Dutch school system

The Netherlands has a huge variety of schools to choose from. Education is compulsory for children from the age of 5 till the age of 16, but most children start their primary education when they are 4. If a diploma is not obtained after turning 16, school is compulsory until a diploma is obtained or until the age of 18 has been reached.

Schools are publically funded by the government but parents can be asked for a voluntary contribution for extra activities. For primary education this is on average €45 per child per year and for secondary education around €100 per child per year. International schools charge a tuition fee of between €4,000 and €20,000 a year.

The atmosphere at Dutch schools is pretty informal, with less authority given to teachers than in many other countries. For example, it is not unusual for pupils and teachers to call each other by their first names. How teachers and pupils address each other varies per school and even per teacher. This informal atmosphere is also seen in another aspect of school life: children don’t wear school uniforms.

Children have to go to school 5 days a week, but school hours can vary between schools. Primary schools do not have cafeterias, so children have to bring their own lunch to school. 

The structure of the Netherlands' Education System

Source: Center on International Benchmarking

More information

  • Click here for more information about the Dutch school system (Expatica).
  • The video below explains the Dutch education system, from primary education to higher education and research (Nuffic).