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In Conversation with Lia Swan-Van Schijndel

Catholic Association Director - General Rotterdam Education (RVKO)

How would you describe your organisation?

The RVKO is one of the largest school boards of the Netherlands for primary education. For over 135 years, it has directed and managed the Association schools for Catholic Education in Rotterdam and the outside municipalities. There are 54 schools for primary education and 3 special primary education, with almost 18,000 children and 1,850 staff members. As General Director, I keep close contact with the schools and the people in the field, in order to offer optimal opportunities to all our students.

How are the schools managed?

Almost every school of the RVKO has a Board of Directors, consisting of a Director and Deputy Director The boards are autonomous as far as possible.

What have been the biggest changes within the Board over the last three years?

There has been much commitment to the well being of the teachers, both in terms of personal development and their welfare. Well-equipped teachers achieve better results and teach with more fun for the classroom. In recent years there has been a worrying trend of reducing intake and increasing exit of male teachers. Many students in our schools come from single-parent families and will only be raised by women. They know virtually no male role models.
For all children, it is good if there is a balanced distribution between male and female teachers.
The RVKO is leading in development and innovation in education. The shortage of male teachers has gone on for too long. We have taken the initiative and facilitated a men's class at the Pabo. Our objective is that each pupil who has been entrusted to our care has a male teacher for at least two years.

What has Management Drives brought about?

Management Drives has shown us the relationship established between individual motivation, team building and organisational growth. The insight that we have been given is remarkable and provided many benefits. Since our first experience, we have deployed the instrument several times with our management teams. We were so excited that we have organised a two-day workshop for all our Board members - entirely dedicated to Management Drives. The focus was on the following topics: How can you, as Director, motivate your team members, encourage learning, and provide support so that the teachers can make a difference for the pupils?
Over the last two years, we used instrument in schools where the communication and cooperation needed attention. We have noticed that Management Drives provided a valuable contribution to increasing unity, uniformity and professionalism within teams. We have trained and certified our own staff to use the instrument for recruitment and selection, mediation and team training in our schools. We also ensure that new male teachers get the appropriate guidance and place within the organisation.

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