With Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science in attendance, on 1 April the VSNU, the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (Vereniging Hogescholen), the Netherlands Association of Senior Secondary Vocational Schools (MBO Raad), the Dutch Council for Secondary Education (VO-raad) and the Primary Education Council (PO-Raad) launched an initiative entitled Lerend onderwijs voor een lerend Nederland (Teaching that's learning for a learning Netherlands), a joint development agenda for enabling an effective knowledge infrastructure for the education sector. This was a unique moment: for the first time in the history of Dutch education, the five sector councils have come together to forge a bond between the worlds of teaching and research. The development agenda is an important step towards improving the innovative power of education and increasing the quality of teaching. Pieter Duisenberg, VSNU chair: ‘With all of the education sectors working together to develop a national knowledge infrastructure, we will be better able to connect academic educational research and teaching practice. In this way, universities will contribute to better teaching in primary and secondary education.’
Collaboration between sectors
In the education and research arena, every sector has its own task and expertise. While the primary task of teachers in primary and secondary education is providing good teaching, university researchers not only must conduct good research, but must also have a societal impact with this. All sectors share the wish to forge connections between their key tasks via a knowledge infrastructure, and to work together to strengthen the bond between teaching and research. Collaboration between the sectors based on equality is essential for a strengthened knowledge infrastructure.
Contribution of 600 education professionals
During the past few months, the ‘Onderzoeksbende’ (Research Gang), comprising a representative from each sector, gathered input from various professionals in the educational field and educational research field. Over 600 participants discussed ways in which knowledge from research can be implemented more effectively towards increasing the innovative capacity of teaching, and considered which preconditions this required. Everyone agreed that we should provide teachers with even greater opportunities to adopt an evidence-informed working method (i.e. addressing what works well and why, and what doesn't and why). There is also more research required into the effectiveness of improvement processes in order to increase the learning capacity of teaching in the educational sector.
National working group for better coordination
It became clear that strengthening the knowledge infrastructure requires national cooperation and coordination. Therefore, the five sector councils have proposed setting up a national working group in the coming months, together with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and advised by the Netherlands Initiative for Educational Research (NRO). This working group will further expand upon how to strengthen the knowledge infrastructure, in consultation with various relevant parties. The national working group will be assigned the task of investigating two possible structural sections of a national knowledge infrastructure: a national knowledge network and regional R&D networks.