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
Municipality of Steenwijkerland: Exemptions from compulsory school attendance
Please note: you can only apply for an exemption from compulsory education if you live in the Netherlands and are registered with a municipality.
Every child in the Netherlands has the right to education. Your child can go to school when they are 4 years old. After your child's fifth birthday, your child is obliged to go to school. You must register your child at a school yourself. Compulsory education lasts until the end of the school year in which your child turns 16.
The qualification obligation applies to people between the ages of 16 and 18 who do not have a basic qualification (MBO level 2, HAVO or VWO diploma). This means that they are obliged to follow daytime education. A combination of learning and working is also possible with a vocational learning path (BBL).
From the day that people turn 18, they are no longer subject to compulsory education or qualification.
Contact your municipality
You can apply for an exemption from compulsory education at the municipality. For more information and contact details, visit the municipality's website.
Via the school
You can also apply for an exemption from compulsory education via your child’s school. The school management will then contact your municipality’s school attendance officer directly.
Via the Regionaal Bureau Leren (Regional Bureau of Compulsory Education)
Contact the Regionaal Bureau Leren to apply for an exemption.