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. They all operate according to their own educational philosophies (some have religious affiliations as well) within state-established parameters and are inspected regularly by the state. Quality is high and choice is ample.


Sadly, however, the system is not set up for foreigners, so some knowledge of Dutch (or a translator) is essential in making your choice. Also of note, transportation is the parents’ responsibility, and the most popular and/or neighbourhood schools can fill up quickly.

  1. Choose your school(s). This is where knowledge of Dutch is recommended. Visit the Scholenwijzer for a listing of schools in The Hague, contact information, and an explanation of each. There are also paper versions of the Scholenwijzer for the primary and secondary schools in The Hague region. You can order them by sending an email to: onderwijsbeleid@denhaag.nl. Please indicate which one you would like to order.
  2. Contact and/or visit the schools on your shortlist. Often you can arrange a tour, meet with the school director or teachers and ask specific operational and educational questions. Bear in mind that at the primary level, English isn’t important (so not for the teachers, either) so the focus is on childhood development in a Dutch environment.
  3. More information about the registration procedure in The Hague can be found under Registering your child at a primary school.
  4. The child starts school on his/her 4th birthday, unless that falls during December or a school holiday, in which case s/he will start the next available school day. Starting at age 4 is elective, but attendance at age 5 is compulsory.

And a few important things to note:

  • Children can start at the peuterspeelzaal.
  • Most schools are dismissed earlier on Wednesdays, and many schools have after-school care affiliations so you need to enquire if you’re interested.
  • The Dutch take truancy very seriously. Phone before school starts if your child is ill and you must request written permission if you need to take your child out of school for any length of time, or you could be fined by the municipality.
  • Primary schools are for children aged 4 to 12, thereafter students are 'tracked' and steered into an appropriate educational direction according to ability and performance.

More information

Published: 17 October 2016Modified: 22 March 2022