ACCESS NL > Living in the Netherlands > International schools

International schools

Dutch law strictly enforces compulsory education for all children aged 5 to 18 residing in the Netherlands, regardless of their nationality.

Expatriate parents are faced with educational choices for their children upon moving abroad. International schools can be a good choice for the children of foreign parents who are staying temporarily in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands the majority of international schools are partly subsidised by the Dutch Ministry of Education and are therefore bound by ministry rules; others are privately operated. Publicly funded primary and secondary international schools in the Netherlands are often international departments within regular Dutch primary and secondary schools. The subsidy provided by the Dutch Ministry of Education makes it possible for these schools to offer English language education to the global standard of international schools for a reasonable fee. The Dutch Ministry of Education sets the qualifications for admission to these schools.

Students may be admitted who originate from:

A non-Dutch family staying in the Netherlands for a limited period of time with an expatriate status
An internationally mobile Dutch family, whose children have been largely educated abroad, and for whom an international education would be more advisable to ensure continuity
A Dutch family bound for an international assignment, whose children will be switching from education in Dutch to English. This transition is limited to a period of one year.

In general, private international schools only have English language education, but the French, German and Japanese schools teach their national curricula in their native tongue.

Private schools are generally more expensive than government-funded schools, however these schools are not subjected to the Dutch inspectorate’s quality control checks. Nevertheless, many international schools are linked to various organisations for their curricula and examinations in order to maintain their standards.

Parents should consult a tax consultant regarding tax exemptions and implications concerning school fees. Employers might also compensate parents for school costs.

Primary Education

Primary education is offered from the age of 4 and lasts until the child reaches the age of 11 or 12.

International Departments of Dutch schools use the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP).

Private schools use either one of the international curricula or their respective national curricula (British, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, and American Schools).

Secondary Education

During the first four to five years of secondary education, the public international schools prepare their students for either the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) or the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IBMYP).

IB diploma

The IB diploma is globally recognised as providing the student with a well-balanced pre-university education.

Private schools use either one of the international curricula or their respective national curricula (British, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, and American Schools).

For more information regarding international schools visit the Ministry of Education’s website ; there you will find links to other relevant organisations.

In our ACCESS guide “Your child”, we provide information on Primary and Secondary Education, on Dutch Education Abroad and on International Schools in the Netherlands.