My daughter is in group 8 of a Dutch primary school. She is capable of the HAVO or VWO track in secondary school, but her Dutch is insufficient for this level. What options are available?

If your child is capable of HAVO or VWO  but her Dutch level is insufficient, a kopklas can be the solution.This year following group 8 focuses on improving children’s Dutch and enabling them to attend the most appropriate secondary school. Choosing this class requires high motivation by both parents and child, and it is best to discuss this option with your child’s teacher.

How does the Dutch school system work?

Dutch education is , like in many other countries, divided into primary education, secondary education and tertiary education.

Primary education

In the Netherlands, primary school starts with kindergarten at age four. From age five it is compulsory to attend school fulltime. There are hardly any private schools in the Netherlands.  Schools can have a certain religious orientation such as Protestant, Catholic, Islamic, Hindu, any other religion or no religion at all.  In addition, schools can follow a certain educational philosophy such as Montessori, Jenaplan, Dalton or Vrije School (internationally also known as Waldorf).  Children with special educational needs will find offerings more frequently in primary than in secondary schools.

Secondary education

There are four options for secondary school:

  • Practical education (praktijkonderwijs)
  • Preparatory secondary vocational education (voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, VMBO)
  • Senior general secondary education (hoger algemeen vormend onderwijs, HAVO)
  • Pre-university education (voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs, VWO)

Tertiary education

After secondary school there are several options:

  • Medium level professional education (middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, MBO) for those who have finished VMBO. Like VMBO this has four levels.
  • University of Applied Science (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO) for those who have finished HAVO (or MBO at the highest level)
  • Research University (universiteit) for those who have finished VWO ( or first year -called propedeuse – at HBO)

You can read more about how the Dutch education system works on the site of Ute Limacher-Riebold