Tailored education paths at OIS: our new Dutch Programme

Recognizing the importance of catering to the individual educational preferences of our families, OIS is excited to provide the flexibility to select between our International Programme and the Dutch Enrichment Programme (DEP) from 2024-2025 onwards.

By Anne-Marie van Holst, Director OIS

After our research to gauge demand and explore all aspects of such a programme, we are happy to conclude we were able to meet all the necessary requirements to implement it. 

We understand the unique challenges that students face who transition from international primary education to Dutch (bilingual) secondary. There often is a significant leap in language proficiency and Group 7 children often don’t have the appropriate age for Dutch secondary education (12 years). There are potential drawbacks of being a year too young, actually missing one year of education.

Tailored to ease the transition into Dutch (bilingual) secondary education, the DEP is designed to support students in navigating this next phase of their academic journey. By enhancing Dutch language proficiency and social and cultural integration, we aim to empower students to confidently step into Dutch education settings, while still providing them with the flexibility to pursue international systems if they choose.

Two tailored education paths at OIS

In summary OIS will offer two programmes, to be considered as two learning pathways:

  • The first programme is the international programme running from group 1 – 7. This prepares for international secondary education starting at the age of 11. Most learning is in English and approximately 15% in Dutch to allow students to integrate in Dutch society
  • The second programme is the Dutch Enrichment Programme (DEP), an alternative additional programme for our upper primary running from group 6 – 8. This prepares for secondary education in the Netherlands starting at the age of 12. Learning is in English and Dutch; gradually more Dutch is added with an academic focus

Highlights of the DEP

  • Enhanced Dutch language learning, aimed to significantly improve academic Dutch proficiency through DEP for our upper primary groups 6, 7 and group 8.
  • Over the three years of the DEP, we’ll progressively increase Dutch instruction to 60% of lesson time over a period of three years, ensuring thorough immersion. The remaining 40% in English will help maintain proficiency in both languages, supporting and enhancing Dutch learning. In next year’s Group 8 DEP Dutch instruction will progress to approximately 80%.Through Dutch language lessons, students engage with the grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation fundamentals of the Dutch language in a structured environment in speaking, listening, reading and writing.
  • We incorporate immersive activities and lessons conducted in the Dutch language to provide an academic context in Dutch. For this we will use IPC (Science, Geography, History, Technology, ICT, International, Music, Art), Mathematics, Language arts, Health & Well-being and Physical Education. Gradually all subjects will be taught in Dutch over the year. In Group 8 we will specifically focus on language and vocabulary needed at secondary to prepare students for heavy language subjects such as History and Biology and mathematical key secondary education concepts, including algebra, geometry, ratios, number sense, and statistics.
  • Development of healthy social relationships, self-esteem and executive functions, essential mental skills for secondary education and beyond, including time management, attention, focus switching, planning, organization, and self-control.
  • Via Group 8 of the DEP students will have the same age as their peers at Dutch secondary, who usually start at the age of 12 years. This prevents potential drawbacks of being a year too young, which can make it challenging for students to fit in socially. This also avoids missing one year of education with the risk of missing out on fundamental concepts and learning experiences or complicated later educational transitions, such as the move to high school, or university, where the age difference becomes more pronounced in terms of independence, social norms, and maturity expectations.

Dutch in the International Programme

Most students of families who expect to be in the Netherlands for a short or limited period of time are expected to follow the international programme as this prepares students in the best way possible for further international education abroad. From our survey we understood that also amongst this group of families there is a need for integration in Dutch society, for example being able to interact and communicate at a sports club.

The international programme also offers Dutch language lessons and lessons/activities in Dutch, mainly focused on oral language, social language and some academic language, to allow students to integrate in Dutch society. Besides Dutch language lessons we will incorporate activities and lessons conducted in the Dutch language to expand the exposure to Dutch language.

Our path to success

A programme like DEP demands multilingual expertise and expertise in second language teaching, which requires a different approach than general language learning. It also requires strong didactical and organisational skills of teachers. Teachers must be flexible and thoughtful about learning and what language fits best for that learning. It also requires an alignment of both the international and Dutch curriculum, so very good curriculum knowledge of the whole learning continuum.

Looking at the composition of the team of OIS, the quality and expertise we have in multilingualism and its didactics, we are confident in our success. Our team of multilingual specialists play an important role in this. We also have great experience and habits of developing our own learning concepts based on a learning continuum. Luckily we also have Dutch teachers in our team with extensive experience in the Dutch curriculum, and the international curriculum at the same time

Frequently asked questions

Following our announcement and parent information session, that was well attended and during conversations with parents who are considering the DEP we received many questions. We collected all of these and created a FAQ document. This resource addresses a broad spectrum of questions, ranging from curriculum specifics and language instruction ratios to transition processes and enrollment criteria. It is an invaluable tool for families considering the DEP, offering insights into how the programme can accommodate the unique needs and aspirations of their children within the Dutch educational landscape. See below.