Secondary education: possibilities for your (expat) child’s future in the Netherlands.

As a parent, it is understandable that you are curious about your child’s future after completing secondary school. In the Netherlands, the education system offers different types of secondary schools, each with unique characteristics and options for further education and professions. Let’s take a look at what your child can expect based on the type of secondary school they completed.

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1. Havo: Practice-oriented and broad-based

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For children who have completed havo, a wide range of opportunities opens up. The emphasis is on a hands-on approach, which means they are well prepared for higher vocational education (hbo). Popular advanced programmes include economics, healthcare, and social studies.

Several websites (in Dutch) provide more information on what you can do after havo:

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2. Vwo: Preparation for university education

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Vwo pupils have the opportunity to progress to university education. This opens the door to various fields of study, including natural sciences, technology, arts, and humanities. A solid foundation for an academic future.

These are some websites in Dutch that provide more information on what you can do after vwo:

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3. Vmbo: Various profiles for various pathways

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Vmbo offers various profiles, such as technology, care & welfare, economics, and agriculture. Read more about the different profiles in this article via this link under school types. These profiles prepare pupils for specific vocational courses or the transition to MBO. It is a practical and direct route to professional life.

Pupils with a vmbo-t or vmbo-g diploma have the option to move on to mbo at level 3 or 4, or to transfer to havo. In the latter case, however, they are required to add an extra subject to their final exams.

For pupils with a vmbo-k diploma, enrolling in an mbo programme at level 3 or 4 is an option. In contrast, pupils with a vmbo-b diploma can opt for an mbo programme at level 2.

If pupils successfully complete practical education, they have the option of starting an entry-level course at the mbo, or they can start work straight away.

Two websites giving more information on what you can do after vmbo:

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4. Mbo: Practice-oriented education

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Mbo programmes have a strong practical focus and prepare students for specific professions. With numerous subject areas available, ranging from engineering and ICT to healthcare and hospitality, MBO offers a direct route to a career. Through this link, you can find the different MBO programmes.

Interesting links with information on what you can do after mbo:

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5. International education: Global opportunities

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A world of opportunities opens up for children in international education in the Netherlands. With a multicultural background, they are well prepared for international further education and careers. Multilingualism and intercultural skills are invaluable here. The follow-up options depend on the curriculum.

You can find a list of schools, for example, at:

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6. Secondary education: need help with planning the future?

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You can contact your child’s IB-er, counsellor or mentor to look together at suitable future options. You can also use tips to help your child yourself. Jacqueline Naaborg, study choice advisor and expat herself, has created a free e-book in which you will find 7 tips to help your child make a suitable study choice. If that is insufficient, you can also consult a study choice or vocational advisor.
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Secondary education in the Netherlands offers many paths to the future

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The Dutch education system offers several paths for your child’s future. It is essential to make the right choices together with your child based on their interests, skills and vision of the future. This does not mean that once you have chosen, you are stuck with it. Your child can always change paths.

Read more about the Dutch education system

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