People, groups, and organizations

  • 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, and the Association of Dutch Municipalities, 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.
  • INGRADO, the national association for school attendance officers and related professionals: https://www.ingrado.nl/ 
  • 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-Borguis; m.brouwer@swv2301.nl).

Current and upcoming activities and achievements

  • November 23 2018: The Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and the 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”).
  • November 2018: “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. http://www.hetcongres.nl/overhetcongres/Paginas/Overhetcongres.aspx
  • August 2018: 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
  • The Association for CBT (‘Vereniging voor Gegrags- en Cognitieve therapieën’) is currently preparing a Fact Sheet on CBT for School Refusal. https://www.vgct.nl/home
  • The Knowledge Hub 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: www.kenniscentrum-kjp.nl
  • Early in 2018 De Berkenschutse in Heeze launched the project All Students to School (‘Leerlingen allemaal naar school’, or LANS). The project will evaluate the effectiveness of a CBT intervention for school refusal when applied in a naturalistic setting. Contact: Evelyne Karel, Evelyne.Karel@berkenschutse.nl
  • Coach2School: Leiden University is collaborating with Edumind in a feasibility study of coaching via Progressive Mental Alignment for youth and parents, in cases where youth display school refusal or school truancy. The project will commence in 2019. Contact: Inge Hummel, i.hummel@edumind.nl
  • Summary of Dutch policy and practice associated with school attendance problems: Marije Borghuis-Brouwer and a team from Leiden University are preparing an article which summarizes and critically evaluates policy and practice in the Netherlands related to the early identification of school attendance problems. This will 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

Earlier activities and achievements

  • November 7 2018: 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.
  • In September of 2018 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. Contact: Marije Brouwer-Borguis, m.brouwer@swv2301.nl.
  • On June 28th 2018 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.
  • In June of 2018 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’. https://www.nji.nl/nl/Download-NJi/Publicatie-NJi/Dit-ben-ik-Portretten-van-thuiszitters-PDF.pdf 
  • In June of 2018 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.
  • On June 4th 2018 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.
  • In March of 2018, 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

  • Dutch Youth Institute ('Nederlands Jeugdinstituut') web page on school absenteeism: https://www.nji.nl/nl/Databank/Cijfers-over-Jeugd-en-Opvoeding/Cijfers-per-onderwerp-Schoolverzuim  
  • Ministerial letter about youth with chronic absenteeism ('thuiszitters'): https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/kamerstukken/2016/02/03/kamerbrief-over-cijfers-leerplicht-en-aanpak-thuiszitters  
  • The LINK program is an alternative educational program for school-refusing adolescents. It is described in an article prepared for Cognitive and Behavioral Practice. Contact: Marije Brouwer-Borguis, m.brouwer@swv2301.nl.
  • The Dutch translation of the School Non-Attendance Checklist (SNACK) is being prepared. 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.

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 Borghuis-Brouwer (m.brouwer@swv2301.nl). As the International Network for School Attendance grows, materials will be added to your country’s webpage. Currently, this webpage is updated every three months.

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. Please access and use the information with proper judgement.

Follow us