Schooling from 0 to 18yrs

You can send your kids to Dutch school or International school (English medium). Starting 2014, some Dutch schools also teach few subjects in English and are called Bilingual schools. Most Indians put their kids to Bilingual school or International school (English medium) after they turn 4 years old. But those who are fairly sure that they will stay here for long prefer the Dutch school.
Timelines are as follows (in years) for Bilingual or Dutch school goers:
00 to 02 – no school
02 to 04 – Peuterplaza (partime, 2 or 4 days a week, 1 session a day); a play school
04 to 12 – Primary education, Group 1 to 8. Ends with CITO exam that determines your child’s future!
Based on how your child performs in the CITO, the below education applies:
12 to 18 – School for bright students; called VWO; prepares the child for university education
12 to 17 – School for average students; called HAVO; prepares child for vocational universities
12 to 16 – School for the below average; called VMBO; prepares child for vocational jobs
16 to 18 – Continuation from VMBO only; called MBO
Age 12 onward, in borderline cases, based on child’s performance, it is possible that the child has to switch from one category to the other as they progress thru age.
International school goers:
00 to 02 – no school
02 to 04 – partime, 2 or 4 days a week; 1 session a day; just a play school
04 to 11 – Primary education, Group 1 to 8. Follows International Primary Curriculum
11 to 16 – Secondary education group. Follows International Baccalaureate Curriculum (= to HAVO)
16 to 18 – International Baccalaureate Diploma (= to VWO)
Special schools:
04 onwards – For the few cases where the child is developing much slower/differently there are special schools broadly classified as:
– basic support (where child’s needs are huge) – Kinder expertise centrum or similar
– language oriented (almost all are Dutch schools) – called Kentalis
– very small class group schools called MKD where the aim is try and prepare/push the child to mainstream school.
Schooling for age 2 and 3:
Only playschools are available. Sending kids to playschool is optional, but something that most parents do. You can send your kids to either a Dutch playschool (search for Peuter Plaza) or an international school. International school is expensive. Popular opinion is that, except that your child has a chance of learning English at an earlier age, there is no other advantage. So most parents send their kids to Dutch playschools till the age of 4.
There is no specific start date for playschool. If your child is over 2 years and there is a vacancy in the school you have applied for, you get a call from the school about the vacancy. Make sure you apply for a school when the child turns 1.5 years.
The school will be for 2 or 4 days a week. It will be only for 1 session in a day – either morning or afternoon. Fees for Dutch playschool will be about €60 to €120 per month depending on 2 or 4 days a week. For international school, fees will be in the range of €250 per month. In a batch there will be about 16 kids. It is allowed to take vacation at anytime for these schools
You child leaves this school the day he/she turns 4 years old.
Schooling for age 4 onward:
Tip: To save some tax on the school tution fee, please go thru the Taxes post.
The day the child turns 4, he/she will step into the primary school. The entry class is called ‘foundation group’ till July. From August, it will be called Group 1. When the child is 5 years or very close to 5 in August, he/she will go to Group 2. Then on, Group number will increase by 1 each year.
Schooling is mandatory starting the day the child turns 5. It is not allowed to take vacation outside of the school holidays without a good reason. For the school vacation calendar see
There are different types of schools. Popular ones are International schools and Dutch schools.
International schools: Choose English medium schools. They are few in number and are available only in select cities. It is better to call up to get a feel of the admission possibility and process. The Amsterdam International School is very popular but wait time is over a year. Other schools are also pretty full. Some schools are in Almeer, Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Den Haag, Eindhoven, Tilburg, Breda, Utrecht, Hilversum and Maastricht. The link given below has a better list. Fees depends on the popularity and the location. Usually it is in the range of €4500 to €6500 per year. A few in Amsterdam are even more expensive since they are not aided.
Dutch schools: These are quite a few in number. Govt schools are cheap (in concept, free). Private ones are more expensive. Medium of teaching is Dutch. Everything else is same as International schools.In the initial years of schooling, the standard of teaching is low. Emphasis is to allow the kid to do what he/she likes to do. So families moving to Netherlands with school going kids carry a few Indian text books (maths, science and language) for that class and the next year.Most kids not only go to school, but also to some extra curricular activities. Except for swimming that can start even at age 6 months(!), age 4 onward is considered ideal time to start extracurricular activities.
Bilingual schools: These are very limited in number. Except for this point, they are same as Dutch schools.

A good website for further information is:–31083_9746.html

Disclaimer: This is my best effort and no responsibility will be taken for any inaccuracy

25 thoughts on “Schooling from 0 to 18yrs

  1. Rahul

    Hi Madhu, thanks for all the information in this site. Need one help. I may be working from Netherlands for long term (may be starting next year). I have a 7 year old daughter and need to know the good English schools that she can get admitted to, the relevant cost, admission process etc. I hear that there is a long waiting time to get admitted also. Will appreciate if you can guide me on this.

    1. Neha

      Hi rahul,
      Did you find any schools that have English as medium of teaching?

  2. Raj

    Hello Friends,

    I would be grateful if you can help me out on following points:

    1. schooling option in Utrecht ( girl child will turn 3years next month)
    2. Do the govt. /employer support for the school fees ?
    3. If yes, is this support 100% of fees or else?


    1. Madhu

      Raj, your questions already have pointer or are answered in the blog! You will have to dig thru the links for further details using the pointers.

  3. deeps


    I would like to know if the extracurricular activities like swimming, tennis, violin in international school are charged and roughly how much would it cost. Thank you

    1. Madhu

      Usually not provided by school. Cost outside varies by the activity. Example: football/chess-80/yr. violin – 700/yr, tennis – 35pm etc.

    2. deeps

      After going through all the details mentioned on your website, i just needed your help on the following query:
      1. My daughter is 9. We intend to move to Netherlands in October and she has secured a seat in the Dutch school. The first year will be a transition year after which she will move into the dutch stream and the grade appropriate to her age. My only worry is that she will get roughly 1.5 yr to prepare for the CITO. I wanted to know if you would know how the children of her age cope up in studies in dutch (not having known the language earlier).
      2. In case she finds it difficult to cope up and does not score as much in the CITO test what are the alternatives available? Can she then move to IB school at that point of time?
      3. In case of IB school, how is the transition to dutch university after completing schooling at age 17

  4. Mahesh


    Great info. Thanks for this. I am moving to Netherlands in a couple of months.

    My son is studying 5th class in CBSE school in India. Please advise if there are schools that are close to our Indian education system.

    Also please let me know where do the Indian primary school students go to study in Netherlands?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Madhu

      Are there are schools that are close to our Indian education system? Ans: No.
      The other question is already answered in the blog.

  5. Rakesh

    Great info and very helpful. I’m moving to Utrecht this summer and looking for admission for my daughter who is 10.5 yrs old in Utrecht International School. I was wondering what are the option one have if desired school doesn’t have any vacancies. Due to work commitments, one can not move to schools in other cities. Do you have any suggestions on what Dutch International School Board suggest in these cases.
    Thank you and look forward for a reply.

    1. Madhu

      If no vacancy and work does not allow, she will need to go to Dutch school. No excuses for not sending to school.

  6. Tina kurian

    hai ;
    We r shifting to Eindhoven next year .
    Can anyone suggest government schools available there for my grade 2 son.
    Is it cost free.
    Is it easy for a grade 2 boy to cope up with the new syllabus of govt schools compared to indian CBSE curriculum.
    Please send informations possible

  7. Swamy Haladi

    Hi All, I will be relocating to Amersfoort area in April. My daughter will be completing grade 10 in April this year. Will there be an entrace test to decide her further academics? Appreciate your comments and suggestions

    1. Madhu

      If you are looking at International School, admission is based on age. There is no entrance test as far as I know. If you are looking at Dutch school, not sure how that will be done because there are 3 categories VWO, HAVO etc.

  8. S

    Hi Madhu,

    Nice article, thanks. Do you know if a kid studying here in Dutch school till 13 years old and goes back to India and adopting to Indian schools? She would have studied everything in Dutch and then adapting to english terms is like big pain right. Any insight on this field would be grateful from your or your friends experience.

    1. Madhu

      Even in Dutch mediums, they get lot of exposure to English. I know many Indian kids learning in Dutch medium and very fluent in English and also their mother tongue. Personally I don’t think it would be a problem.

  9. vishal

    Hi Madhu, We are planning to move this summer. kids age 11 and 9 . Planning for international school and then next year may be dutch system. Due to the age to older one , how does the CITO exam prep/selection happens.


    1. Madhu

      International schools do not require CITO score. So no worries there. If you want to switch after an year, note that only few Dutch schools will take 12+yrs old international students without a CITO score. These few schools will rely on the feedback from the previous school. So find such schools in your neighborhood and apply. If you are already in NL, there is specific time period which is usually in Feb that you can apply. Refer school website for this. I am not aware of a way where a child can write CITO being in international school. It would be difficult for the child since the exam is in Dutch.

  10. Kami

    Hi Madhu and Experts,
    My questions are doubts are similar to some of the above ones.
    I will be moving to NL at the end of the year. My daughters will turn 11 and 6 in January.
    I guess by that time she will be applicable for Group 8 in Dutch school. My question is can we get school admission in Dutch school in group 8? We know Dutch language has to be picked up for CITO exam. But, is there other option to get admission to year one of Secondary school. She will be pursing VWO course.
    If she has to go to Immersion School, that I have heard will make her loose one year, is that correct?
    Quite worried about school especially for the Elder one. However she is quite good in maths and science at Class 6 level
    Hope to get some good advise and guidance

    1. Madhu

      I have no idea what ‘Immersion School’ is. If you mean international school, then there is no loss of 1 year. If you decide on the Dutch school, you will have a discussion with them before they take her into the school. During the discussion you can make a decision together.

  11. Samy

    Hi Madhu, it’s really great help and info you have given for those who are new to NL having kids. Almost the questions are similar but I wanted to know particularly onething that my daughter is now 7year old, for next academic year we will be coming to Eindhoven from India. We actually planned to put our child in Dutch school and will she be able to cope up with a new language?
    And what are the things we need to submit to join in Dutch school like Indian school TC.. Please give us some advise and tips.

    1. Madhu

      Children easily cope up. Initial few years you get free assistance from the school and also a speech therapist (logopidi). Additionally if required, private tutors are also available at nominal rates. Get the TC and the phone/email contact details of your daughter’s school in India in case the school here wants to call them for any additional feedback. Ask this question also in FB group to get the latest experience from people who recently moved.

  12. vimaladevi

    Hi Madhu,

    We are planning to move my elder kid , who will be completing 10th(Cambridge) grade in India by next October, and younger one in 5th grade. My question is

    1) Is 11th grade available in Dutch schools with English
    2) If International school , what should we do, how much would be fees in International school?
    3) For the younger kid(10) , will she able to adapt to dutch school?

    1. Madhu

      1. International school is a better option. The last years are critical and studying in a Dutch school requires to learn decent Dutch and would most likely not possible to catch up to the level required in such short time.
      2. About 10k per year. Maybe you can make a deal with your employer to sponsor it given the circumstances.
      3. Yes, many do.
      Note that dependent visa for children expires the day they turn 18yrs. Your elder kid will need to have own study visa by then. But English options are available though it will need some research.


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