Special Needs Education for Expat Children
2018-06-07 | By Helen Claus - HSV
How to make sense of what’s available in the Netherlands and make the best choice for your child
TOP 5 TIPS FROM INCLUSION EXPERT, HELEN CLAUS
1) When Should We Start?
Families relocating to The Netherlands with a child with additional needs should start the search for a school as early as possible, as it can take 6 months to find the right place.
2) Can Your Employer Provide Assistance?
Families should also research whether their employer offers disability allowances to help pay for learning support.
3) What Should We Bring?
It is helpful to bring copies of all recent assessments with you, such as school reports, IEPs, therapy updates and a letter of diagnosis from your paediatrician. The Dutch system of eligibility often works on the basis of IQ scores, so a recent psychological report is also a useful document.
4) Do we Go Dutch or International?
Most of the Dutch International Schools (DIS) have a Learning Support team and can offer places to students who are able to follow the mainstream curriculum with some adaptations or modifications. These schools follow an international curriculum in English, with an emphasis on Dutch culture. The school fees are subsidised by the Dutch Ministry of Education, making these schools more affordable for expat families. For students that need a shadow or aide for part of the day, though, there can be considerable extra costs.
Dutch International Schools may have access to resources in the Dutch system but these are often limited and places at these schools may not be offered to children with complex needs.
Private International Schools in the Netherlands are outside the Dutch school system and so accessing or working together with local Dutch resources may be more difficult. Fees, including those for Learning Support, may be higher at these schools.
The Dutch school system, historically, has been a segregated system and children with special needs are often placed in special primary schools (SBO) or special schools (SO). These schools generally offer a high level of expertise and should be seriously considered if you are moving to The Netherlands for an extended period of time.
Lighthouse Special Education is the only English-speaking special school in The Netherlands. The school is linked to the Dutch system. It offers an Early Intervention Programme for children from 2.5 years old and schooling for children aged 5 to 12 who are not able to access the curriculum in mainstream international schools due to their complex needs. In-house therapies are also available. From the start of the new school year, Lighthouse will be situated in the same building as one of the HSV International Primary School location’s, VHS. This means that if a family has a child with additional needs and typically developing child, they can both go to school in the same building.
5) Can We Visit the Schools?
Visiting schools will give you an opportunity to ask more extensive questions than by telephone or through the website. You will get a sense of what the school environment is like, as well as a greater understanding of the school’s philosophy, expertise and available support.
Helen Claus trained as a teacher in Special Education and Primary Education in the UK. She has taught in schools in the UK and The Netherlands and is currently the Interim Director for Lighthouse Special Education in The Hague.
For more information about the school, visit https://lighthousese.nl