What is the MR?
By law, every school in the Netherlands has a medezeggenschapsraad (MR). This is a participation council, where elected representatives of teachers, students and their parents are consulted by the administration over 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 meets about once per six weeks and the agenda and minutes are published here.
The MR holds, according to legislation, three types of rights. Depending on the issue, the MR has the right to be informed of a decision taken by the administration, to be consulted and provide its advice prior to the decision being taken or to approve or withhold approval of a decision proposed by the administration.
What is the role of the MR?
For important decisions the administration is required to seek the opinion of parents, students (for the Secondary MR) and teachers. This happens via the MR.
Depending on the issue, the MR has the right:
- To be informed of a decision taken by the administration,
- To be consulted and provide its advice prior to the decision being taken or
- To approve or withhold approval of a decision proposed by the administration.
The school provides information and reports on all aspects of school life. The MR members then use that information to inform their opinion and give suggestions for improvement.
In cases where the role of the MR is to give advice to the administration in regards to a decision, the administration can choose whether to follow the advice or not. Should it decide not to do so, it needs to provide reasons.
The MR has most authority in situations where the administration requires the MR’s approval before a decision can be taken. This is in situations such as establishing the school plan and changing the types of exams that the school gives.
Does the MR make decisions about education?
The MR does not decide how a school is run on a daily basis. It does not decide on individual cases, such as the development of individual students or complaints put forward by a parent or guardian. However, it has important approval and advisory rights regarding policy decisions and evaluating proposals from the school.
MR approval is necessary on the following matters (non exhaustive list):
- Changes to the educational objectives of the school;
- Establishing or changing the school plan or the curriculum and examination regulations;
- Establishing or modifying the policy with regard to supporting activities by parents for the benefit of the school and education;
- Establishing or amending rules in the areas of safety, health and welfare policy;
- Establishing or modifying the complaints regulations applicable to the school;
- Transferring the school or a part thereof, respectively merging the school with another school.
MR advice is sought on the following matters (non exhaustive list):
- Adopting the budget for the school;
- Appointing or dismissing school management;
- Establishing or Changing the concrete division of tasks within the school management, as well as establishing or amending the management statute;
- Establishing or changing the policy with regard to the admission and removal of pupils;
- Determining the holiday plans;
- Deciding on new construction or major renovation of the school;
- Establishing or changing the policy regarding the maintenance of the school;
- Entering into cooperation with another institution.
Certain other matters are referred only to the parent or staff section of the MR for its approval. For more information on this issue, please see this Dutch document.