The number of new primary and secondary schools founded per year in the Netherlands is low. In the primary education sector ten to twenty new schools a year are opened, out of a total of some 6,700. In the secondary education sector there are one to three new main establishments and 20 to 70 subsidiary establishments a year, out of a total of about 1,400 main and subsidiary establishments (including agricultural training centres). The dynamism that exists in current practice results mainly from the founding of new establishments by existing governing bodies. New schools are somewhat more expensive during the startup phase and somewhat more likely to be assessed as ‘poor’ by the Inspectorate of Education.

The number of new schools could be increased by changing government policy. The State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science would like to introduce ‘non-denomination-based planning’ to make the founding of primary and secondary schools independent of religion or denomination. This proposal could be developed so as to result in more new schools. Whether that is desirable is a matter of prioritizing the potential effects. More new schools could increase innovation in and access to education, but it entails the risk of lowering quality in the short term and increasing public costs. The effects of possible policy changes are not entirely predictable, so it is highly advisable to examine the effects of any new policy carefully once it has been introduced.

The report below is a preliminary study carried out by SEO Economic Research setting out current policy and the current situation as regards the numbers and performance of new schools in the Netherlands. The preliminary study provided the basis for an exploratory study of the effects of various ways of implementing non-denomination-based planning carried out by SEO Economic Research in collaboration with Oberon and TIAS. The preliminary study has been summarized along with a preliminary study by TIAS. The summary can be found on the SEO site, and along with the preliminary study by TIAS also here.