The International School Groningen aims to provide a top-quality individualised education through internationally recognised curricula to young people between the age of 11 and 18. The school stimulates academic success, supporting its students to become lifelong learners, building on the skills and qualities of the International Baccalaureate programmes.
Dutch Education System
The Dutch education system is divided into multiple levels and may be quite different from what you are accustomed to from home. The levels start from the early daycare and run through primary education and secondary education, all the way to applied sciences and research universities.
Daycare and Pre-school (kinderopvang en peuterspeelzaal)
It is much easier to find a free spot for your child in nurseries and kindergartens in the Northern Netherlands than in the west. However, English-speaking childcare is not so common, especially in the smaller villages.
All parents in the Netherlands using formal childcare are entitled to a childcare allowance (kinderopvangtoeslag) if they live in a household with children up to age 12 where both partners are engaged in gainful employment or studying.
Playgroups (peuterspeelzaal) are for children aged two to four years. Each child is entitled to attend two mornings per week, with each morning consisting of three hours. Some locations also offer three hours in the afternoon. These six hours per week are subsidized, and the price depends on the parents’ income. The child can attend the playgroup more often than two times a week, but the price for additional days is higher.
Primary schools (basisscholen)
Children may start primary school when they turn four, but school attendance is not mandatory until the child turns five.
Schools are divided into public, special (religious), and neutral schools. They are officially free of charge, but usually the parents are asked for a yearly contribution. There are also a few private schools, but they are not common in the Netherlands.
Public and special schools can be based on specific pedagogical movements, such as Montessori, Jenaplan, Vrije School (Steiner/Waldorf) and Dalton. Primary school has eight grades, called groups (groepen or klassen).
English is officially taught from group 7, but more schools are introducing English as a second language earlier in their curriculum each year.
Your child’s academic progress is checked with regular testing. In the last year (group 8), children take a standardized test called Cito Eindtoets Basisonderwijs (Cito final primary education test), also known as the Citotoets. The test is only available in Dutch and is designed to determine what type of secondary education is best suited for a pupil. Other factors to go into deciding on the most appropriate school level are the pupil’s opinion, the parents’ opinions, and the pupil’s group 8 teacher’s recommendation.
Secondary schools (middelbare scholen)
There are three types of secondary education in the Netherlands:
VMBO (Voorbereidend Middelbaar Beroepsonderwijs)
- pre-vocational secondary education
- lasts 4 years
- qualifies students for MBO tertiary education (see tertiary education)
HAVO (Hoger Algemeen Vormend Onderwijs)
- higher general secondary education
- lasts 5 years
- qualifies students for HBO higher education (see higher education)
VWO (Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs)
- pre-university education
- lasts 6 years
- qualifies students for university
The VWO is divided into Atheneum and Gymnasium. The program each VWO type offers is similar, except that Latin and Greek are compulsory courses in Gymnasium.
In all secondary schools, English language is a part of the compulsory core curriculum.
Here’s a website (in Dutch) for finding and comparing primary and secondary schools in the Netherlands.
MBO (middle-level applied education)
Secondary vocational education prepares students for a wide range of occupations and can take up to 4 years depending on the level. For each MBO course there are two learning pathways: vocational training (BOL) where practical training takes up between 20% and 60% of the course; and block or day release (BBL) where practical training takes up more than 60% of the course. Find out more about higher education in the Netherlands at our page on the topic.
HBO and WO (hoger beroepsonderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderwijs)
Students who graduate from VWO may decide to continue with HBO (hoger beropesonderwijs; applied sciences) even if they are qualified to attend WO (wetenschappelijk onderwijs; research university). HBO which is geared to vocational or applied sciences learning. Find out more about higher education in the Netherlands at our page on the topic.
Dutch diploma legalization for use abroad
Your Dutch diploma is not automatically valid abroad. If you are planning to work or study outside the Netherlands, you may need to have your educational documents (diploma, mark list, etc.) legalized. This should be done by DUO.
You will need to have a DigiD to obtain an extract of your diploma. With the extract and your original diploma, you can go to the DUO Serivce Desk or submit them by registered mail for legalization.For a complete description on this process, please visit this link.
Find the perfect partner for education or language classes
The GSV is a regional primary school with a Bilingual and an International Department. In our Bilingual Department we provide lessons in both English and Dutch, while in our International Department the children are taught in English. The GSV is a private, non-denominational school located in Groningen-South in the neighbourhood Helpman with the International department […]