Dutch Education Team of 2022


Sander Dol is a well-known name in education. Together with his team from ROC of Amsterdam (ROCvA) he won the election of vocational education Team of the Year 2022. He has been working at the school for an impressive 22 years of which six years as training manager. The ROC has almost 300 vocational courses, at 19 locations in and around Amsterdam. Despite the size of the ROC, it is characterized by a small-scale organization and a lot of attention for the individual student. Something Sander has been committed to all his career.

The Story

How special it is when a teacher can include his own experiences in his work. This is the case for Sander. After a VWO advice, he eventually ended up at vocational education. “I didn’t try so hard,” he says honestly. He found his studies in structural engineering at vocational education boring. That was mainly due to the coaching. Sander: “I was enthusiastic about the courses and enjoyed working with my hands. There was just little inspiration from the teachers.” His friend studied social studies, which appealed to him and that’s how he rolled into the education world.

“It’s a shame,” he says. “Especially in vocational education you have a lot of control and space you can use. In my work I have mainly been busy with levels 1 and 2, because there you can be meaningful. The teachers used to be men who could only be addressed with their last name, that creates distance. The teaching material was pushed through.”

Through his own experience, Sander has a unique view on vocational education. And with his boundless energy and enthusiasm, he quickly gets others on board. In everything he does, the student is key. Innovation in education is important and a necessity  to him. Coloring outside the lines is part of that. For example, he had a large part in the redesign of education at the ROCvA. Three teams – including Sander’s – were allowed to ignore all the rules and start from scratch. The only agreement was that they would stick to the qualification files. This determines what students must know and are able to do at the end of their studies. The pilot had the resounding name: Education Disrupted.

Sander: “We were allowed to make a proposal to disrupt education. The well-known out-of-the-box thinking, but even without the box. I like to find rules and see how we can deal with them in a creative way, which is why I was asked for the pilot.”

It is liberating and satisfying to design education yourself,” Sander says. With a lot of new teaching material, new insights and a renewed focus, the call for even more innovation grew. But in the meantime, sometimes still with the idea of the existence of certain rules. “People still tell me that everything has to be done. But that is often not the case at all. There are not that many rules from the ministry or the Ofsted. There is a lot of room for personal interpretation, in which quality education is of course always paramount.”

The Challenge

Innovation, that is the keyword for Sander’s way of working. How logically is the cooperation with Airoc. “To take freedom to do things a little differently, a lot has to be arranged. Structure is important and that’s what we create with Airoc,” he explains. And structure isn’t actually Sander’s thing. “It’s not my strongest point, so you have to look for someone who is. The tailor made option we want to offer requires that structure. I’ve really learned that’s necessary. And here’s the beauty of Airoc; it fits perfectly with our way of working. Obviously, we also have systems at school, but they do not collaborate. Airoc supports us with what we do,” he explains.

Why chose Airoc?

The first time we learned about Airoc was special. “My neighbor did the Entrepreneur Trade course at the ROC”, Sander starts. “His professional practical training coordinator was very enthusiastic about Airoc. That colleague always knows exactly where gaps are and what can be improved. He considered using Airoc to improve the coaching. In the end, the Ofsted was very enthusiastic about Airoc’s practical module. I followed that whole process and it showed me how much you can do with Airoc. A week later I sat with Martin and Elise.”

How Airoc responded

After a call and a short conversation discussing the wishes and possibilities in detail together, Airoc and Sander soon joined forces.

Airoc can be set up in such a way that it meets the wishes of every organization and company. In the case of the ROCvA, it was decided to start small. Sander: “We started with some small assignments and at a certain moment we added competence trials. Then we expanded the assignments and eventually even a module for practical supervisors where they get tips like: ask the student about the weekend.”

By using the tool step by step, everyone can slowly get used to this new way of working. “This school year, for the first time, all teams have Airoc. We started almost three years ago with one team and have grown further. Last year, a number of colleagues still used paper but that really has to do with being educated. In that respect, Airoc is also doing a fantastic job: they come over for training sessions which can be organized on request and we have made good use of that,” he says.

For the students, the use of Airoc was immediately clear. Sander: “That was never an issue anyway. It’s an app on the mobile phone so that helps a lot. It is very accessible for students.”

Other innovations that Airoc indirectly entails are also special. “At first you had an internship notebook with assignments which are now all incorporated in the app. Incase of a paper version, it takes far too much effort to update or improve the assignments. It’s a matter of replacing the date and printing it out again,” Sander admits. “Now you immediately notice whether an assignment is not going well and you can easily update it. That also challenges people to look at improvements.”

The results

Sander already talked about the inspection department which was very enthusiastic about the use of Airoc with his colleague. Also within his own organization there are nothing but positive sounds. “We understand much faster what is going on at internships, so we can intervene faster. Not only the teachers and supervisors but also the students are very satisfied with this. We always test the satisfaction of the companies we work with. That rate was already high, but has increased. And because we are now involving the companies even more, we expect that this will be even higher,” Sander says with confidence.

At Airoc we look at the people within the organizations. People are always the starting point. Sander and his team are no different. “Student satisfaction is also going up. We are already hearing those sounds. Thanks to the app, they are continuously guided with assignments. The feeling of contact is much greater, we also get that feedback from the teachers. The mentoring teacher is now responding more quickly. There is immediate feedback, instead of afterwards. This way you only make the internship more valuable.”

Sounds interesting? Connect with Martin Zwart or Elise Spaan, or check our website: www.airoc.nl/contact