New arrivals in the Netherlands with children of school age have two options for continuing with their education. Firstly, study within the Dutch system (in either public or private schools) or study at an international school which may follow an international curriculum (American or British for example).
The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture & Science (Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap) has comprehensive information in English.
Education is compulsory for all children and consists of either 12 years full-time schooling (age 5 to 17 years) or full-time schooling from age 5 until the end of the school year in which a child attains age 16 followed by a period of part-time compulsory schooling until age 18. This depends on the type of secondary school attended.
Public and private establishments are financed by the government according to the same criteria. Many Dutch children attend private schools at both the primary and secondary level.
Individual schools enjoy a lot of freedom in terms of teaching methods used. However, the subjects to be taught and the attainment targets required are set by the government. There are also rules about the number of teaching periods per year, teacher training and teaching qualifications, the rights of parents and pupils to have a say in school matters, and the planning and reporting obligations of schools.
In the private sector most schools are Roman Catholic or Protestant but other denominations are also catered for. In addition there are also many non-denominational private schools which may be based on specific teaching methods such as Montessori.
There is a strong emphasis on language learning (mainly English) throughout all levels and it is common for some subjects to be taught in a language other than Dutch.
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