Secondary education (Voortgezet Onderwijs) starts after completion of primary education, usually at age 12 and generally continues to the age of 18. Children are obliged to go to school until the school year in which they become 16. In the final year of primary school (group 8), the most appropriate type of secondary school is selected. Parents, children, and teachers decide this together, with the help of standardized national tests (CITO-toets).
There are 3 levels determined by the outcome:
- VMBO is a preparation to a practical internship followed by work or a preparation to a vocational education. This generally takes 4 years, depending on the subjects chosen.
- HAVO takes 5 years and prepares for Universities of Applied Sciences or colleges.
- VWO takes 6 years and is the admission level for Research Universities.
It is also possible to change between levels; when in doubt, enrolment at a school with combined levels could be an option.
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