Selecting an international primary school in the Netherlands
Sanne Schuringa, manager at Florencius International School, has worked at several primary schools in the Netherlands and understands that finding the right school for your child can be difficult. Making the right choice is important. But when you are moving to another country, it is doubly important!
Expats moving to the Netherlands can find choosing a school for their children difficult. The types of schools on offer is diverse and selecting exactly the right school is sometimes challenging, especially when parents are looking for small classes and a high-quality education.
Education in the Netherlands
Moving to the Netherlands is a great adventure. Located in central Europe, the country offers great culture, cities and nature. Expats moving to the Netherlands often find their stays enriching and all in all a great success. In general, the Dutch are welcoming, open and helpful to new arrivals, "fitting in" is therefore relatively easy.
In the Netherlands, children go to primary school from the age of 4 until they are 12 years old. Education is mainly organised by the government and is accessible for all inhabitants. For those families who are looking for an international education for their children, there are two types: private schools and subsidised schools.
Subsidised schools are financially supported by the Dutch government and operate within the framework of the Dutch educational system, whilst private schools are funded by corporate companies or parents themselves.
The quality of international schools is high and, in general, pupils leave school well prepared for secondary school. Waiting lists for (international) schools are not unusual, but some schools guarantee spots for children who sign up.
International primary schools located in the Netherlands offer various curricula, among which the most well-known is the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB-PYP). Both are enquiry-based, thematic, cross-curricular and have a creative approach to learning.
In the IPC program, the effectiveness of education is of great importance. Working with themes enables pupils to make links in their learning. This way, learning targets, like gaining knowledge, skills and understanding, are being facilitated in the most effective way. Children are taught to look beyond borders and acquire an inquisitive attitude. The IB program encourages personal as well as academic skills, challenging pupils to excel at school and in their personal development.
Classes in the Netherlands often have 25 or 30 pupils per teacher. Many schools offer assistance in class for a couple of hours per week. Some international schools understand the need for children to have as much attention as possible, therefore classes are capped.
Selecting a school
Of course, it is up to you to select the best (primary) school for your child. First, there is the choice between a "national" or "international" school, followed by the choice between subsidised and private, then the kind of curriculum (IPC, IB or others) which suits your child best. And finally – within these possibilities – a school itself.