Dutch Educational System

The Dutch have a strong, publicly funded, educational system. Some Dutch schools offer English education or an international stream. A range of private international schools are also available.


Elementary school
Between the ages of four to twelve, children attend elementary school (basisschool; literally, “basic school”). This school has eight grades, called groep 1 (group 1) through groep 8. The differences between elementary schools in Holland can be based on religion (like Catholic, Christian or neutral schools) or an educational philosophy like Montessori or Dalton. All schools are monitored by the government. The average amount of students in a class is 28. Semi-private schools tend to have smaller classes. Special Needs is sometimes offered within the schools but on a low frequency. Most schools offer pre- and afterschool care with activities for the children. If you try to enter a local school in one of the cities they might ask you to participate in the language classes first, before you can enter their school. This means that your children are subscribed in the local school but attend the language school for non-Dutch speakers. After approx. 1 year your children can enter the local schools. But remember: not all schools will ask you to do this.

Highschool – Dutch Secondary Education
After attending elementary education, Dutch children (around 12 years old) go directly to high school (voortgezet onderwijs; literally, “continued education”). Informed by the advice of the elementary school and the results of the CITO test, a choice is made for either vmbo, havo, vwo or gymnasium. Like Primary school, some schools are religious and others are secular.

International Education
International education is well established in and around the big cities in Holland. There are both private and state-supported schools. In general, private schools are more expensive but have shorter waiting lists and provide a more tailored education. For more information about Dutch State Supported International Schools: http://www.dutchinternationalschools.nl

Or a list of private international schools: http://www.iamexpat.nl/education/main/international-schools-in-the-netherlands