Participation Council (MR)
Members of the School Council (MR) at the ISH are:
- Ian Clarke (Primary)
- Emma Nel (Primary)
- Carolien Zanstra (Secondary)
- Rîan Richards (Secondary)
- Marc Price (Primary)
- Abba Ellis (Primary)
- Bas Leenders (Secondary)
- Rebecca Knapp (Secondary)
The MR can be contacted by contacting the members or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the role of the MR?
By law, every school in the Netherlands is linked with a medezeggenschrapsraad (MR). This is a participation council, where elected representatives of staff, students and their parents are consulted by the school management regarding matters concerning the management of the school. As prescribed by law, there are separate MR’s for the Secondary and Primary sections of the school.
The MR holds, according to legislation, two types of rights: the right of advice (adviesrecht) and the right of approval (instemmingsrecht). Matters in which either right can be used are specified within the law.
The essence of the MR (Medezeggenschapsraad) or Participation Council explained
The MR is a council of representatives from three constituent groups:
Students (only in secondary), Staff and Parents.
It is the responsibility of the principal to maintain an effective MR. It is a legal requirement for any Dutch school.
For very important decisions they are required to get the opinion of the parents, students and staff.
This happens via de Medezeggenschapsraad (MR)
There are different kinds of decisions:
The ones about which the MR needs to give advice
The ones about which agreement from the MR is needed
The ones about which management simply needs to inform the MR
The need to give information is most free of the three types but the MR can use that information to form their own opinion and give suggestions for improvement.
In the cases where the MR can give advice, it does not mean that management have to follow that advice, but if they do not, a reason needs to be given.
The most formal influence is in the situations where the MR gives approval before something can be put into action. This is in situations such as establishing the school plan, and changing the types of exams that the school gives
Does the MR also decide about education?
Schools are allowed to make their own decisions regarding curriculum. The laws of “Medezeggenschap” don’t decide the daily run of the school, but when it concerns policy, the MR has an important role. The MR does not choose the way, for example Maths, or other subjects are taught. Neither does the MR have any influence on whether individual students are promoted to the next level.
All the subjects about which the MR does have a voice directly or indirectly can have consequences for the daily run of the school. If a school gives extra attention to students with learning disabilities, then the MR can keep an eye out that it doesn’t have negative effects for the other students. In establishing the school plan and the school guide, the MR is an active partner.
If management proposes that all students should do their homework at school, the teaching day starts to look differently. Mergers, reorganisations, new builds and other big organizational changes always have impact on things that happen in the classroom. The parents and students in the MR in such instances have an important voice.
The influence of the MR
Sometimes it can happen that not all parties within a school agree on the best course of action. Management does not need to follow the advice of the MR in cases that the MR has the legal right advisee.
On the matters on which the MR has approval right, management cannot make a decision unless approval is given. However, it does not usually mean that plans are off the table. It means that a new round of negotiations starts. Medezeggenschap means participation, it does not mean control. It implies that both parties should always be reasonable and have respect for each other’s standpoints. Forcing certain issues is almost impossible but the MR can almost always demand to stay in contact with the management of the school.
Translated from a publication by the Law on Participation Councils.