Education Primary education

Primary education

Compulsory education in the Netherlands starts at the age of five and continues until the child has reached the age of sixteen. Normally, most children attend school from the age of four and most schools accept children from this age group. One can find a primary school in the Netherlands every six square kilometres.

handcraft lesson

handcraft lesson


School types

There are two kinds of primary schools, namely public and special. The difference between these forms of education is somewhat different from other countries. Public as well as special primary schools are financed by the Dutch government, which makes primary education in the Netherlands always free.

Special primary schools have a base in religion or a certain belief and can work from a Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu or anthroposophic foundation. They have the right to refuse a student if the parents do not endorse the faith or ideology of the school. In addition to these schools, there are also several primary schools that base their educational system on certain didactic methods, like Jenaplan, Montessori or Dalton.

Public schools, on the other hand, are open to all students. These schools have been established by the Dutch government and do not propagate a certain faith or ideology. In the Netherlands, about 33% of all primary education is public and the rest of the schools have a certain special character. Around a third of these non-public schools are catholic and 25% is protestant.

School hours and vacations

Children at primary schools go to school five days a week. School normally starts at 8.30 a.m. and the school day lasts until 3.00 or 3.15 p.m.  There is an hour lunch break around noon and some children go home to have lunch where other children have their lunch at school.
For the determination of school holidays, the Netherlands is divided into three regions: north, central and south. This is to spread the traffic jams during the holidays. The Arnhem-Nijmegen region falls within the southern region.

Educational sector
The following subjects are taught in primary education: Dutch, English (at least in the lasts two years), arithmetic and mathematics, geography, history, biology, civics, political science and religious instruction. Next to these more academic subjects, students receive lessons in music, drawing or crafts and physical education.


Document acties
School holidays

holidays for the school year 2014 - 2015:

Autumn break (herfstvakantie): October 18 till October 26 2014
Christmas (kerstvakantie) : December 20 2014 till January 4 2015
Spring break (voorjaarsvakantie) : February 14 till February 22 2015
May holidays (meivakantie) May 2 till May 10 2015
Summer holiday(zomervakantie): July 18 till August 30 2015
Like any other country the Netherlands too has its own special national days. For an overview on special Dutch holidays click here.