1. Terminology

2. Typology of provision

2.1 State education provision 

2.2 Non-state education provision 

2.3 Other types of schools 

3. Governance and regulations

3.1 Regulations by distinct levels of education

3.2 Supplementary private tutoring 


  1. Terminology

The 2018 Constitution (Art. 23) states that “all persons” shall be free to provide education, from early childhood care and education to tertiary education, without prejudice to the authorities' right of supervision. It stipulates that people have the right to found schools and to provide teaching based on religious, ideological or educational beliefs. “Private schools” are governed by the board of the association or foundation that set them up. 


  1. Typology of provision

2.1 State education provision

State schools 

Education is compulsory from age five to 18 years, or until students have a basic qualification. Primary (age four to 12) and secondary (age 13 to 18) education are compulsory. In 2018, 31% of elementary students and 29% of secondary general students attended a public school. 

Public schools are governed by the municipal council (or a governing committee) or by a public legal entity or foundation and state-funded. Schools can also generate income from other sources, such as extra funding from the municipal authorities for special projects, interest in the capital, contract activities and sponsorship, and donations from civil society organisations or businesses.  

In general, public schools are open to everyone and teaching is not based on a particular religion or belief. However, some public schools base their teaching on specific educational ideas, such as the Montessori, Dalton, Freinet or Jena Plan method. The 2018 Constitution (Art. 23) states that local authorities must ensure there are sufficient publicly run schools in their municipality. 

Non-state managed, state schools 

No information was found.  

Non-state funded, state schools 

No information was found.  

2.2 Non-state education provision

Independent, non-state schools 

Fully private institutions are fully financed by third parties, including pupils or students. The costs of participation in fully private education are in general higher. In 2018, no primary or secondary schools were fully private independent.  

State funded (government-aided), non-state schools 

The 2018 Constitution places public and private schools on an equal financial footing. It states that private primary schools that satisfy the conditions laid down by the Act of Parliament “shall be financed from public funds according to the same standards as public-authority schools” (Art. 23). In addition, the conditions under which private secondary education shall receive contributions from public funds are laid down by the Act of Parliament. All government-funded institutions receive annually block funding (lumpsum) to meet their personnel and running costs and are free to decide how to use this money. 

Some private schools can also base their teaching on specific educational methodologies, such as the Montessori, Dalton, Freinet or Jena Plan method. Private schools may also have a religious or ideological character, unlike publicly run schools. Indeed, most children in the Netherlands attend privately managed schools, which are not for profit and are usually managed by a foundation or church. Private schools generally have a religious or ideological character and base their teaching on a specific educational ethos. 

In 2018, 68% of elementary students and 71% of secondary general students attended a government-aided private school. The main types of private institutions under this category include international and foreign schools (exclusively intended for pupils with a non-Dutch nationality, B2 schools (private institutions specialised in preparing students in secondary education for examinations) and B3 schools (private schools for primary and secondary education, in organisations similar to grant-aided schools). International education is available at both state-funded and private schools throughout the country. Most international schools follow the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) or the research-based International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. The government of the country to which the international school is linked may subsidise it.  

The Government does not refer explicitly to ‘low-fee’ non-state schools in official documents. 

Contracted, non-state schools 

No information was found.  

2.3 Other types of schools


Homeschooling is not explicitly recognized by Dutch law. At the local level, the municipal executive council ensures that pupils subject to compulsory education attend schools in their municipality and is primarily responsible for the implementation of this law. The law also requires that each municipality has at least one person responsible for compulsory education. 

That said, the 1992 Civil Code (Art. 1:24) states that parents must care for their children’s personality development and well-being. In parallel, the 1969 Compulsory Education Law (Art. 5) also exempts parents from registering their child at a school if they object to the orientation of the education given by all schools located within a reasonable distance from their home. The exemption is valid for one school year. Each year, some 200 children are home-schooled through this legal exception.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers were encouraged to organise distance learning for students at home. 

Market contracted (Voucher schools) 

No information was found.  

Unregistered/Unrecognised schools 

No information was found.  

Community schools 

Community schools enter into long-term partnerships with other organisations such as childcare providers, health and welfare services, and sports and cultural institutions to improve the development opportunities for pupils. Municipalities usually take the initiative to establish a community school. No information was found on the number of students attending community schools. 


  1. Governance and regulations

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science lays down statutory requirements for ECCE, primary and secondary education and sets the framework in which individual schools should perform. Childcare and early childhood education, both public and private, falls under the authority of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The organisation of this Ministry does not explicitly mention a sector or department for non-state or private education. The role of the 12 provincial authorities is limited to supervisory and legal tasks. The country does not have a Religious ministry that takes decisions on non-state education. 

The administration and management of public and private schools in primary and secondary education is locally organized by municipal authorities. They allocate resources from the budget for eliminating educational disadvantages and draw up a local compensatory plan. In addition, early childhood education aimed at children aged 2,5 to 4 also falls under the municipal authorities. Private schools are governed by the board of the association or foundation that established the school, of which parents can be a member.  

Vision: Anyone in the country may found a school based on their convictions or beliefs. This is known as freedom of education. The 2018 Constitution (Art. 23) states that the requirements for primary education shall be such that the standards are fully guaranteed in both private schools financed from public funds and of public-authority schools. Private schools are generally governed by the same legislation as public-authority schools. The 2015-25 Strategic Agenda for Higher Education and Research also supports the further development of promising public-private and public-public collaborative arrangements in higher education “by means of the allocation of the current 2% of the funds to profiling and a budget for regional collaborative arrangements” (p. 76).

3.1 Regulations by distinct levels of education

The 2004 Child Care Act (Wet Kinderopvang) identifies different forms of childcare, including daily care extramural care, host family care, parents’ participation and daycare centres. Children from six weeks to four years of age can attend a public or private kindergarten. Playgrounds are for children from two to four years old. Early childhood education focuses on children ages two to five who are at risk of educational disadvantage. It is provided at public and private playgroups and schools in primary education.  

In 2018, 4654 children received early childhood education and care, however, no information is available as to the private or public status of the institutions attended. 

The 2018 Innovation and Quality of Childcare Act (2018) and the 2019 Harmonization of Childcare and Playgroup Work Act aim to improve the quality and accessibility of childcare. 


Registration and approval: Municipalities have the obligation to make agreements with holders of child centres to promote and encourage participation in early childhood education. In this regard, at least 10 weeks before the start of the childcare centre, providers must apply for registration in the National Childcare Register (LRK) with the municipal authorities. This registration must enclose proof of the registration in the Commercial Register, the pedagogical policy plan, and the certificates of good conduct for each of the childcare facility’s employees. Once the application is submitted, an inspector of the Municipal Health Service reviews the quality of the childcare facility. Based on the outcome, the municipality decides whether the facility will be included in the register. 

Providers require a residence permit and a business bank account (IBAN). The location must also be in line with the municipality’s zoning plan. In addition, institutions must provide suitably furnished rooms for play and rest that are geared to the number of children and their age. In addition, providers who operate a childcare centre for more than ten children under the age of 12 need an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects. Moreover, centres that prepare food and drink must have a HACCP food safety plan

Licence: Every childcare facility in the National Register of Childcare has a unique registration number (registratienummer). There is a national database of registered childcare (Landelijk registger kinderopvang). 

Financial operation

Profit-making: Institutions receiving public funding must be non-profit.  

Taxes and subsidies: The 2018 Constitution places public and private schools on an equal financial footing. Providers must register their schools in the Commercial Register. The registration fee is €50 ($US 59). 

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum or learning standards: Institutions are required by law to provide an adequate number of programmes that aim at stimulating the linguistic, arithmetic, motor skills and social-emotional development of children. There is no prescribed national curriculum, but providers are obliged to draw up policy on child development in consultation with parents’ committees. Two organisations can recognise early childhood education programmes: Erkenningscommissie Interventies and Panel Welzijn en Ontwikkelingsstimulering. In the pedagogical policy plan, providers must outline their vision for childcare education. The plan must be up-to-date. 

Teaching profession: Specific requirements (voorschoolse educatie) apply for early childhood education staff at daycare and childcare centres. Childcare workers need specific ECCE training in addition to the language requirement and general childcare practitioner training. In addition, there must always be at least one adult present during opening hours in possession of a first-aid certificate for children. The collective labour agreement for Childcare identifies all qualification requirements that are set for being allowed to work in childcare and the website Kinderopvang Werkt gives information on the different qualifications. All employees of the childcare centre must have a certificate of good conduct for individuals

The 2018 Constitution (Art. 23) states that private schools are free to appoint teachers as they see fit. 

The conditions of service and legal status of teachers in both public and private institutions are determined at the decentralised level in sectoral collective agreements, which are laid down in negotiations between employers and unions. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science is not involved in negotiating collective labour agreements.  

Equitable access

Fee-setting: In 2020, the maximum hourly rate for daycare was € 8,17. 

Admission selection and processes: There is no legal guarantee for a place at a childcare facility. Parents themselves choose a childcare organisation. 

Policies for vulnerable groups: The Dutch government reimburses a significant part of the childcare costs. The childcare allowance is called kinderopvangtoeslag. In addition, parents can apply for childcare benefits to cover part of their childcare costs via the Tax and Customs Administration. The amount that parents are entitled to receive depends on several factors such as family income, the number of children and the parents’ working hours. The list of conditions can be found here

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

Reporting requirements: Institutions must annually check whether their programmes meet the quality standards and whether they comply with their own and the municipality’s policies. They are primarily responsible for evaluating the quality of their programmes. The evaluation should include the quality of the programmes offered, the staff members’ knowledge and skills and the physical learning environment 

Inspection: The 2010 Quality and Education Act sets out the quality requirements that early childhood education programmes must meet. The Municipal Health Services (GGD) and the Dutch Inspectorate of Education are responsible for monitoring the quality of education. 

Child assessment: Children are monitored using observation lists and assessments of development. The developmental domains are usually assessed three times a year. 

Sanctions: The central government decides on the standards for the establishment and closure of schools


Registration and approval: A new school needs approval from its local municipality. It must report the foundation of the school to the Education Executive Agency. Private schools must send the articles of association and regulations to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science within four weeks after the foundation of the school. Fully private schools have to comply with quality standards, assessed by the Dutch Inspectorate of Education. New schools must have a minimum number of pupils in accordance with the established norm. New privately funded schools must also first prove to the Education Inspectorate that the education they will provide will meet certain quality criteria. 

Licence: Private schools must be recognised by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. After reporting the foundation of a private school, the Dutch Inspectorate of Education inspects it and informs the local municipality's attendance officer whether it meets the statutory requirements of the 1969 Compulsory Education Law. If so, approval is granted by the municipality.  

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH): The Dutch foreign affairs and development cooperation policies acknowledge the need for alignment Integrated water resources management (IWRM) and WASH. The country has a Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management but no specific regulations were found on non-state schools in this regard. 

Financial operation

Profit-making: Primary and secondary schools receiving public funding must be non-profit. Nevertheless, school boards can keep surpluses. There are a few for-profit schools, representing less than one per cent of total enrolment but they are too small to receive public funds. Schools are fully accountable to the parents for the use of fees collected. 

Taxes and subsidies: The 2018 Constitution places public and private schools on an equal financial footing. All government-funded institutions receive annually block funding (lumpsum). Since 2012, a "performance budget" is introduced in primary and secondary schools. The funding of primary and secondary education is governed by the 1981 Primary Education Act and the 1963 Secondary Education Act. Privately-funded primary schools have the same degree of financial autonomy as publicly-funded primary schools. Private schools can also generate income from other sources, such as sponsorship and donations.  

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum or learning standards: There is no national curriculum, but there are attainment targets in general education. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science also prescribes the subjects to be studied. Schools can include optional subjects in their timetable. 

Textbooks and learning materials: The 2018 Constitution (Art. 23) states that private schools are free to choose their teaching materials. 

Teaching profession: The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science prescribes the qualifications that teachers are required to have. The 2018 Constitution (Art. 23) states that private schools are free to appoint teachers as they see fit. As for ECCE, the conditions of service and legal status of teachers in both public and private institutions are determined at a decentralised level in sectoral collective agreements, which are laid down in negotiations between employers and unions. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science is not involved in negotiating collective labour agreements. Teachers in public schools are public servants and their appointment is a unilateral juristic act, but the appointment of teachers in private schools is based on a two-sided employment contract.  

Career prospects and job security in the private sector depend on business outlook. The legal status of teachers in the public sector is different from that in the private sector. Employment in the public service is governed by administrative law, whereas employment in the private sector is subject to private law. Private sector teachers are employed on a contractual basis. They are subject to different dismissal rules than public school teachers.  

Corporal punishment: Corporal punishment is illegal in schools. The right to punish was abolished for teachers in 1920 (Nederlands Juristenblad 496). Today, the 1992 Civil Code (Art. 1:247 and 1:248) apply. 

Other safety measures and COVID-19: No additional information was found. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science published information regarding COVID-19 and the Education sector (2020). However, no explicit mention was made of private education. 

Equitable access

Fee-setting: Private schools can supplement the public funding by charging ancillary fees; however, this right is limited. Municipal schools charge small fees during the 12-year compulsory stage of schooling.  

Admission selection and processes: Privately run schools can refuse to admit pupils whose parents do not subscribe to the belief or ideology on which the school’s teaching is based. They are free to decide on the admission and exclusion of pupils and may refuse a pupil if they do not have enough capacity. The requirements may not be discriminatory. 

Policies for vulnerable groups: Parents of children attending secondary school are eligible for a child budget. The conditions are the same for private and public secondary school students. 

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

School board: Private schools are free to determine their internal organisational structure, including arrangements for participation by pupils, parents and staff. Every school must also have a complaints committee with an independent chairperson. 

Reporting requirements: All schools that receive government funding are accountable to the central government. Every school must have a school plan, updated every four years, outlining the measures taken to monitor quality and describing the school’s policy on educational matters, staffing and internal quality assurance. Private schools must account for their policy, including their educational ethos, teaching methods and complaints procedure. They are also accountable for the quality of their teaching and their financial policy. 

School inspection: The Inspectorate of Education ensures the quality of education, compliance with education laws and the proper use of funds (legitimacy and functionality). It oversees government-funded educational institutions and recognised private institutions that offer accredited study programmes leading to a qualification. The 1969 Compulsory Education Law stipulates that if a privately funded school meets the necessary criteria, it must always consider the advice of the Inspectorate.  

Student assessment: The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science sets the attainment targets or examination syllabuses and the content of national examinations. In secondary education, a national exam takes place in the last year (Year 4 of VMBO; Year 5 of HAVO or Year 6 of VWO). Every year, schools are required to submit their school exam syllabus to the Inspectorate. In parallel, the National Institute for Curriculum Development (SLO) publishes school exam guidelines for every subject and level of education. In primary education, there are attainment targets for Dutch, maths, history, geography, music and gym. There are also attainment targets for the lower years of secondary education. 

Diplomas and degrees: The 1981 Primary Education Act (WPO) (S. 42) states that at the end of their eight years of primary schooling, pupils receive a report describing their level of attainment and educational potential, and advice on the type of secondary education most suited to them. Secondary schools mainly use this advice in deciding whether to admit a pupil. At the end of the secondary education level, all students must take a national exam and successful candidates receive a certificate. 

Sanctions on school closures: Private schools are free to decide whether to close the entire school or a department within it. As for ECCE, the central government decides on the standards for the establishment and closure of schools. The Dutch Inspectorate of Education regularly inspects whether private schools meet all requirements. If they do not comply with the 1969 Compulsory Education Law, they are forced to close with immediate effect. 

Tertiary education is offered at 1) universities of applied sciences (hogescholen; HBO), which are open to graduates of hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs (HAVO) (higher general secondary education), voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs (VWO) (preparatory scientific education) or middelbaar beroepsonderwijs (MBO) (middle-level applied education); 2) research universities (universiteiten; WO) open only to VWO-graduates and HBO graduates. Private institutions include foreign universities and business schools to which Dutch government regulations do not apply.  

The institutions funded by the government are listed in the 2002 Higher Education and Research Act (WHW)


Registration and approval: The 2002 Higher Education and Research Act provides the supervision of institutions for higher education and the accreditation guidelines. Fully privately-funded higher education institutions need to be approved by the Education Inspectorate and the Netherlands-Flanders Accreditation Organisation (NVAO). Private-sector institutions that do not receive government funding can be recognised by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science as ‘legal persons providing higher education’ and provide accredited study programmes. 

New private training institutes that want to award legally recognised diplomas in higher professional education need to be registered. Higher education courses must be listed in the Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes. The Education Executive Agency manages these registers. 

Licence: Approval is not compulsory for private schools for higher education. The Dutch Inspectorate of Education however inspects whether the statutory requirements are being met. 

Financial operation

Profit-making: The boards of higher education institutions are free to decide how their income is spent

Taxes and subsidies: Some institutions are funded by the government and are listed in the Higher Education and Research Act (WHW). However, the recognised fully private institutions do not receive government funding and are fully dependent on third-party contributions, including from students and their families. Eurydice mentions that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is experimenting with an open system for higher education, allowing 18 fully privately-funded institutions, such as distance-learning institutions, to fund courses temporarily from government grants under the same conditions as publicly-funded institutions.  

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum or learning standards: Only courses approved and accredited by the Netherlands-Flanders Accreditation Organisation (NVAO) are eligible for recognition and qualify for government funding. Legally recognised courses are listed in the Central Register of Higher Education Study Programmes (CROHO). 

Teaching profession: There are no statutory competence requirements for those wishing to teach in higher education. Institutions have their own individual requirements for teachers. 

Equitable access

Fee-setting: Fees vary from one institution to another.  

Admission selection and processes: Some institutions are developing so-called “honours programmes”. The introduction of selection criteria for admissions, to which this aspiration may lead, may, however, be at odds with the accessibility of higher education. No information was found regarding quotas for enrolling students from a specific population. 

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

Board: The management structure of non-state higher education institutions is governed by the 2020 Higher Education and Research Act (WHW). Institutions of higher professional education and universities have different management structures. The management structure of a university consists of an executive board, a supervisory board and the dean. 

Reporting requirements: Institutions must operate the framework for education. The Teaching and Examination Regulations (OER), which is the responsibility of the administration of the higher education institutions, must provide information on the syllabus, the specialisations, the content and the layout of the various examinations for each programme.  

Inspection: The quality of individual higher education courses is monitored through the accreditation system, which is managed by the Netherlands-Flanders Accreditation Organisation (NVAO). 

Student assessment: Each institution expands on the government framework in its teaching and examination regulations. 

Diplomas and degrees: The certificates fully privately-funded higher education institutions award to graduates are equivalent to those awarded by publicly-funded institutions. The institution is entitled to grant a degree if the programme is accredited.  

Sanctions: The Dutch Inspectorate of Education checks whether the legal requirements are met and can decide to close a private institution if these requirements are not met. 

3.3 Supplementary private tutoring

Shadow education was first mentioned in 2016 in the Annual report of the Education Inspectorate. A roundtable discussion on supplementary private tuition was also held in January 2017 in the House of Representatives with various education stakeholders. 


Not all providers are listed and registered with the Chamber of Commerce. 

Financial operation and quality

A study by Elffers and Jansen (2019) states that the use of tutoring, exam training and homework assistance has increased significantly in recent years in the Netherlands. It is now estimated that one in three families with children in secondary education use some form of alternative education in the country (DeGeus and Bishop, 2017). The growth of household expenditure on private tutoring has been exposed by Statistics Netherlands for primary, secondary and secondary vocational education. In 2016, 200 million euros (US$ 235 M) were spent by families in the country on private tutoring. 

Teaching profession

No information was found.

Last modified:

Thu, 02/12/2021 - 18:52