The Dutch School Attendance Law

By Annebet van Mameren

Last year there was a lot of commotion on the playground of a small town in the south of the Netherlands. What had happened? A family from the school had gone skiing and had posted some photos of their holiday on Facebook. This had upset some dutiful (or maybe jealous) parents who had felt the need to inform the truancy officers. As a result, the family was fined 400 euros.

Only people who are familiar with the Dutch School Attendance (Leerplicht) Law would understand what the issue was here. Children may only miss school under very specific circumstances, and a skiing holiday isn’t one of them. The parents had told the school that their children were sick, while the smiling pictures told another story.

To stop you as an international parent from winding up with a hefty fine, it is important to understand this Leerplicht Law. Written in 1969, the law dictates that children aged 5 to 16 (or 18 if they don’t have a diploma yet) must attend school during term time (unless they are unwell, of course). To be precise, the plicht (obligation) takes effect on the first day of the month following a child’s fifth birthday.

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Annebet van Mameren
2018 Spring

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