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Amsterdam primary schools

(31 Posts)
tuttavia Mon 18-Mar-13 19:02:19

Does anyone know how the admissions process works? Is it postcode-related, for example?

I'm thinking of state schools, not private/international schools.

I'm also thinking of 'specialist schools', such as Montessori.

Any advice welcome!

natation Mon 18-Mar-13 19:16:34

Firstly you need to understand that there are lots of types of state funded schools in Netherlands, including ones offering Montessori philosophy, plenty of other method types too, including schools in English too for those who are temporarily in Netherlands, including Catholic ones, including Protestant ones. No it's not post code related, but some schools might offer priority to those living close by.

Amsterdam is a big place, where exactly do you plan on living?

tuttavia Mon 18-Mar-13 19:21:52

We'd like to live as close to DS's school as possible - proximity to school is important to us.

DS is only 2, and this will be a permanent move, and we're kind of set on Montessori. We'd like to have some idea of schools in order to guide us as to where we live.

But, we're looking to live centrally. (By that I mean not in a primarily residential area of Amsterdam. We currently live in London, in walking distance to museums etc, and we'd miss that.)

natation Mon 18-Mar-13 19:25:54

Have you knowledge of other methods? You'll find loads in the Netherlands.

I think you should look at where work is, if you have no set idea of where to live other than centrally, then look at how long you wish commute to last and where you could live within the timespan.

I think you need to join our exclusive mumsnetters group. We have 2 members who lived in Amsterdam and I think we have one current one living in Amstel area.

natation Mon 18-Mar-13 19:31:11

Here you go, a map of 211 basisscholen in Amsterdam postcodes (ages 4 to 12).

There are pre-schools too.

tuttavia Mon 18-Mar-13 19:32:25

I only have knowledge of Steiner, and I'm not really interested in that.

I am very keen on Montessori, as is DH, who was Montessori-educated himself. DS currently goes to a Montessori playgroup that he LOVES, and that I can see suits him perfectly. But yes, I should probably inform myself about alternatives.

How do I go about this, then - finding out about other methods and which schools teach in which ways?

I take your point about work - I'll look into commuting distances. (Initially only DH will be working.) The school thing is very important to me, though.

Group? How do I join?

tuttavia Mon 18-Mar-13 19:32:54

x-post - thanks!

suburbophobe Mon 18-Mar-13 19:45:11

Amsterdam primary schools are post code restricted actually, at least it was when my son went there. (the local Montesorri). And they still maintain it. Also priority for those who have a sibling(s) there already.

Here's some info in English to be getting on with.

Have you got housing sorted? That would be your first priority (obviously).... a difficulty in itself unless you've got lots of money to throw at it. Well, you would have to cos your not on the "council housing list" (which has a 10-year waiting list and I forget how many years you have to be resident before you can get onto it).

I see now that your son is 2, that would be creche-type places, like "peuterspeelzaal" first. He can go to "kleuterklas" (P1) the day after he becomes 4 years old.

Good idea Natation's tip, I would definately follow up on that.

Also check out Expatica, lots of good info on there.

Enjoy Amsterdam! It's a great place to live, and also with kids, lots of amenities for them here. (And lots of kids!).

natation Mon 18-Mar-13 20:33:21

Well as I understand it, you're not obliged to go to a school because you live in a certain street as in France (state schools only, not privée), but you can choose from those in your local area.

There is a mumsnetter who moved to Amstelveen (have I spelt that right) in September, I'm sure she's in our FB group, she'll tell you all about trying to get a house AND a school in the same area and working out work commutes. She had compulsory school age children, so a bit harder for her.

Are you on Facebook? If you are, send me a pm with your name and description (if you have a name which is popular).

natation Mon 18-Mar-13 20:48:30



Can anyone think of others?

suburbophobe Tue 19-Mar-13 01:46:03


But OP seems set on Montessori, I think she's got it right grin

You're right that you are not restricted to 1 school but can chose within the area. But that includes whatever is there, most are "openbare basisschool" - nothing wrong with them either.

Natation, I am confused by this sentence: including schools in English too for those who are temporarily in Netherlands,

The only ones like that that I know are the British School in Amsterdam or the International School in Amstelveen.

SheepNoisesOff Tue 19-Mar-13 02:04:57

Amsterdam primary schools in the city centre are in an huge mess at the moment. I suggest you join the Facebook group 'Geen Basisschool Amsterdam' (in English & Dutch) to get an idea of the lay of the land. You won't have much choice of school.

SheepNoisesOff Tue 19-Mar-13 02:08:11

Sorry not meaning to sound rude, just tired and on phone smile

natation Tue 19-Mar-13 08:42:28

This is the network of state run English medium schools, plus Dutch medium too, designed for those temporarily in the Netherlands. Their fees are far lower than the international schools. There is only one primary listed for Amsterdam, Amsterdam International Community School - fees there for primary are 4.2k per year, a bit less than the intaternational schools like International School of Amsterdam which is just under 18k for primary for the year.

natation Tue 19-Mar-13 08:55:09

I just looked up the name of the mum who moved last year to Amstelveen,

it's " irishmumonthemove "

try sending her a pm?

"openbaar onderwijs" means non religious aligned education, looking at that list of 211 schools in Amsterdam, maybe a bit over half are in this category, there is also Catholic, Protestant, Ecumenical, Muslim, "all together" (don't ask me, don't know what that is)

irishmumonthemove Tue 19-Mar-13 10:24:05

Hi there,
We live in Amsterdam and my kids attend school in Amstelveen ( 8 mins away on bike ) so I have a foot in both camps which is great as I hear about activities in both cities. Amstelveen is technically a city but it blurs into Amsterdam on the south side and has a great tram service into the city centre. Also, Amstelveen has fab facilities: sports, shopping, parks etc. it's a good place to consider living if you want more green spaces but great access to the city. I digress.

Most schools in Amsterdam don't operate a post-code system. It seems that they do give priority to siblings, kids in the immediate area, neighbouring postcodes etc. Definitely, your first job is to find a house/apartment in an area you like, secure it then immediately go looking for Voorschools or Peuterspeezals ( preschools basically ). Also, put your child's name down at local Montessori school for when she turns 4. Children start school the day after they turn 4. ( Very much play-based so don't worry ) .There is a real shortage of school places in the city, particularly the central areas. However, things are starting to happen and new classes are being opened in some schools to meet the demand. You have in your favour a young child so you don't need to panic- just yet! Find your place to live, then visit schools in your area. It's crucial really to visit the schools you are interested in. Many don't respond to email. At the very least ring and speak to the Director or the Administrator.

My best piece of advice is to join Facebook if you are not already. I started using it only to access info on living here as an expat/immigrant and it has been invaluable. Specifically, join a group called 'Amsterdam Mamas'. It's full of people from the UK, America - North and South, Ireland, Australia, NZ, Spain, Italy, India, you name it. There is a website too with many informative articles so have a look at that but the Facebook group interacts every day and it's there you will get specific answers to your questions from other parents. They organise Toddler mornings, newborn meet-ups, book club etc.
My friend started a sub-group within AM called 'Dutch Education Group' for parents who have or want to put their kids into the Dutch system. We're having our first meeting tomorrow night. We are all in the same boat, feeling our way around the system. And it's great support. Amsterdam Mamas also has weekly newsletters ( I write one a month on activities around the city for families ) you can sign up for. If you move to Amsterdam Zuid, then look up 'Octopus' on Facebook. It's an expat playgroup held 4 mornings a week for kids 0-4. Join the group now, even before you move and you can ask a question or just read and you'll pick up interesting info.

Hope that has helped you.
Best of Luck!

tuttavia Tue 19-Mar-13 13:56:59

Thanks all- am reading this on my phone but will back on laptop tomorrow.

Really appreciate the help!

irishmumonthemove Tue 19-Mar-13 19:08:29

Also, Amsterdam school places are offered through a lottery system if the school is over-subscribed. So, you really should put your child's name down at all the schools in your area and some outside of it too.
Look at This organisation deals with placing children in pre-schools. Look at it in the Chrome browser and it will translate the website for you. Dynamo also has info on parenting support,subsidised children's activities etc. But you can only put their name down for state pre-schools when you are actually living here.

natation Tue 19-Mar-13 19:45:06

Going to add to Irishmumonmove's excellent info. Here is a link to a list of schools in Amstelveen. Is there a map out there perhaps? How are school places awarded in Amstelveen?

Hint - you can see the boundaries of a municipality by googling the name!

I'd take a look at the public transport map too.

suburbophobe Tue 19-Mar-13 21:11:59

OP, you're getting some great help and info here.

I read about the lottery system for primary(!) schools now.
(Only used to be for the top secondary schools).

Reason is, like everywhere else, the recession is here too, the housing market is "shut", so no-one can afford to move and more people want to stay in Amsterdam with kids rather than move out to the suburbs (boring).

(I don't have my nickname for nothing LOL).

Wow, things have changed since mine went to school....(he's 2nd year uni now)....

I can absolutely recommend having your child at peuterspeelzaal, it's only half a day and you get to meet the local kids and their mums.
Besides, he will pick up the language in no time, (which is what he needs by the time he gets to school proper) and you will be immersed in it too which will help you get a "leg-up".

Don't worry, most people speak English anyway, so you won't be floundering.

My son is still best friends with some of those he went to peuterspeelzaal with, and the circle just gets bigger once they go to primary and secondary.
He has a huge social circle now.

Main thing tho, is get your housing sorted. Everything follows on from there. Once you are registered in your house you can register in the area for everything. (Includes GP, etc.).

SheepNoisesOff Wed 20-Mar-13 12:08:11

Hey suburbophobe the 'peuterspeelzaal' doesn't exist any more in Amsterdam, it's now just called the 'voorschool' ('pre-school', OP,) and, surprise surprise, there aren't enough places. Disadvantaged children get priority, though, so OP, your son should be given an 'indication' to get a place. It's considered vitally important that foreign children learn the language before they start school, so they have a much better chance of getting a place.
I feel like I'm being really negative on this thread, please don't take it like that, I'm very tired lately and working far too much so have little time or energy to express myself in more than the bare minimum of words! I hope you find my comments helpful regardless, as that is very much how they are intended smilesmilesmile

SheepNoisesOff Wed 20-Mar-13 12:09:45

natation I have no idea about Amstelveen but, for the benefit of anyone else who may come across this thread, here are the school catchment areas in West:

SheepNoisesOff Wed 20-Mar-13 12:10:34

Aaaaaaand a clickable link: Schoolwijzer West

SheepNoisesOff Wed 20-Mar-13 12:11:36

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand one more time, this really is the right link!!!: Schoolwijzer West

tuttavia Thu 21-Mar-13 21:07:04

Thanks again, everyone.

DS has been sick, but I have been reading. Can't quite believe what a great resource this forum this is! Really, truly helpful.

This lottery system - seems that it only applies to Amsterdam? Is that right?

DH will be taking a huge cut in salary (but a necessary one - work here just isn't happening), and having done a bit more research, I'm thinking of living outside of Amsterdam, but within a commutable distance.

From what we can gather, we could afford to live in Amsterdam, but only in teeny tiny flat, and the school situation makes it seem almost not worth it.

So we're considering other areas where we could get a larger flat/house, and not have to encounter such a scramble for schools - although I appreciate that any popular area is going to have schools with waiting lists.

Again, thanks so much for all the help.

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