Access to good education is essential when moving abroad
Today all Dutch schools have started again after the summer holidays, just like the The British School in The Netherlands. We spoke to CEO and Principal Kieran Earley of the British School of the Netherlands about the presence of international school in The Netherlands and living in The Hague.
Where are we?
At the British School in the Netherlands (BSN) in the Leidschenveen district of The Hague. The BSN, which was founded in The Hague in 1931, has three junior schools, a senior school, a language centre and an International Leadership Academy (ILA). There are about 2,350 students at the BSN. The school offers a complete curriculum under the British education system, from ages three to 18. Besides the BSN, The Hague region has many other schools for international education. Half of all international pupils in the Netherlands attend an international school in The Hague*. Many Dutch secondary schools now also offer bilingual education.
* Source: City of The Hague
Who is our guest?
Today, we’re are interviewing CEO and Principal Kieran Earley. “Before my tenure here, I was the head of a big school in Plymouth for a number of years. As my wife was born in Rotterdam, I already had ties with the Netherlands. I was looking for new insights, and I wanted to broaden my horizon. It was a conscious choice to seek that outside the UK. The transition was tough for our teenage sons, but they’ve settled in well now.”
“THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS ARE ALSO WELL INTEGRATED IN DUTCH SOCIETY”.
Is a British School a British bubble, closed off from Dutch society?
“No, absolutely not. We have a fair number of Dutch students at our school; they represent one of more than 80 nationalities at the BSN. About a quarter of our students come from the UK, but we have many from various other countries around the world, such as India, Lebanon and France. Our good reputation attracts students from the entire Randstad metropolitan area, and we emphatically want to be part of Dutch society. We have our own rugby club, which has many Dutch members. I play football with a Dutch football team, where I occasionally pick up some Dutch vernacular, and I am a member of the Rotary Club. As you can hear, I do everything I can to learn to speak fluent Dutch as quickly as possible. We prepare our students to be citizens of the world, not just the UK or another country. We instil in them an open-minded, international outlook.”
“I MYSELF HAVE CHANGED MY HOME COUNTRY TO THE NETHERLANDS. I KNOW THE ISSUES THAT NEED TO BE CONSIDERED.”
Is the presence of an international school a must-have for a company looking to relocate?
“Absolutely! The presence of a good international school is the first priority after making the decision to relocate. Being able to slot into the British curriculum was essential for our family too. Had this opportunity not been available, we would never have relocated. For others, it is our emphasis on the richness of the English language that makes them choose our school. We only work with teachers whose native language is English; most of them are from the UK, except of course the Dutch language teachers. Many Dutch parents want their children to have an international orientation, so they choose our educational system. We also offer more facilities than the average Dutch school, such as a comprehensive library, many sports facilities, a focus on music and art and a wide range of opportunities to play and learn.”
Does the international school only have Shell workers and diplomats’ children?
“No, that’s a misconception. Of course, the BSN has always had students whose parents are diplomats or work at Shell. But many work for the European Patent Office in Rijswijk, Estec in Noordwijk or other major corporates employing numerous expats. We also increasingly see children whose parents are entrepreneurs or work for smaller companies. Our client base has become very broad, but the common factor is that they consider an education at the BSN a valuable investment in their child’s future.”
Does the school assist with ‘soft landing’ in The Netherlands?
“Yes and we do it together with our Family Association. That is our wonderful parent council, and the parents keep in close contact with one another. They help each other with practical matters, such as opening a bank account or providing the address of a particular agency. Our school has built up a lot of experience and networks over the past 88 years – you also see this with the other international schools. Parents are interested in getting to know other parents, and there’s always someone from your home country in The Hague. It means you can ask and answer questions in your own language. Students and parents often stay in contact with each other for many years through our alumni association, which helps build invaluable networks.”
Would you like to know more about education in the region? We are happy to introduce you to one of our contacts. An overview of all the international schools can be found here. For more information about The British School in The Netherlands visit www.britishschool.nl/.