Many Dutch high schools experimenting with alternative timetables

High school classroom
High school classroom. (Photo: HaMinh1997 / Wikimedia Commons)

Dutch high schools are increasingly getting rid of traditional timetables and experimenting with new ones. Currently at least a fifth of secondary schools in the Netherlands have said goodbye to traditional 50 minutes-long lessons, according to a survey by Leerling 2020, a project of sector organization VO-Raad, AD reports.

Since the Ministry of Education started looking at lesson hours per week less strictly in 2015, schools have been looking for new ways of teaching so that pupils have more space to define their own learning route. They're experimenting with different class schedules, like 60 minute long lessons, optional hours in which pupils can choose to which teacher to go, homework hours, 80 minutes's study time, and weeks containing four teaching days and one day of project education.

The Fioretti College in Lisse, for example, is adopting so-called 20/80 education with a group of pupils next year. In this method, the course material will be handled in four days of lessons. On the fifth day pupils can check out higher professional education, set up their own company or visit businesses, for example. "We think it's important that our students have something to choose from. We're trying to achieve this", rector Astrid Buijs said to AD.

While these new schedules mean a period of extra work and adjustments for teachers, the schools see many benefits for their pupils, according to AD. The Visser 't Hooft Lyceum in Rijnsburg changed from 45 minutes-long lessons to 60 minutes-long lessons two years ago. According to director Geert van Zandwijk, the school is much quieter because students are walking between classrooms less. "In addition, teachers can go deeper into the subject. Previously the students almost just sat down before they could start packing up again", he said to the newspaper.