My family is hoping to relocate to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, by this summer. We currently live in Stockholm, Sweden. We are planning on registering our son, who will be 14 and entering 9th grade in the fall, in a public school (possibly international). I have the following questions and would appreciate any perspective or advice.

  • How do I register him for public school? I am concerned about the timing and about having the right paperwork.
  • How is the "mentality"/teaching style of the public education in Amsterdam as compared to the US and/or Sweden? We are originally from Seattle, WA. I was raised in France and I am concerned that Amsterdam may be too strict and demanding for my son. To clarify, the education in the United States (or at least in the school districts my son has attended) tend to follow the lots of content-lots of homework framework and the teachers tend to be in over their heads with both the curriculum and the class sizes. They do not have the time to assist the kids that fall behind, making it easy for the children to get lost in the subject matter. Furthermore, teachers tend to be very passive-aggressive with very strict student-teacher relationships and the fear of always being politically-correct makes communication awkward and often humor has little to no place in the classroom by fear of offending someone. The teaching method in the States tends to be teacher-centered where the teacher is in front of the class and presents the lesson to the class, and the students are to "play around" with the subject content on their own time. Education in Sweden is quite different. It seems that a lot of the school work is handled at school with very little homework given. A lot of the teachers use humor and a very open-ended method of teaching, where children are encouraged to express their opinions and where the students have an almost friend-to-friend relationship with their teachers. Problem-solving skills, creativity, group work, and communication between students seem to be pillars of the education here. The teachers tend to be more moderators and tutors in the classroom than anything else. The kids are encouraged to find the information on their own and to come up with the answer on their own, the teachers being there mostly for guidance and additional explanation that could be necessary. France's education methods tend to be a lot more in line with the States' methods but with teachers being a lot more strict and creativity being perceived as a "bad thing". All this is, of course, my take on it. I would be interested to hear what a typical teaching approach or a typical workload is for a middle school class in Amsterdam.
  • Any additional advice or suggestion would be greatly appreciated. I've read quite a few expat blogs on this subject, however I haven't quite found what I'm looking for yet (most info seems to be for younger children).

Thank you very much! - Christel

  • 1
    Can you edit your question and elaborate on the second point? Since you are not saying anything about either a) your experience with/knowledge of the US/Swedish systems and b) your assumptions about the Dutch system, this question is only going to be answerable by people who know both. That excludes many Dutch people who could be able to address this.
    – user6860
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 11:06

1 Answer 1


First of I'm British and have moved back and forth to the Netherlands quite a few times now. Amsterdam is a mixed community and most areas are very friendly.

Your child will probably just be starting secondary school. http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/local/move/dutch-education-system/secondary-school

For information on Amsterdam there is an expatcenter where all your questions could be addressed: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/expatcenter

I can't say much to the teaching style but there are 31 schools in Amsterdam, so plenty of choice. The education system in the Netherlands is very adaptive to your childs level and they can move between each at the end of each school year. With a final placing at varying levels of college and universities after secondary school.



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