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Educational policy is coordinated by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science with through municipal governments. Compulsory education in the Netherlands starts at the age of 5, although in practice, most schools accept children from the age of 4. From the age of sixteen there, is a partial compulsory education (partiële leerplicht), meaning a pupil must attend some form of education for at least two days a week.Compulsory education ends for pupils age eighteen and up or when they get a degree.

Between the ages of four to twelve, children attend elementary school . This school has eight grades, called  (group 1) through group 8. School attendance is compulsory from group 2 (at age five), but almost all children commence school at age four (in group 1). Groups 1 and 2 used to be held in a separate institution akin to kindergarten until it was merged with elementary schools in 1989. From group 3 on, children will learn how to read, write and do arithmetic. Most schools teach English in groups 7 and 8, although some start as early as group 4. In group 8 the vast majority of schools administer an aptitude test called the Cito Eindtoets Basisonderwijs ("Cito final test primary education")



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