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Your school search overseas – Special Educational Needs


1st April 2018 at 15:08

Dear Carole, this is a really useful post.
However, I would urge caution regarding the provision in The Netherlands for children with special needs. The ‘Passend Onderwijs’ provision is about finding the right school place for each child (as you say) and this is not the same as an inclusive approach, which can be confusing to families new to The Netherlands. Although there is some provision for supporting children in mainstream education, this remains very limited and many children have to move into special education. There is just not the expertise (yet) amongst mainstream teachers nor the funds to always buy in this support.
The Dutch educational system is organised into Clusters and special schools are generally specialised Cluster schools.
Cluster 1: Blind and visually impaired children; Cluster 2: Deaf, hearing impaired and language disordered children; Cluster 3: Physically disabled, cognitive disabled and chronically sick children; Cluster 4: Children with behavioural disorders, developmental disorders and psychiatric disorders.
There is a layer between mainstream and special education at primary school level called Special Primary School. These schools have more expertise, smaller class sizes and children with a range of different learning disabilities.
Families moving to The Netherlands with children with special needs should be prepared for the local school to refer them to special education.
Having said this, there are pockets of good practice and forward thinking, some schools are beginning to be more inclusive, especially in the younger years. Let’s hope this continues to develop!
Regarding International education, the majority of schools are (partly) subsidised by the Minisitry of Education and they follow the same structure as Dutch schools as regards special education. There is only one English language special school in The Netherlands for expats. This is the Lighthouse Special Education School in The Hague.

    Carole Hallett Mobbs
    1st April 2018 at 21:07

    Hi Helen,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your valuable advice. It’s so informative and useful that I have included it in the main article so everyone sees it. I hope that’s OK!

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