Country information for Netherlands - Financing of inclusive education systems

Education is financed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Local authorities contribute to educational facilities, such as school buildings. The Ministry of Health contributes to health and welfare costs in education (through the learners rather than through the schools) (source: Financing Policies for Inclusive Education Systems – Country Report: Netherlands, p. 11).

General funding

The Ministry of Education provides general funding for general education for all learners. This funding is provided to school boards as a lump sum. The lump sum consists of two parts: one part that covers the costs of staff (approximately 80%) and one part that covers the material costs of running a school (approximately 20%). Both parts are based on a fixed price and a variable price depending on the number of learners (Figure 1).

Flowchart depicting the components and allocation of general funding from the Ministry of Education to school boards and the elements returned by schools and school boards. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science allocates Fixed price, Price per learner and Arrangements to the school board of primary schools. The school board submits an annual report to the Ministry, while the school submits data on the number of learners. The same system applies at secondary level.

Figure 1. System of lump sum funding by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science








The price per learner is different in primary and secondary education, and the price depends on the average age of the school’s teachers. In the secondary education system, the price per learner depends on the type of school (vocational or general track) and the corresponding size of a class (to the type of school). Besides the lump sum, schools in both primary and secondary education can receive funding through other arrangements, such as funding for children from certain socio-economic backgrounds. The school boards allocate the resources to primary and secondary schools, as represented in the lower arrows in Figure 1. In return, school boards are required to deliver an annual report, in which they give an account of their spending, actions and policy. School boards are also responsible for human resource development of their staff, i.e. the teachers. They provide professional training (programmes). In addition, the Ministry provides scholarships to encourage teachers to obtain a (professional) Master’s degree, such as a Master’s in Special Educational Needs (SEN). With these scholarships, teachers can study for two days a week when (funding for) a replacement is arranged.








Additional general funding for tackling disadvantages








Primary schools receive targeted (throughput) funding for each disadvantaged learner through an arrangement. The extent of the funding is determined by the learner weighting system for primary education. It is based on five criteria:








  • The educational level of both parents
  • The mother’s country of origin
  • The mother’s duration of stay in the Netherlands
  • The average educational level of all the mothers in the school
  • Whether parents are participating in a debt restructuring programme.








Children of newcomers to the Netherlands, such as asylum seekers, often have language difficulties at school. They need effective coaching, for instance, through specially designed programmes. Schools with at least four registered learners in this category can apply for extra funding.








Secondary schools can obtain extra (throughput) funding if they have a relatively high proportion (between 30% and 65%) of learners from deprived neighbourhoods. This funding enables schools to tackle educational disadvantage and prevent school drop-out. Schools can receive extra funding for ensuring that recently-arrived immigrant learners learn Dutch quickly. The size of the grant depends on how long the learners have already been living in the Netherlands. The school chooses how to spend the extra funding and selects the most suitable type of education for the new learner.








Schools can apply for extra (throughput) funding for immigrant learners who have been in the Netherlands for less than a year. The money provides extra language training for a full school year. In order to engage extra staff and set up special teaching programmes, schools can obtain a one-off grant of EUR 16,000.








Additional budgets are available for disadvantaged learners who are in pre-vocational education and are lagging behind with language and/or arithmetic (identified by a test). Since 2016, the regional school alliances have distributed these budgets based on the number of learners who are lagging behind.








Special education related to spending by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science








With the introduction of the Appropriate Education Act (Education that Fits) in 2014, school boards in primary and secondary education formed regional school alliances. Since then, the Ministry has provided regional school alliances with funding for special needs education. Part of this funding is allocated directly to school boards, which in turn allocate the resources to special schools. This can be considered as more general funding for special schools, comparable to the general resources allocated to mainstream schools.








Inclusive education related to spending by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science








The other part of funding that the Ministry provides to the regional school alliances contains the former individual budgets for learners with an official decision of SEN (‘backpack financing’). Regional school alliances decide how to divide the remaining part of the budget – for example, between special schools, mainstream schools, individual or group-based arrangements, special facilities, teacher support, etc. Every four years, the regional school alliances write a Regional Support Plan, in which they introduce their (financial) policy to support learners with SEN within the region.








There are various ways for regional school alliances to allocate their budgets, but roughly three models can be differentiated:








  • The school model
  • The expertise model
  • The learner model.








In the school model, regional school alliances allocate the resources for inclusive education directly to school boards (which allocate them to schools), based upon the learner ratio per school or school board. In the expertise model, the resources are allocated to a network of services, and the regional school alliance often employs the special education specialists. In the learner model, the regional school alliance maintains the individual budgets. Schools, both mainstream and special, can apply for individual arrangements. Research shows that regional school alliances mostly use a combination of these models.








Learners with disabilities can apply for devices or assistive technologies. Sign language interpreters or adapted furniture are examples. These devices or services are funded by the Ministry after application (input funding). Special school staff can help mainstream schools to support their learners with SEN. Other ways to support learners with SEN are to adapt tuition, for example by adapting the instruction in mainstream classes, by remedial teaching or by classroom assistance.








Last updated 28/11/2019








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