secondary education

Secondary education

Quicklinks

After group 8, the final year of primary school, pupils leave primary school for secondary school (middelbare school) and secondary education (voortgezet onderwijs). The assessment of the teachers at primary school, as well as a standardized test score (CITO), will lead to a school recommending 1 out of 4 levels in secondary education:

  • Practical education (praktijkonderwijs)
  • Pre-vocational secondary education (vmbo)
  • Senior general secondary education (havo)
  • Pre-university education (vwo)

Pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO)

Pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO) is a 4-year programme offering theoretical and practical courses. Pupils in years 1 and 2 follow a general curriculum. At the end of the second year, pupils choose an occupational sector with a view to further vocational education and training, and their future jobs.

For pupils who have the ability to learn a trade but for whom VMBO (see below) would be too difficult, there is practical education (praktijkonderwijs).

Senior general secondary education (HAVO)

Senior general secondary education (HAVO) prepares pupils for higher professional education (HBO) in 5 years’ time. In the lower years (i.e. years 1, 2 and 3), all HAVO follow a general curriculum. The following subjects are compulsory for all pupils in the upper years (years 4 and 5):

  • Dutch
  • English
  • physical education
  • culture & the arts
  • social studies

Pupils also choose one of 4 subject combinations on which they focus during their studies:

  • science and technology
  • science and health
  • economics and society
  • culture and society

Pre-university education (VWO)

Pre-university education (VWO) prepares pupils for university studies in 6 years’ time. In the lower years (i.e. years 1, 2 and 3), all VWO pupils follow a general curriculum. The following subjects are compulsory for all pupils in the upper years (years 4, 5 and 6):

  • Dutch
  • English
  • physical education
  • culture & the arts
  • social studies
  • mathematics
  • a second foreign language

Pupils also choose one of 4 subject combinations on which they focus during their studies:

  • science and technology
  • science and health
  • economics and society
  • culture and society

Registration procedure

Before the Christmas break of the last year of primary school, you will be sent a registration form (BOVO-aanmeldformulier) by the school with the recommended educational level for your child.

You may then make a list of approximately 5 favourite secondary schools, which you can list on the registration form. The form can be handed in at your first choice (an appointment with the school might be needed). After a few months, you will get to hear on which school your child is enlisted.

Some schools get more applications than there are places. These schools work with a maximum number of places. In The Hague, Rijswijk and Leidschendam-Voorburg (BOVO Haaglanden) schools may give priority to children:

  • who already have a brother or sister at the school.
  • who go to a particular preschool which works closely with the primary school.
  • whose parent works at the school.

If you want to register at a school, the school will need the data on your child’s identity document data (including a BSN number).

The registration procedure for international secondary schools may differ per school. If you are interested in having your children attend an international school, please contact the school directly for more information.

Bilingual secondary schools

Several Dutch secondary schools in The Hague region will offer a bilingual stream for your child. This is called ‘Tweetaling Onderwijs’ (TTO, known as bilingual education) where a number of subjects are taught in English. This often includes history, geography, math, physics, biology, chemistry, economics, IT, arts, music, physical education and the mentor class are taught in English. Also, students are offered a large choice of international activities, such as exchange programs with schools abroad.

Through this teaching method, English quickly becomes a natural second language for Dutch students. Meanwhile, international students will have the benefit of learning the Dutch language in an accessible environment. Please note that final exams will be in Dutch for all students. This form of education spans the complete 6 years at the VWO level. Bilingual students also have the opportunity to get the internationally recognised International Baccalaureate English A2 Certificate. A successful result qualifies students to enrol at English-speaking universities.

Here is a list of bilingual secondary schools in The Hague region:

The Hague

Delft

Leidschendam-Voorburg

International foundation class

Is your child between the ages of 12 and 18 years old? Then he or she can attend a secondary school with an internationale schakelklas. This class is meant for older children who have only just arrived in the Netherlands and speak little to no Dutch. Your child will get a great deal of extra language lessons in the international foundation class. Following the international foundation class your child can switch to a regular class at a secondary school.

Here is a list of schools with an international foundation class in The Hague region:

The Hague

Delft