By Jet Sichterman

Parent Forum: Finding a school in The HagueDuring our parent forum last Wednesday, educational consultant Annebet van Mameren shared her insights on the Dutch education system and what parents can do to find a suitable school in The Hague. It was an interesting and very informative presentation. While I am Dutch myself, grew up with the system and am working with children and parents, Annebet managed to tell a few things that I did not know yet.

Here are 10 things that caught my attention:

  • The choice for an International school or for a Dutch school is personal. There is no right or wrong, it depends on your preference and the circumstances in your family.
  • There are many different International schools in The Hague. Some are subsidized by the Dutch government and others are private. There are schools that teach in English but also schools that Teach in German, French, and some more languages.
  • The Hague has recently added a new International school: an International Waldorf school. The approach of a Waldorf school is very different from most schools; they work with natural and unfinished materials to foster children’s natural curiosity and creativity. They also have few, if any, workbooks and learn mostly through stories and play.
  • There are also many different Dutch schools. However, by far most of them are subsidized by the government and while the curriculum and approach may differ, the end goals are equal. In all schools, children are supposed to make a central end test like the CITO. Private schools exist in The Netherlands but are very scarce.
  • There are a few bilingual schools in The Netherlands. They are part of a Pilot. Annebet informed us the pilot has been extended so the schools will get extra subsidy for another 3-4 years. However, as all testing at bilingual schools occur in Dutch, Annebet informs that it is mostly a good option for Dutch students who want to or need to learn English than for English speaking children who need to learn Dutch.
  • Other Dutch primary schools are obliged to teach English from group 7 (age 10,11) on. Some schools choose to start earlier. Oftentimes, the schools teach about 1 hour of English per week.
  • Children who are new to the Netherlands and are of school age (or over 6) who will continue their education in the Dutch system often need to attend a newcomer class for a year to learn Dutch. Annebet informs that most times, children do not lose a year by attending this class.
  • If choosing for a Dutch school, it is important to be aware of the school’s priority list. This informs which children will be accepted at the school first. For example, children of staff, children who live close-by or children who already have siblings at the school.
  • If your child has no priority to attend a school and that school is oversubscribed, your child will participate in a lottery. You can now apply for schools from the day of your child’s third birthday.
  • An application to a school is not the same as a registration to the school. When you apply, this does not mean your child will get a placement. The school (or lottery) will decide whether your child is accepted to the school. If that is the case, you will need to send in your registration to the school.

More information can be found here:
New2NL – Annebet van Mameren’s website
Scholenwijzer Den Haag  – Information about choosing schools in The Hague

Our next Parent Forum is on May 15th: An Introduction to Self-Compassion by Marie Hobbs.

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