Dutch or international school: how to make the right decision

When moving to the Netherlands with children, your first plan might be to send your kids to
an international school. International schools offer curriculums that are recognized around
the world. But you may want to consider a Dutch school. Is this a good option for your family?

It depends on a few factors:

Duration of stay
One of the most important things is to think about whether you’ll be staying in the country for
only a short time or settling in for a longer time. If short-term, it may be easier to go to an
international school, especially if you and your child both speak English. Maybe an international school feels like a soft landing. The language in these schools is English and this might feel more comfortable and recognizable for your child and you as a parent. If you plan to stay in the Netherlands for longer – say, more than three years – a Dutch school may be a good plan.

Local or international community
In Dutch schools, especially in the bigger cities, there will be children of many nationalities in every school, so your child won’t be the only one with a different background. In the long run a Dutch school gives your child the opportunity to learn Dutch and be part of the local Dutch community.

Age of your child
Young children will pick up a new language with relative ease during play. The focus for 4- and 5-year-olds in Dutch schools is learning by playing. At this age it is fairly easy to learn the Dutch language. In most schools, expat children will have to go to a Dutch language immersion class first.
After one year of immersion, children can attend a regular Dutch school and join their peers. Children over the age of 10 might may have to repeat the school year after their immersion class.

Dutch schools are government-funded. Parents pay a voluntary contribution varying from €60- €150 per year, although it is higher for some schools, such as Steiner schools. You may also have to pay extra for “in-between school care”, i.e. staying in school during lunch break.
International schools come with a significantly higher price tag – between €4,500 and €23,000 each year. For international schools on the lower end of the financial spectrum, you’ll need to fulfil certain placement requirements.

Different curriculums
Dutch schools offer a lot of choices. State-funded schools follow different philosophies, religions and pedagogical principals, all within the Dutch
curriculum. Secondary school comes in several levels.
If you opt for international schooling, you don’t need to be an expert in the distinctions between IB, British or American, but your choice may make a difference if you anticipate another international move in the future. Another consideration is whether your child has the academic skills for an IB curriculum or you’d prefer a school where avocational program is also available.

Educational consultancy to help you make the right choice
Every family has a unique combination of budget, ages, native languages and duration of stay in the Netherlands.
Consider what’s right for your family and contact Young Expat Services for personal advice.