Into a new schoolbag? Now is the time

Have you allways waited buying a new schoolbag until september? Don’t!
This year the first thing you do if summervacation starts is buying a new bikini and a new backpack. Of course in a summer sunny colour! We will give you some inspiration.

Don’t wait until august or september if you are in need of a new schoolbag. Just before the summervacation most brands come up with the latest models, colours and prints. And during the summer you will be in need of a great backpack.

Go for a fresh new backpack

Maybe you go out camping or make many bicycle trips. It is easy and great to have a backpack  ( rugzak )of your own then. A fresh new model that will carry all your necessities during vacation time. In september you put your schoolbooks in it.

Zebra bags are made out of PU and therefore this are great strong bags. Maybe pastel colours for the girls and deep colours for the boys? They are all available now. Get inspired by taking an online look at Zebra bags ( Zebra tas ).

These bags have great prints like animals and cars for example. For every boy or girl there is a backpack kid ( rugzak kind ). There even is one with a stuffed animal to it, a bunny. A great extra for the youngest ones.

Zebra shopper for grownups

As a parent you maybe think: I want a new bag too. Zebra has also great shoppers for grownups. In all kind of colours like ocher yellow, lightblue or green. And so on. With the suèdelook this bag is a real eye cather. Closed with a zipper the bag will take care of all your necessities. You can wear the bag in your hand or over your shoulder. There are also shoppers made out of artifical leather. Great bags, and a Zebra bag is good start of your vacation.

Go outdoor, go Fjällraven! (and this is why)

People love to go into the countryside. Hiking, walking, running, cycling. It becomes more and more popular. So do outdoor brands. Especially one that helps keeping nature intact. And you can do also.

We will explain this.

Outdoor weekends and holidays are popular. After working fulltime at the office people want to go out. Mostly out of the city and being part of nature.

Staying in a cabin in the woods, in a tent on a camping place and make daily walks through the country, that is what people like. Also going out on a bike, a racingbike or a mountainbike, is a hit. Therefore outdoor brands are doing great and one of them is Fjällraven.

The Kånken is famous for it’s logo with the arctic fox

The Swedish brand became most popular with the creation of outdoor clothes and the Fjallraven Kanken in 1978. A backpack made out of strong and waterproof materials that can be worn everyday under all kind of weather circumstances. It is famous for its logo with the arctic fox on it.

Did you know that a part of the profit of the Kånken is used for projects to save nature? In the first years, the seventies and eightees, this money was invested in conservation of the population of the arctic fox. It became a succes. The arctic fox is back on track. After this project other sustainable projects were launched. And its still going on.

Fjällraven is a nature loving brand

So, by buying a Fjallraven backpack like the Kånken you cooperate with Fjällraven to preserve nature. That gives Fjällraven buyers a good feeling. And of course this is important at the same time. If you want to go out in the country and enjoy nature by being outdoor, you want it to stay like that.

Avoid polution, keep on the pathways and help preserving nature by buying things consciously. Fjallraven is a great example of a nature loving brand that works on it.

Unraveling the Mysteries of Culture

Professor Geert Hofstede, one of the Netherlands’ most widely cited and translated scholars, passed away in February 2020, at the age of 91. Hofstede is known for his pioneering research on cross-cultural groups and organizations and has been a great source of inspiration to those who have tried to unravel the mysteries of culture. At the heart of Professor Hofstede’s work is the question: what are the mutual role expectations between the archetypical role pair of teacher and students in different cultures? The way these roles are played is guided by deeply-rooted values which lead to feelings about good and evil, right and wrong, rational and irrational, proper and improper. These feelings burden cross-cultural learning with premature judgments that can come from teachers, students and parents.

Social Dilemmas

Through his research, Geert Hofstede extracted four fundamental social dilemmas: the relationship to power (hierarchical or egalitarian), the relationship to the group (collectivistic or individualistic), the relationship to motivation and, finally, the relationship to uncertainty, culminating in his four cultural dimensions: the Hofstede Model. These dimensions have helped many people better understand the perplexities of cross-cultural education, most of which I have experienced and witnessed myself as an expat child, expat parent and intercultural trainer.

Educational Track

Consider the power dilemma and the different social positions teachers have in different cultures. In cultures that are more sensitive to hierarchy, as I witnessed as a child in Colombia, students from privileged families will often have access to a privileged educational track – private schools, private tutors and a wealth of learning resources – but not so in more egalitarian cultures. In the Netherlands, a teacher is nothing more or less than anybody else. The same applies to the students – one is not better than the other. The Dutch school system is anti-elitist and there are relatively few private schools in the country. Kids attending a private school are often seen as rich kids who do not have the intellectual capacity to successfully complete ‘normal’ schools. This egalitarian approach often baffles parents from cultures in which different school systems cater to the different needs of the various social groups in society.

More egalitarian and individualistic cultures have developed a more conceptual learning style, requiring students to apply their knowledge in different situations

Teaching Style

Adding the dimension of individualism to the equation, the differences become even larger. Contemplate the way knowledge is managed. In the Chinese Confucian tradition, the ‘teacher’ is the most respected profession. The Chinese and many other hierarchical and collectivistic cultures have developed a reverence for the tutor, the guru. These societies are more likely to have established a rote learning pattern, which, simply put, is the storage of the data in the brain, without necessarily understanding the concept. The teaching style is one-directional, and students become good at copy-pasting. It often involves a focus on the creation of tacit knowledge, knowing what to do or say rather than why.

Other, more egalitarian and individualistic cultures have developed a more conceptual learning style, requiring students to apply their knowledge in different situations. There is more focus on explicit knowledge – knowing how. Having switched from these different styles myself, from rote learning in Latin America to conceptual learning after returning to the Netherlands, I remember having been frustrated with the apparent disorder in my new Dutch classroom. I saw little respect for the teachers and could hardly develop respect myself for these teachers, who let us, children, find our own ways – creating what seemed to me a mess.


Hofstede has also described how societies have different inclinations to avoid uncertainty – this is demonstrated in how one society will focus on the relevance of the curriculum, while another will find a more flexible learning path acceptable. In the former, especially if these are more hierarchical and centralized, it is normal for the curriculum to be dictated ‘from above’. Methodology and content are closely monitored by the government. A teacher is expected to be the expert and have all the answers; deference and obedience are virtues. In other – individualistic and decentralized – cultures, such as the Netherlands, schools and their faculty have more freedom to develop their own curriculum and learning method. The learning outcomes are measured against a standard set by the Ministry of Education. Also, teachers in these cultures welcome and stimulate intellectual challenge by students. Critical thinking is seen as a skill that is important to develop and a great asset later in life, in the workplace.

A six, on a scale of ten, is a good enough score to pass their courses and gives the children spare time to enjoy other aspects of life


We have discussed how the differences in hierarchy, individualism and uncertainty affect cross- cultural education. The final difference in the Hofstede framework is in what motivates students. The Netherlands, often to the astonishment of expat parents, has what we call the zesjes culture: the culture of the sixes. A six, on a scale of ten, is a good enough score to pass their courses and gives the children spare time to enjoy other aspects of life. I attended university in the United States with a group of 18 Dutch students. Rather than trying to be the best in the class, we helped each other achieve our goal to earn our master’s degree, all the while allowing us to enjoy the pleasures of local Arizona life which included rafting, hiking, skiing and hot tubbing – pleasures we did not have back home. Later in life and back in the United States, my wife and I were put off by the high level of competition our son was subjected to in elementary school.

We cannot expect local schools to adapt their style and methods to the needs of all their expat students. We can expect tutors, adolescent students and parents, however, to develop an awareness of the different roles and learning expectations that exist in cross-cultural education. “Thank you for helping me take off my cultural glasses,” said one expat parent after one of my workshops. “I am more confident now that my 11-year-old daughter will get the education we want her to have. And, I guess, she’d better become a more outspoken and a critical thinker in order to defend herself here in the Netherlands.” I was not sure her wink was one of relief or mockery.

Geert Hofstede has provided us with a unique and valuable systematic framework for assessing and differentiating national cultures and organizational cultures, even in education. We will honor Hofstede’s legacy by accepting his guidance and helping each other to recognize, understand, accept and reconciliate cultural differences. It will help us remove our prejudices and see that we have more in common than not.

Jan Vincent Meertens is author, consultant and coach specializing in cross-cultural interaction. He is chairman of the Connect2Us Foundation and Associate Partner of Hofstede- Insights.

Have you ever worn an Eastpak? It is about time

Eastpak is the most popular worn backpack. It already exists since the fifties of the last century. We will tell you the story.

The first Eastpak was made in the fifties for the American Army. Soldiers had to walk comfortable and have their hands free. The first Eastpak bag  ( eastpak tas ) was born. Great bags made of strong materials.

Students at the universities noticed these strong backpacks immediately and started using them for taking their books with them. After that also other students at highschools wanted an Eastpak.

Lots of students want the Eastpak out of office

Nowadays the Eastpak backpack is still a strong brand. Lots of students still want an Eastpak bag. The Matt and nat is the most basic Eastpak that is worn to school. With its rounded top you recognize this bag immediately. The bag is available in many colours and many prints.

In the Out of office fits a 13 inch laptop and it contents 27 liters. Place enough for all your necessities. Made out of polyester this is a strong backpack that goes for years. It has padded shoulder straps so it carries very comfortable on the back.

A great Fanny pack: the Eastpak Springer

An other popular model is the Herschel. A great Fanny pack for everyday use. You wear it around your hips or crossbody. Made out of polyester it can hold your wallet, keys and creditcards. You wear it close to your body so pick pockets have no chance.

This comfortable small bag became popular for use during festivals, but nowadays they are used for far more purposes. Even when you go shopping it is an easy to carry bag.

They are made in many colours and have a strong zipper on the front. Do you go for a grey or black one, or are you more into a pink or green Springer? Combine it with your outfit, and you will be fashionable all the way.

Lassus Tandartsen – Your Expat Dentist in Amsterdam

Find all the dental care you need at Lassus Tandartsen: a modern and expat-orientated dental practice founded in 1982, with three offices located in the centre of Amsterdam.

Lassus Tandartsen combines high-quality dentistry and a people-oriented approach to provide you with the best in dental care services. We offer you a wide range of dental treatments, such as general dentistry, dental hygiene, veneers, (invisible) braces, implantology, endodontics and more.

We are open seven days a week, including evening hours, and are a multilingual practice that embraces the diversity of our clients. All staff speak fluent English and there are dentists who also speak French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

Instead of waiting to visit your dentist in your home country, give yourself peace of mind by easily scheduling an appointment at one of our three centrally-located clinics.

All staff speak fluent English and there are dentists who also speak French, German, Spanish and Portuguese

Dutch Dental Care Explained

Whether you’ve just arrived or have already been living in the Netherlands for a while, it’s not always easy to find a good dentist or to know how the Dutch dental system works. Here’s an overview written by owner and dentist at Lassus Tandartsen – Thomas Rietrae – outlining some of the key aspects including: types of practices, dental specialisations, insurance, treatment costs and tips for finding a dentist.

Dental Care in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, dental care is provided by university-educated dentists, all of whom are government-registered. The quality of care, also in comparison with other countries, is excellent. The Dutch visit their dentist on a regular basis – approximately 85% go once or twice a year. As a result, only a relatively small part of the population has badly cared-for teeth.

Types of Practices

Almost all dental practices in the Netherlands are private, there are no state practices. Most of them are modest undertakings with one dentist and one assistant. In the larger cities there are larger practices consisting of several dentists, a number of assistants and dental hygienists. This allows the practice to diversify its services. Keep in mind that many practices in the Netherlands are full and therefore cannot take on any new patients, so it might take some time to find one for you (and your family).


Dentistry is privatised in the Netherlands, i.e. the patient is responsible for the payment of the costs of the treatment, not the insurance company. However, under Dutch basic health insurance, the insurance company will fully cover all costs of dentistry for children up to the age of 18 as well as dental surgery for adults. All other dental care, which constitutes the majority of care provided, can only be insured when you have an additional insurance. This supplementary insurance can cover up to 75% of the costs. For the exact coverage, please check the policy terms or contact the insurer.


Dentistry is privatised in the Netherlands, i.e. the patient is responsible for the payment of the costs of the treatment, not the insurance company. However, under Dutch basic health insurance, the insurance company will fully cover all costs of dentistry for children up to the age of 18 as well as dental surgery for adults. All other dental care, which constitutes the majority of care provided, can only be insured when you have an additional insurance. This supplementary insurance can cover up to 75% of the costs. For the exact coverage, please check the policy terms or contact the insurer.


In the Netherlands, all regular dental specialities can be found. The best-known are oral surgeons, who are usually affiliated with a hospital, and orthodontists, who usually have a private practice. Moreover, the number of periodontists (who specialize in gums), endodontist (root canal specialists), implantologists and children’s dentists is steadily growing. Patients are referred to these specialists by regular dentists. A growing number of Dutch dentists employ the services of a dental hygienist, but in the larger cities in particular, there are also separate dental hygienist practices. Patients can visit these practices without a referral from their dentists.

Other Issues of Interest

All dentists in the Netherlands must comply with the rules on hygiene as set out by the Dutch
government. Most dentists will give a local anaesthetic before a painful treatment. Nitrous oxide is seldom used and when it is, this is only done by a limited number of specialized dentists.


Rates are determined by the Dutch healthcare authority (Nederlandse Zorgautoriteit NZa) and the Minister of Health. This means that prices are the same at all dental practices in the Netherlands.

Thomas Rietrae is a practicing dentist and the owner of Lassus Tandartsen, an international, multilingual dental clinic with three offices in Amsterdam with a focus on quality service and care. Lassus Tandartsen is open 365 days a year, including evenings.


Lassusstraat 9, 1075 GV Amsterdam
Keizersgracht 132, 1015 CW Amsterdam
Stadionplein 125, 1076 CK Amsterdam

T 020 – 4713137

Opening hours

Mondays – Thursdays:  8 A.M. – 9:30 P.M.
Fridays:  8 A.M. –5:30 P.M.
Saturdays and Sundays: 9 A.M. – 4 P.M.

Little Star Fitness

If you happen to stroll through Vondelpark near Emmalaan on a Saturday morning, you will probably hear the sounds of children laughing and running around, soaking up the sunshine whilst they learn about and develop their sporting skills. This is Little Star Fitness, the hottest craze that both parents and children are loving right now. This forward-thinking business offers children classes in sports, dance, aerial silks, circus and nutrition. In addition to their educational classes, they also offer party entertainment and holiday camps. The founder and owner of Little Star Fitness, Michelle Murphy, developed this innovative program based on her 10-year experience in teaching PE and personal training. Growing up in Australia, she knew first-hand the importance, for children, of learning and playing outdoors. Michelle knew how much the children of Amsterdam would benefit from a program that gives them the opportunity to improve their fine and gross motor skills, co-ordination and rhythm whilst being outdoors in the fresh air. Five years on, Michelle expanded Little Star fitness by partnering up with TK Roberts, who further strengthened the programs with her extensive background in gymnastics and aerial acrobatics.

Children who participate in regular physical activity develop not only teamwork and leadership skills, but also receive a boost in self-esteem, experience stress relief, and develop life-long healthy lifestyle habits.

Little Star Fitness offers seven different programs all year round. Their sports classes are offered to children aged 2-12 years. Whether it be football, rugby, tennis, hockey, golf, softball or athletics, the sessions are pure fun and absolutely enjoyed by everyone. From May to October, you will find the children in Vondelpark – during the colder months the program is delivered indoors on several locations throughout Amsterdam.

Regular physical activity fosters teamwork and leadership skills, while giving a boost to self-esteem, lowering stress, and fostering life-long healthy lifestyle habits

The Groovers dance class, which focuses on a variety of disciplines, is taught on weekend mornings in Amsterdam Zuid. Each session is filled with specific dance technique, games, music and endless amounts of fun. Skills such as body co-ordination and expression, musical rhythm, relation time lapse-move, balance and concentration are developed.

The Acro circus and Aerial Silks classes are the most recent additions to their program. Unique in itself, the Aerial Silks class is a specialized class for children aged 7-12. Aerial Silks is a form of aerial acrobatics that allows one to climb in, and do many tricks from, two large fabrics suspended from the ceiling. The children learn many fun skills and techniques in order to master the silks safely and effectively. In this class, they gain strength, flexibility and endurance. They also have fun creating their own routines and playing games in order to learn proper technique. The Acro Stars class is designed for children aged 4-12. The children explore a variety of circus skills, such as aerial silks, juggling, handstands, hula hooping, trapeze and tumbling. Circus is a great way to further develop the essentials of any physical activity: strength, coordination, balance and flexibility.

Complementing their class programs, the team also offers party entertainment and holiday camps – both indoor and outdoor throughout the year.

If you are looking for a fun, innovative and educational program for your children, then Little Star Fitness is the place to be. Whether your child’s interest lies in sports, dance, circus or aerial silks, the team at Little Star Fitness is there to cater for all levels and experience. Head to their website to find out more, or chat to Michelle and TK to find the answer to any questions you may have.

Please contact:
call: 0611076992
or visit their website:

The Dutch School Attendance Law

This article was originally published in The XPat Journal Spring 2018 Issue By Annebeth van Mameren Last year there was a lot of commotion on the playground of a small town in the south of the Netherlands. What had happened? A family from the school had gone skiing and had posted some photos of their holiday …

This article was originally published in The XPat Journal Spring 2018 Issue

By Annebeth van Mameren

Last year there was a lot of commotion on the playground of a small town in the south of the Netherlands. What had happened? A family from the school had gone skiing and had posted some photos of their holiday on Facebook. This had upset some dutiful (or maybe jealous) parents who had felt the need to inform the truancy officers. As a result, the family was fined 400 euros.

Only people who are familiar with the Dutch School Attendance (Leerplicht) Law would understand what the issue was here. Children may only miss school under very specific circumstances, and a skiing holiday isn’t one of them. The parents had told the school that their children were sick, while the smiling pictures told another story.

To stop you as an international parent from winding up with a hefty fine, it is important to understand this Leerplicht Law. Written in 1969, the law dictates that children aged 5 to 16 (or 18 if they don’t have a diploma yet) must attend school during term time (unless they are unwell, of course). To be precise, the plicht (obligation) takes effect on the first day of the month following a child’s fifth birthday.

The Dutch summer holiday lasts for six weeks, and children are off for an additional six weeks, spread out over the year. You are only supposed to go away during these official school holidays.

This law is taken seriously; just before and after the main school holidays, truancy officers at Schiphol airport check whether school-aged children have official permission to miss school. If not, the usual fine for the parents is 100 euros per day. In case of multiple offences, the parents might even have to appear in court. After all, they have broken the law.

There are a few exceptions to this strict law: work commitments, family events, religious celebrations, and on the grounds of age (for 4 and 5 year olds). Below you will find a brief description of each of them, and how you can apply for these exceptions.

Work Reasons

With seasonal work, work in the tourist sector, farming, and other jobs that peak in high season, you may not be able to go away during the school holidays. In this case, you can ask for maximum of 10 days off every school year. You’ll have to fill out a form called an Aanvraagformulier vakantieverlof (LPW art. 11f). You can request it from your school’s admin department, or it may be available on the school’s website.

Together with this form you need to submit a statement from your employer. Parents who are self-employed must submit a self-written declaration with a plausible explanation as to why they have to work during the school holidays. You have to put in your request with the headteacher at least eight weeks before your planned departure. Also keep in mind that your child may not be absent during the first two weeks of the new school year.

Family Events

Families with relatives in other countries often miss each other most on special occasions, be they happy or sad ones. Parents want to be part of these occasions, with their children, but how does that work with school? For these situations, the truancy officers have created another form, called an Aanvraagformulier verlof wegens gewichtige omstandigheden (LPW art. 11g). Gewichtige omstandigheden stands for ‘significant circumstances’ and these are tightly specified.

They include moving house, a wedding, a family member’s milestone wedding anniversary, and when a family member is terminally ill or has passed away. Here, ‘family members’ means first-, second- or third-degree relatives (for example, parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, uncles, and aunts). The maximum duration of leave has been set out in the law, for example a maximum of five days for a wedding abroad.

If a relative is seriously ill, the duration of the leave is established together with the school’s headteacher. If this leave exceeds 10 days, the headteacher has to forward your request to the truancy officers, who will take the final decision.

The last valid listed reason on the aforementioned form is ‘other reasons the headteacher deems important’. This is a bit subjective, and sometimes you have some wiggle room here. Try to figure out what the headteacher of your school finds important enough. In any case, it has to be an important family celebration that is taking place on a specific date over which the parents have no influence. For example, a family reunion, or visiting a newborn cousin, is not specific enough. The headteacher would ask why they need to happen on the days specified, and would generally turn the request down.

To give you an idea, our children were allowed five days off when we went to their grandfather’s 80th birthday celebration in the US. We had arranged for him to celebrate his birthday in the week after our children’s May vacation, and we combined it with the 75th birthday of my husband’s uncle who had invited the entire family. So in this case we were allowed to stay a bit longer on the other side of the pond.

For all requests you have to submit proof, for example a wedding invitation. However, you don’t need to prove that you are related to the bride or groom. Take the time to fill out this form correctly, as you only get one shot. Don’t call the event a family reunion first, and then suddenly declare that your father is getting married for the 5th time after your first request has been rejected. It is also very important to choose your words carefully, for instance avoiding using the word ‘holiday’ on the form!

“Truancy officers at Schiphol airport check whether school-aged children have official permission to miss school”

Religious Celebrations

A pupil has the right to take a day off when they have obligations arising from their religion or belief. This is only valid for the day of the celebration. So you may not take off the whole week in order to celebrate Eid with your family in your home country.

On the officially-recognized Christian holidays, all schools, including non-religious ones, and schools of other faiths, are closed.


Most children begin school the day after their 4th birthday, which means that for the first year they are not legally obliged to attend school. However, once your child has started school, s/he is expected to attend every day. If you feel that your child needs to miss a day, you should inform the teacher, so they know where your child is. If your child is going to be absent for multiple days, you should still fill out the above-mentioned forms. In this case it is very likely that your request for an extended absence will be granted.

“It is very important to choose your words carefully, for instance avoiding using the word ‘holiday’ on the form!”

Exceptions for 5-Year-Olds

Not many parents are aware of the exceptions for 5-year-olds. A 5-year-old child may miss a maximum of 5 hours of school per week. You could use this exemption when attending full school days is still too tiring for your child, or, for example, so they can take swimming lessons during the day, when the pool is not crowded. If there is a special reason, you may ask the headteacher to grant your child a maximum of 10 hours off per week.

I’m sorry to tell you that you may not accumulate these hours over multiple weeks. Furthermore, the exceptions all end once your child turns six.

“Why is the law this strict?” I can hear you cry. “In my country, my children can just go on holiday whenever we want,” you might say. Or: “For my child, a few missed days of school is neither here nor there”. Maybe that is all true, but some children would actually miss a lot of vital education if they stayed away for a while. For example, for those pupils whose parents have less formal education and/or don’t speak Dutch, it might be hard for them to catch up.

The law is the same for everyone. The headteacher cannot make an exception for one child, but not for the other. ‘Regels zijn regels’ (‘rules are rules’) is a phrase that you’ll often hear in this context. Furthermore, for continuity for the teacher, and from a social perspective, it is important that the pupils experience all celebrations and events together. They start and end the year together, and the school’s Christmas lunch is a memorable event that they will keep on talking about in the months that follow!

You should also be aware that the school is obliged to report all non-valid absences. If the headteacher gives permission for an invalid reason, the school can get fined. In other words, they don’t have a lot of leeway. If you are frustrated by the Leerplicht Law, this hopefully at least provides you with a bit of context.

Pilot Schools

In 2011, eleven schools in the country were designated pilot schools, which are allowed to experiment with more flexible holidays. The parents love this initiative, but as for most schools the results have gone down and the pressure on the teachers has increased, the school inspectorate isn’t overly positive. Nevertheless, the pilot has been extended to 2018, and now includes 20 schools. Who knows, maybe it will become easier to take time off in the future – at least a few days here and there. As a parent I would be very grateful to say the least!

Useful links
You can find more info on the ‘leerplicht‘ (in Dutch) at

Annebet van Mameren is founder of New2nl

Three Unique Living Opportunities in The Hague

Living in The Hague means living in the only large Dutch city by the sea! Just a stone’s throw away from the beautiful historic city centre with its stately buildings, you will find more than 10 kilometres of beach and unspoilt dunes. Just 15 minutes on the tram will allow you to breathe in the fresh seaside air and enjoy the sound of the waves. Just one of the reasons that The Hague is such a popular place with people looking for properties. Let’s take a look at three unique new build and transformed property developments currently being realised by leading national developer and builder, VORM, in various parts of The Hague:

De Stadhouders

“De Stadhouders” are named after several important Stadtholders from the 17th century. The project is being constructed right on the border of the popular Statenkwartier and Duinoord city districts, which is one of the most sought-after living and working locations in The Hague. This new residential complex consist of three buildings, one for each of the Stadtholders. The inner courtyard will be transformed into a green and car-free city square. Apartments in the tallest of the three buildings, Frederik Hendrik, are currently up for sale, while the other two buildings will be developed over the next year. In total, 260 new homes are planned in this development, all combining the luxury of a hotel with the relaxation of your own space. The apartments, which are on offer in a range of sizes, are characterised by spacious living areas and beautiful panoramic views of the city and the beach. All feature a Bulthaup kitchen, two bathrooms and have their own parking and storage facilities. Would you like to know more?


The beautiful and monumental Berlagehuis in the heart of The Hague is in the process of being completely transformed into a residential accommodation. As a national heritage site, the building benefits from a stunning entrance hall, beautiful communal areas and high ceilings with interesting architectural details. The 57 stunning new homes will preserve the exceptional qualities of the building. Every home will be unique and will be available as town houses, apartments and penthouses. Parking is available on the site. There is even an opportunity for new homeowners to purchase a separate studio or atelier in the building, perfect for people who want to pursue a creative lifestyle or who want to have extra storage space or lay down an extensive wine cellar! Of course, the location of the Berlagehuis in the heart of the city is perfect, as it is close to all amenities. Access to public transport is good and motorway connections are within easy reach. More information can be found here.

Binck Plaats

Binck Plaats (Binck Place) is part of a larger development project in the Binckhorst, situated on the side of Voorburg. The site, which was previously home to a large industrial warehouse complex, is to be transformed into 46 spacious family homes. The homes vary in living space between around 164 m2 and 186 m2 across three or four levels.

The homes lend themselves to a number of divisions, with the ground floor providing ideal work/living spaces, and first floors being offered in a range of depths. Upper floors can be utilised for bedrooms or bathrooms, and properties benefit from gardens up to 15 metres deep. A parking garage is included in the development and homes offer views of the neighbouring waterways and open green spaces. Building is due to start in the middle of 2018 with the properties being delivered towards the end of 2019. Discover more.

VORM, the homemakers

VORM is a national developer and builder. We concentrate on locations where people love to live, both inside and outside of our towns and cities. Lively neighbourhoods, beautiful streets, and beloved architecture all play a role in projects that give people a real feeling of “coming home”. With a focus on sustainable and responsible projects, as well as the possibility of arranging finance and insurance, VORM can help you make your dream of a new home into a reality. If you would like to find out more about one of these unique developments in The Hague, click on the links to register your interest and we will keep you informed on the homes under construction and about open days.

Special Needs Education in the Netherlands

By Annebet van Mameren

In general, the Dutch education system works very well, but because of its unique features and many different types of schools, a lot of international parents have a tough job identifying the right school for their children.

This job is made even tougher if your child needs some extra support in school. In this article Annebet van Mameren from New2nl explains how to find your way in this unfamiliar world.

Inclusive Education

The policies around special needs education drastically changed in August 2014, when the current ‘Inclusive Education’ (Passend Onderwijs) Act took effect. This act dictates that all schools are responsible for providing a suitable learning place for every child. Under the ‘Going to school together again’ (Weer Samen naar School) policy, children with and without special needs should be able to go together to the same schools.

In practice, however, this process is much more complicated and less straightforward than it sounds.

Parents first register their preschooler with a mainstream school, which is obliged to investigate whether they can provide the (external) support this child may need. Regional alliances (samenwerkingsverbanden) consisting of both mainstream schools and special needs (SEN) schools receive their own budgets for educational support.

Not all mainstream schools are equally equipped for, or experienced in, teaching non-Dutch children with special needs, so parents should select the school very carefully. You should ask the school in advance about their previous experiences with providing the specific support your child needs, and how they would handle your specific situation. Also ask for their formal support plan (ondersteuningsplan), which describes their procedures for special needs support.

It is also important to know that the classes at many regular schools have 28 to 30 children, and that additional, external support is often limited to a few hours per week.

If your child already attends a mainstream school, and you suspect they need more learning support, your first point of contact in the school is the IB’er, who is the member of staff who performs the role of care coordinator. He or she can carry out some additional tests or ask for help from an external specialist.

Types of Special Needs Education

If the support required turns out to be too specialised or intensive, the child might be referred to a dedicated special needs school. There are three main types of special needs education: Speciaal basisonderwijs (SBO), and speciaal onderwijs at both primary (SO) and secondary (VSO) levels.

At SBO schools, the pupils follow the same programme and have the same government-set core objectives as regular primary schools. However, the classes at these schools are smaller, which ensures that the children receive more personal attention and tailor-made support. They also get more time to complete primary school (till age 14, instead of age 12).

This type of education especially caters for children who have more serious learning difficulties, a low IQ, or behavioural problems.

At the dedicated special needs schools (speciaal onderwijs), there are four cluster schools based on the type of special needs. Also here, the class sizes are smaller than at regular schools, and the children receive more tailor-made and specialised support and therapies focused on their specific needs. The teachers teach at different levels in the class, and most children follow the regular curriculum.

The speciaal onderwijs schools are divided into the following clusters:

  • Cluster 1 schools are meant for children who are visually impaired or blind
  • Cluster 2 is for children who have serious communication problems (deaf, speech disorder, etc.)
  • Cluster 3 schools welcome children who have cognitive or physical disabilities, or a chronic illness that makes going to school difficult
  • Finally, cluster 4 schools are for children with psychiatric or serious behavioural issues (autism, ADHD, PDD-NOS, ODD, CD, etc.).

These cluster schools often work together in order to provide the most suitable support. Some complications could arise, though, if a child doesn’t fit precisely into one of the clusters. Some extra tests, interviews, and meetings with the parents might then be required.

After a SEN Primary School

After a special needs primary school, a child can go to either a regular secondary school (with extra support, if needed), or a special needs school at secondary level (VSO). A special needs school at secondary level needs to make an educational plan with the child and guide them towards a suitable career.

When a pupil makes enough progress at the special needs school, they may transfer to a regular (primary or secondary) school.

The (Lengthy) Process of Applying for a Special Needs School

If your child grows up in the Netherlands, their development will be routinely monitored by the Consultatiebureau (GGD/OKC), a health clinic for babies and toddlers. In case of any irregularities, they may refer you to a specialist. If needed, this specialist can help you apply for additional support at a mainstream school, or for a special needs school.

In order for your child to be accepted into a special needs school, they should first get a referral, which is issued by the regional alliance in your place of residence. This referral is called a toelaatbaarheidsverklaring (tlv) – literarily translated as ‘permissibility statement’.

Your child will have to go through several observations and tests, and – as their parent – you will be interviewed. It is often a long and tiring process.

Support for International Parents of SEN Children

Support for international parents is available at local and national levels.

A specialised educational consultant (onderwijsconsulent) can assist your family in this process. An onderwijsconsulent is an independent educational specialist who has a lot of experience with SEN children. Parents don’t need to pay for the help of this consultant.

At the bottom of this article, there is a list of some more organisations and support groups that can help you through the process.

If you are arriving in the Netherlands with a child who has already had special needs support, you need to register this with the municipality (Gemeente) during the registration process, so that the appropriate steps can be taken to put adequate support in place. You can try and speed up this lengthy process by arranging as many things as possible prior to your arrival.

Leonardo Schools

There is another type of special needs school that I haven’t mentioned yet: the Leonardo schools for gifted children. Usually they are regular schools that have a dedicated department for gifted children who are offered extra cognitive challenges and subjects. These schools have their own admission criteria.

Special Needs Support in International Schools

Most international schools in the Netherlands (both state-funded and private) work with Special Educational Needs (SEN) teachers. Usually they can only accommodate a limited number of SEN-children a year. You may have to pay for a teaching assistant. Please make sure you understand how this works beforehand.

In the Netherlands, there is only one international special needs school: Lighthouse Special Education, located in The Hague. They specialise in complex behavioural and/or developmental problems.

To conclude, I would like to say that whatever support your child needs and whichever route you take, don’t forget that you are your child’s advocate. Stay in close contact with your child’s teachers, and talk with other parents who are in a similar situation. Be pro-active and make sure to get all the support you are entitled to. You all need to work together in your child’s best interest.

Good luck finding your way!

Annebet van Mameren is founder of