Stefanie de Vries is a bridge officer at Het Zaanplein primary school. This means that she connects the parents of the students and the organizations in the neighborhood. And that also applies to culture.
Stefanie de Vries, bridge officer at Zaanplein: ‘One of the students here at school wanted to do more with drawing. He thought his father wouldn’t be able to afford that. In conversation with him and his father, it turned out that his father did not know that he wanted to draw. The boy really came alive when he could share that with his father.’
‘At such a time, my role is to help parents apply for subsidies, such as the Youth Sports & Culture Fund or the Youth Education Fund. I work with the parents to determine which fund is best suited and contact the cultural providers for suitable offers. I do this via FluXus because they have a broad network.’
‘The boy in my example once did a workshop at FluXus, but he learned nothing new there. He said, “I had to do something fun, but I want to learn to draw better.” It is now my job to work with FluXus to look for something that fits.’
‘It often happens that students no longer come after the first two times. It is important to stay in touch with the art teacher and the parents about this – does the offer not suit the student, or is it something else?’
There are opportunities in introducing parents to sports and culture. Students are already well informed about sports, culture and opportunities, but their parents are often not yet. On CBS De Kleurenpracht they tackle this with the parents’ room. This is a meeting place where cultural activities are also offered, such as Ebru, a Turkish painting style. I hope that we can also create such a place at Zaanplein.’
‘The trip to FluXus cannot be organized well for all families. What seems ideal to me is a cultural map for the neighborhood on which I can easily see what offers are available near the school. I heard that FluXus is working on this. It would help me – and therefore a lot of children – enormously!’
Bridge officers have been working at eight primary schools spread over three neighborhoods in Zaandam since 2019. These are employees who have the special task of strengthening the connection between the school and the parents of the students. A bridge officer works in these neighborhoods to promote the use of the facilities.
The bridge officer ensures connections with organizations in the neighborhood that may be of significance to families, such as the Social Neighborhood Team, youth health care or the youth team, the library, sports halls, the environmental education center, cultural providers or the Municipality of Zaanstad.
The aim of the intervention is pedagogical parenting: to improve contact between parents and the school for the benefit of the children’s development. The bridge officer is there for all parents and children who go to the eight primary schools in the Poelenburg, Pelders-/Hoornseveld and Rosmolenwijk districts in Zaandam. These primary schools are affiliated with three school boards: Zaan Primair, Agora and SIOZ.
The bridge officers have the time and opportunities to contact parents in a more direct and personal manner than through the usual school channels and to convey important information from school to them. If necessary, the bridge officer will help parents in an accessible manner with all kinds of issues. For example, by showing them the way to agencies that offer support.
The tasks of the bridge officer are tailor-made and differ per school, parent or child. It depends on the situation what support the bridge officer can provide. A baseline measurement was carried out at seven of the eight primary schools to map the results of this intervention. Radboud University Nijmegen is looking at the effect.
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