ACCESS NL > Education in the Netherlands > International Education > I am planning to stay here for a long time. Should I send my children to a Dutch or an international school?

International Education

I am planning to stay here for a long time. Should I send my children to a Dutch or an international school?

If you are planning to stay here for a long time, a Dutch school could be an option, depending on the age of your children. If your children have previously attended a school in another country and are used to lessons in English, or if you anticipate that your children will return to another country’s educational system in the future, it might be in the best interests of your children to go to an international school or one of the privately-run schools for expats here in the Netherlands.

However, if your child is at the beginning of primary school, a Dutch school might be an option. Some of them offer special courses to learn Dutch for newly-arrived foreign children ages 6-11 at the opvangscholen (reception schools). These are ordinary basisscholen (primary schools) with a special class for learning Dutch: the reception group. Every week they are taught to speak, comprehend, read and write Dutch by someone who is experienced in teaching foreign children. When children are not attending lessons in the special reception group, they attend regular classes at the school for subjects such as math, history, science, arts and crafts, etc.

Children from 12 years of age are usually required to attend Internationale Schakelklas – ISK (bridging schools). Children will usually be assessed for their linguistic skills in the Dutch language before they are allowed to enrol in an ISK school. Depending on their age and ability in mastering the Dutch language, children will typically spend between 1.5 to 2 years attending an ISK school before transferring to the mainstream Dutch educational system. Check with your municipality for schools in your area.

The following website from The Hague municipality will provide you with a good insight into Education and childcare: www.denhaag.nl/en/in-the-city/education-and-childcare.htm. We also suggest you to visit the following government website: www.government.nl/topics/themes/education.

If I send my children to an international school, what kind of diploma will they have when they have finished secondary school?