This is an important thing not only for you but also for the Netherlands as a country. Proper education determines the future.
We share this opinion at TOSS, but we also know that this is a difficult thing to arrange and choose. In the end you would like the best for your kids and having the best for your kids means that you can focus on your job.
“Onderwijs” is the Dutch word for education. The Dutch have a unique view on education and one of the principle characteristics is their belief that it should be free. Most of the options for education are underwritten by the government and completely funded. However, there are some private schools that charge tuition, as well as certain programs or activities that require an additional fee.
Another unique facet of the Dutch school system is their way of separating students into different streams of education early on. Children are required to attend primary and secondary school and they are well prepared for the direction they will take after graduation. The system tailors the education to the needs and abilities of each student, offering a variety of options.
The Netherlands has various options for the care of young children. There are services provided by different kinds of daycare facilities. This is up to the parents to decide on what is most convenient or attainable for them. There are services starting with infants and ranging up to 5 years old, which is the compulsory school age.
Also known as primary school, or in Dutch “basisschool”, elementary school has eight grades and is for children ages 4 to 12. The grades are called groups (“groepen” in Dutch), group 1 being the beginning and ending at group 8. School is compulsory in the Netherlands starting at age 5, which typically corresponds to group 2, but most children begin in group 1 at age 4. Students are taught basic skills in reading, writing, and math. Generally, they begin learning English by group 7 if not before then. At the end of elementary school students are evaluated and tested so that they can be placed in the appropriate stream of secondary school.
Secondary school is split into 3 different programs and is known as “middelbare school” or the equivalent of high school. The 3 programs are differing educational paths that are determined based on academic achievement and interest. The 3 options are as follows:
There are plenty of options for international school in the Netherlands. These schools are especially designed for international students and their families. The education is either fully or partly in English and the students are prepared to transition into other international schools across foreign borders. Programs such as IGCSE and IB are available, affording internationally recognized diplomas that permit students to apply to universities across the globe. Most of these schools are tailored to expat families, and tuition and fees may be required.
The Netherlands is split into 3 different educational regions and they follow different calendars in each one. This is done purposefully so as to stagger some of the holiday time off. There are 5 main vacation periods for Dutch school children: Autumn break (1 week), Christmas break (2 weeks), Spring break (1 week), May break (1 week) and Summer break (6 weeks). There are additional public holidays that are observed by all schools, and then each school has its own calendar of days it observes or chooses to close. International and private schools may also vary in their vacation calendars. There are options for childcare during the holidays, though these will incur additional expenses.
Dipan Shakimujah – Working for a IT platform
After 2 years of working in the Netherlands my partner and I decided that we would like to live together again and settle in the Netherlands for a definite time. Since our youngest was already 7 years old we needed to find a school that would fit her. After a consult with TOSS we were introduced to 2 schools and we have made a choice already. When they arrive in November my son will be added to a class in our neighborhood that will be on his current level.
Within our network we have a lot of expats who have dealt with the same issues you are experiencing now. A lot of them are willing to be in contact with you and offer you some insight from their experience. Who better to give you advice than someone who has already survived the jungle of schools and education in the Netherlands?
If you are unsure about a school, let us know and perhaps we can introduce you to another family, similar to yours.
Also, if you choose not to enroll your kids in an International school, sometimes the language can be a challenge in the beginning.
We would gladly act as a translator to help you in this.