Internation or biligual schools.

Hello everyone,
My name is Abeer and my husband has a job offer in a company near Groningen in Netherland. Currently we live in Britain.

I’m a bit worried about the kids (10 and 7years) as their native is English and my eldest will have to do the Cito test in less than a year.

Is it better for them to enroll in bilingual or international school and is there an option of postponing taking the Cito test until they’ve picked up the Dutch language?

Thank you and I’m really looking forward to relocating to the beautiful Groningen :)

Hi and welcome to the Forum. :)

This is something that often comes up here. Without going into a great deal of detail (if you want that, check out this link); it basically comes down to your future intentions; if you're going to stay in Holland forever, then get your kids into a Dutch school as soon as possible.

The reason for this is that the Dutch state schools stream all the kids at age 12 (this is what the CITO test is all about); how they will be streamed is based on their educational ability, plus, how good their Dutch language skills are.  Basically, if their Dutch is not up to scratch, then regardless of your wishes, they will be streamed MBO, which will make it while not impossible (in fact the system is designed to pick up the late developer), very difficult for them to go to University and they will be taught skills more aligned with an apprenticeship type of further education.  There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but if you had visions of a Uni future for both your kids, you are more than likely to be disappointed and it has happened to a lot of parents on here.  I don't know your kids, but all things being equal, I would think that your 7-year old would be OK, but your 10-year old may well struggle as he would only have about a year before the test, to learn to speak and write Dutch like a local - there is no dispensation given to non-Dutch kids.

If your future is back in the UK, then I would recommend considering the International schools.  The downside of these is that they are mouth-wateringly expensive; to the extent that we just couldn't afford it when we were deciding for our kids.  The benefit of the International schools is that they teach in English, to the UK syllabus and test/exam with the British system (so, no streaming at 12-years old) and qualifications are recognised back in the UK.

All 3 of our kids went to Dutch state schools and still thrived when we moved back to the UK; the only thing worth commenting on is they all now speak Dutch with a thick Yorkshire accent, which is quite bizarre.

Please come back if you have any further questions.

Hope this helps.

Expat Team

Thank you very much for your vivid answer :),,, that was very detailed and it explained everything in a nutshell.

Its not a fair system for people who’se Dutch is a second language. They will be neatly sieved from the high achievers at 12.

It has to be international school then!

Thank you for your time, hounestly you helped loads :)

We are Australian and will be moving to Groningen for 3 years in August.
We will most likely look at Dutch school for our 6 year old. Does anyone have any reccomendations as to which is best in the Area.
Thanks Chloe

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