Four branches

A report from the primary school will advise which branch best suits the child. Children also undergo a test in group 8 to assess their aptitude. Often this is the CITO-test (CITO-toets). The results of the test and the recommendation, as well as pupils’ and parents’ own preferences, determine the type of curriculum the pupil should follow at secondary school. In this system, the school’s recommendation usually outweighs the test result, unless the test result places the student in a higher curriculum type than the recommendation.

VMBO (preparatory secondary vocational education)

The VMBO (voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs) trains pupils for secondary vocational education (middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, MBO) or, in some cases, to move on to senior general secondary education (hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs, HAVO). A VMBO education takes four years. After two years the pupil chooses the educational direction that best suits them.

There are four different directions varying in their practical and theoretical education balance, alongside general subjects:

  • Basic vocational training (VMBO-B), with 12 hours a week devoted to practical subjects. The pupil can move on from here to MBO levels 1 and 2.

  • Framework training (VMBO-K), with 12 hours a week devoted to practical subjects, aimed at a particular profession. The pupil can move on to MBO levels 3 and 4.

  • Mixed training (VMBO-G), with 4 hours a week devoted to practical subjects and for the rest general subjects. The pupil can move on to MBO levels 3 and 4.

  • Theoretical training (VMBO-T), with only general subjects. The pupil can move on to MBO levels 3 and 4 or to a HAVO education.

Pupils may also choose a sector in which to specialise and, within that sector, a particular department. There are four sectors:

  • Technical, which is sub-divided into construction, graphics, metal, vehicles, electrical, installation, transport and logistics.

  • Agriculture, sub-divided into agriculture and natural surroundings, and food technology.

  • Economics, sub-divided into administration, catering, commercial services, fashion and clothing.

  • Care and welfare, sub-divided into external care, care.

HAVO (senior general secondary education)

A HAVO (hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs) education takes five years and is a preparation for university or a professional education (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO). However, a pupil can also move on to pre-university education (voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs, VWO). At the end of the second year the pupil chooses a ‘profile’- a package including both compulsory and elective subjects. The following profiles are offered:

  • Culture and society

  • Economics and society

  • Nature and health

  • Nature and technology

After the fourth year, the pupil goes through a period called the ‘study-house’ (studiehuis), where independent study is essential. In addition to traditional lessons, the study house offers a broad scope for individual approach.

VWO (pre-university education)

A VWO (voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs) education has different branches, such as atheneum, which may include bilingual education, gymnasium, in which pupils study the two classical languages, Latin and ancient Greek, and technasium, with an extra focus on science and engineering. The VWO takes six years and prepares the pupil for a university education. In the first two years, pupils study the fifteen subjects which form the basic curriculum. All VWO-pupils must study French, German and English up to the end of their third year. At the end of the third year the pupil chooses a ‘profile’ - a package including both compulsory and optional subjects. The following profiles are offered:

  • Culture and society

  • Economics and society

  • Nature and health

  • Nature and technology

After the fourth year, the pupil will be in a period called the ‘study-house’ (studiehuis), where independent study is essential. In addition to traditional lessons, the study house offers a broad scope for individual approach.

Bilingual VWO

A bilingual VWO means that, after the first year of secondary school, about half the subjects are taught in English.

Contacts

Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap) Website: www.minocw.nl