VWO and HAVO
Pre-university education, or VWO, takes six years and prepares pupils for university. Senior general secondary education, or HAVO, takes five years and prepares pupils for higher professional education (HBO). In the first three years of HAVO and VWO (the lower years) the emphasis is on general knowledge and skills. Specialisation takes place in the upper years (the last three years of VWO, or the last two years of HAVO).
Two types of VWO
There are two types of VWO:
- 'gymnasium' (Latin and Greek are part of the core curriculum);
- 'athenaeum' (Latin and Greek are optional).
Some schools offer both types.
The lower years of HAVO/VWO
The first three years of HAVO/VWO begin with a period of basic secondary education. The core curriculum includes Dutch language, foreign languages, maths, history, science and other subjects. The attainment targets prescribe what skills and knowledge pupils must have attained by the end of the third year.
Schooling in the upper years (the last two years of HAVO, or the last three years of VWO) is divided into a common component, a specialised component and an optional component. The four specialised subject combinations that pupils can choose from are:
- science and technology;
- science and health;
- economics and society;
- culture and society.
Secondary school leaving certificate
Pupils sit national examinations in their final year. VWO pupils sit examinations in nine subjects, HAVO pupils in eight subjects. The exit qualifications for VWO and HAVO describe what level of knowledge and skills pupils are expected to attain.