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In the Netherlands, freedom of education means anyone can start a school as long as it meets the statutory requirements. To set up a new school, a minimum number of pupils needs to be enrolled. Privately founded schools are eligible for government funding.
Applying for approval
A new school needs approval from its local municipality. To attain this, you must report the foundation of your school to the Education Executive Agency (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs, DUO) within four weeks. You must report it in writing to: DUO/OI/BKP/PRODUCTIE 1PO Box 302052500 GE The Hague
If your private education school is a legal entity, make sure to include the statutes and regulations when applying for recognition.
Inspection by the Dutch Inspectorate of Education
After reporting that you have founded a school, the Dutch Inspectorate of Education inspects it and informs the local muncipality's attendance officer whether it meets the statutory requirements of the Compulsory Education Act (Leerplichtwet). If so, approval will be granted by the municipality. The Dutch Inspectorate of Education regularly inspects whether your school meets all requirements. If you do not comply with the Compulsory Education Act, you will be forced to close your school with immediate effect.
Vocational and higher education
Approval is not compulsory for private schools for adult and vocational education (BVE) and higher education. The Dutch Inspectorate of Education will however inspect whether the statutory requirements are being met.
Changes in legislation for founding schools
As of 1 August 2019, new legislation is due to be introduced to make it easier to found new schools. This means that in the future to found a new school, initiative-takers:
- no longer have to found their school according to the principles of a certain religion or world view;
- have to measure interest, produce parental declarations of intention and carry out market research to demonstrate that enrolment is expected to grow;
- school board members and supervisors will need a Certificate of Good Conduct (VOG).
In addition, checks will be carried out to ensure no board members have been associated with schools in the past that were forced to closed due to poor quality.