The Netherlands is committed to choice in education and you will find a huge range of options to consider when enrolling your child in school.
Overall, the education system in the Netherlands works very well, but it is very different from most other countries. Furthermore, some of the policies vary per city. That said, schools following particular religious or pedagogic principles have had equal state funding to public schools since 1917.
This includes numerous international schools in the Netherlands of which some are also subsidised. International education is available at both state-funded and private schools throughout the country, and seventeen primary schools have officially implemented bilingual education.
This helpful guide to the education system in the Netherlands, provided by Amity International School Amsterdam, explains everything you need when choosing a suitable school for your child in the Netherlands. It includes the following sections:
Amity International School Amsterdam
Amity International School Amsterdam is a global learning environment located in Amstelveen for students from 3–18 years. An accredited IB school for the Priity provides a broad, thorough education for all ages that combines academic excellence with a variety of opportunities in sports, the arts, and more. See what future Amity could offer your children today.
Education in the Netherlands
Most children start primary school (called basisschool in Dutch) the day after their 4th birthday; whenever that is throughout the year. From their 5th birthday, all children are obliged to go to school (leerplicht).
Primary school has eight grades, group 1 through group 8 (age 12). Afterwards, students transfer to a secondary school. They are obliged to go to school until the end of the school year in which they have turned 16; provided they have obtained a diploma (startkwalificatie). If not, they should continue studying until age 18, either full-time or part-time.
School fees and contributions
Although the education at most Dutch schools is free, they do ask for a small voluntarily parent contribution (ouderbijdrage) with which they pay for extra things like school trips, celebrations (Sinterklaas / Christmas), a dedicated music teacher, or a pupil-run vegetable garden. Some schools base the rate of the contribution on the household income of the parents.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science (OCW) is the Dutch ministry responsible for education, culture, science, research, gender equality, and communications. Apart from a handful of private, fee-paying schools, all schools are funded by this ministry. The ministry sets quality standards, core objectives, attainment targets, and social objectives all schools need to adhere to. However, individual schools fill in the details of the curriculum and budget allocation.
The Dutch school attendance law (leerplichtwet) is very strict. Children are only allowed to miss school because of very specific reasons; for example, an important family celebration or emergency, or if you can prove that your job doesn’t allow you to take time off during the school holidays.
School holidays in the Netherlands
School holidays in the Netherlands, for primary and secondary schools, are set nationally with staggered start/finish times across three regions in order to spread out most of the holiday traffic.
The summer holiday lasts for six weeks. During the school year, there is at least one week of holiday after each period of about six weeks; this is so both pupils and teachers can recharge their batteries. For the exact dates, click here. While the school terms of private and international schools can be different, the school year lasts in total a minimum of 40 weeks.
The Dutch rank highly in many fields of education. In fact, the World Economic Forum has ranked the Netherlands as the third-most educated country in the world. Furthermore, in the renowned global Pisa/OECD rankings for 15-year-olds, the Netherlands is listed as one of the highest in performance. A third of Dutch 25-64 year olds hold a university degree, which is significantly higher than the OECD average of 24%.