Lorraine Wittenberg – HSV Leaders
2019-12-10 | By HSV International School
The 2019-2020 school year finds Lorraine Wittenberg in an altered yet familiar role as HSV Head of Admissions and Recruitment. Now at a new location at VHS along with Joke Korving, Lorraine enjoys the challenges and opportunities promised by this expanded position.
Experience at the helm of HSV
Lorraine has had many roles while with HSV, enriching her expertise on the international school, staff, students and families. Her HSV story began in 2000 as a class teacher in Year 5. After three years, she became NSL’s location leader, and four years thereafter, location leader for KSS. “I have seen a lot of changes at HSV in my 19 years,” Lorraine reflects. “In 2000, we had 14 classes in 2 locations. When we opened VNS in 2010 to accommodate the families on the long waiting lists, we had approximately 45 children. Now it is our biggest location with two forms of entry and a very diverse international community.”
When HSV continued to grow and expand – now with four locations – it was evident that some changes in staffing needed to be made. “Juggling the demands as the Head of School at KSS while running the admissions and recruitment of staff became very demanding,” Lorraine recalls. “I decided to step aside as location leader and instead focus on my role as the Head of Admissions and Recruitment for the school.”
Unity in diversity
This dedicated function has proved to be an advantageous move on various levels. With her educator knowledge and experience, Lorraine can efficiently determine where a child’s needs would be best met. Furthermore, she now has more contact with the families from all four locations mainly because she is not attached to a single one. This mobility has been especially beneficial for new students, to whom she can provide more support before they start at the school.
Many new families quickly realise that HSV is different from other international schools. “Few international schools in the Netherlands, or even around the world, work closely with the national system,” Lorraine explains. “Whilst not all of our locations have a Dutch department working alongside them, they all have a Dutch feel: the Dutch language around the school, cultural visits to the wealth of museums, theatres and experiences in and around The Hague and the Dutch celebrations we embrace during the year.”
The diversity of HSV’s students is one of the best features of the school, but there are certain conditions to being enrolled here. “The children of HSV come from all over the world, yet there are criteria to be eligible to enter the school which we check on for all families, regardless of nationality.” Lorraine briefly expounds on the requirements: “We are here for those children who cannot access local Dutch education because they are here for the short term – typically two to five years – and will move on to another English-speaking school system when the family relocates again.” Lorraine further states that families planning on staying in the Netherlands long term and/or taking Dutch nationality would benefit more from being in the Dutch education system. “This gives your child a lot more options for secondary education and will allow them to easily access the university system here,” Lorraine clarifies.
For Dutch expats too
Lorraine moves on to the criteria for Dutch students: “Dutch families can enroll their child if they are relocating overseas within two years and will need English-speaking education in the next country of residence. On the other end, Dutch children who are returning from overseas after an assignment with their parents may also need international education. If the child has not been educated in Dutch, it can be difficult to access the regular Dutch system.”
While HSV provides an excellent transitionary option for Dutch families in these situations, families should consider their long-term plans when deciding on their children’s education. Even as HSV is closely integrated into the Dutch national education system, there are some local secondary-school or middelbare scholen requirements, such as CITO exams, that HSV does not facilitate. “This has been problematic for families in the past, so we recommend that children join a local Dutch school upon repatriation to The Netherlands,” Lorraine adds.
Even families interested in bilingual secondary schools (twee talig onderwijs) should know that it is equally essential for their child to have attended a Dutch primary school. Although the first three years are mostly in English, the final years and the final exams (eindtoets) in TTO are in Dutch. Lorraine rationalises, “Realistically, our Host Country Language lessons at HSV’s international department do not teach the academic Dutch needed to access this program. Instead, families with younger children might consider applying at HSV’s Dutch bilingual department at NSL.”
With managing admissions for potentially 720 students, recruiting staff for four locations, supporting Year 6 students in selecting the right secondary school and networking with other schools and organisations are all within the scope of Lorraine’s responsibilities, it comes as no surprise that she keeps very busy days. Nevertheless, Lorraine works with her signature passion and enthusiasm. Lorraine laughs, “I cannot ever imagine working back in the UK!”
HSV is a part of the Haagsche Schoolvereeniging Foundation and their motto is global citizenship and lifelong learning. The HSV International Department (hsvid.nl) and Dutch Primary Education (hsvna.nl) are situated in four locations in The Hague, The Netherlands. For more information, visit their website.