Children in the Netherlands may begin primary education as of their 4th birthday, or the nearest appropriate date thereafter. Compulsory education begins on the nearest school day after your child's 5th birthday. Primary education spans 8 years, after which children follow secondary education, when they turn 11 or 12.
You will find several foreign schools in The Hague region, both private and semi-private. These operate according to their own educational systems, oftentimes that of their associated country, and are inspected regularly by the state. Semi-private international schools are (partly) funded by the Dutch state. These semi-private schools follow Dutch rules and curriculum and award Dutch or international diplomas, depending on the school. Private international schools generally follow the curriculum and award the diplomas of the country of association.
Is your child between 6 and 12 years old? Then he or she can attend 1 of the 15 Dutch primary schools with a special reception class ('opvangklas'). These are specialised in teaching Dutch as a foreign language. Your child will learn to speak, comprehend, read and write Dutch during their time in a reception class. After the reception class, your child can then stay at the same primary school or switch to another primary school.
Visit the online resource Scholenwijzer (in Dutch) to find out which Dutch primary schools offer reception classes.
Dutch primary school categories
The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science lists 4 different types of primary schools as well as special education:
- Public schools ('openbare basisscholen'): Schools, open to all children, that do not follow a specific educational or religious view.
- Specialised schools ('scholen voor bijzonder onderwijs'): Schools where children are taught from a religious or philosophical point of view.
- Extended schools ('brede scholen'): Schools that work closely with other organizations to provide better education e.g. in sports or music.
- General specialised schools ('algemeen bijzondere scholen'): Schools that teach according to their vision of education and upbringing (not religious). Known examples are Montessori and Dalton Plan schools. Montessori schools teach with the belief that a child should be given possibilities to develop freely and naturally as well as receive personalised education; emphasis is put on children's individuality. At Dalton Plan schools, students work at their own pace, and receive individual help from the teacher when necessary. There is no formal class instruction. Students draw up time-tables and are responsible for finishing the work on their syllabuses or assignments.
Registration procedure in The Hague
When you want to enrol your child at a primary school in The Hague, there are 2 kinds of procedures depending on your child’s birth date. Read more about this on the website of the municipality of The Hague.
Registration procedure in Delft, Rijswijk and Leidschendam-Voorburg
In Delft, Rijswijk and Leidschendam-Voorburg you will have to contact the school directly to register your child. In Leidschendam-Voorburg it is possible to pre-register at a primary school as soon as your child is born. This pre-registration will become an official registration once your child becomes 3.