Open days at secondary schools are sometimes already full: ‘Children of parents who are not highly educated are screwed’ | Amsterdam

NewsIn two months, more than eight thousand backers will submit a preferred list of colleges. But not all children can first sniff around during an open day. Some schools have set a maximum number of visitors and are already full.

A classroom in the Amsterdam Lyceum. The students in year eight will soon have to consider which secondary school they will attend next school year. © EVERT ELZINGA/ANP

There are three subjects that dominate the year for the group afterwards: the Cito test, the school counseling and the high school to which they are drawn. For the latter, they must submit a preferred list between 6 and 16 March. Amsterdam has eighty high schools and children can discover which of all these schools suits them best through open days.

The open days are in January and February, so that the group’s sponsors have enough time to find out about their potential future school. But not all children can taste the atmosphere everywhere. If they or their parents don’t act fast enough, they face a closed door. There are high schools where the open days are already fully booked. Those from De Vinse School in the Center e.g. The six hundred places for the open day on 21 January have been taken. ‘Full’, it says on the school’s website, which has room for three transition classes with a maximum of 24 students each.

“We are a popular school,” says junior school coordinator Rosemerijn Bovens. “Only a small part of the six hundred students are selected by lottery, we took that into account when we organized our open day. And we organize everything in collaboration with our students, who give up a day of their weekend. That is why we chose one day.”

“The most popular schools receive children with the best informed parents,” says Menno van de Koppel, director of the Education Consumer Organization (OCO). “It is not allowed, I find it really unacceptable. We have accepted that in corona times. Now there is no longer any reason to literally exclude children. We have a lottery for a reason: so that all children have equal opportunities. This creates an uneven playing field.”

Via Zoom

At least five schools in the city are full on the open days. This also applies to the physical tours at Xplore Agora in Noord. “Two hundred children come by on a short tour,” says management assistant Rachèl van Rooijen. “We have a waiting list. Maybe we do another day. We also organize an open evening via Zoom. After that, a general presentation about the school is held online; then there are ‘breakout rooms’ where students and parents can chat. Everyone is free to to participate.”

Berlage Lyceum also no longer has space on the open day. Metis Montessori Lyceum in East has room for five thousand people over two days. Full is full and registrations are going fast, let the principal know. Calandlyceum’s reservation system has been unable to register for three days. According to the reservation system, all time slots are fully booked; the school says it’s an IT error that will be “fixed quickly.”

It can also be done differently, as practice shows. At the popular St. Nicolaaslyceum in Zuid everyone is welcome to the open days, without prior registration. The same applies to Barlaeus Gymnasium in the center and Dalton Spinoza Lyceum in the South.

Secondary schools can decide for themselves how many students they can have on their open day. However, the public schools are not satisfied with this freedom, a tour shows.

Bad case

“It’s quite a lot, isn’t it, the lottery and matching,” says Cordula Rooijendijk, director of the 8th Montessori school Zeeburg. “I say to the parents: please visit the schools, only then will you know what the atmosphere is like. It’s very annoying when kids have to hand in a list of schools when some of them haven’t even given them the chance to explore them.”

Like EvaNaijkens, director of the Alan Turingschool, a public school, she points to the inequality created by these ‘exclusive’ open days. “Parents who know how it all works and who have a good command of the language are the first to sign up for the open days. These are more often highly educated parents. The other children are screwed. It’s a bad thing.”

Rooijendijk hopes that schools will realize the consequences and still decide to keep more days open. “I can only hope that everyone strives for a diverse school population, and if they don’t, they should.”

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