of conductors on trains and hire 100 extra security guards to patrol stations to tackle rising levels of aggression against staff. The decision was made during negotiations with rail unions on Thursday evening, news agency ANP reports. The NS already has two conductors in some night trains during the weekend. The company will now phase in two conductors on all night trains. There will also be two conductors on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday evening trains on busy routes carrying people home from a night out. Friday evenings will follow later, ANP reports. The intention is to have all trains running after 22.00 hours staffed by two conductors by 2017. Rising aggression Aggression against NS staff has been rising for some time. Last month a female conductor was badly injured on a train near Hoofddorp, and last week a conductor and a passenger who came to his aid were beaten up by four youths. Earlier this month, two men were jailed for attacking railway staff at Almelo station. Last week, the FNV railway union called for conductors and drivers to be armed with batons and pepper spray. MPs said they would investigate the possibility.

KLM and unions reach agreement on new pay and conditions

airline KLM and the airline unions reached agreement on a new pay and conditions deal for ground personnel on Thursday evening. Negotiations with flight personnel are still taking place. According to the CNV union, there is agreement that there will be no compulsory redundancies until 2020. The airline had said it wanted a reduction in jobs of between 500 and 1,000 over the next five years. In return, there will be a severence scheme for anyone opting for voluntary redundancy. The unions have also agreed to forego a structural wage increase and that extra days off for older workers will be offered 10 years before their pension date rather than when they reach 50 years of age as is currently the case. The agreement will not become final until cockpit and cabin personnel have concluded their negotiations with KLM, the CNV said.

Smartphones have found their place in Dutch classrooms

Smartphones have become an integral part of the Dutch education system, with 85% of secondary schools using them in lessons, broadcaster Nos said on Monday. Nos researched attitudes to mobile phones at 137 secondary schools and found that just 10% had banned smartphones from the classroom. In half of the schools questioned, smartphones are allowed in the classroom but can only be used with the permission of the teacher. In one in four schools there are no restrictions on smartphone use, Nos found. Almost all the schools which have incorporated smartphones into education allow pupils to use them to find information. A clear majority also use educational apps and have integrated smartphones into quizzes and tests. In one-third of schools, teachers communicate with their pupils via smartphone. Concentration Nevertheless, schools are still wrestling with the use of smartphones and only half believe they have enriched the education process. Just 15 of the schools questioned do not experience any problems with the use of mobile phones. More than half say pupils’ concentration has been hit by their use. One school in Oegstgeest noted: ‘Pupils would rather be using Whatsapp all day and that cannot be reconciled with concentrating on education’. However, another school in Rotterdam said the mobile phone is no more of a distraction, comparable with ‘sending notes to each other throughout the lesson or staring out of the window’. Some schools also said they have had to embrace mobile phones because there was no other way. Taking the phones off the children only resulted in ‘angry parents making a fuss’, one school in Groningen reported.

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