That time of year has arrived; the group 8 students have to select their preferred high schools for next year and take part in the nerve-wracking lottery procedure.

Time and checklist

These are the steps you’ll have to take:

1/ Before January 24th: the group 8 teacher gives a recommendation for high school to each individual student.

2/ Based on the teacher’s recommendation, you visit the schools which offer the right type of education for your child. In the period roughly between January 11th and February 18th, the schools organize info sessions and open days. You should make a schedule in advance, as it can be very hectic.
Some schools also organize special open days for group 7 pupils.
You can select the schools of your interest and schedule the open days here.

3/ You establish your Top-12 (for HAVO & VWO) schools. (VMBO-B/K: 4 schools; VMBO-T: 6 schools).

4/ It is a good idea for the pupils to go to the open classes at those schools in their Top-3. Then you can experience their way of teaching and the atmosphere. The open classes are often called Lesjesmiddag, Meeloopmiddag, or Open les. You can also find these dates on
Some schools also organize special open classes for parents.

5/ Between March 2nd and 13th, the parents have to hand-in the form called ‘Aanmeldformulier met keuzelijst van VO-scholen aanmelding leerjaar 1 2020/2021’ at the high school of their preference. The group 8 pupils get this form from their teacher. The parents have to officially confirm that the school admin has entered all details correctly. So, check everything carefully beforehand.

6/ In the end of March, the lottery (the Centrale Loting & Matching) procedure takes place. First, each student gets randomly allocated a number through a computer system, under the supervision of a notary. The computer looks at the student with number #1, and places him or her at their first school of preference. Then they continue with number 2, 3, and so on. If they cannot place a student anymore at their #1 school, they will look at #2. If there is no place at #2, they will look into #3, and so on.
The schools try to create extra places for the applicants who couldn’t be placed this way. They then only consider the children who have put enough schools on their list.

In 2019, 7,580 children took part in the lottery.
There were 10,127 places available at 64 schools. So, overall there are always enough spots, but some of the most popular schools don’t have enough capacity.

7/ On April 2nd, you will hear at which school you are placed.

School lockers in high school

Photo by moren hsu on Unsplash

In 2019, 83.46% of the applicants got a place at their #1 school, and 95.92% in their Top-3.

The children who couldn’t be placed and who had submitted an insufficient number of schools, and those who are not happy with their placement, get about 5 extra days to select and visit the schools that still have availability and take part in a 2nd lottery.

8/ In the period between 15 April and 15 May, most group 8 pupils take the end test of primary school (CITO or other).
They will receive the outcome around mid-June.
Children who have lived less than 4 years in the Netherlands are not obliged to take the test.

9/ If the test results are higher than the teacher’s recommendation, the final advice might be upgraded. If the test results are lower, the teacher’s recommendation stays.
In case the advice has been upgraded, the parents can apply for a new school between June 3-5. If there are too many applications, the school will hold a lottery. Within June 9th, they will confirm all placements.
The other children will have to find a different school – which is usually very difficult at this point in time.

10/ On June 23 or 24, the future ‘brugpiepers’ go to their new high school for an introduction.

Person sitting on a pile of books

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

In November, all group 8 pupils get a school info guide from school.

To make the process easier, at the beginning of November last year, they also organized a high school fair in the Johan Cruijff Arena where all schools were represented (Amsterdamse scholenmarkt). Then you can already make your first selection and find out about schools you had never heard of before.

I explain in this podcast how to choose a secondary school in the Netherlands.

Good luck! You can do it!

More info on these websites: (English) (English),, (2018)   

Levels of high school in the Netherlands