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Secondary school

After primary school you go to secondary school. Here you don’t have just one teacher. You have a different teacher for each subject. There are several types of secondary schools: Practical education

Learning difficulties

Some people find it hard to learn. Practical education is then sometimes better. This means that you learn a specific job.
Learning a trade

Leren voor een beroep

If you take lower intermediate vocational education, you learn a specific trade. For instance, hairdresser, plumber or secretary. Lower intermediate vocational education takes four years. There are four types of lower intermediate vocational education:
  • Basic profession-oriented learning path (BB) (few lessons, mostly doing)
  • Middle management-oriented learning path (KB) (slightly more lessons, but still mostly doing)
  • Combined programme (GL) (doing and lessons)
  • Theoretical pathway (TL) (mostly lessons)
Higher general secondary education

Second highest

Higher general secondary education is the second highest level of secondary school in the Netherlands. You get a lot of lessons and only a little bit of practice (doing things). Higher general secondary education takes five years. It enables you to become, for instance, a nurse or a teacher.
Pre-university education

Highest education

Pre-university education is the highest level of secondary school in the Netherlands. In total, this education lasts six years. When you have your diploma, you can take a Higher Professional Education  course or go to university, where you can learn to become, for instance, a lawyer or doctor.

This is how

Ask at school how you enrol. The school will write down the following information:
  • Your date of birth
  • Whether you are a boy or a girl
  • The country and town you were born in
  • Your first and last name
  • Your address (street name, house number, postcode and town)
  • Your nationality (which country you are a citizen of)
  • Telephone number
  • The date on which you arrived in the Netherlands
  • Your individual education number: this is the number the school gives each pupil
DUO will give you an education number within eight weeks. This is a number the school and the official agencies can identify you with.
Choosing a school

Choosing yourself

You can choose which school you go to. Sometimes the COA decides which school you go to. For instance because other secondary schools are all full up. Or because there is only one school near the asylum seekers centre for your studies. You can first try to discuss with the COA that you would still like to go to the school of your choice. If this doesn’t help, you can consult with your lawyer, or with the helpdesk of Defence for Children.
Costs for secondary school


You don’t have to pay for secondary school. Below is information about other matters that do concern money: Extra money to help you If you just live in the Netherlands, you have to get used to the language, the school and life here. Your school can be given money of the government to give you some extra help. For this, your parents have to fill in a declaration, on which they write about their own education. Your parents also fill in the following:
  • your last name
  • your first name
  • your date of birth
  • your Citizen Service Number (V no.)
Costs for your journey Money for your trip should be requested from the COA. You fill in a form where you write down your school’s address. The COA then gives you money, or you get a ticket for the bus or train. If the COA doesn’t pay your travelling expenses then go to the local authority to ask them to pay. This is how: go to the local authority and ask for payment of your travelling expenses. You then have to fill in a form in which you write where you live and where you have to travel to. The local authority will ask for proof that you have enrolled for your school. You can get this proof from your school. You now get money for the travelling expenses or a van comes to take you to school and brings you back every day. Costs for an excursion or school camp A few times a year you do something fun with your class. For instance, a school trip or a day at a museum. Your parents pay for this. This is called a ‘voluntary parental contribution’. Perhaps your parents don’t have the money for this. It’s then good to know that your parents don’t have to pay this money. It is really ‘voluntary’. If your parents don’t pay, you may not be allowed to join the outing or school trip. To make sure that you can go, there are several solutions: School savings Most schools have savings for emergencies. This enables you to join the trip anyway. Stichting Leergeld Stichting Leergeld helps children whose parents have little money. They pay, for instance, the costs for a school camp or daytrip.
Money for books
You don’t have to buy books when you are in secondary school. Your school buys the books and gives them to the pupils. The school gets money to pay for your books. Diploma Also without a residence permit When you passed your exams you get a diploma. This is laid down by law. It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t have a residence permit. With a secondary school diploma you can take, for instance, a continuation course. This is a course you take after finishing secondary school. For instance, intermediate vocational education, higher professional education or university. If your school doesn’t give you a diploma You have the right to a diploma, even if you don’t (yet) have a residence permit. If your school doesn’t give you a diploma, then you can take the following steps:
  • You can first send a letter to your school. In the letter, mention that you have the right to a diploma by law. This regulation also applies to children without a residence permit. This is laid down in article 72 of the Secondary Education Act BES
  • Write down the reason why you aren’t getting a diploma
  • Go to court if you still aren’t getting a diploma. Arrange a lawyer for this
  • The lawyer will ask the judge to make sure your school gives you a diploma after all
For more information about this see article 72 of the Secondary Education Act BES.

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