Getting a place in public primary schools for 5-year-old children


Hello, my wife and I are planning to move to Haarlem in two years with our children. They have EU citizenship. My children will be 4 or 5 years at the time, depending when we move. I have done some research online, and I found that public schools in the center are full. I know there is a lottery system for children aged 3 1/2, but we would like to know how does it work when the children are 4 or 5 and the schools are already full. Should I contact the schools directly? What happens if they none of them have a place? I would hate it if we need to travel 10 km to take them to school. Any information will be appreciated. Thanks.

Answer ( 1 )


    Hi and welcome to the Forum.

    Elementary school starts at age 4 and is compulsory; before that, it’s childcare and you have to pay for it – the lottery element I guess indicates they have a waiting list, but school before age 4 is not obligatory.

    I just did a quick Google search for “elementary school in haarlem netherlands” (link), I got a lot of hits – so there is no shortage of schools there.  You won’t be able to register your child for any school until you have registered and got your BSN from the local council where you live.

    When we moved there, we just registered, and walked over to our nearest school, helped the Headmaster climb down from the tree he had got himself stuck in, had a chat with him over a cup of coffee and then registered our 3 kids there.  We never had any problems with the Dutch education system; the main issue that expats have is they expect it to be just like home, it isn’t.

    Please come back to us if you have any further specific questions.

    Hope this helps.

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