Language disadvantage at primary school

Early childhood education is available for pupils in years 1 and 2 of primary school (4- and 5-year-olds) whose language skills lag behind. Older primary school pupils who need to improve their Dutch may attend special bridging classes.

Early childhood education

Pupils in the first two years of primary school receive extra lessons for several hours a week and improve their communication skills in Dutch through guided play.

Bridging classes

In bridging classes, pupils receive intensive language training in small groups throughout the school year. The classes may be held during normal school hours or as part of an extended school day. By the end of the school year, the pupil should have reached the appropriate level.

Children who have not attended early childhood education can also join a bridging class, provided their parents give their consent.

There are three types of bridging class:

  • Full-time
    The pupil spends the bulk of classroom time (at least 880 hours per school year) in the bridging class.
  • Part-time
    The pupil spends at least eight hours a week in the bridging class and the remainder in a regular class.
  • Extended school day
    The pupil attends regular lessons and receives about 2½ hours of extra tuition after school in the bridging class (100 hours per school year).

Top-up class

The top-up class is a type of bridging class for 12-year-olds who leave primary school with language disadvantage. These pupils are selected for an extra year of intensive language training to enable them to get off to a good start at secondary school.

Funding for tackling learning disadvantage at primary school

Primary schools receive targeted funding for each disadvantaged pupil. The extent of the funding is determined by the pupil weighting system for primary education.

Extra funding for schools in disadvantaged areas

Special funding for tackling language disadvantage is given to primary schools in specific neighbourhoods designated by postcode, with a high proportion of low-income and/or benefits-dependent households. Funding amounts to around €1,700 per target pupil.

Extra funding for recent immigrant pupils

The children of newcomers to the Netherlands, such as asylum seekers, often have language difficulties at school. They need effective coaching, for instance through specially designed programmes. Schools with at least four registered pupils in this category can apply for extra funding.