Home in Leiden

Croatian, Za vise informacija na hrvatskom jeziku, molimo kontaktirajte Tamaru,

German, Wenn Du weitere Informationen auf Deutsch brauchst, wende Dich bitte an Dorothea,

Danish, For mere information paa Dansk kan De kontakte Heidi.



Czech, Pro více informací v ceském jazyce kontaktujte prosím


French, Pour plus d'informations en français, vous pouvez contacter Claire Caron sur

Polish, Po dodatkowe informacje w jezyku polskim kontakt or

Spanish, Si quieres más información en castellano, no dudes en ponerte en contacto conmigo, Laura

Indian, Please contact Rippy at if you'd like help in Hindi or Punjabi.

Diana Jekina,


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FAQ: Moving to Leiden


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  1. Introduction
  2. The Dutch Education System
  3. Choosing a School
  4. Where to find information about schools?
  5. When does school start and how does it work?
  6. Arriving in Leiden with (slightly) older children
  7. Ouderbijdrage
  8. Secondary school
  9. Home Schooling
  10. SCHOOLS IN THE LEIDEN AREA, by neighbourhood
  11. Special Needs Education in the Netherlands


Arriving in Leiden with (slightly) older children

It can be so hard to move to a new place (especially a new country!) with children who don't speak the language and who are used to a different school system. Try not to worry too much, though. Your children will adjust and thrive. Schools here start at four and are obligatory from the age of five. If you have children around these ages, they'll probably adjust fairly well, though it could take a few months before they begin to pick up the language. Depending on the school, they may be quite used to children starting school with little or no Dutch. This will be particularly true of schools with a high percentage of immigrant families.

If you have (slightly) older children, the City of Leiden has two regular Dutch elementary/primary schools that are setup to receive foreign (non-Dutch speaking) kids, as well as a program for children between the ages of 12-18 coming from abroad. We don't know anything about these schools and can't tell you about the programs in place. You can call the schools and see what they say.

The City of Leiden's website says:

Primary School

Children between the ages of six and 13 years old that come directly from outside the Netherlands or who have been in the Netherlands for under a year can go to school in international classes. These are children that have a limited knowledge of Dutch, but who don't have any sort of learning disabilities.

The time spent in the international class is intended to be temporary. Students are meant to spend no more than two years in a separate program. This program is focused on learning the Dutch language and preparation for taking part in the regular Dutch educational system. After no more than two years, the student has to transfer to the regular stream of a Dutch primary school. 

There are two schools in Leiden with international classes.

Secondary school

  • Students between the ages of 12 and 16 years of age who come directly from outside the Netherlands or who have been in the Netherlands for less than 2 1/2 years can attend special "bridge" or "transition" classes (Brugklassen) for non-native speakers (BAT is the acronym used in Dutch). The goal of these classes is to teach the students Dutch and prepare them to take part in regular Dutch school.
  • For students 16+ who have just come from outside the Netherlands or who have been in the Netherlands for less than 1 1/2 years, there are various options available.
  • For students between 16 and 18, there are so-called BOAT classes (Bovenbouw AndersTaligen [Upper secondary school for non-native speakers). In order to participate in these classes, the student must have come from a country with a school system that allowed the student to have reached the "AVO" level (Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs [General Secondary Education]). After the BOAT classes (1 - 2 years) the students need to continue with  MBO, HAVO-4, VWO-5 or some other form of education.
  • The BAT and BOAT-classes are given in the  Da Vinci College. The cost of the program is the same as for students participating in a normal secondary school program.
  • Students 16 + can, in some situations, also participate in training classes at the ROC (Regionale Opleiding Centrum [Regional Training Center). For instance, if the student has done more than three years of secondary school in the country of origin, s/he would be eligible. The student would also be eligible if s/he is 16+ years of age and has not been to school and/or cannot speak a second language.
  • Information/registration:  Da Vinci College, telephone number: 071-5161233.


For both primary and secondary school, the costs are, in general, the same as the costs for regular primary and secondary schools.

More information see:

Don't necessarily feel obliged to send your children to these schools, however. I know that, for instance, the Jenaplan school "De Kring" (in Oegstgeest) has a special remedial teacher to help non-Dutch native speakers, as they have quite a few. I also know of an international family (American dad, Japanese mom) who moved here and sent their two sons (8 and 10 at the time, I believe) to the Lorentzschool. Neither child spoke any Dutch. The parents did hire a private teacher to help and the school also helped and the kids are now fluent in Dutch and doing well. So . . . all this to say, many elementary schools can and will be flexible and accommodating to non-Dutch speaking families (though, obviously, it's easier to help a 5 or 6 year old than a 10 year old!)

We can't say what school would be best for your children. You can read some of the write-ups from other international parents about various schools in the region to help give you an idea of the school. You can also email us with *specific* questions and we can try to put you in touch with someone who might know. But so much of the decision about schooling really depends on where you want to live (and if you want to bike, walk, or drive your children outside your neighborhood!) and what sort of education would really be the best fit for your child(ren). Also, Leiden has experienced something of a "baby boom" and many schools are full, so it might not be as easy as you would hope to find a spot for them at the school you want. Don't be daunted, though. Places can open up if students in the school are moving away, even schools with long waiting lists for the kindergarten might have spots in the higher grades. You'll certainly find a school for your children and nothing is very far from anything else in the Leiden area.



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