International Schools in The Netherlands (2024 Guide)

Sofia Van Dirk

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The Netherlands has long been an attractive destination for expats and international job seekers. While the journey to a new land promises a spectrum of experiences, it also brings unique challenges, especially for those moving with their families.

One major concern is providing quality education to children in a nurturing and globally attuned environment. Fortunately, many international schools in the Netherlands are tailored to meet the diverse needs of the expatriate community.

Key Takeaways:

  • International schools in The Netherlands offer diverse curricula catering to a global student body.
  • These institutions provide myriad benefits, from linguistic proficiency to cultural exposure.
  • Key Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, house several renowned international schools.
  • Choosing the right school involves considering factors like accreditation, ethos, and financial implications.
  • While international schools are beneficial, families should be prepared for challenges like language transitions and cultural adjustments.

Understanding International Schools in the Netherlands: What Are They?

Understanding what international schools truly encompass and how they differentiate from local Dutch institutions is important.

At their core, international schools are educational institutions that cater predominantly to the children of expatriates, international job seekers, and often, local families who desire an international curriculum. They offer a global perspective, aiming to nurture students into well-rounded individuals ready for the challenges of the global stage.

Unlike local Dutch schools, which follow the national curriculum and are primarily conducted in Dutch, international schools often:

  • Teach in English: While many international schools in The Netherlands use English as the primary language of instruction, some also offer bilingual programs or curricula in other languages, reflecting the diverse nature of the student body.
  • Follow Global Curriculums: Instead of the Dutch educational framework, these schools often adopt globally recognized curricula like the International Baccalaureate (IB), British IGCSE, or American AP courses, to name a few.
  • Promote Cultural Exchange: Given their diverse student population, international schools are melting pots of cultures, traditions, and ideas. This fosters cultural awareness and encourages students to appreciate and respect differences.

International schools in The Netherlands serve as bridges. They bridge the gap between the educational standards of an expat’s home country and their new residence, ensuring that the transition is seamless and that students receive an education of the highest caliber, all while being grounded in the values of global citizenship.

Benefits of Enrolling in an International School

international schools in the netherlands

International schools have emerged as the perfect choice for many expatriate families in The Netherlands. But what makes these institutions resonate with global citizens? Let’s delve into the benefits that come with enrolling in an international school.

Language Advantages: Predominantly operating in English, international schools ease the linguistic transition for many expatriates. Students don’t just learn academic content; they absorb and master a global lingua franca, paving the way for future international endeavors. Moreover, most of these schools offer additional language programs, ensuring students are multilingual and versatile communicators.

Globally Recognized Curriculum: One of the standout features of international schools is their adherence to internationally acclaimed curricula. The academic programs are tailored to foster global mobility, whether it’s the International Baccalaureate, the British, or the American curriculum. This means that should families relocate again, students can transition with minimal disruption, and their qualifications are widely acknowledged by universities and institutions worldwide.

Cultural Diversity: International schools are truly cosmopolitan hubs. Within their walls, students from various corners of the world converge, bringing a tapestry of traditions, beliefs, and stories. Such an environment doesn’t just enrich the learning experience; it shapes individuals who are culturally sensitive, tolerant, and equipped to navigate the nuances of a globalized world.

Holistic Development: International schools emphasize a holistic approach to education beyond academics. Through a plethora of extracurricular activities, leadership opportunities, community service programs, and more, students cultivate skills beyond the textbook. They learn teamwork, resilience, empathy, and the value of giving back, crafting well-rounded personalities ready to make impactful contributions.

Supportive Community: The journey of adjusting to a new land can be filled with moments of uncertainty. International schools, with their experienced faculty and staff, understand these intricacies. They offer extensive support systems, from counseling services to parent-teacher associations, ensuring both students and parents feel welcomed, heard, and reassured every step of the way.

Popular International School Curricula Offered in The Netherlands

In The Netherlands, international schools offer a spectrum of globally recognized educational programs tailored to resonate with the diverse community of learners they serve. Here’s a closer look at the prominent curricula you’ll encounter in Dutch international school settings:

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The IB program is a comprehensive educational framework recognized worldwide. Divided into three segments, it caters to students aged 3 to 19.

The three programs are the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), and the Diploma Programme (DP). Each segment is designed to build critical thinking, research skills, and a global perspective.

Renowned for its rigorous standards and holistic approach, the IB diploma is highly esteemed by universities and institutions across the globe.

British Curriculum (IGCSE and A-levels)

Rooted in the educational standards of the UK, this curriculum is widely adopted by international schools across the world.

The General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) caters to students aged 14 to 16, while the Advanced Level (A-level) is designed for students aged 16 to 19. Together, they provide a balanced mix of practical and theoretical knowledge.

With a solid reputation for academic rigor, both IGCSE and A-levels are acclaimed qualifications, facilitating entry into top universities and higher education institutions.

American Curriculum (AP courses)

Reflecting the educational standards of the USA, this curriculum is structured to offer students a comprehensive grounding in diverse subjects.

The curriculum culminates in Advanced Placement (AP) courses during the high school years, which are college-level courses that students can take to earn college credits.

Holding an American high school diploma, especially with AP credits, paves the way for admissions to universities in the USA and worldwide.

Other Curricula

Recognizing the diverse fabric of its international community, some schools in The Netherlands offer other national curricula, including the French Baccalaureate, German Abitur, and more.

These curricula, while tailored to specific nations, uphold high educational standards and are acknowledged globally, especially in their countries of origin.

Choosing the Right International School: Factors to Consider

As you navigate the rich educational landscape of The Netherlands, there are some cardinal factors to weigh in to ensure that the choice you make echoes both the present needs and future ambitions of your family.

Accreditation and Reputation: Trustworthiness is paramount when entrusting an institution with your child’s future. Seek schools that have valid accreditations from recognized international educational bodies. The school’s reputation, built over years of service and feedback from other expat families, can offer invaluable insights.

Location and Accessibility: A school’s location, its proximity to your residence, and ease of commute play a significant role in daily routines. Consider the school’s surroundings, the neighborhood’s safety, and the availability of transportation options.

Size and Teacher-Student Ratio: Every child deserves personalized attention and a conducive learning environment. A school’s size can influence the community feel, while the teacher-student ratio directly impacts the quality of instruction. Opt for institutions that prioritize individual student growth through manageable class sizes.

Extra-curricular Offerings and Facilities: Holistic development extends beyond classrooms. Evaluate the array of extra-curricular activities, clubs, and facilities like libraries, sports arenas, and art rooms. These spaces and programs nurture talents and instill values, leadership, and teamwork.

Tuition Fees and Other Financial Considerations: Quality education is an investment. While determining the best for your child, evaluating the financial implications is prudent. Factor in tuition fees, additional costs like uniforms, trips, and materials, and any potential scholarships or financial aid opportunities.

School’s Ethos and Values: Every institution possesses a unique ethos – the guiding principles, values, and culture that shape its essence. Ensure that the school’s ethos aligns with your family’s values, offering an environment where your child feels respected, nurtured, and inspired.

Feedback from Current Families: Sometimes, the most genuine insights stem from those already immersed in the experience. Engage with current students’ families, attend parent-teacher meetings, or join expat forums to gauge real-time feedback and perspectives.

Related: Student Loans in the Netherlands [Complete 2023 Guide]

Regional Distribution: Key Cities with Noteworthy International Schools

Understanding the geographical distribution of prominent international schools can be instrumental for expatriate families seeking the best for their children. Let’s journey through key Dutch cities that stand out as centers of educational excellence for the international community.


The bustling capital, renowned for its artistic heritage and intricate canal systems, is home to several top-tier international schools. With its cosmopolitan atmosphere and diverse expat community, Amsterdam offers a blend of curricula to cater to its global citizens.


As one of the world’s largest port cities, Rotterdam is a nexus of cultures and businesses. Its international schools mirror this global outlook, offering comprehensive programs tailored to cultivate young minds ready for the global stage.

The Hague

Often dubbed the ‘City of Peace and Justice’, The Hague’s international ambiance is palpable. With numerous embassies and international organizations, the city boasts schools that cater specifically to the diplomatic and international business community, emphasizing multicultural understanding.


Strategically located in the heart of the country, Utrecht is an ancient city with a modern educational ethos. Its international schools are renowned for their holistic approach, blending academics with character development.


The tech and design hub of The Netherlands, Eindhoven, is a city of innovation. Its international schools echo this spirit, emphasizing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and design thinking, preparing students for future challenges.


Maastricht is a blend of cultures, languages, and histories in the southern tip of the country. Its international schools are reflections of this rich tapestry, offering bilingual programs and a deep-seated focus on European heritage.


Up north, the vibrant student city of Groningen provides a dynamic educational environment. Its international institutions, surrounded by universities and research centers, foster an inquiry and intellectual growth atmosphere.

CityNoteworthy Attributes
AmsterdamCosmopolitan atmosphere; diverse curricula options.
RotterdamGlobal outlook; comprehensive academic programs
The HagueSchools catering to diplomatic/international community; multicultural emphasis.
UtrechtModern educational ethos; focus on holistic growth.
EindhovenEmphasis on STEM and design thinking.
MaastrichtBilingual programs; focus on European heritage.
GroningenVibrant student city; atmosphere of inquiry.

Challenges and Things to Watch Out For

While international schools in The Netherlands offer a myriad of advantages, it’s essential to be aware of potential challenges and areas of vigilance. Doing so ensures that your family’s journey is not just enriching but also smooth and well-prepared.

Language Transition. Even in English-speaking international schools, there might be moments when your child encounters linguistic nuances, given the multicultural makeup of such institutions. Engaging in additional language support or tutorials can be a beneficial buffer during the initial phase.

Adjustment Period. The initial months might be marked by a whirlwind of emotions as your child acclimatizes to a new curriculum, peers, and teaching methods. It’s pivotal to maintain open communication, ensuring they have a supportive space to voice their feelings and concerns.

Waiting Lists and Admissions. Some of the most sought-after international schools might have substantial waiting lists. It’s prudent to start the admission process well in advance, keeping in mind application deadlines and necessary documentation.

Cultural Differences. The diverse fabric of international schools is a treasure trove of learning. However, it also means navigating varied cultural etiquettes and sensitivities. Encouraging your child to engage in intercultural activities or workshops can foster understanding and respect.

Financial Implications. Beyond tuition fees, there might be additional costs such as activity fees, field trips, or special programs. It’s essential to have a clear financial roadmap, taking into consideration all potential expenditures.

Future Academic Transitions. If there’s a possibility of another relocation or a specific higher education aspiration, ensure that the chosen curriculum aligns with those future requirements, facilitating a smoother academic transition down the line.

Parental Engagement. While international schools provide a nurturing environment, parental involvement remains invaluable. Engaging with the school community, attending meetings, and participating in school events not only supports your child but also builds a sense of belonging.

Related: New To The Netherlands: Everything You Need To Know (2023)

Additional Resources

Often operating in major cities, these centers are a nexus of information, guidance, and camaraderie. They host workshops, social events, and informational sessions catering specifically to the needs and queries of international families.

Most international schools in The Netherlands boast active PTAs that play an instrumental role in bridging the gap between families and educators. Engaging with the PTA can provide insights, foster connections, and offer opportunities to participate in your child’s academic journey actively.

Embracing the Dutch language and culture can be a rewarding endeavor. Various institutions offer courses tailored for expatriates, focusing on linguistic proficiency and cultural nuances, ensuring a smooth social integration.

Recognizing the emotional and psychological challenges of relocation, many schools and community centers offer counseling services. These services ensure students and parents have a supportive environment to navigate transitional challenges.

Joining clubs or organizations aligned with your nationality or interests can be a wonderful way to find a sense of community. From sports clubs to cultural associations, a spectrum of groups provides networking and social opportunities.

Professional education consultants in The Netherlands offer tailored advice and insights based on comprehensive research for families requiring personalized guidance on school selection, curriculum choices, or future academic pathways.

ABOUT Sofia Van Dirk

Sofia van Dijk is our resident Relocation Expert at Born and raised in the Netherlands, Sofia possesses extensive knowledge of Dutch culture, local customs, and the practicalities of living in this unique country. She studied International Relations at the University of Amsterdam and spent several years working for an international relocation company before joining our team.

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