Dutch Educational System

Greijdanus college is a Christian public secondary comprehensive school with establishments in Zwolle, Meppel, Hardenberg and Enschede: all in the province Overijssel and Drenthe, towards the north eastern part of The Netherlands.

Public schools
The vast majority of secondary education is in public schools. Private schools are only visited by a very small elite. Public schools however my have a special character. Schools with a specific educational philosophy or religious identity are still funded by the government. Inspection monitors and evaluates the quality of all schools. Homeschooling is not an option in the Netherlands.

School age
School is compulsory between the ages of 4 and 16. In the Netherlands, you enter the secondary school system at around age 12. Primary school is compulsory as of the age of 4 and lasts eight years, of which the first two are elementary school.

Secondary education
In the Netherlands, students follow an educational stream based on their level, a system that aims to prepare young people for their future educational and career path.
Towards the end of primary school the level is discussed between primary school teachers and parents. Results of a nationwide testing system are hereby taken into account. There is a possibility to move up towards the higher levels. The requirements for this may vary from one school to another.

General secondary schools are divided up into broadly three levels, some of which are then subdivided.
1. Preparatory academic education (vwo)
2. Higher general continued education (havo)
3. Preparatory vocational education (vmbo), which is subdivided into
a. theoretical path (vmbo-tl)
b. middle-management-orientated learning path (vmbo-kader)
c. a mixed path of the two above (vmbo-gl)
d. basic vocational-oriented path (vmbo-bb).
e. practical vocational training (pro).


Educational path after secondary school
A diplomas are a prerequisite for a continuation of the schooling:

Vwo takes six years and prepares for university: Whoever graduates with a vwo diploma, is admitted to university. However, for certain studies a number of criteria must be met. Generally, technical studies require a foundation in technical subjects and studies such as medicine and psychology use a quota and are sometimes competitive in their admission of students.

Havo takes five years and prepares for higher professional training (hbo). Hbo’s are studies such as physiotherapy, teaching, management etc. Hbo is focused more on concrete jobs than on the academic world. However, certain academic skills are required. Hbo is generally terminated by a bachelor degree. There is a possibility to obtain a master’s degree afterwards, but for an academic master a pre-master in which academic skills are obtained is often required.

Vmbo takes four years and prepares for vocational training (mbo) at several levels (1-4). Jobs that are trained for include construction, social work and care work. Depending on the exact level and the nature of the job, the jobs that mbo studies prepare for can be either more theoretical or more practical.