By law, every state-funded school in the Netherlands has to have a Participation Council or medezeggenschapsraad (MR) and for consortiums of schools, such as the Rijnlands Lyceum a Joint Participation Council or gemeenschappelijke medezeggenschapsraad (GMR) where representatives of teachers, parents and (in Secondary Schools) older pupils are consulted by the School/Consortium Management over certain important matters concerning the administration of the School/Consortium. Further details of the role of the Participation Council are given in Appendix I below.
ESH has both a Primary Participation Council (PPC) and a Secondary Participation Council (SPC). The Rijnlands Lyceum also has a Joint Primary Participation Council (JPPC) and a Joint Secondary Participation Council (JSPC) to which some members of the PPC and SPC respectively belong.
The Council has its own email address: firstname.lastname@example.org to which you can send questions of a general nature (not specifically related to your child or her/his mentor class) that you would like it to raise with the school management. Alternatively you could send it via the Parent Representative of your child’s Mentor Class who will forward it on to us.
The minutes of the SPC meetings can be found on the parents pages (requires log- in)
Dates of meeting are indicated on the parents page. At least two working days before a meeting, the agenda can be found on the parents pages (requires log-in).
Any member of staff, parent or pupil can observe a meeting but cannot participate unless requested to by the Chairperson. The Council reserves the right to hold meetings (or parts of meetings) in private if the subject matter is of a confidential and/or sensitive nature.
The SPC is composed of four staff members, two parents and two students.
The mandate of the current SPC started in September 2015 and will last until August 2018. Up to now, there have been no elections in any of the three categories (staff, students, parents) because the number of candidates has always been less or equal to the number of seats in the corresponding category ( in accordance with Article 10.2 of the Regulations).
When the SPC was constituted at the end of the school year 2014/15 it was agreed with the school director and the director of the Rijnlands Lyceum that two parents would replace two students during the school year 2015/16 because the pupils were still too young and that two parents would resign in July 2016 in order to be replaced by two students.
The staff members having resigned have also been replaced by new members of their.
The mandate of the students and the new staff members also ends in August 2018.
The regulations regarding Participation Councils are defined in the Participation in Schools Act or wet medezeggenschap op scholen (WMS), which was introduced in 2007 and gives them a number of general and special powers. The Act also lists a number of matters on which the School Management must inform the Participation Council annually such as information on the school budget.
The general powers include the right of consultation or overlegrecht (with the School Management about anything that concerns them), the right of initiative or initiatiefrecht (to discuss and offer suggestions to the School Management about improving anything that concerns them) and the right of information or informatierecht (about anything regarding the school that concerns them).
The special powers are the right of consent or instemmingsrecht and the right of advice or adviesrecht. Below are some examples of matters on which these rights can be exercised.
Right of Consent: The Participation Council has a formal right to have consent on some issues. For example: the School Educational Plan, changes to educational objectives or school regulations.
Right of Advice: The Participation Council can advise the management in certain matters such as the recruitment of key members of staff, modification of the curriculum or formal liaison with other schools.
Topics that would typically be discussed about the school include: the school budget, the school plan for the following years, general safety, pedagogical policy, for example regarding pupils requiring educational support.
If the Participation Council submits a proposal or advice to the School Management, it is not required to implement it, but it must explain why it will not do so, if this is the case.
The WMS law also differentiates between the powers of the whole Participation Council and the powers of the individual sections.
Powers of the whole Participation Council: Many matters will be presented to the entire Participation Council, for example all those related to the School Education Plan (when consent of Participation Council is required) or, for example the appointment of the Director of the school (advisory power of the Participation Council).
Powers of the individual sections Participation Council: Some specific matters may only be addressed by a specific section of the Participation Council. For example, only the staff section of the Participation Council may address staff education plans or work and rest periods of the staff. Parents may discuss the school prospectus or the amount of their voluntary contribution. Students have a right to consent to the student statutes or certain provisions for them. However, if a proposal for advice or consent is submitted to a specific section of the Participation Council, the other sections need be informed simultaneously.
If the School Management and the Participation Council disagree: In that case there needs to be an attempt to reach a consensus through discussion and negotiation as a first step. If this fails, the dispute is referred to the National Committee for Disputes or landelijke commissie voor geschillen according to the WMS. This is an independent committee that makes rulings that all parties must follow.
Full details of the Participation in Schools Act can be found (in Dutch) at: http://www.infowms.nl/