New registration system for Dutch primary schools

As of 1 October 2018 the registration system for Dutch primary schools in The Hague will change: children can be registered at the age of 3 years and parents will be able to indicate a preference for several schools. The Municipality of The Hague and the various Dutch primary school administrations are introducing these new measures to meet the needs of parents and fulfil legal regulations. International schools have been exempted from this arrangement.

Primary school The Hague

Primary school The Hague

New procedure
Children who should have been registered at the age of 1 year on 1 October 2016 will be able to make use of the new measures. Those children will be 3 years old by 1 October 2018, the moment the new measures come into force. These children can then be registered at several primary schools at once. All children registered before 1 October 2015 will still follow the old procedure.

Old procedure
The Hague changed the registration system for primary school children in 2013. The intention of the system was to put an end to the practice of ‘first come, first served’. At certain schools parents were registering their babies before they were even born to ensure a spot for them at the most popular schools.

Many parents found the system unfair and not transparent. After extensive discussions the municipality and the school administrations decided in favour of a uniform age when parents could register their children. This became the child’s first birthday. It was also decided that this new procedure would be evaluated after a few years. This evaluation began in 2015.

Too many uncertainties
The evaluation showed that 95% of the children are able to attend the school at which they were registered, which is a positive development. However, the measures still need to be adapted as a small majority of the parents objected to the registration age of 1 year. They argued that their child was not yet far enough in his development for them to know what kind of school or type of education would best suit their child. Another argument was that the family could move before the child started school. Some 25% of the parents actually did move.

In addition The Hague had to conform to the Law on Primary Education, which was adapted to allow a child to be registered at a primary school at the age of 3 years.

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