Starting school in Leiden

4 September 2019

Compulsory education (leerplicht) in the Netherlands applies to all children aged 5 to 16, or until they have a diploma. Most children already start primary school the day after their 4th birthday.

Primary school has eight grades, called groep 1 (group 1) through groep 8 (age 12). Most schools combine groups 1 and 2 in the same class. Group 1-2 is comparable to Kindergarten, where they focus on learning through play, social skills, gross and fine motor skills, structure, independence, and gradual preparation for reading and writing. ‘Real’ academic work starts at the age of six, in group 3. Most primary schools don’t give much homework - if any.

You have a lot of choice: some schools are based on religion (like Catholic, Protestant or Islamic schools) or an educational philosophy like Montessori, Waldorf or Dalton. 

The Ministry of Education monitors all schools, and funds about 99% of them. The average number of students in a government-funded school class is 28. In the handful of private, fee-paying schools, class sizes are smaller.

How to find a primary school in Leiden:

From your child’s third birthday, you may apply for a primary school in Leiden. You’ll ask the application form from the school of your interest. This doesn’t mean that you are automatically enrolled at this school. Some schools take part in a lottery, and others may have a post code policy. Ask the school for more information.

The 'Guide to choosing a schoolgives a lot of detailed information about the options for primary education in Leiden (in Dutch).

The English translation will be updated soon. This is the previous version.

More info you can find on the website of the Expat Center Leiden.

Do you need personal education advice? Contact our partner Annebet van Mameren from New2nl. She is the education expert and she’ll help you navigate the system, and find the most suitable school for you.
This is an article by New2NL