Primary schools

Children typically receive 8 years of primary education starting at the age of 4 or 5 (when it becomes compulsory). A primary school in the Netherlands is usually distinguished by its association with a religious denomination or by the teaching method it follows, or by some combination of these factors.


Most denominational schools are Protestant or Roman Catholic. There are, however, also Islamic, Jewish, Hindu and Humanistic schools. Each school determines the extent to which its religious affiliation influences its teaching and daily school life. Public schools do not have any religious affiliation.

Teaching methods

Most schools use a mainstream teaching method (classical teaching with horizontal group structure). A number of schools, however, follow a specific teaching and learning philosophy. Examples are Dalton, Freinet, Jenaplan, Montessori and Steiner education:


Teaching Method Core values Methods
Dalton Cooperation Responsibility   Children make their own schedule and are responsible for finishing on time. Children are actively stimulated to help each other. Horizontal groups.
Freinet   Curiosity driven Independence Cooperation     Children’s experiences and curiosity form the starting point for education. Work on themes. Often learning outside the classroom. Horizontal groups.  
Jenaplan Room for difference Cooperation Children of different age groups and levels in 1 class. 4 basic activities: speak, play, work and celebrate. Vertical groups.
Montessori Independence Individual development   Children can learn at their own pace. The teacher does not lead, but guides. Vertical groups. 
Steiner Individual development Creativity There is a formal class structure, but the focus is on the development phase of the child. Much attention paid to creative courses. Horizontal groups.


More information

For more information, contact the schools that interest you. Your choice of school might depend in part on where you have chosen to live, or vice versa.

  • You might also find this city of Delft site useful, visit this website.
  • The website ‘IamExpat’ has useful information on different types of primary schools.
  • Click here for more information about Montessori & Dalton education (IamExpat).
  • Click here for more information about Jenaplan & Steiner education (IamExpat).