Primary education in the Netherlands

Children in the Netherlands may begin primary education as of their 4th birthday (or appropriate nearest date thereafter), but compulsory education begins on the nearest school day after the child's 5th 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.

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

More information about the registration procedure in The Hague can be found under Registering your child at a primary school.

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:

  • Want to send your child to a Dutch school? The Dutch primary school system operates entirely on free choice and there are no ‘standard’ state-run schools.
  • Scholenwijzer: here you can find listings of all the primary and secondary schools in The Hague and region.
  • Intensive Dutch for foreign children: intensive Dutch classes preparing pupils for the Dutch school system.
  • Ouders & Onderwijs: for parents with school-aged children or phone 0800 5010.
  • Website of the Dutch government: information on Primary Education in the Netherlands in English.

Published: 17 October 2016Modified: 24 July 2020