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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Guidance and counselling in early childhood and school education


12.Educational support and guidance

12.4Guidance and counselling in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023


Academic Guidance

Early childhood education and care

Children aged two to five whose language development lags behind that of their peers can receive extra help through early childhood education and care. Through supervised play they learn to use language and increase their vocabulary.

Primary education

Extra coaching and support is available at school for those pupils who need it. A child who has problems at school can be given more focused attention and guidance by their own teacher. Some schools have remedial teachers for this purpose.

Schools are individually responsible for the progression of pupils to the next year, or to secondary education.

Secondary education

For pupils, the transition from primary to secondary school is often a major step. In order to smooth the way and help pupils to cope, schools often provide special facilities such as study skills training and homework supervision at school. Study skills lessons teach new pupils how to study and organise their time. Mentors also help them to settle in at the new school and to find their way. Homework supervision usually entails doing homework preparation on the school premises, assisted by a teacher.

Individual education plan

If the pupil has special needs and is eligible for a personal budget, the school draws up an individual education plan which sets out the type of assistance the child will receive. The same procedure is followed for children in special education. The plan indicates:

  • the child’s educational level;
  • the child’s educational goals;
  • the means for achieving those goals;
  • how the school plans to use extra teaching hours for the child;
  • which external experts will be engaged by the school;
  • which special measures or facilities will be arranged by the school;
  • how the school will record the child’s progress.

Role of parents/carers

The school involves the parents/carers in drawing up the individual education plan. They are consulted in advance and involved in the decision-making, and the individual education plan is discussed at least once a year with them. The parents/carers must keep to the agreements set out in the individual education plan.


Psychological Counselling

Youth welfare agencies, medical day-nurseries, or the Regional Institute for Outpatient Mental Health Care (RIAGG) provide help if the school is unable to do so. In practice, schools often work together with these institutions and the local authority also plays an important role.

Schools and youth care services are increasingly working together in pupil support advisory teams (ZATs), in which professionals from both fields consult on how best to help pupils with problems. The MBO).

It is often difficult to establish why a pupil has major learning problems or is lagging seriously behind. To identify the cause, a school may request special educational testing by an external expert, such as a psychologist or education expert at a school advisory service or educational advice agency. The school will always obtain the prior consent of the child’s parents/carers. Parents can also arrange independently to have their child tested by the school advisory service, in which case they pay for the service themselves. Educational advice agencies help schools to innovate with a view to improving the education they provide and solving their teaching problems.

When the new system of appropriate education for special needs pupils is introduced on 1 August 2014, consortia that provide appropriate education will be legally obliged to conduct consensus-focused consultations (OOGO) with municipalities. Conversely, under the new Youth Act, which will see responsibility for youth care delegated to the local authorities, municipalities will have a statutory obligation to conduct consensus-focused consultations on their policy plans. In other words, local authorities and educational consortia will have to coordinate closely in order to boost cohesion between schools and youth care providers.


Career guidance

There are no specific regulations or agreements on career guidance in early childhood education and care or primary education.

In the lower years of secondary school, all pupils are taught the same subjects and only later choose a course of study or occupational field. In other words, they do not have to choose between VMBO, HAVO and VWO immediately upon starting secondary school. During this time the school will assess their potential. All pupils also receive career orientation lessons to teach them about different kinds of jobs and the qualifications needed for each type of work. This is a standard part of the curriculum.

At the end of the second year, the school will advise pupils about the type of education that would be most appropriate for them: VMBO, HAVO or VWO. In the case of vocational education, it will usually also indicate which type of vocational education seems most appropriate. It is crucial for both pupils and their parents to be closely involved in these choices.