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Learning the secrets of the Netherlands’ success

10 February 2020

Caroline Vink, Senior Advisor at the Netherlands Institute, is supporting our study visit to the country at the start of next month. Here she tells us what delegates will get out of the trip

You’re involved in planning our March study visit to the Netherlands. Why will it be a valuable experience for Scottish delegates?

What I think may be of particular interest from the Scottish perspective is the very high quality of professional standards in the Netherlands, and the decentralisation approach. There is very good practice in the field, but also some problems. We have a great universal system but what can we learn from each other to better connect services?

On the visit we will give delegates a sense of how these issues look at a local level, in Tilburg. We will also visit one of the biggest youth care providers in Amsterdam who will demonstrate how they are transforming their services by being much more embedded in the community and working with parents. Seeing what’s going on and having the chance to discuss and reflect will be very valuable for delegates.

What policy changes should Scotland be making to strengthen child wellbeing based on the Netherlands’ example?

One thing that we feel works well is having research communities that work hand in hand with practice. Involve the people it’s all about – children and families. Creating learning communities works better for implementation than just coming up with new policies!

Are there any approaches to child policy Scotland has led on which you think the Netherlands should emulate?

Two years ago we came to Scotland with a delegation of care providers and people responsible for education. We were inspired by how you can have a common language. We are also interested in looking at Scotland’s approaches to inclusion – we observed a much higher level of inclusion in schools. Sometimes it’s difficult to take on policies from abroad and implement them in an effective way in your own country. In all our enthusiasm we sometimes don’t take enough time for the implementation process. But we have been inspired by mutual learning and I think we can continue.

What are you most looking forward to about the study visit?

Learning things first-hand. The focus is on the practitioners who are in the field, doing the work – that’s where it matters. With a study visit you can come home totally excited for change or realise ‘actually we’re not doing that bad’, and trigger people to think about why they’re doing what they’re doing every day. If that’s what delegates get out of it then it will be a big success.

This is an edited version of an interview published in the February – March edition of Children in Scotland magazine.

About the writer

Caroline Vink is Senior Advisor at the Netherlands Youth Institute

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