Expat education guide
The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, ranks the expat education in the Netherlands as the 9th best in the world as of 2008, being significantly higher than the OECD average. Education is orientated toward the needs and background of the pupil.
In addition to being highly regarded, schools in Amsterdam offer a lot of benefits, and it is important that you know how to take advantage of these. From the start, parents have the opportunity to select which school their child will enter, as a preschooler and in primary school, so this is when your research must begin if you move to the Netherlands early enough for this to be taken into consideration.
Unlike many countries where the school that your child goes to is dependent upon the district or area in which you live in Amsterdam, you can select a school that interests you, and the success of your application will depend on whether or not there is room for your child at the school.
Compulsory education (leerplicht) in the Netherlands starts at the age of five, although in practice, most schools accept children from the age of four. From the age of sixteen there is a partial compulsory education (partiële leerplicht), meaning a pupil must attend some form of education for at least two days a week. Compulsory education ends for pupils age twenty-three and up, or when they get a degree.
One of the main benefits of the expat education system in the Netherlands is the variety of options that are open to parents and students throughout the course of planning an individual’s academic career. In the earlier years of primary and secondary education, there is the possibility to send your child to a specialised school, such as a Montessori school or a school with a religious affiliation.
Although they are officially free of charge, these schools may ask for a parental contribution (ouderbijdrage). Of course, there is also the option of sending your child to a private institution, such as one of the International Schools (see section on International Schools).