Radboud University


In Dutch: Scholen

Pre-school (ages 2-4)

In Dutch: Peuterspeelzaal

Preschool (in Dutch: peuterspeelzaal) usually starts at age 2. Parents are free to decide whether or not they want to enrol their child in a preschool, but it could help the child to pick up the Dutch language quickly.

Usually preschool is more structured than daycare; it prepares children for primary school in a playful way, according to a designated program. The focus is on Dutch language acquisition, social skills, and motor skills. Often children only attend half-days and go 2-5 days per week. Some preschools only open in the mornings.

You can find all registered preschools on the Government.nl search page (in Dutch). Fill in 'Soort': 'Peuterspeelzaal'; 'Gemeente': 'Nijmegen' and press 'Zoek'.

Early childhood education (VVE)

Children who live in a household where no Dutch is spoken at home may qualify for extra hours at preschool. This is an early childhood education (Voor- en Vroegschoolse Educatie, VVE) arrangement. Contact the Child Consultation Bureau for a VVE referral letter.

Primary school (ages 4-12/13)

In Dutch: Basisschool

Most children start primary school (in Dutch: basisschool) the day after their 4th birthday, at any time during the year. From their 5th birthday, school attendance is compulsory for all children. Primary school has eight grades, group 1 (age 4) through group 8 (age 12/13). After finishing primary school, students transfer to a secondary school.

In the Netherlands, there is a distinction between public schools (in Dutch: openbare scholen) and  schools who specialise in certain pedagogic or religious principles (in Dutch: bijzonder onderwijs, 'special education'). The public schools are both funded and run by an independent foundation that was originally set up by the government. They are always non-religious. The schools which follow a certain pedagogic or religious principle have their own boards. Usually, the religious schools are fairly moderate in terms of religion and are open to non-religious children, and those who have a different religion. However, this varies per school so we recommend you to ask the school of your choice.

More information about the Dutch school system and the Dutch school system structure.

Primary schools in Nijmegen and how to enrol your child

A good reason to consider a Dutch-speaking primary school is that children pick up the language very fast at a young age.

Usually when your child(ren) do not speak Dutch yet, we recommend contacting the school of your preference first and ask about the language requirements for your child(ren) and the admission process. The 'Schoolwijzer' website contains a list of all primary schools in Nijmegen and explains the admission procedure. The website is in Dutch but translates well into English.

If the primary school of your preference has a language requirement which your child does not meet yet, we recommend you to contact  Bloemberg school in Nijmegen. They offer special classes for quickly learning the Dutch language. The Bloemberg school website is in Dutch but if you click on a theme like this one a google translate option will be given at the top that will give a reasonable translation into English. When your child(ren) has mastered the Dutch language sufficiently to meet the language requirement of your preferred primary school, your child can transfer over to a to the Dutch primary school of your choice, following the admission procedure via the Schoolwijzer website.

A website to compare primary schools by their denomination in Nijmegen is located on the Schoolwijzer website.

For more details and/ or questions about the application procedure for your child for a Dutch primary school contact our Dual Career and Family Care officer at dualcareer@ru.nl

International school in Arnhem

If you are looking for an International School, Rivers international school (preschool, primary school and secondary school) in Arnhem-Zuid (30 minutes from Nijmegen by car or train) is an English speaking international school. The children at Rivers are educated in English and given insight into the Dutch Language and culture.

Please note that there are higher fees charged for attending an international school.

Secondary school (ages 12/13 and over)

In Dutch: Middelbare school

There are basically three levels of high school education, which go by the acronyms of VMBO, HAVO, and VWO. Here is a summary of them all:

  • VMBO – is preparatory secondary vocational education, which usually takes four years, and is followed by MBO;
  • HAVO – senior general secondary education, takes five years, and is followed by HBO (Hogeschool/University of Applied Sciences);
  • VWO – pre-university education takes six years, and students can continue to university (WO).

A list of all secondary schools in Nijmegen can be found on  the ‘Scholen op de kaart’ website.

For more details and/ or questions about the application procedure for your child for a Dutch secondary school contact our Dual Career and Family Care officer dualcareer@ru.nl.

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