New in the Netherlands with school-age children

Children in the Netherlands may start primary school from the age of 4 years. School is compulsory for all children aged 5 to 18 years. Your child must go to school even if he/she does not yet have a citizen service number (BSN).

Did you only just arrive in the Netherlands? Read how the school system is organised for your child.

Primary education

Children between the ages of 5 and 12 years can attend a primary school with a special reception class. This is called the instream group. Your child will learn to speak, comprehend, read and write Dutch here. A child usually stays in a reception class for 1 to 1.5 years. After the reception class your child can then stay at the same primary school. But you can also switch a different primary school. The reception class is free of charge. However, the school will ask for a voluntary parental contribution. You can register your child at the school yourself.

Click here for a list of primary schools with a reception class

Secondary education

Children between the ages of 12 and 18 years can attend a school with an international foundation class (internationale schakelklas/ISK). This class is intended for older children who have only just arrived in the Netherlands and speak little to no Dutch. Your child will receive language lessons in an international foundation class. Your child will be in this class for 1 or 2 years. After that he or she can switch to a regular class in a secondary school. The Hague has 4 secondary schools with an international foundation class:

You can register your child at the school yourself.

Has your child attended school in the Netherlands before? Or does your child already speak Dutch? Then you can register your child at The Hague Centre for Educational Advice (HCO) to determine his or her language ability in Dutch. Please contact the Student Affairs department on telephone number (070) 535 54 54. Or send an email to leerlingzaken@denhaag.nl.   

International schools

The Hague has many international schools offering both primary and secondary education. International education is for children who regularly live abroad with their parents. Or for children whose parents are planning to live abroad. You can register your child at the school yourself. International schools have different admission criteria. The fees are also higher.

Changing schools

You are advised to wait until the end of the school year to switch schools. Would you like to change schools during the school year? Then contact your child’s current school. The school will discuss this with the Compulsory School Attendance department at the municipality. If you do not agree with the school’s advice or if you are not able to work with the school, you can contact the Compulsory School Attendance department on telephone number (070) 353 54 54.

Also see Education and childcare

Published: 18 January 2021Modified: 19 January 2021