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New Dutch way — school tailors timing to parents’ needs

world Updated: Aug 15, 2009 01:31 IST
Rachel Levy
Rachel Levy
Hindustan Times
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Pupils at one Dutch elementary school are not vacationing this summer. But depending on their parents' schedules, they may be able to enjoy a long vacation at some other time.

De School, in the picturesque coastal village of Zandvoort north of Amsterdam, is the first Dutch elementary school to tailor its schedule entirely to working parents' needs.

The school operates weekdays between 8 am and 6 pm, which enables parents to drop off or pick up their children early or late, depending on their own work schedules. Parents can also determine children's holidays to suit their individual needs.

School director Marjolein Ploegman said long summer school vacations are “a legacy from the Netherlands' agrarian past when farmers needed their children during harvesting”. She also believes that the conventional school hours of 8.30 am to 3.30 pm are "old-fashioned" and do not suit children's bio-rhythms.

De School opened in August 2008 with an initial enrolment of 14 pupils. Now, enrolment is up to 35 pupils, aged 4 to 11 years. In three other Dutch towns, similar so-called "flexible schools" are being planned, with one to open in 2010.

"Today's world has become flexible," said Ploegman. "It may sound complicated to coordinate a flexible school, but it is really not."

The school director says her pupils receive individually tailored study programmes.