During the three-year authorization process to become a Primary Years Programme (PYP) school, the Director of Het Startpunt, Marleen de Kleijn, was surprised by one big change—teachers would be setting aside their old textbooks to create a curriculum under-pinned by the PYP framework. The framework asks teacher to focus less on rote learning and more on motivating students to investigate how the world works through inquiry. In a statement issued by the school, De Kleijn says, “Our teachers suddenly had to design their own lessons and that took time and training to get used to. For our students it was a big change”.
Because the PYP is often new to many parents and students, De Kleijn finds herself explaining it to others using examples. She says, “Lessons are less about reproducing facts on a certain topic but more about understanding the concepts related to it”. She adds, “For example, a student in grade five or six will not have to memorize only factual information about World War II. Rather the student will use World War II as an example to investigate concepts such as ‘conflict’, ‘oppression’ and ‘leadership’ and their interrelation. They inquire what these concepts mean on a small scale in their own reality, in the classroom and next on a larger scale in the world”.
“Het Startpunt is the first Dutch-speaking publicly-funded primary school in Europe to be IB authorised. I am very proud of that”. —Cobi van Beek, De Haagse Scholen Foundation
The school is part of the ‘De Haagse Scholen Foundation’, an organization for primary and special public education in The Hague. Because of this, the school is accessible to any local student, with voluntary contributions for families amounting to just € 10 per year, equivalent to around US$12. In a press release issued by the school, Cobi van Beek, Chair of the Board of the in The Hague, notes that, “our school, Het Startpunt is the first publicly-funded primary school in Europe to be IB authorised. I am very proud of that. While until recently this type of education was only available to the most privileged children, it is now accessible to all primary school students in The Hague”.
The De Haagse Scholen Foundation is also looking to add more IB schools within the city and increase access to the PYP. “We hope to have a second IB World School on board in the very near future, as our public primary school De Springbok is well underway implementing IB”, says Van Beek. There is potential to grow further, with a total of 52 schools in the court city, 1700 teachers and over 15,000 students, making it is one of the largest school boards for primary education in the Netherlands.
An IB education is student-centered and De Kleijn has already seen the positive impact of the programme. She says, “Since we have been working with the PYP, [students] are so much more motivated and learn so much more, both socially and cognitively. This is especially important here in this neighborhood. Parents have also played an important role and are more involved in what happens at school”.
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