When moving abroad as an expat, there are a lot of things that are changing in your live. You will get a new job; you are living in a new house in a new country and if you have children, they move with you. This means that you need to arrange a new school or day care. How do you select a new school?
International school or Dutch school?
It all depends on your child. Is he/she comfortable diving in and learning Dutch? But it also depends on your stay. Are you expecting to stay in the Netherlands for a couple of years or do you already know where and when your next destination is?
In the Netherlands we are used to speak English all the time, your child’s teacher will understand your child whether he/she goes to an international school or to a local school.
Different International Schools in and around Amsterdam
If you choose to look for an international school, we have listed below a few schools that can be found in, or near, Amsterdam.
- ISA, The International School of Amsterdam based in Amsterdam
- Optimist International School based in Hoofddorp
- The British School of Amsterdam based in Amsterdam
- Amity International School based in Amstelveen nearby Amsterdam
- American School of The Hague based in Wassenaar nearby The Hague
- Supreme College Nederland based in Castricum
Primary Education in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands there are different types of primary schools. You have schools that are run by an independent foundation that was originally set up by the government. They call them ‘openbare’ schools. Or you can choose for a ‘bijzondere’ (special) school which means that they have their own board and often follow a particular religion or pedagogic principle. Lastly you have the option to choose for a Montessori, Dalton or Jenaplan school. Here they don’t have regular classes where children are following the lessons from their teachers, but they have combined age groups. They learn to make their own plans and schedules and work in groups on projects. Primary schools in the Netherlands have eight grades, from group 1 (4 years) to group 8 (12 years).
Good primary education starts with good teachers and good teaching. In the Netherlands, the government therefore stimulates the quality of teachers and school leaders, for example, with money for training and professionalization. For pupils with a language deficiency there is additional language education and talented pupils receive extra challenging teaching materials at many schools. In the Netherlands we have an inspection of education that assesses all schools on their performance. On this website you can search by school for the results of such an investigation.
Would you like to compare different schools?
Through scholenopdekaart.nl you can compare the different schools. On this site you get insight into the performance and other data of a school. You can search in your neighborhood and you can select if you wish to see schools by religion or by type of education. On this website you also have the ability to see what other parents think of the school and what grade they would give it. This can help you as a parent and as a child in choosing a suitable school.
Secondary school in the Netherlands
At the age of 12 children start secondary school, consisting of three levels of education, depending on the child’s level and interests:
- VMBO (pre-vocational education): four-year stream focused on practical knowledge.
- HAVO (higher general continued education): five-year middle stream. A HAVO diploma provides access to Universities of Applied Sciences (HBO).
- VWO (university preparatory education): six-year stream with a focus on theoretical knowledge, that prepares students to follow a bachelor’s degree (WO) at a Research University.
Higher education in the Netherlands is offered at two types of institutions: universities of applied sciences (hogescholen; HBO), open to graduates of HAVO, VWO, and MBO, and research universities (universiteiten; WO) open only to VWO-graduates and HBO graduates (including HBO propedeuse-graduates). List of universities in the Netherlands and Academic ranks in the Netherlands
Living nearby (international) schools in the Netherlands?
Finding a home nearby your work and your children’s new school can be quite a challenge. We, at Expats Amsterdam, know how to help you find your dreamhouse. We can search a house nearby your new work and the school of your children. Or nearby, for example, a bus or train station so you can travel simple and fast.