Information in the menus below was updated in May 2020. 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).  

People, groups, and organizations

Not for Profit

  • The National Interest Group for School Refusal (‘Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering’), established in 2015, meets three times a year. The main 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). In the 2019-2020 school year the National Interest Group is broadening its Steering Group and will explore an expansion of the Group’s focus, to address all types of school absenteeism. To find out more about the schedule of events please contact the chair of the Steering Group, Drs. Marije Brouwer-Borghuis. You can also access an overview of the activities of the group during the last 5 years. 
  • INGRADO is the national association for school attendance officers and related professionals. 
  • 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.
  • ‘Behavioural Work’ (‘Gedragswerk’) is commissioned by the Ministry of Education. It focuses on young people who have been absent from school for long periods. The education and support they need is not there, and these young people require a different way of learning, which can only be found if everyone looks at their situation differently. It is the mission of ‘Gedragswerk’ to get the entire system around the young person moving and to keep it moving. 
  • The academic platform ‘Together at School’ (‘Samen op School’) wants to ensure that as few youth as possible drop out of school, and to reduce the need for heavier forms of support. ‘Together at School’ focuses its activities on two main questions: (1) Which types of management and cooperation contribute most to the achievement of the transformation goals?; (2) Which working methods contribute to improved cooperation between parents, young people, education, and youth care? 
  • 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

  • 2021 Date to be announced: The ‘National Interest Group for School Refusal’ [Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering] will meet to hear and discuss findings from the Interest Group’s project ‘Know what Works’ (Weten wat Werkt). Know What Works was undertaken 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 is preparing a roadmap for 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. For information about Know What Works, contact Marije Brouwer-Borghuis. To register for the 2021 meeting about Know What Works, contact Heidi Geitenbeek at LECSO
  • 2020 December 15: 'Customization for Change' (Maatwerk Voor Verandering), the 3rd 'School Absenteeism Congress' (Thuiszitterscongres) in Bussum. 
  • 2020: Smooth Transition to Work is a project to help youth in a vulnerable position make a successful transition from vocational education to work (e.g., youth with disabilities, learning problems, difficult home situations). The project is managed by INGRADO and runs until December 2020. To learn more, contact project leader Henrie Mastwijk.
  • 2020: 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. It is anticipated that this will be available by Summer of 2020. 
  • 2019 January and beyond: 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. 
  • 2018 and beyond: ‘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

Past activities and achievements

  • 2020 April 16 and May 26: 'Getting started with the Methodological Approach to School Absence (MAS)' [Aan de slag met de MAS voor leerplichtambtenaren en ketenpartners]. More information is found via this link.
  • 2020 March 25 - postponed due to the Coronoa virus: ‘Development Group for (prevention of) long-term absenteeism’ [Ontwikkelgroep [preventie van] thuiszitten]. The ‘Centre for Appropriate Education’ [Steunpunt Passend Onderiwjs] is organising the ‘development group (prevention) of long-term absenteeism’ with the aim of exchanging knowledge about the local approach to (prevention) of long-term absenteeism and strengthening cooperation.   
  • 2020 March 18 - postponed due to the Coronoa virus: De Berkenschutse Centre of Expertise for Special Education hosts a half-day seminar in Heeze titled 'To School? Yes!: Perspective on Preventing Dropout' [Naar school? Ja toch!: Perspectief bij schooluitval en preventie]. 
  • 2020 March 12 - postponed due to the Coronoa virus: The ‘National Interest Group for School Refusal’ [Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering] will meet to discuss ‘autism and school refusal’, with presentations by teams in the Netherlands. For information, contact Marije Brouwer-Borghuis. To register, contact Heidi Geitenbeek at LECSO.  
  • 2020 January 30: INGRADO meeting titled ‘Inspiration Meeting: Chronic Absenteeism and Other Vulnerable Youth’ [Inspiratiebijeenkomst: Thuiszitters en andere kwetsbare jongeren]. 
  • 2020 January 16: A meeting of a sub-group of the ‘National Interest Group for School Refusal’ [Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering] to discuss group-based work with parents of youth displaying school refusal. Contact Elske de Kanter.
  • 2020: ‘The Dutch Youth Institute’ [Nederlands Jeugdinstituut] released a resource titled ‘Addressing school absenteeism: A scientific basis' [Schoolverzuim aanpakken: Een wetenschappelijke onderbouwing]. 
  • 2019 December: This issue of the Ingrado Magazine has responses to ’10 Questions’ about school refusal.
  • 2019 November 29: Het Congres ‘Gewoon DOEN’ in Arnhem, about education for students who need extra guidance and support. 
  • 2019 November 13: The ‘National Interest Group for School Refusal’ [Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering] hosted a gathering on ‘mapping school attendance problems’ [in kaartbrengen van schoolverzuim], incorporating recent international research and practice gleaned from the 1st INSA Conference in Oslo, Norway. The group also provided feedback on the forthcoming document from ‘The Dutch Youth Institute’ [Nederlands Jeugdinstituut] titled ‘School absence among young people: What works?’ [Schoolverzuim onder jeugdigen: Wat werkt?]. Feedback indicated: the document provides clarity around the topic of absenteeism; include research on gaming and absenteeism, and more information on socio-cultural factors and absenteeism; future versions can distinguish between ‘international’ and ‘Dutch’ research; qualify the research-based findings by emphasizing that practitioners need to attend to case-specific issues not represented in the research results; practitioners need to take care to refer to ‘school refusal as a type of absenteeism’ as opposed to labeling a young person as ‘school refuser’; there is scientific value in retaining the term because of its use in the international literature; there is also practical value for parents who are able to search the internet for information using the term, they often feel relieved to understand that it is indeed a type of attendance problem taken seriously by the field; 1/3 of the group was in favor of changing the term ‘school refusal’, 2/3 in favor of retaining the term.
  • 2019 October: INGRADO’s participation in the inaugural INSA Conference in Oslo is described in a short report
  • 2019 October 18: Rene Halberstadt (INGRADO) presented ‘Parents, adolescents, peers, and school policy: A multi-level analysis on the effect of their interplay on authorized and unauthorized absenteeism’ at the inaugural INSA Conference in Oslo, Norway. INSA Members can access the video by logging in via the Members menu
  • 2019 October 17: Marije Brouwer-Borghuis (SWV 23-01 VO) presented ‘The Link Program for school refusal: An educational facility and its mental health care spouse(s).’ at the inaugural INSA Conference in Oslo, Norway. INSA Members can access the video by logging in via the Members menu
  • 2019 October 17: Cynthia Defourny, Evelyne Karel, & Hilde Hermes (De Berkenschutse Centre of Expertise for Special Education) presented ‘The highs and lows of translating a research-based treatment protocol for school refusal to a real-world setting’ at the inaugural INSA Conference in Oslo, Norway. INSA Members can access the video by logging in via the Members menu
  • 2019 October 17: Fatima Tatahi-Post (Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science) presented ‘Does government policy impact grassroots work? Dutch examples of dilemmas and progress’ at the inaugural INSA Conference in Oslo, Norway. INSA Members can access the video by logging in via the Members menu
  • 2019 October 16: Floor Sauter (De Banjaard/Youz) presented ‘Supporting school-refusing adolescents with (mild) intellectual disability via a research-based treatment protocol’ at the inaugural INSA Conference in Oslo, Norway. INSA Members can access the video by logging in via the Members menu
  • 2019 October 9: ‘Together at School Conference’ [Het Congres Samen Op School
  • 2019 September 13: A short opinion piece in the nederlandsdagblad titled ‘We are youth who have been away from school and we are not lazy – five tips to help us out’ [Wij zijn thuiszitters en we zijn niet lui - vijf tips om ons te helpen]. 
  • 2019 July 9: ‘Impetus for addressing long-term school absenteeism: Research into the story behind the figures and the ambitions of the Thuiszitterspact’ [Impuls thuiszittersaanpak: Onderzoek naar het verhaal achter de cijfers en de ambities van het Thuiszitterspact]. A report which focuses on the kind of national support that can be offered to reduce the number of youth with long-term absenteeism and/or  accelerate achievement of the ambitions of the Thuiszitterspact. 
  • 2019 June 27: The ‘School Absenteeism Congress’ [Thuiszitterscongres] in Bussum.
  • 2019 June 3rd – 7th: National Action Week for School Absenteeism [Landelijke Actieweek Thuiszitters]. 
  • 2019 May 23: The National Interest Group for School Refusal [Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering] hosted its quarterly meeting, this time focusing on ‘The Voices of Youth’. Presentations were made by Mariette Mariëtte van Hemert and Marianne van Etten (Thuiszittersteam Fritz Redl School) and Griet De Nys (HOGENT in Belgium). Contact Marije Brouwer-Borghuis
  • 2019 April 12: A follow-up meeting 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 & Thuiszitter]. 
  • 2019 February 15: A news item indicating 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. 
  • 2019 February 15: Letter to the Chairperson of the House of Representatives, titled State of Affairs regarding School Absenteeism [Stand van zaken thuiszitters], signed by the the Minister for Primary and Secondary Education and Media, the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, and the Minister for Legal Protection. 
  • 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).
  • 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. 
  • 2018 November 30: “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 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 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.    
  • 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 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 June: The National Action Week for School Absenteeism [Landelijke Actieweek Thuiszitters]. 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 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

Helpful links and other resources

  • Dutch Youth Institute [Nederlands Jeugdinstituut] web page on school absenteeism.
  • 2020: A short video in which Chantal (education) and Joost (mental health care) describe their collaboration when working in an alternative educational program to help adolescents displaying school refusal. They use a ‘marriage metaphor’ to describe the strengths and difficulties associated with collaboration.
  • 2020 Feb 19: 'An interview about long-term absenteeism with the researchers from Don't Give Up' [Interview over thuiszitters met de onderzoekers van ‘Niet thuis geven’], published in the newsletter of Steunpunt Passend Onderwijs. 
  • 2020 Feb 19: 'Ambition of the pact to address school absenteeism is not achieved, timeline not met' [Ambitie thuiszitterspact blijft overeind, tijdpad niet gehaald], a story in the newsletter of Steunpunt Passend Onderwijs.  
  • 2020 Feb 5: Commentary by the Dutch Youth Institute [Nederlands Jeugdinstituut] on the letter from Arie Slob (Minister for Primary and Secondary Education and Media) to the House of Representatives [Tweede Kamer]; the commentary focused on the need for collaboration [Meer samenwerking leidt tot minder thuiszitten].  
  • 2020: A letter from the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science (OCW) titled ‘Absenteeism in Primary Education’ [Thuiszitters in het funderend Onderwijs] about results from the past school-year and the vision for the coming years. 
  • 2019: 'Reach Out to Long-Term Absentees' [Reik Thuiszitters De Hand], an online magazine by 'Toezicht Sociaal Domein' with resources for 'Identification and Intervention' [Signaleren en handelen], 'Integrated Care Services' [Integraal aanbod zorg], and 'Partnerhsip with Parents' [Partnerschap met ouders]. 
  • 2019: Research report by the Kohnstamm Instituut, titled ‘Don't give up: School drop-out from the perspective of students - Research on long-term absentees’ [Niet thuisgeven: Schooluitval vanuit het perspectief van leerlingen: onderzoek naar thuiszitters].
  • 2019: A short description of the report mentioned in the previous dot-point, published in Profiel, and titled ‘Study highlights the aggravating situation of long-term absentees- and their number is increasing’ [Studie belicht de schrijnende situatie van thuiszitters – en hun aantal neemt toe].
  • 2019: A summary of Dutch law, policy, and protocols associated with school attendance problems 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 was published in 2019 in a special issue of the European Journal of Education and Psychology.
  • 2019: Dutch-language article on clinical reasoning in integrated youth care using the seven-factor model’ [Klinisch redeneren in de geïntegreerde jeugdhulp met behulp van het zevenfactorenmodel] by Harrie van Leeuwen and Marca Geeraets. A case involving school refusal is used to demonstrate the model.
  • 2019: Learning from Initiatives to Address Long-Term Absenteeism [Leren van thuiszittersinitiatieven], a report by Movisie on initiatives available for young people not attending school, with the sub-title ‘Development law as a bridge between healthcare and education’. 
  • 2019: Approach to School Refusal Requires Multidisciplinary Cooperation [Aanpak Schoolweigering Vereist Multidisciplinaire Samenwerking], a Dutch-language story about the LINK program, appearing in an NJI publication titled ‘Verassend Passend: Special Samenwerking Onderwijs – Jeugd’.
  • 2019: 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’).
  • 2019: Report on Absenteeism in the School Year 2017-2018, at January 23rd 2019 [Rapportage leerplichtwet G-gemeenten, schooljaar 2017-2018, Definitieve eindstand, 23 januari 2019].
  • 2018: A report on programs for school refusal as presented at the National Interest Group for School Refusal [Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering] in September 2018.
  • 2018: Fact Sheet about school refusal, published in December 2018 by the Dutch Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapy (VGCT).
  • 2018: An interview in ‘Kind & Adolescent Praktijk’ 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].
  • 2018: The book ‘SCHOOLbeLEVEN’ (School Life/Experience) by Mariëtte van Hemert and Marianne van Etten contains 10 inspirational stories about youths' life at school. Contact: schoolbeleven@gmail.com
  • 2018: ‘U-can-act’ project group prepared a final report: Intervention for early school leaving and young people in a vulnerable position [Aanpak van voortijdig schoolverlaten en jongeren in een kwetsbare positive: eindrapport].
  • 2018: 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’.
  • 2016: Ministerial letter about youth with chronic absenteeism [thuiszitters].
  • 2012: 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.
  • 2010: A chapter called 'School refusal' [Schoolweigering] by Carla Charree and Brigit van Widenfelt in the book 'Kind & Adolescent', Bohn Stafleu van Loghum, Houten. In: Spraak, taal en leren. Reeks Kinderen en Adolescenten. Problemen en risicosituaties. Bohn Stafleu van Loghum, Houten
  • 2007: An article in ‘Kind & Adolescent Praktijk’ 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!]
  • 2004: An article in ‘Systeem Therapie’ 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.
  • The Dutch translation of the School Non-Attendance Checklist (SNACK) is available. This checklist supports screening for types of absenteeism, including school refusal, truancy, school withdrawal, and school exclusion. Contact David Heyne.
  • The Dutch translation of the adapted School Refusal Assessment Scale is described in this article. Contact David Heyne

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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