Dutch School System

The Dutch school system

A Dutch public school may be an option for your children if you intend to stay for a longer time in the Netherlands. Dutch public schools offer good quality education and the opportunity to learn Dutch. They can also be a good way to meet other parents in your area. A unique feature of the Dutch school system is the diversity in the types of schools on offer. Among the state-funded schools, there are religious schools and schools that follow certain educational styles within the Dutch curriculum.

It is important to note that the Dutch education system is based on several stages and streams. Education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16. It is split between pre-school (ages 2.5 to 4), elementary school (ages 4 to 12), and then a streamed high-school system (ages 12 to 16, 17 or 18). Watch the video by Nuffic (the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education) to find out more about the Dutch education system.

The streamed high-school system is separated into VMBO (technical, up to age 16), HAVO (advanced technical, up to age 17), and VWO (academic, up to age 18) classifications. At the end of VMBO education, most teenagers attend a vocational college (MBO). At the end of HAVO education, most teenagers attend a Hogeschool. At the end of VWO education, most teenagers go on to a University. It is important to note that a high-achiever in the VMBO stream may move into the HAVO stream, then the VWO stream and then onto a University.

Compulsory Education and local government school administration

The Compulsory Education Act Leerplicht requires all children between the ages of 5 and 16 residing in the Netherlands to attend school. Home schooling is only allowed in very special cases in the Netherlands.

Student Affairs Department ‘Leerlingzaken’ The Hague
Tel: +31 (0) 70 3535454
Email: leerlingzaken@denhaag.nl

Equivalence with other education systems

The Dutch association of international schools has made a handy diagram, so you can see how the designated grade at Dutch International Schools compares to grade levels in other educational systems. For further details you can contact the Dutch International School of your choice.

You may also be interested in International Schools in The Hague region, or information on day-care and childcare.