Education system

When you are considering moving to the Netherlands and bringing your children, you will find a great diversity of schools to choose from. In the Netherlands children attend school from the age of 4 and are legally required to do so from the age of 5. Elementary school, or primary education (basisschool), lasts 8 years. A report and CITO examination from elementary school will advise which type of secondary education best suits your child.

Under Dutch law, education is compulsory until the age of 16 or even partial to the age of 18 until the attainment of a starters' qualification (VMBO, HAVO or VWO degree).

Secondary education (starting from the age of 12) is offered at several levels (VMBO, HAVO, VWO). Senior secondary vocational education and training (MBO) may vary in duration from one to four years.
If you would like to read more about the Dutch educational system, please consult the EP-Nuffic document on the Dutch education system.



The grading system in the Netherlands follows a ten point scale, where 1 is the lowest (very poor) and 10 the highest grade (excellent). The lowest passing grade is 6. With multiple exams a 4 or 5 may be condoned if other grades are compensating. The grades 1-3,9 and 10 are seldom given. For the programme as a whole, an average mark of 8.25 or higher entitles the student to a pass cum laude (with distinction, from secondary school onwards).


10 Outstanding
9 Very good
8 Good
7 More than satisfactory
6 Satisfactory
5 Almost satisfactory
4 Unsatisfactory
3 Very unsatisfactory
2 Poor
1 Very poor


Schools in Leiden and The Hague

In Leiden and The Hague, a great number of schools is available. For more information on primary and secondary schools, visit the website of your municipality.

Useful links and overviews
Schools in Leiden
Schools in The Hague
International Schools

Last Modified: 16-02-2016