School inspections in the Netherlands

The Dutch Inspectorate of Education, established in 1801, is one of the oldest operating Inspectorates in Europe. Its working methods, like those of other inspectorates, have evolved greatly over time, particularly in the last decade. Starting in January 2008, the Dutch Inspectorate of Education uses a risk based inspection method to inspect schools.

This method includes annual early warning analyses of potential risks of failing educational quality in all schools. In these analyses, information is collected on possible risks of low educational quality in all schools, such as student achievement results on standardized tests, self evaluation reports and financial reports of schools, complaints of parents and news items in the media. Results of students (corrected for their socio-economic backgrounds) on national standardized tests and examinations are the primary indicator in the early warning analysis of primary and secondary schools.

The early warning analysis is used to classify schools in three categories; schools in the ‘green; category are considered to have no risks of failing quality, ‘orange’ schools have potential risks of failing quality, whereas ‘red’ schools have high risks of failing quality. Schools in the ‘orange’ and ‘red’ categories are scheduled for additional inspection activities to assess their educational quality, such as desk research, meetings with the board of the school and inspection visits to the school. Schools that are evaluated as failing or highly underdeveloped are instructed to formulate a plan of approach aimed at improving quality. Failing schools that do not improve within two years end up in the regime imposed on highly underdeveloped schools. These schools are confronted with additional inspection interventions, such as a meeting between the school board and the Inspectorate management or an official warning. If these activities do not yield the result agreed upon, the Inspectorate will report a highly underdeveloped school to the Minister, along with a proposal for instating sanctions. On the basis of this report, the Minister may proceed to impose administrative and/or financial sanctions.

More information can be found on the website of the Dutch Inspectorate of Education:

Studying school inspections in the Netherlands

The project runs for a total of three years (January 2011-December 2013); each year from September to November, principals and teachers in 400 schools in primary education and 400 HAVO/VWO departments in secondary education are asked to participate in an online survey. These schools are assigned to different inspection treatments (green, orange, red) which allows us to compare changes in these schools as a result from being assigned to a specific treatment (using a regression discontinuity design).

More information

Please contact dr. Melanie Ehren for more information on the Dutch study of the impact of school inspections:

Dr. Melanie Ehren
Skype: melanieehren