Expat Essentials

Expat Essentials: Dispatches’ guide to international schools In Amsterdam

(Editor’s note: This is our first installment of a regular Expat Essentials series on international schools in Europe. Terry Boyd also contributed to this post.)

One of the bigger challenges for expat families – even for well-paid corporate nomads – is finding a satisfactory international school. With business growing ever more global, many schools have more applications than spaces. We personally experienced this in Eindhoven, where the Eindhoven International School has a difficult time accommodating all the students who wish to attend. So where ever you’re headed, DO NOT wait to get there before starting the application process, which can be lengthy.

DSCN3167We can help you starting with Amsterdam, one of the most popular destinations both for corporate executives at multinational companies such as Tesla and distiller Brown-Forman Corp., as well as techpats headed for the Netherlands growing startup scene. There are at least 150 international corporations with operations in Amsterdam. Also, The Netherlands is one of a few countries in the world offering government-funded educational facilities to meet the needs of an ever-growing expatriate community.

If possible, you want to check out the schools in person and interview parents. Because, you never know …. This week, the Arab Times had a post about parents complaining about expensive schools in Kuwait that aren’t particularly good. Earlier this year, the Kuwait Ministry of Education issued citations against 20 private and American schools among some 180 schools for violating regulations and raising fees up to 40 percent, although Kuwaiti law does not allow more than a 3-percent increase every three years, according to the post. Many expats also have complained about academic quality – or lack of – with some describing teachers as  “bored housewives.”

So, you’ve brought your family to Europe, settling into your new home for some time to come, and yet, where will your kids obtain quality education? In English?

Below the university level, your best option in non-English speaking nations is an international school. These schools cater to expat students, with English curricula tied to the host nation in question, or an international education organization such as Edexcel, Cambridge International Examinations, and the International Baccalaureate. Also, there are two streams in the Netherlands … the bilingual stream, which is essential local Dutch children who want to attend an international school, and an international stream of foreign students. The biggest difference is essentially in tuition: The Dutch kids pay about half of what foreign students are charged.

With this in mind, here’s a start to finding the international school that’s best for your children, starting with Netherlands’ largest city, Amsterdam.

International School of Amsterdam: We begin with the most obvious choice (it’s in the name, after all), the International School of Amsterdam. Founded in 1964, the international school is 11 kilometers from Amsterdam’s center in nearby Amstelveen. ISA is the first school in the world to offer a complete International Baccalaureate curriculum, from three years of age, all the way to graduation. IB classes all over the world follow essentially the same IB curriculum. So, theoretically, a student could leave an IB program in the States for one in the Netherlands, and pick up at the same lessons in the new school.

  • Fees (2015-16 academic year): 15,800 euros to 23,350 euros annual tuition, depending on grade level; 1,500 euro non-refundable deposit for new students; 250 euro one-time application fee
  • Requirements: Online pre-application; teacher recommendation, records from the last two years at previous or current school (K-12); intake interview upon admission
  • Application Deadline: January 15 for application; February 1 for supporting documentation; May 1 for rolling application supporting documentation
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: www.isa.nl

Logo_British_School_of_Amsterdam_003The British School of Amsterdam: Though the British School of Amsterdam flies the Union Jack alongside the Vlag van Nederland, you needn’t be English to attend this international school. Founded in a portion of a Amsterdam primary school in 1978, BSA spread out to its current three locations in the south of the city in the early 2010s, accommodating 817 students speaking 43 native languages, and ranging in age from early childhood to late teens. The curriculum used by the BSA is based on that of the United Kingdom; instead of As, think A levels.

  • Fees (2015-16 academic year): 5,070 euros to 15,840 euros annual tuition, depending on grade level; 1,500 euro deposit (refundable if no space can be found for each child)
  • Requirements: Completed application for each child; latest school report; copies of each child’s and parent’s passports; passport-sized photo for each child
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for more information
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: www.britams.nl
Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.13.26 PM

Amsterdam International Community School

Amsterdam International Community School: The Amsterdam International Community School’s primary and secondary schools are subsidized by the Dutch government, allowing for a higher quality of education at a competitive price, especially since as with ISA, AICS is an IB World School. AICS is also part of Esprit Scholen, 11 schools in the Netherlands offering “high quality” primary and secondary education “for children and students of all nationalities” living in the country.

  • Fees (2015-16 academic year): 5,585 euros to 8,285 euros annual tuition, depending on grade level; 500 euro deposit (included in tuition; refundable upon withdrawal as long as all other fees are paid in full beforehand); 200 euro non-refundable registration fee
  • Requirements: Completed application; photocopies of child’s and parents’ passports; passport-sized photo of child; school reports for the last two years; Netherlands resident registration (the Historische Gezinsuittreksel)
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for more information
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: aics.espritscholen.nl

Options just outside Amsterdam:

isalmere-header_caption.jpgInternational School Almere: The International School Almere is a International Baccalaureate World School on the edge of Cascade park in Almere Poort, about 25 kilomters east of Amsterdam. “At the International School of Almere, we inspire our students to reach their full potential and through them contribute to a better and more peaceful world by striving for academic excellence, intercultural awareness and mutual respect,” according to their website.

  • Fees: Tuition ranges from 2,750 euros for Middle Years bilingual to 5,250 for Diploma Program international stream. (See the website for a breakdown.) Upon acceptance to the school: a one-time 500 euro deposit and a a non-refundable 200 euro registration fee per student. Other costs: Annual school trip fee is 400 euros per student. The Middle Year’s Program introduction camp is 100 euros per student. The MYP5 exam fee is 600 euros per student and a Diploma Program2 exam fee is 750 euros per student.
  • Requirements:
  1. Where feasible, arrange a visit to the School by scheduling an appointment with the Head of School [email protected]
  2. Request application form from the School’s Administration or download it
  3. Complete and send in the application forms to [email protected]
  4. Please click IGVO registration document.pdf​ for a list of documents needed to be submitted with the application.
  5. Arrange for student to sit entrance test where required. After acceptance parents will receive a letter of confirmation and an invoice for payment of tuition (ISAlmere school fee structure)​​​
  • Application deadline: Enrollment is possible at any time during the school year providing space is available.
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Who attends the IS Almere?
    1. Students with a foreign passport who are moving to the Netherlands (International Stream).
      B. Expat students with Dutch passports who have attended international education (International Stream).
    2. Students with Dutch passport whose parents are planning on moving abroad. These students typically attend the ISAlmere in order to prepare for the move with their parents (International Stream).
    3. Students of Dutch nationality and parents who can demonstrate a particular need for an international education (Bilingual Stream). Applicants must have a HAVO / VWO advice from their primary school
  • Website: http://www.hetbaken.nl/hetbaken/isa/

pict99-1IPS Hilversum: In January 2000, the Violenschool, a primary school, received its official authorization as a member of a select group of schools all over the globe offering the Primary Years Program curriculum of the International Baccalaureate Organization. IPS Hilversum accepts students ages 4 years old (pre-kindergarten) to 12 years old.

  • Fees: 3,250 euros annual tuition fee per student. There is an initial, non-refundable 250 euro enrollment fee
  • Requirements: Completed application which has two parts – one for you, and one for your current school. Application for Enrollment Part I must be signed and submitted with all the requested documentation. Netherlands resident registration (the Historische Gezinsuittreksel).
  • Application Deadline: contact school for more information
  • Contact: Email [email protected]
  • Details: Note that you need to send an initial Request for enrollment before the school can send you a full registration form.
    • The school can accept children of non-Dutch nationality temporarily resident in the region.
    • The school can accept children of Dutch nationality, if written proof is provided that their future education and location is expected to be in a country other than The Netherlands, and they will attend another international or English speaking educational establishment within one to two years. Any extension to this period must be discussed with the headmaster.
    • The school can accept children of Dutch nationality who are returning to The Netherlands having already attended International education or received education in English, and wish to continue their primary education in English.
  • Website: aics.espritscholen.nl

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 2.01.48 PMInternational School Hilversum: The International School Hilversum “Alberdingk Thijm” is an International Baccalaureate World School, offering three programs and catering to all ages from 4 to 19 years old.

  • Fees: are variable, ranging from 4,153 euros for Grade 6 to 6,024 for Grade 12. That tuition does not include a 150 euro registration fee, and 500 euro deposit.
  • Requirements: Complete the enrollment interest form. “Once it is shown that an application is possible, you will be sent a form​al application form,” according to the ISH website.
  • Application Deadline: contact school for more information
  • Contact: Email [email protected]
  • Details: The International School Hilversum offers three programs: The International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years (PY​P), Middle Years (MYP​) and the full Diploma Programme (IBDP). It is one of only a handful of schools in Northern Europe to offer all three programs and so are able to bring the full IB experience to our students.

​​Procedure for Parents wishing to apply to the international section

Please read the “Admissions Policy” of the school to ensure you are eligible for a place in the international section.

For more information: For admissions inquiries to the secondary school, please contact Mr. Glyn Jones, the Assistant Principal through our admissions officer, Ms. Sparidaens:  [email protected]

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Lifestyle journalist. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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