Children aged 5 to 16 are obliged to attend full-time education. In certain circumstances, your child might be exempted from compulsory school attendance. This is called vrijstelling van leerplicht (exemption from compulsory school attendance). In that case, your child does not have to go to school. Where you apply for the exemption depends on the situation.
With an exemption from compulsory education, your child does not have to attend school. There are 3 types of exemption (in Dutch):
Can your 5-year-old child not yet cope with a full school week? Then your child may attend school for 5 hours less. You can request this from the head of the primary school. Does your child need more rest? Then you may request an additional 5 hours of exemption. This too can be requested from the head of the primary school.
In some cases, you can request exemption for part of the school year for your child. This can be done with the municipality. You must do this before 1 July for each school year. These are a few situations in which you can request exemption:
- Your child is seriously ill. Or your child is facing challenges such as autism or depression. For exemption, you need a statement from a doctor, psychologist or educator. Your child's own GP may not make this declaration.
- You have an objection about the philosophy or religion being taught at the school in your neighbourhood. You can apply for exemption in this case op grond van richtingbezwaar (on grounds of directional objection). For this exemption, you must make a declaration to your municipality.
- Your child is registered in the Netherlands, but attends school abroad. For this exemption, you must make a declaration to your municipality.
- You have a travelling profession, for example as a circus artist. Your child can be exempted from enrolling in a school for part of the year. For this exemption, you must make a declaration to your municipality.
There are times when your child does not have to attend school for good reason. This is called geoorloofd schoolverzuim (permissible school absence). Examples of permissible school absenteeism are:
Your child is ill. Report this to the headmaster of your school within 2 days.
- Does your child have to attend a wedding or funeral? If so, the school headmaster must give permission in advance.
- Do you want your child to be free on a (religious) holiday such as Eid al-Fitr or Yom Kippur? If so, tell the head of the school in advance. Apply for exemption from the head of the school for this purpose.
Your child will only be given leave to go on holiday outside the school holidays if:
- it is not in the first 2 weeks after the summer holidays;
- your work prevents you from going on holiday during the school holidays;
- you have not yet been on holiday outside the school holidays this school year;
- you cannot go on holiday with your family 2 weeks in a row, in any school holidays.
This is how it works in your (future) place of residence
Children may go to school upon turning 4 years of age. Children must attend compulsory education from the first day of the month after which they turn 5 years of age. Compulsory education means that children of 5 years of age and above must go to school 5 days per week. Compulsory education ends at the end of the school year in which children turn 16 years of age.
In special circumstances, parents/guardians can request an exemption from obligatory registration at school.
Requests for additional leave up to a maximum of ten school days, can be made to the school's director. In such cases, the decision-making authority is the school director. They make a decision in compliance with laws and regulations. A school director is not allowed to grant leave for everything.
Requests for eleven school days or more additional leave must be made to the attendance officer (leerplichtambtenaar). The school director can forward your request to the attendance officer. In such cases, the decision-making authority is the attendance officer. They make a decision in compliance with laws and regulations. The request must be made at least eight weeks in advance. You can find the application form for extra leave by clicking on the green button on the right-hand side of this page.
According to the Law on Compulsory Education (Leerplichtwet) leave can be granted for:
- Moving house: no more than one day;
- For attending to legal obligations, if these cannot take place outside class times;
- Family members' anniversaries (one day);
- In the event of the serious illness or death of a family member (duration to be agreed);
- Other circumstances beyond the control of the parents and/or pupil.
Therefore, schools cannot grant extra leave for cheaper holidays in low season, picking up family, travelling with other people, visiting family abroad, previously purchased tickets, lack of availability of tickets in the holiday period, spreading out of holidays, holidays for another child in the family, other children in the family being already free or still free, leaving early or returning later due to traffic congestion, significant birthdays, sabbaticals, world tours or similar reasons.
If the particular nature of the occupation of one of the parents means that holidays cannot be taken during school holidays, then leave may be granted once a year. The concept of the particular nature of the occupation means occupations in sectors with high levels of activity at specific times, making it virtually impossible for the family to go on holiday during these times. It must be reasonably easy to predict that a holiday during the school holidays would lead to insurmountable business problems. Parents must be able to prove this. The fact that only a significant part of the turnover is achieved during the school holidays is not sufficient.
Within these conditions, holiday leave may:
- Not take place in the first two weeks of classes of the school year;
- Amount to once per school year for a maximum of 10 consecutive school days (other holidays or public holidays must not be added to this number).