The Hague, The Netherlands Report of what it's like to live there - 12/09/22
Personal Experiences from The Hague, The Netherlands
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
I am a parent whose daughter attended ASH until June of 2022.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
10th and 11th. 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.
3. What years did you live here?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Most of the children in the embassy attend ASH. There are some other possibilities -- ISH, British school, German school if children speak German. ASH was the only school that had some AP classes.
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
Fair. COVID made it more difficult.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Fair -- mostly virtual and email.
2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
Sports trips have costs; if you opt for the bus there is also a fee. Fee depends. Bus was about 1,800 euro for the year. Many kids bike or take public transportation. If parents didn't take them, some little kids took the bus. You can choose just winter session transportation -- we opted for that the first year but my daughter never used it -- like the Dutch, she biked in all kinds of weather.
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
The counselors provide both personal and academic counseling. Some counselors better than others. But now that we are back in Northern Virginia we realize, none of them come close to the expertise and access to resources that counselors here have.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
I don't think so but my daughter was older so not sure.
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Yes, respectable and updated. Students and families can borrow books to read at home.
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
May depend on grade but I know HS students are issued laptops. Almost everything done on the laptops.
5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
There is a gym, no swimming pool, no track, no tennis courts.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
About 15 or 20 to 1, I think. My daughter was in a small class for pre-calculus but most of the students still didn't do well because the teacher was so ineffective. I think the class was about 8, then a couple students were smart enough to drop after the first semester so then about 6.
8. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
AP and IB courses are available and a full IB diploma is not required. But AP offerings look better on paper than they really are. Some -- like AP US History were not offered every year and some AP classes were actually combined classes with IB or Honors students which did not serve AP students or Honors well. The emphasis is definitely on IB.
9. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?
The students are overloaded with work and too often with little or no purpose -- especially in the math department. In both my daughter's Algebra 2/Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus the teachers piled on homework and then didn't even bother to check it. Both teachers were unprepared for class and did not teach effectively. The curriculum is not the problem so much as the quality of teachers.
10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
Please see above.
11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Adequate selection of fine arts electives with good facilities. Drama teacher was very good although the drama productions/sets not as impressive as some high schools in Northern Virginia.
12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
No special services of which I am aware. As a matter of fact, I have had colleagues with students who were not given the opportunity to even try certain courses because the school is so rigid. One parent enrolled their child in an online HS curriculum rather than enroll in ASH because ASH tried to force the child to do math that the student had already surpassed. Another colleague's student had a number of years in a foreign language but because they didn't do so well in the placement test, ASH wouldn't let them even try the next level of the language. The child had to start a new language.
14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There are some services but I have heard mixed reviews. Better to talk to parents with direct experience.
15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
No experience but school is accessible.
16. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
Sports are available and were pretty inclusive as they are not as competitive as in some school districts in the United States. Sport are much more serious in the States. Students seriously interested in sports can look into club sports that are not associated with the school. Also difficult for students to pursue arts and sports as there is not much or any coordination to minimize conflicts. My daughter wished for a real track. Once a week the track team would go to another school to use their track. There are baseball fields/soccer fields adjacent to the school.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?
I think the climate for LGBTQ+ school is pretty good. The Netherlands is fairly progressive in that regard and I did not personally hear of my daughters' LGBTQ+ friends having difficulties at school because of their orientation.
2. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Yes, generally ok.
3. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
I think there are cliques but not overly pervasive.
4. What is the climate for students who identify as ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious minorities at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Have your children had any experiences in this area?
I have not heard of serious problems although my daughter (who is a minority) has witnessed insensitivity on the part of a couple of teachers.
5. What can you say about diversity among the faculty and staff at the school and their experience in supporting minority students?
Not particularly diverse and not particularly focused on supporting minority students but the student body is very international and fairly diverse.
1. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
My daughter had a very good English teacher in 10th grade and had a good experience with her AP US History teacher. Her drama teacher was very good and she generally enjoyed her experience in sports. Music teacher was very much respected but just retired. We were disappointed in other teachers.
2. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?
D for HS and would not choose it again -- if your children are in elementary school, I have heard great things. For middle school, I hear mixed reviews. For high school, many parents were not satisfied, especially with teacher quality in some of core classes. Unlike our experience in my daughter's Northern Virginia HS, we found that the leadership did not respond to parents' concerns and was not focused on ensuring a child has every opportunity to succeed. We also had a number of concerns regarding teacher quality.
3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
I cannot recommend the HS in good conscience. If I had known beforehand, I would never have gone to the Hague. Unfortunate because the Netherlands is a wonderful place to live.