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Primary education in the Netherlands

Education in the Netherlands

Published: 
16 April 2012
Modified: 
21 June 2016

Children in the Netherlands may begin primary education as of their fourth birthday (or appropriate nearest date thereafter), but compulsory education begins on the nearest school day after the child's fifth birthday.

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Starting age

Children in the Netherlands may begin primary education as of their fourth birthday (or appropriate nearest date thereafter), but compulsory education begins on the nearest school day after the child's fifth birthday.

Choosing a school

Dutch state schools follow general educational requirements as laid out by the state (see section below), but are given much leeway in teaching theory and philosophical foundations. It is recommended that you investigate the schools in your area that interest you well before your child reaches school age and place him/her on the waiting list. It is not possible to have your child on more than 1 waiting list.

There are both private and semi-private international primary schools in The Hague area. Semi-private international schools are (partly) funded by the state, so they 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.

Registering your child

Once your child has his/her first birthday, you can register him/her at a Dutch primary school in The Hague. Contact the school of your choice directly. You will need a citizen service number (BSN) for your child. The school will send you a letter with a confirmation of your registration. You can register as of the first birthday until 30 September.

General information

Primary education in the Netherlands comprises general primary education, special primary education and (advanced) special education for children with learning and behavioural difficulties and children with learning disabilities. Primary education is intended for all children aged 4 to approximately 12 years.

The Dutch primary education policy is based on providing children with made-to-measure curricula. Schools are given some freedom to spend their budgets as they see fit, for example on personnel or IT. However, the increased flexibility is paired with assuming responsibility for the results achieved, particularly in standardised testing.

More information:

Published: 
16 April 2012
Modified: 
21 June 2016