Are you looking for a school for your children? A Dutch public school might be the answer!

When moving to The Netherlands with children, your first plan might be to send your kids to an international school. International schools offer curriculums that are recognized around the world. They either work with an IB, an American or a British curriculum. If you are planning to move around with your family, we would recommend one of these schools, since learning Dutch doesn’t make much sense (unless you will be moving to Belgium).

But if you are planning to stay for a longer period of time in the Netherlands, then a Dutch public school may be a good choice for your kids. The public schools are of good quality, you kids will learn a new language and, furthermore, it is easier for them to integrate into Dutch society.


A unique feature in the Dutch school system is the choice in the type of education. Among the state-funded schools, there are religious schools and schools that follow a certain philosophic or pedagogic principle, all following the Dutch curriculum.

Local Dutch primary schools are for children aged 4 to 12. After the age of 12, children go to a secondary school, which has different levels (VMBO, Havo, VWO). For a summary, watch a video produced by Nuffic, titled ‘School system in the Netherlands’.

There are many advantages to a Dutch local school. Your kids will learn Dutch and as a parent, you will learn Dutch as well. Your children will get to know Dutch kids and make friends with them, which might be the best way to integrate into Dutch society. But there are more advantages. Most schools are being monitored by the government and most of them are free except for a small parental contribution (between 40-80 euro per year) to cover extracurricular activities. This is of course much cheaper than an international school.

Most children in the Netherlands go to a public school close to their home. Walking or biking to your primary school is normal. This way you can become a real Dutchman by dropping off your kids by bicycle! We can imagine it is scary to leave your child in place if your child doesn’t speak Dutch yet. But the government has made some solutions for this.

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In most cities children age four and five attend a normal Dutch school. At this age, children learn a lot just by playing. From the age of 6 when children start with reading and writing, children follow a Dutch immersion program (language class or Nieuwkomers class) for about a year. After this year they will continue at the Dutch local school. There are immersion classes for primary school and secondary schools. Based on our years of experience we have noticed that the younger the child, the easier it is for them to pick up the Dutch language. Secondary Immersion classes take about 1.5 years and sometimes the child starts secondary school in a lower age group. In a language class, your child is not the only one that doesn’t speak Dutch. From all around the world they are together learning this new strange language!

This article is written by Eline Hausel, founder of Young Expat Services (YES).

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YES can provide the following services:

Educational consultancy (help with everything concerning education).

Assistance in finding the right local or international school.

Dutch lessons for your children

Support in the integration of the family in Dutch society.

If you need to know more about the Dutch Schooling system or just have some questions about what’s best, please feel free to contact this great company and find out what your family need to touch base in The Netherlands.