Secondary education in the Netherlands

Secondary education encompasses schools providing pre-university education (VWO), general secondary education (HAVO), pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO) and practical training (PRO).

Dutch high school students. Photo @
Dutch high school students. Photo @

There are around 700 secondary schools (middelbare scholen) in the Netherlands, both publicly and privately run.

All 4 types of secondary education are for children aged 12 and over and all begin with a period of basic secondary education. Children are usually tracked in their last year of primary school. This is based on a combination of their standardised test score and the school’s recommendation.

A variety of Begin link: international schools in The Hague, end link. offer secondary education (often following from primary). There are also a number of Begin link: Dutch secondary schools with a bilingual stream, end link. , usually taught in English.

In vocational education, courses of study have been adjusted to better suit the labour market. There is an ever-growing demand for MBO (vocational secondary education) and HBO (professional university education) graduates. An important government goal for the coming years is to encourage students to move on to higher secondary school levels and prevent dropouts.

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