The effectiveness of the VVE programme in reducing early learning disadvantages

While many continental European and Nordic countries follow a universalist approach to early childhood education, the Netherlands explicitly targets disadvantaged children through VVE programmes that are mainly offered in public pre-kindergartens. Following the 2010 Law on Disadvantaged Education (Wet OKE:Ontwikkelingskansen door Kwaliteit en Educatie), VVE funding was substantially increased, doubling the number of registered places in 2015 and bringing the total to 110 000 children (Akgunduz and Heijnen, 2016).

First findings of the VVE programme’s positive effects

Based on a national large scale longitudinal cohort study (Pre-COOL),

Slot (2014) showed that VVE programmes have positive effects on emotional and educational process quality for all children. A recent study found that the increased funding of VVE programmes has caused a large reduction in the grade repetition of children in the early years of primary education (Akgunduz and Heijnen, 2016) - in Dutch primary schools the rates of year repetition are three times higher than the OECD average (7.7%). Repetition is most common during the first two years of primary education (at age four or five) and is heavily biased towards children from socio-economically disadvantaged and immigrant backgrounds. In some schools, nearly half of the student population repeats a grade. This is both costly and wasteful, given the evidence that the effectiveness of the grade repetition in increasing students’ outcomes is very limited (Akgunduz and Heijnen, 2016).

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