Primary and Secondary Schools in Netherlands

CSG Bogerman

Sneek, Netherlands
We are a school of secundary education of The Netherlands. We are interested in an exchange (1 week) with students in Spain located in Valencia or Barcelona. (ages between15-17). As we are located in Friesland, North of The Netherlands, our students speak also a minority language (Frisian) as well as a high level of English.

Primary and Secondary Schools in Netherlands by City:


About Primary and Secondary Schools in Netherlands

The primary and secondary school education system in Netherlands has been structured in accordance with the provisions laid down by The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The grading scale or meter in Netherlands ranges from 1 (very poor) to 10 (outstanding). Education in Netherlands was ranked as the 9th best (in 2008) in the world by The Program for International Student Assessment, which is conducted by The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Primary and Secondary schooling in Netherlands is largely pupil-centered.  

Primary education in Netherlands is mandatory, and students are initiated into the ‘compulsory’ or leerplicht education at the age of four or five. Partial compulsory education (partiële leerplicht) starts at the age of 16. During primary as well as secondary schooling, students are analyzed by a group of teachers who decide whether the student is fit to continue or should retake the year. However, retaking is uncommon as it thought to have a negative impact on the child’s life.
There are various types of primary and secondary schools in Netherlands, of which the public, special (religious) and general-special (neutral) schools are financed by the Dutch government. Netherlands also has some private schools, but they are uncommon.

Primary Education in Netherlands

Primary education and schools in Netherlands are governed by the Primary Education Act and the Expertise Centers Act. As mentioned, children enroll into primary schools at the age of four or five years. In primary schools, classes are divided according to age groups, and one class may have more than one age group. In some cases, classes may also be divided based on students’ ability. Primary schools focus on offering pupils, not only cognitive and emotional development, but also creativity and social, cultural and physical skills. Teachers in primary schools are qualified to teach all subjects except sensory co-ordination and physical exercises.

Primary education in Netherlands comprises two phases:

•    The first phase consists of students in Groups one to four (consisting of 4 to 8 year olds); they are referred to as juniors. Group 3 onwards, the students are taught how to read, write along with basic mathematics.

•    The second phase comprises Groups five to eight (consisting of 9 to 12 year olds). Students in these groups are referred to as seniors. Most schools teach English in Groups seven and eight, although some start as early as Group four.

At the end of primary education in Netherlands, a student has to take the Cito exam or Cito Eindtoets Basisonderwijs. This aptitude test determines the suitable secondary education type for the student.

Secondary Education in Netherlands

Students start secondary schooling at the age of 12. There are four kinds of secondary education programs.

•    Practical Training: This is mostly applicable in cases where the student’s chances of obtaining a proper qualification are difficult. This type of training prepares the student for a direct entry into the labor market.

•    VMBO or Pre-vocational Secondary Education: This is for students between the ages of 12 and 16. Earlier in 1999, MAVO and VBO were merged to form VMBO. It provides a ground for further training.

•    HAVO or Pre-vocational Secondary Education: Gives general education to students, and trains them for professional education. It spans 5 years, and is for students aged 12 to 17 years. Students who follow HAVO have a core curriculum for 3 years, followed by a second stage, where they choose one subject combination out of four (comprising of a compulsory component and an optional component). Students can also opt for shifting to VWO.

•    VWO or Pre-university Education: Is also carried out in two phases. The first three years form the core curriculum, where students have 15 subjects. In the second stage, i.e. in the fourth year, students need to choose one subject combination out of four (like HAVO).

In addition, ‘Gymnasiums’ provide pre-university study programs. They include subjects like Latin, classical culture and Latin. Some schools impart different types of secondary education while some are narrow based and impart VBO or MAVO.

EU Business School
Bachelors, Masters, MBA's in Spain, Switzerland or Germany for English speaking international students.
CSA Study Abroad
Accredited study abroad programs all over the world for students of all levels.

Share this page: