Excellent Schools programme

Schools with special qualities and schools that perform exceptionally well in a specific excellence profile may receive the distinction ‘Excellent School’. The Excellent Schools programme is more than just a way to earn special recognition; it also has a very positive effect on the school, the team and the pupils. The Excellent Schools programme’s main objective is to improve the quality of education in the Netherlands.

What are Excellent Schools?

Excellent Schools are schools with special qualities. Alongside the provision of good education, these schools have a specific and unique excellence profile.

Each excellence profile is unique

Schools set themselves apart with their excellence profile, which may consist of an innovative curriculum focusing on technology or citizenship, for example, or a distinctive approach to dealing with students with special educational needs. There are many ways to earn the Excellent School distinction. When registering for the programme, schools indicate the area in which they excel. A school’s excellence profile must meet a number of conditions for the school to be considered for the Excellent School distinction.

Positive energy

Participating in the Excellent Schools programme gives a positive boost to the entire school community. Everyone involved develops a feeling of pride and they learn a lot from their activities and from each other. The Excellent School distinction is a tremendous compliment for the governing body, the school administration, teachers, pupils and parents. It is also a great motivation to continue to work on improving education.

Independent jury assesses excellence profiles

The Excellent Schools programme is an activity of the Inspectorate of Education. Registration opens in the spring for schools in primary, secondary and special needs education. Our first step is to inspect the school’s general educational quality. An independent jury is tasked with assessing the excellence profiles. Schools that meet all conditions receive their Excellent School distinction at the beginning of the next calendar year. The next time the Excellent School distinctions will be conferred will be in January 2018.

Excellence profile

A school must have an excellence profile as a prerequisite for registering for the Excellent Schools programme. An excellence profile may consist of an innovative curriculum focusing on technology or citizenship, for example, or a distinctive approach to dealing with students with special educational needs. There are many ways to earn the Excellent School distinction. 

The jury bases its assessment of excellence profiles on the following:

The school’s excellence profile

Is the school’s excellence profile clear and relevant?

Approach, results, safeguards and evaluation

Has the school taken a thoughtful and thorough approach to its excellence profile?

Development of excellence profile

Does the school have concrete plans to continue the development of its excellence profile?

Acknowledgement of excellence profile

Is the school’s excellence profile recognized and acknowledged, both internally and externally?

Durability of the excellence profile

Is the school’s excellence profile future-proof?

Assessment of educational quality

A school can only excel if it provides good education in general to begin with. The Inspectorate therefore inspects the quality of education prior to the jury’s assessment, making use of information already available to the Inspectorate and information provided by the school based on the inspection frameworks for each sector. If this information is insufficient for the jury to formulate a substantiated recommendation, then the Inspectorate may decide to pay a site visit to the school.