Boarding schools in the Netherlands are one of the options if you’re considering private schooling for your children. Here’s what you need to know about their curriculum, activities, application process, and fees.
Around two-thirds of children attend private or independent schools in the Netherlands. One option for both local and expat children is one of the boarding schools in the Netherlands. At boarding schools, pupils live and study together for most of the year and learn both academically and socially.
Expatica explains what to expect at a Dutch boarding school and how to apply for a place.
Differences between standard schools and boarding schools in the Netherlands
Boarding schools in the Netherlands are privately-owned, independent schools. The main difference between boarding schools and other private schools is that boarding schools offer full-time or part-time boarding for students; students can live on campus rather than return home at the end of the school day. Students generally spend term time living at the boarding school and will return home during holiday times. Boarding schools sometimes offer holiday camps, too.
The curriculum in Dutch boarding schools
In terms of what students learn, the boarding school curriculum is generally similar to that taught in private or international schools. Primary age students learn English or Dutch plus mathematics and basic learning skills. Afterward, students advance to sciences, languages, literature, arts, and social sciences at secondary or middle school and beyond.
Some teach in English to students in four stages: primary (ages 4–11), middle school (11–14), upper secondary (14–16) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program (16-19). There is also sometimes an additional one-year IB foundation program for those who need additional support before the full IB program.
After-school activities in boarding schools in the Netherlands
As boarding schools are live-in arrangements, students can try a range of activities beyond academic learning. Boarding schools in the Netherlands offer a variety of sports and cultural activities and excursions designed to broaden the minds of students, equip them with additional skills and help them to build relationships with each other.
Outside school hours and during the weekends, boarding schools offer a broad range of activities from cultural enrichment to team-building sports. This allows boarders to discover their unique talents and interests. For those unable to fit music, theater, or photography into the academic day, an afternoon activity program provides the opportunity to pursue artistic creativity and self-expression. Team sports can include football, volleyball, basketball, and cricket, and access to tennis, golf, ballet, rowing, swimming, and outdoor survival skills such as navigation and map-reading.
What are the benefits of boarding schools in the Netherlands?
Boarding schools in the Netherlands offer an excellent standard of education in an environment. Students can develop social and non-academic skills, be part of a community, and access support to help them reach their full potential.
Boarding staff share meals with students, interact with them daily and ensure their well-being and academic progress. They help students become well-adjusted, independent and culturally aware young adults ready to go out into the world equipped with a strong sense of responsibility.
How to apply for a place at a boarding school in the Netherlands
Application procedures will vary slightly between schools but will usually involve an assessment as well as an interview to discuss things such as requirements, expectations, and ambitions. Parents looking to relocate to the Netherlands can apply for a place for their children from abroad; and schools may be able to assist with the immigration process to study in the Netherlands if required.
Many ask for students to be tested in English or take part in a Skype interview before accepting their application. Ultimately, the admissions process aims to be final within two weeks or less from the file completion date. Some schools offer regular tours during school hours and weekends.
Costs of boarding schools in the Netherlands
Fees for boarding schools in the Netherlands will be more expensive than for other private or international schools as they will include boarding as well as tuition costs. No scholarships are currently available, so applicants must support themselves financially.