Information in the menus below was updated in March 2019. To contribute information that may be of interest to others in your country, please contact your country’s hosts: David Heyne (heyne@fsw.leidenuniv.nl) or Marije Brouwer-Borghuis (m.brouwer@swv2301.nl). As the International Network for School Attendance grows, materials will be added to your country’s webpage. 

People, groups, and organizations

Not for Profit

  • INGRADO is the national association for school attendance officers and related professionals.  
  • The National Interest Group for School Refusal (‘Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering’) meets three times a year. The key aims are to share and create knowledge. The group is open to all professionals with an interest in school refusal. The meetings have a practical focus (e.g., presentations and discussions about clinical and educational programs for school refusal) and a research focus (e.g., generating research topics; reviewing results from recent studies). To find out more about the program please contact the chair of the Steering Group, Drs. Marije Brouwer-Borghuis, m.brouwer@swv2301.nl.
  • The ‘Youth Not Attending School Pact’ (‘Thuiszitterspact’) was signed in 2016. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport made a pact with the Secondary Schools Council and the Primary Schools Council, as well as the Ministry of Justice and Security, the Association of Dutch Municipalities, and INGRADO, to reduce the number of youth not attending school. The pact specifies that Collaborations (‘Samenwerkingsverbanden’) and City Councils will determine how best to provide support for a young person at risk of not attending school. Parents and youth (where possible) will be involved in the process.
  • David Heyne is Associate Professor in the Developmental and Educational Psychology Unit of Leiden University. His scholarly and research interests include classification, early identification, and intervention for school attendance problems. Contact: heyne@fsw.leidenuniv.nl
  • Rene Halberstadt is employed as project leader with INGRADO and is an external PhD candidate in the Erasmus University Department of Sociology. His PhD research includes a multi-level analysis of the interplay between parents, adolescents, peers, and school policy on authorized and unauthorized absenteeism.  Contact: renehalberstadt@hotmail.com

Current and upcoming activities and achievements

  • 2019 June 27: 2nd Congress about Long Term Absenteeism ('Thuiszitterscongres'). This congress has been developed for school boards, staff from the Education Inspectorate, staff in politics, peditricians, staff from Collaborations, school attendance officers, care coordinators, deans, mentors, employees from the municipality, youth care staff, school psychologists, teachers, health care professionals, and others dealing with school attendance problems. Check the website.
  • 2019 April 12: A follow-up meeting is planned in Deventer, building on the November 2018 meeting organised by the Autism Knowledge Network in Overijssel (‘Autisme Kennisnetwerk Overijssel‘) and titled Autism and Youth Not Attending School ('Autisme & Thuiszitters’). Contact: a.thissen@autismehulpverlening.nl
  • 2019 February 15: A news item indicates that Minister Slob (Minister for Primary and Secondary Education and Media) is disappointed with the number of young people absent from school for an extended time. In response, each region will have a director who determines how best to deal with this, on a case-by-case basis. Read the news item here.
  • 2019 February: A summary of Dutch law, policy, and protocols associated with school attendance problems has been prepared by Marije Brouwer-Borghuis and a team from Leiden University. This is in the form of an article which summarizes and critically evaluates law, policy, and protocols in the Netherlands related to the early identification of school attendance problems. The article is due to be published in a special issue of the European Journal of Education and Psychology in June of 2019. Contact: Marije Brouwer-Borghuis, m.brouwer@swv2301.nl
  • 2019 January: A funded inter-regional knowledge exchange project on school refusal commenced. This is a collaboration between Dutch and German child & adolescent psychiatric organisations Karakter, GGNet, LVR Essen, and LVR Viersen. The project will explore the problem of school refusal in the partners’ respective patient populations, compare school refusal interventions employed in both countries, and investigate differences in the Dutch and German school systems and governmental policies as they relate to school refusal. The results of this project will be used to develop targeted interventions for school refusal. Contact: Bas de Veen, Project Manager Innovation & Development, Karakter Academy, b.deveen@karakter.com
  • 2018 December 17: The team from the MOVING project prepared a newsletter with updates on their work. MOVING is a project evaluating the effectiveness of a program that helps schools guide youth with autism spectrum traits through the transition from primary school to secondary school. The newsletter can be accessed here.
  • 2018 November 23: The Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport released a letter describing the measures that will be taken to ensure that health and education work together in the interests of youth in need. One of the measures related to school attendance is Measure 6: An ‘activator’ will be used to improve the connection between the action groups for youth not at school, and the regional expert teams (“Maatregel 6: Een aanjager verbetert de aansluiting van de actietafels voor thuiszitters en de regionale expertteams”). Another measure related to school attendance is Measure 9: Adjusting the Compulsory Education Act to include educational perspective in exemptions from education (“Maatregel 9: Aanpassen Leerplichtwet om onderwijskundig perspectief te betrekken bij vrijstellingen van onderwijs”). 
  • 2018 November: “The Congress” (HÉT CONGRES) is a national education congress organized by LECSO, the SBO work association, and The Education Specialists. The central focus is on education for students who need extra care and attention. 
  • 2018 August: An 18-month research project called Know What Works (‘Weten wat Werkt’) was started by a consortium of four parties: (1) Leiden University, (2) the National Expertise Centre for Special Education (‘Landelijk Expertise Centrum Speciaal Onderwijs’), (3) SWV 23-01, and (4) at.groep zorg. Via interviews with Dutch organizations providing programs for school refusal, as well as questionnaires administered to a sample of parents and youth participating in the programs, the research team will prepare a menu of key program components. This will reduce the need for schools, mental health settings, and communities to ‘re-invent’ the wheel when they want to provide an intervention for school refusal. Contact: Marije Brouwer-Borghuis, m.brouwer@swv2301.nl
  • 2018: The Dutch Knowledge Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (‘het Kenniscentrum Kinder- en Jeugdpsychiatrie’) is preparing an updated set of practice guidelines for working with anxious youth, including a section on working with youth displaying school refusal.
  • 2018: ‘De Berkenschutse’ Centre of Expertise for Special Education in Heeze launched the project All Students To School (‘Leerlingen allemaal naar school’, or LANS). One of the LANS activities is the evaluation of the effectiveness of a CBT intervention for school refusal when applied in a naturalistic setting. Other activities include early identification and response for absenteeism. Contact: Evelyne Karel, Evelyne.Karel@berkenschutse.nl

Past activities and achievements

  • 2019 February 6: The National Interest Group for School Refusal (‘Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering’) hosted its quarterly meeting, this time focusing on ‘Tier 2 Interventions for School Refusal’ with presentations by two organizations in the Netherlands (OZAPP and LANS). Contact: Marije Brouwer-Borghuis, m.brouwer@swv2301.nl.
  • 2018 November 7: The Autism Knowledge Network in Overijssel (‘Autisme Kennisnetwerk Overijssel ‘) organised a special meeting with the theme: Autism and Youth Not Attending School ('Autisme & Thuiszitters'. There was great interest, with 400 participants. 
  • 2018 September 21: The National Interest Group for School Refusal (‘Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering’) hosted a symposium. Visitors from Australia (University of Melbourne and the Royal Children’s Hospital) shared their work on the In2School program, a wrap-around model of care for youth displaying school refusal. A report of this meeting is available via this link. For further information about the meeting contact: Marije Brouwer-Borghuis, m.brouwer@swv2301.nl.
  • 2018 June 28: The ‘School Absenteeism Congress’ (‘Thuiszitterscongres’) was held in Bussum. Multiple organisations in the Netherlands that are working with youth with school attendance programs presented their approach. 
  • 2018 June: A unique publication was launched: This is Me – Portraits of Youth Not Attending School (‘Dit ben ik. Portretten van thuiszitters’). It presents the stories of ten teenagers who had been away from school for an extended time. The youth share ‘what went wrong’ and ‘what helped me get back to school’. 
  • 2018 June: The ‘National Action Week for School Absenteeism’ [‘Landelijke Actieweek Thuiszitters’] was held. This was a week full of activities organized by ‘Steunpunt Passend Onderwijs’ of the Secondary Schools Council and Primary Schools Council, together with the Secondary Vocational Education and Training Council, the Association of Dutch Municipalities, The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, The National Expertise Centre for Special Education, and numerous other organizations.
  • 2018 June 4: The ‘School Absenteeism Event’ (‘Thuiszitterstop’) was organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The event focused on what is needed in the near future to prevent school absenteeism and reduce the number of youth who are currently not attending school.
  • 2018 March: The city of Leiden was host to the Lorentz Workshop titled: School Absenteeism - Universal Problem Seeks Gold Standard Solutions. Twenty-one academics and clinicians from 11 countries engaged in a week-long workshop with the aim of developing consensus for the international community with respect to the operationalization and classification of school attendance problems. Topics included: major bottlenecks in research and practice; operationalizing absenteeism; registering problematic absenteeism; key issues for classification; best practice in identifying school attendance problems. Click here for the poster. Contact: David Heyne, heyne@fsw.leidenuniuv.nl

Helpful links and other resources

  • Fact Sheet about school refusal, published in December 2018 by the Dutch Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapy (VGCT). 
  • Dutch Youth Institute ('Nederlands Jeugdinstituut') web page on school absenteeism  
  • Ministerial letter about youth with chronic absenteeism ('thuiszitters')
  • The LINK program is an alternative educational program for school-refusing adolescents. It is described in an article published in Cognitive and Behavioral Practice in 2019 (see ‘Journal Articles’). Contact: Marije Brouwer-Borguis, m.brouwer@swv2301.nl.
  • The Dutch translation of the School Non-Attendance Checklist (SNACK) is finalized. This checklist supports screening for types of absenteeism, including school refusal, truancy, school withdrawal, and school exclusion. Contact: David Heyne, heyne@fsw.leidenuniuv.nl
  • The Dutch translation of the adapted School Refusal Assessment Scale is described in this article. For access to the Dutch version, please contact David Heyne, heyne@fsw.leidenuniuv.nl
  • An interview in ‘Kind & Adolescent Praktijk’ (2018) with David Heyne and Floor Sauter covers topics such as ‘what is school refusal’, ‘how can it be efficiently identified’, and ‘what does treatment involve’. The article is title ‘Afraid of school’ (‘Bang voor school’).
  • A book titled ‘School anxiety and school refusal in children’ (‘Schoolangst en schoolweigering bij kinderen’) by Bieneke Nienhuis describes how the school, parents, and mental health services can work together to effectively address school refusal.
  • An article in ‘Kind & Adolescent Praktijk’ (2007) by Carla Scharree describes how parents can be motivated to play a key role in helping their school-refusing child attend school. The article is titled ‘School refusal? Parents get started!’ (Schoolweigering? Ouders aan de slag!)
  • An article in ‘Systeem Therapie’ (2004) by Martin van Geffen and Hub Engelen is titled ‘A systems approach to school refusal’ (‘Systeembenadering bij schoolweigering’). It describes school refusal, how it differs from other school attendance problems, and the role of family factors and organizations.

Disclaimer: INSA’s Mission encourages us to disseminate as much readily available information as possible, without judgement. The sharing of this information should not be seen as an endorsement by INSA. People, groups, and organisations are separated into ‘for profit’ (fees are charged for services) and ‘not for profit’ (including charities, who may charge no fees or nominal fees for services). Please access and use this information with proper judgement.

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