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Exemptions from compulsory school attendance in the Netherlands

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.

Exemption

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.

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