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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  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


Choosing a School

So do Dutch parents spend months agonising over where their child should go to school? Hardly at
all, it seems; the child will go to the nearest school which caters for their particular belief. This means
that schools generally mirror the local area, with all the advantages or disadvantages which that may
confer. The concept of signing one's child down at birth for primary school A on the other side of town
because it is just so much better than primary school B in our street hasn't (yet?) really taken off here,
and with few exceptions you are likely to get your child into any school you want. That being said,
when Alice (a contributor to this section) was looking at schools in early 2006, the ELS had a waiting
list as long as your arm, as did the Haanstra school, but they were the only two. The ELS no longer has a waiting list. The Haanstra does, as far as I know, and so does the St. Joseph School. There could very well be others in the Leiden area with waiting lists, so feel free to email with
any up-to-date information on waiting lists you might have.

Although Dutch parents may not spend much time agonizing about schools, the situation tends to more fraught for international parents. Of course, the best way to find out about a school is to talk to other parents and to visit schools yourself, get a feel for them, and ask questions that are important to you.

Some sample questions you might want to think about asking schools:

  • How big are the classes?
  • How are the classes structured? (mixed age groups? Special needs children "mainstreamed"?)
  • How long is the school day? Do all age groups go to school at the same time?
  • Do the smaller children have a separate play area?
  • How does drop off and pick up work?
  • What sort of before and after school care options are available?
  • Do many/most children stay at school for lunch?
  • How much is the parental financial contribution ("ouderbijdrage ")?
  • How involved are parents in the school?
  • Are there options for gifted and talented children? For children who require extra
    assistance in various areas?
  • Do you feel at home in the school? Would your child?
  • What is the international "presence," if any?
  • Would your child be the only bilingual child in his/her class?
  • Is there a waiting list? If so, how long?
  • Is there a reception class for new students?
  • How does the wenperiode ("weaning" or getting used to school period) work?

Some schools have open houses and take parents on tours. Other schools schedule individual visits. It's best to call up the school and see when you can come by for a visit. Don't depend on email
for making an appointment, especially if you're emailing in English.



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