Issue: Education

This issue contains 4 sections.

Secondary education

There are around 700 secondary schools in the Netherlands, both publicly and privately run. There are four types of secondary education, ranging from pre-university education to practical training. Young people must attend school until the age of 18 or until they have obtained a basic qualification. Schools are putting extra effort into improving children's language and numeracy skills.

Types of secondary education

There are four types of secondary education in the Netherlands:

  • pre-university education (VWO);
  • senior general secondary education (HAVO);
  • pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO);
  • practical training (PRO).

All four types of secondary school cater for children from the age of 12 and begin with a period of basic secondary education (basisvorming).

There are also special schools for secondary education for children with special needs.


Parents should contact their preferred secondary school as soon as possible in order to arrange enrolment. The school will need one of the following documents:

  • an extract from the municipal personal records database (BRP) containing your child's details;
  • a copy of the child's identity card or passport;
  • a copy of an official document from your child's last school confirming he or she is no longer enrolled there.

Schools are allowed to reject an application, for instance when they have no more free places for the coming school year.

Costs of secondary education

Secondary education in the Netherlands is free for pupils under 18.

Books, teaching materials and trips

School books and teaching materials are provided free of charge. Parents must purchase supplementary materials such as school supplies, calculators and dictionaries themselves. Schools may also ask parents to pay a voluntary contribution to cover the cost of school trips and social or cultural activities.