The PAINT-PLOS (Planning at School) study examines the effectiveness of a program to support high school students with planning problems.


Many high school students experience problems with planning their homework. These planning problems can lead to stress, fretting, lower grades, school disruption or even school dropout. In the Netherlands, there is no proven effective method to support students in this and the policy regarding planning problems therefore differs greatly between schools. For this reason, the program Plans At School (PLOS) was developed.

PLOS consists of two parts:

1) ‘PLOS-basis’ is a preventive program that can be offered to all students in the first year during the mentor lessons to learn a good basis in planning skills.

2) ‘PLOS-extra’ is an individual program for youth who have not benefited sufficiently from PLOS-basics. We are currently conducting a large randomized controlled trial to examine the effectiveness of PLOS on students in the first year of high school. The goal of this project is to develop an effective program for schools and increase the opportunities for youth with planning problems within mainstream secondary education.

Our goal

Many students within secondary education (VO) experience problems with planning and organizing their homework and school tasks: they forget what homework they need to do, they find it difficult to start homework, they don’t get it done, they forget to bring materials to school, or they have trouble planning ahead for a major assignment or test. These planning problems can lead to stress, arguments with their parents, disruption of class, fretting, low grades, duplication, or even school dropout.

We, researchers at Accare, the University of Amsterdam and KU Leuven, have developed a program aimed at strengthening planning skills in adolescents: Planning At School (PLOS). The program can be offered at school and has been developed in collaboration with teachers, pathway counselors, consultants from a collaborative network and international experts.

In September 2021, a large-scale study into the effectiveness of PLOS was launched. 17 schools are participating in it. In September 2022 we will repeat the study with a number of new schools.

Structure of Plos

PLOS is designed so that it can be offered at the beginning of the school year to the bridge classes of any level within a school. It consists of two components: PLOS-basic consists of 6 mentor lessons (+-40 minutes) for the entire bridge class and PLOS-extra consists of 6 individual meetings (+-40 minutes) with a pathway counsellor or care support worker for students who do not sufficiently benefit from the mentor lessons of PLOS-basic. PLOS is easy to combine with existing programs within your school/schools (such as magister or already present planning methods).

PLOS-basic: the program in the mentor lessons

The mentor program covers various skills such as motivating yourself, organization of materials, using a weekly schedule and a task list, dividing a large task into small steps and setting priorities. During each lesson, a new topic is covered and classroom exercises are done. Students are given homework after each lesson to practice at home with the planning skills they have learned. The program is implemented by the mentor.

Once the mentor lessons (Plos- basic) are completed, a questionnaire is used to determine which mentees have not benefited sufficiently from the support in the mentor lessons. The pupils who, based on this questionnaire, clearly have difficulties with planning and organizing their school work will receive individual additional support in PLOS-extra.

PLOS-extra: The individual, additional support of the care assistant

During PLOS-extra, pupils who have not benefited sufficiently from the mentoring program PLOS-basic are taught planning skills in individual extra support. PLOS-extra is a modular program: in the first meeting the planning problems are identified and goals are set and from the second meeting matching modules are carried out. The result of the carried out modules is a plan to achieve the goals. PLOS-extra has a basis in motivational interviewing to ensure that the learner’s motivation for learning new skills is optimal. PLOS-extra takes place during or after school hours and is conducted by the school’s care support staff (e.g., internal supervisors, pathway counselors, orthopedagogues).

The effectiveness study

The effectiveness study

The second part of effectiveness research will start in September 2022. All participating schools will start the program in the mentoring classes in September 2022. Then the schools will be divided into two groups:

1) schools starting PLOS-extra in January 2023, for selected students.

2) schools that will continue to offer their school’s regular support in January 2023 (these schools may also be able to offer PLOS-extra in September 2023).

At all participating schools, measurements will be taken at several times. During these measurements we will ask parents and students to fill out online questionnaires about the student’s planning skills, homework problems and behavior. These questionnaires will be sent to the parents by email, to be completed via secure internet. Students will complete the questionnaires in class. This will take approximately 10-20 minutes. We will ask the respective mentor to fill out the short checklist about the students. In addition, the grades of the participating students will be requested. The measurements will take place at the following times:

1. In October 2022 (at the beginning of the study)

2. In December 2022

3. In May/June 2023

4. In November/December 2023 , to see what the long-term effects of PLOS .

What does participation in the effectiveness study provide for your school?

  • A nice and well researched program to teach all students to plan within the mentoring classes.
  • A nice and well-researched program to support students with planning problems.
  • A free training course in PLOS-basic and PLOS-extra for mentors and care support staff in your school.
  • Free workbooks, manuals, and lesson-supporting PowerPoint presentations.
  • Participating schools can start using PLOS-basis for use in mentoring classes in September 2022.
  • Participating schools can start PLOS-extra for individual support in September 2022 or September 2023.

What do we ask of your school during your participation in the effectiveness study?

  • Your school will hear which group the school will be placed in, to know if you can also offer PLOS-extra in January of school year 2022-2023.
  • The mentors and caregivers involved in the study are asked to help facilitate the logistics surrounding the study.
  • The research team’s communication to the students’ parents through informational letters and consent forms. Parents and students can then digitally consent to their participation in the study. Facilitating the four measurements (we provide the materials).
  • PLOS-basic is offered by mentors within the mentor classes of the early grades
  • PLOS-extra is offered by the care supporters to the students who emerge from the questionnaire.

When and how can I let you know if my school wants to participate in the study?

If you and your school want to participate in the effectiveness study in September 2021, please let the coordinator of the study know: Kim Wolters (

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kim Wolters (

The researchers:

Prof. Dr. Barbara van den Hoofdakker
Accare Child Study Center
Prof. Dr. Saskia van der Oord
KU Leuven
Dr. Bianca Boyer
University of Amsterdam

Kim Wolters, PhD

Accare Child Study Center

Other projects


In the Paint-T trial, the effectiveness of the components of teacher training was examined by means of a microtrial, and in the follow-up study Paint T trial, the effectiveness of a combined teacher training will be examined.


In PAINT-IPDMA, an individual participant data meta-analysis is being conducted on psychosocial treatments for children and adolescents with ADHD. In the follow-up IPDMA study, the psychosocial treatments for children and adolescents with behavioural problems are investigated.


The aim of PAINT-S is to investigate the efficacy of an intervention to improve the interaction between children with ADHD and their siblings.


The PAINT-C study maps the care for children with ADHD and/or hyperactive behaviour in the Netherlands at municipalities, CJGs/District Teams and schools and investigates what predicts treatment choices in ADHD.


The study PLOS (Planning at School) investigates the effectiveness of a programme to support secondary school students with planning problems. PLOS consists of two parts PLOS-basic and PLOS-extra.


In PAINT-P the effectiveness of the components of parental training for ADHD was studied and in the follow-up studies Paint-POH, Paint-GZ and Paint-Pc the effectiveness of combined parental training in different settings will be studied.