One of the most important decisions for families with children that are relocating to a different country is to choose the right schooling for their children. The decision whether to choose a local or an international school depends mainly on your finances, location, nationality, the age of your children and how long are you likely to stay in the Netherlands. Both choices have their advantages and disadvantages.

Children attending the local schools integrate more into the local society and have a higher chance to learn the local language. While this sense of belonging might be more appreciated by younger children, the teenagers might prefer the educational and social continuity offered by the international schools. The international schools follow internationally recognized curricula and have more experience in dealing with children with different backgrounds. However, the fees for the international schools are often high and with more school-aged children it can be a significant burden for the family budget. It is also necessary to take into consideration how are the children going to commute to school. The local public schools are, on the other hand, free and most probably it is possible to find several of them close to your home.

The Dutch education is on a very high level and offers a variety of approaches to education. Dutch schools encourage students to be open-minded and able to think and learn in creative manner. More and more schools are also offering programs that are partly or fully in English. Every child in the Netherlands must attend school full time from the age of 5 until the age of 16. Most of the children attend already the early education starting at the age of 3. The school term starts in August and ends in June.

The Dutch education system:

  • Primary education (public/private; 8 years)
  • Secondary education –  
    VMBO (pre-vocational secondary education; 4 years)
    HAVO (senior general secondary education; 5 years)
    VWO (pre-university education; 6 years)
  • Tertiary education –      
    MBO (vocational education, company schools)
    HBO (higher professional education, university of applied sciences, college)
    University (research university – bachelor, master & PhD programs)

Whichever option you choose, remember to register your child on time! Many popular schools have long waiting lists.

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