The role of school boards and school leadership in small schools in the Netherlands

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Primary schools in rural areas often have to deal with small, declining student populations. This is also the case in a relatively dense country like the Netherlands. The leading opinion within Dutch educational policy is that small schools (schools with fewer than 100 students) are to be avoided because they are costly and because they form a risk for the cognitive and social–emotional development of students. The fear is that educational quality could be at risk due to multigrade classrooms, and to small teaching teams with, consequently, less diversity in skill sets, and with less specialism of teachers. Furthermore, there is a fear that the shortage of same-age, same- sex peers impacts on students’ social–emotional development. Empirical international evidence for these alleged risks is limited, nor is there in- formation on the pivotal number of 100 students per school. However, a small and declining student population does require schools and boards to take action. Based on a Dutch interview study with school principals from 26 small primary schools with fewer than 100 students, and their boards, actions being taken at classroom, school management, and board level have been analyzed, and preconditions for maintaining educational quality are described.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducational research and schooling in rural Europe
Subtitle of host publicationAn engagement with changing patterns of education, space and place
EditorsCath Gristy, Linda Hargreaves, Silvie R. Kucerova
Place of PublicationCharlotte, NC
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-64802-165-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-64802-164-0, 978-1-64802-163-3
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2020


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