Many internationals moving to the Netherlands will consider sending their children to international schools. These schools offer internationally-recognised curricula such as International Baccalaureate (IB), American or British programmes. These are good options if your stay in the Netherlands is short-term (unless you plan to move to Belgium).
But if you plan for an extended stay in the Netherlands, then a Dutch public school may be a better option for your children. Dutch public schools offer good quality education and the opportunity to learn Dutch, which will help them to integrate into the Dutch community.
A unique feature of the Dutch school system is the diversity in the types of schools we offer. Among the state-funded schools, there are religious schools and schools that follow a certain philosophic or pedagogic principle within the Dutch curriculum. Children attend primary school ‘basischool’ from age 4 to 12, and from age 12 onwards, secondary school ‘middelbare school’ which offer different streams (VMBO, HAVO, VWO). Watch the video by Nuffic (the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education) to find out more about the Dutch education system.
There are some benefits to attending a Dutch school. Here are just a few:
- Your children will learn Dutch and as their caregiver, you will be exposed to the language too
- Your children will befriend local children, which is a great way to integrate with the local community
- Most schools are free except for a small parental contribution (between 40-80 euro per year)
- Your children can attend a public school in your neighbourhood, which allows them to walk or cycle to school like the locals
It might seem daunting to enrol your child in a foreign language school, but The Hague region has some solutions for this:
- Children from 4 to 7 years will receive extra support in school, especially around the age of 6 when they learn to write in Dutch
- Between the ages of 7 and 12, children can attend special language classes, called ‘schakelklas’ or ‘nieuwkomersklas’. International children attend these classes which last about a year. A list of ‘schakelklas’ can be found on The Hague municipality website
- When your child is 12 years or older, they can go to a school which offers a language class, called ‘Eerste Opvang Anderstaligen’. Depending on age, educational background and abilities, children stay in this class for a year or longer before they switch over to the regular system. In The Hague, there are four schools offering this
Going to a Dutch school has many benefits, but it may not be for everyone. If you need advice that is catered to your situation, please contact Young Expat Services. We will be happy to help you find a suitable school for your child/children.
For more information about education and childcare in the Netherlands, please join our CONNECT event in March. Registration is free.