Which teaching qualifications are there in the Netherlands?

In short

The Dutch educational system distinguishes three official teaching qualifications: a primary education qualification, a second degree qualification and a first degree qualification. Important terms to become familiar with are: qualified, competent and appointable.

Which teaching qualifications are there in the Netherlands?

Would you like to work as a teacher in the Netherlands? Then you need a teaching qualification or suitable certification, depending on the education sector in which you want to teach. You can read all about the Dutch education qualification system in this article.

Do I need a teaching qualification to work as a teacher in the Netherlands?

Do I need a teaching qualification to work as a teacher in the Netherlands?
In case you have already obtained a teaching qualification abroad, this article will provide you with more information about the certification process of your foreign teaching degree. If you still need to obtain a (additional) teaching qualification to work in the Netherlands, it can be useful to gain insight in the various qualifications that exist. However, before discussing the different qualifications, there are three important terms to familiarize yourself with: bevoegd (qualified), bekwaam (competent) and benoembaar (appointable) in order to understand teaching requirements.

Bekwaam (competent)

Being a teacher comprises of much more than just discussing teaching material: teachers must guide students in their development, create new teaching materials and methods, work alongside colleagues and maintain contact with parents and other caregivers. The minimum requirements are laid down by law in competency requirements.

Summarized, the competency requirements can be divided into three themes:

1. Subject matter expertise (you are a knowledge expert on the subject that you teach);

2. Didactic competence (you are able to translate subject content into teaching methodologies);

3. Pedagogical competence (you are able to create a safe (learning) environment for your students).

Bevoegd (qualified)

In primary and secondary education, teachers are only permitted to teach if they are qualified for that particular education sector. In order to be qualified, you need a teaching qualification or a recognized certificate. More insight on how the Dutch education system is structured can be found in this article.

Three official teaching qualifications are distinguished in the Netherlands.

  1. A primary education teaching qualification allows you to teach in primary schools and schools for special needs education. You can also teach in schools for secondary special needs education (voortgezet speciaal onderwijs) unless the school administers the final exams themselves, in which case you need a teaching qualification for secondary education. Furthermore, the primary education qualification also allows you to teach within practical training (praktijkonderwijs).
  2. With a second degree teaching qualification, you can teach at preparatory vocational secondary education (vmbo) and in the lower secondary levels of senior general secondary education (havo) and university preparatory education (vwo), class 1, 2, 3. You may also teach in secondary special needs education, practical education, post-secondary vocational education (mbo), which includes secondary general adult education (vavo), and even primary education (primair onderwijs) as long as you teach a subject that corresponds with a subject taught in elementary schools.
  3. With a first degree teaching qualification, you can also teach the senior levels (class 4, 5, 6) in secondary school in addition to the education sectors where a second-degree qualification allows you to teach.

With post-secondary vocational education and training (mbo) things are a bit different: 'qualified' is not a legal term in this education sector. With a second or first degree teaching qualification, you can be appointed as an mbo teacher. You can also complete a PDG program, which - in combination with a certificate of aptitude - allows you to teach at an mbo school.

Benoembaar (appointable)

Being appointable means that a school may appoint or employ you as a teacher.

For primary and secondary education, you must meet the following requirements to do so:

  • You must have a teaching qualification suitable for the education sector you want to work in.
  • You must be able to provide a Certificate of Conduct (VOG).
  • You should not be prohibited from teaching by the court.

In mbo, you are considered appointable if you can demonstrate that you are competent in terms of subject matter expertise, didactic competence and pedagogical competence. A second or first degree teaching qualification is sufficient proof of subject expertise, but an mbo school board may also consider you professionally competent based on your previous education and/or work experience and grant you a certificate of suitability. With this certificate of suitability and a pedagogical-didactic certificate (PDG), you are also appointable as an mbo teacher.

Tijdelijke benoembaarheid (temporary appointability)

Temporary appointability also occurs in primary and secondary education and mbo. For example, someone who is following a zij-instroomtraject is temporarily appointable. The same applies to trainee teachers.

In secondary education, a number of scenarios apply for temporary appointability:

  • Substitute teachers who provide temporary replacements in case of absence and/or when positions are difficult to fill. They are allowed to teach for a maximum of 1 year. After that, they must follow a teacher training to continue teaching.
  • Teachers who already have a teaching qualification for another subject. They are 'otherwise qualified' (andersbevoegd) and may teach an additional subject for a maximum of 2 years without the appropriate qualification. However, in the meantime, they must undergo training for this additional subject. Under certain circumstances, this period may be extended by 2 years.
  • Teachers with a second degree qualification who teach their subject to first degree classes (bovenbouw). Such teachers are considered 'underqualified'. They may teach first degree classes for a maximum of 1 year, under the condition that they teach more than half of their lessons in the lower classes (onderbouw). The school may apply this construction for up to 5% of the lessons in the upper grades (bovenbouw).
  • Guest lecturers who are under the responsibility of a qualified teacher. A guest teacher (gastdocent) is allowed to teach a maximum of 6 hours per week on an annual basis in secondary education and mbo.

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