Finding a school in the Amsterdam Area
There are a wide variety of schools in the Amsterdam Area, no matter if you're looking to enrol your children in an international school or Dutch school. Exploring the variety of international schools in the Amsterdam Area (and beyond) is relatively easy. Typically there is good quality information available in English and the schools host frequent open days. But keep in mind that many of the popular international schools have waiting lists. When you are considering nearby Dutch schools, the availability of information in English varies depending on where you live. Bigger cities like Amsterdam, Haarlem, Amstelveen and Almere typically offer more information online – some of which may be in English. Of course, asking questions in English is rarely a problem. And more and more Dutch schools provide offerings to help integrate international children, including Dutch lessons.
Key search phrases are schoolwijzer (school finder), scholen (schools), onderwijs (education), basisschool (primary school) and middelbare school (secondary school), which you can combine with the name of your city or town. Larger municipalities, such as Amsterdam, operate a dedicated School Finder. But if you're looking at options in smaller municipalities, you may need to rely on Dutch resources, such as the national Scholen op de Kaart (Schools on the Map) website. Here you can choose what type of school you are searching for and enter your location to see a list of nearby schools.
The information below details the steps you can take in the city of Amsterdam to choose a school. The steps needed for your local municipality may be similar but are unlikely to be identical. If you would like to know more about enrolment opportunities, possible waiting lists, or simply the variety of education options for your child(ren), you can contact local schools directly, or your local municipality. You can also download IN Amsterdam's guide to the Dutch education system for more information.
Choosing a school in Amsterdam
To see the primary schools you can choose from, simply visit the School Finder and enter your postcode. For secondary schools, you can search according to your child’s recommended level. There is also information about the Dutch education system, and the rules for enrolling. Please note: the Amsterdam School Finder does not show international schools.
In the Netherlands, children start school as soon as they are four, so when your child is about three you receive an enrolment form. You can choose any primary school in the city, but you have priority at the eight schools closest to your address. When you enter your postcode, the School Finder shows the list of schools in order of distance from your home. And you can click through to find out more information, such as whether a school has a specific religious background or takes a particular educational approach. Then you can attend an open day or make an appointment for a visit.
When it comes to choosing a secondary school, what matters is not the distance from your home but the type of education the primary school recommends for your child, depending on their aptitude and test scores. On the School Finder website, you can fill in the recommendation to see all your child’s school options. Again you can click through for details and find out when the schools hold their open days.