Information in the menus below was updated in October 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

  • The National Interest Group for School Refusal (‘Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering’) meets three times a year. The 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.
  • 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

  • 2019: The Dutch Youth Institute ('Nederlands Jeugdinstituut') is preparing a resource titled ‘School absence among young people: What works?’ (‘Schoolverzuim onder jeugdigen: Wat werkt?’). 
  • 2019 Nov 29: Het Congres ‘Gewoon DOEN’ in Arnhem, about education for students who need extra guidance and support. 
  • 2019 Nov 13: The National Interest Group for School Refusal (‘Landelijk KennisTeam Schoolweigering’) will host a gathering on ‘mapping school attendance problems’, incorporating recent international research and practice gleaned from the 1st INSA Conference in Oslo, Norway. To register for the gathering please contact Heidi Geitenbeek at LECSO via h.geitenbeek@lecso.nl
  • 2019 Oct 9: ‘Together at School Conference’ (‘Het Congres Samen Op School’) 
  • 2019 Sept 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 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, b.deveen@karakter.com
  • 2018 August and beyond: 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 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, Evelyne.Karel@berkenschutse.nl
  • 2018 and beyond: 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: www.kenniscentrum-kjp.nl

Past activities and achievements

  • 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 22: The 2nd Congress on School Absenteeism (‘2e Thuiszitterscongres’) in Bussum. The congress will focus on how we can reduce the number of youth absent from school; what actions and adjustments are needed to achieve this? 
  • 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 is planned in Deventer, building on the meeting in November of 2018, 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 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). Contact: Marije Brouwer-Borghuis.
  • 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 via this link. For further information about the meeting contact: Marije Brouwer-Borghuis.  
  • 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: 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 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.

Helpful links and other resources

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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