Amity International School (Amsterdam)
Independent: privately owned (individual/corporation) school in Netherlands
- Amity International School (Amsterdam)
1182 HL Amstelveen
- T +31 (0)20 345 4481
- E [email protected]
- W https://www.amityschool.nl
- Lower School Ages: 3-10
- Lower School Sexes: Co-ed
- Lower School Numbers: 165 boys and girls
- Middle School Ages: 11-14
- Middle School Sexes: Co-ed
- Middle School Numbers: 60 girls and boys
- Total School Numbers: 225 boys and girls
- Teaching Language: English
- SEN: SEN considered case by case
- Boarding: Not available
- Uniform: yes
- School Year: (Early/Primary Years) August - June (Middle Years); September- June Autumn break (one week); October Winter Holiday (three weeks); December – January Half term break (one week); February Spring break (two weeks); April
- School Hours: Monday to Thursday: 8:30 am – 2:50 pm (Early Years - ages 3 to 5); 8:30 –3:00 pm (Primary Years - ages 6-10); 8:15 am – 3:30 pm (Middle Years - ages 11-13); Friday: 8:30 am – 12:30 pm
- Fee Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Fee Details: Annual Tuition Fees: Early Years 1-3: 15,750 Primary 1-5: 16,300 Middle Years 1-3: 17,350 5% sibling discount.
- Fee Extras: Application Fee: 100; Admissions Fee: 300; Deposit (refundable): 2,500 per child
- Religion: Non-denominational
- Memberships: Owned by Amity Education Group
- State/Independent: Independent: privately owned (individual/corporation)
- International Baccalaureate- MYP (candidate)
- International Baccalaureate- PYP (candidate)
- None (school may be licensed, or may be "inspected" by its own owner, but it is not independently accredited or inspected by recognised agency or organisation)
No school can pay to be in
The Good Schools Guide International. Period.
What The Good Schools Guide International says
Principal and Head of Senior School Mrs Sarah Wade BA (Hons), M.Ed
Since 2019; Sarah Wade has an education degree from Brunel University, London, UK and a masters in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University, Pennsylvania. Extending her qualifications, she is now writing her doctoral thesis (on parental engagement in education) for the University of Bath.
Her first job was at Presdales School in Hertfordshire, where she worked for five years as a PE teacher and Head of Year. Moving to an entirely different setting, she spent six happy years at a British school in Saudi Arabia. In a telling example of her ability to build relationships amongst her students, one of her former students recently came to visit her in the Netherlands.
The next move, along with her husband and young daughters, was to teach PHE at a large (2,000 students) IB school in Qatar, ending up as Grade Co-ordinator, Head of Year and Assistant Principal of the MYP and DP departments. It was whilst there that she heard, for the first time, about the Amity University in Dubai and then about the vacancy of Principal for the brand-new Amity School in Amstelveen.
Amity Amsterdam is a candidate school for the IB Primary Years and Middle Years Programmes and potentially the owners' first IB licensee; Mrs Wade comments that she and her staff feel very well-supported by them during this process.
The Early Years classes have a maximum of 20 children, with one teacher and one full-time assistant, whilst the Primary Years classes can be a bit bigger but still with a maximum of 24 pupils. During last summer, due to demand, the school was able to open second classes in the primary school to ensure that the class numbers remained low. These smaller classes are one of the main reasons that parents mention for choosing to switch from a Dutch school to Amity.
Parents really like the current teaching, with one British mother commenting ‘ the school follows the inquiry-based curriculum very closely and the teachers are full of passion’. She added that she was impressed how they expanded the programme to talk about topics in the news, such as the environment and immigration.
All applicants who have special needs are considered on an individual basis. The admissions staff study the reports of the previous school; they try to assess whether they can offer the support needed, as well what the impact any additional student might have on the teacher and the class. They find it important to clearly communicate their decisions to the parents.
The school has experience with children who are diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and a form of autism, and sees to it that these pupils are supported by external speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, school psychologists and other local specialists. However, the cost of external support has to be met by parents.
Amity accommodates a good many EAL pupils; two EAL teachers provide support on an individual basis to children whose mother-tongue is not English. The EAL teachers work according to a blended model, working with children in their regular classroom and also supporting them outside the class in small groups or on a one-to-one basis.
Across the school week, the children receive regular Dutch lessons, in which they begin not only to learn the language, but also about aspects of Dutch culture. At a higher level, a specialised programme is followed by native Dutch speakers. The school feels they offer French as a foreign language in a fun, interactive and exciting way.
Primary school children who still follow EAL classes must wait to study Dutch or French until they are proficient enough in English.
Games, Arts and Options
At the beginning of the new academic year, the school organizes a fair with the providers of after-school activities so pupils can give them all a go and see what appeals most.
The co-curricular activities (CCAs) (held on campus from 3-3:50, with Senior school clubs ending at 4:30) are led by school staff, volunteer parents or one of the many qualified local organisations. Examples of the activities on offer range from yoga, drama and typing courses to STEM, creative writing and cooking and even tennis, tree club and private and group music lessons.
Although there are plenty of clubs available, the promise of more in the future brings smiles to faces (both parents and pupils). Throughout the year, all students from Early Years 2 up until the Primary Years go to weekly swimming lessons at a nearby pool where they can obtain their Dutch swimming diplomas, an essential skill in an aqueous country.
Background and Atmosphere
The substantial investment (provided the school adheres to certain stipulations) promised by the Dutch government and the municipalities of Amsterdam and Amstelveen, with the aim of luring more international businesses, initially led to a bit of controversy in the local community, but this now seems to have died down.
Due to the extensive renovation of the building, and the long procedure for the IB PYP candidacy the opening was delayed until February 2018. This meant that the fourteen teachers (employed in anticipation of a September 2017 opening) had the time to form a close-knit team, resulting in a flying and almost flawless start. Some parents confessed they were expecting some major teething problems in the start-up phase of the school but were pleasantly surprised to find almost everything in place. ‘Of course some things are still a work in progress but the staff are very approachable and welcoming,' a father added.
The school has grown fast (up to 193 students in the beginning of school year 2019/20), 30 of whom attend the newly-opened wing for the senior school. Mrs. Wade’s view is that 450 students is the number at which the school would really flourish yet still retain the current community feel, although capacity exists for 600 pupils.
The renovated, impressive X-shaped building looks modern, clean and cheerful. Visitors are immediately blown away by the enormous entrance hall with its huge reception desk, sparkling marble floor and very high ceilings. Taking the wide, white steps to the right of the entrance hall, you arrive at the primary school while the new secondary school is on the left side of the building.
There are a lot of extra features, including a top-notch air quality system, high-speed Wi-Fi and very high-end security. People can only enter and exit the building with a special pass and all pupils wear a pre-programmed bracelet, which lets them in and out at designated times. The carpeted classrooms are bright, spacious and thoughtfully decorated in a colourful-but-not over-the-top way and the pupils sit on ergonomic chairs in groups, which encourages collaboration.
On the first floor, there is a large, indoor gymnasium with a beautiful wooden floor for the younger pupils, an inviting music room full of instruments and the school nurse’s office. Older students go to a gym off-site. Renovations to the spacious canteen on the ground floor have provided a space for eating packed lunches but the prospect of hot food being provided in future is eagerly anticipated by parents.
Everyone’s absolutely favourite area (parents included) is the well-stocked library at the heart of the school. The pupils, equally encouraged by the full-time librarian and passionate, volunteer relations, can choose a book that matches their reading level, take off their shoes and sit reading in one of the cosy booths, filled with soft, jazzy cushions. For the Harry Potter Book Night, a team of enthusiasts helped the librarian transform the library into a Hogwarts wonderland. Ending up with a sleepover party, the pupils still regularly talk about it with a sparkle in their eyes.
The characteristic building is surrounded by wide grass fields and a nearby park. A brand-new playground has wooden equipment and there are serious plans to add a basketball court in the near future. Weather permitting (often hit and miss in the Netherlands), the teachers take their classes outside - another great plus according to parents.
The 57 staff members come from 20 different countries - mainly the UK, the US or mainland Europe. Most of the friendly and committed teachers are native English speakers (also needing to have at least three years of international experience before they are hired by Amity) and initially have a 2-year contract to help them settle - with the intention to extend if both parties agree. Finally, a special and much-loved member of staff is the school dog ‘Miss Pixie’, who helps the children to relax and open up while petting or playing with her.
Pupils and Parents
The almost 200 students cover 26 different nationalities, with American, British, South Korean and Indian the most prevalent. The majority live in Amstelveen and can reach the school on foot or by bike. For the parents who bring their children by car, there is a big drop-off area in front of the entrance. Currently there is only a limited demand for a bus service but this could change in the future.
Volunteer parents are united in the Friends of Amity (FOA) committee, which welcomes new parents and matches them with existing families who speak the same language, or who come from the same country. They also organise well-attended social events, such as coffee mornings, bake off & sale events and the summer BBQ, as well as exclusively Dutch events like King’s Day and Sinterklaas.
In the spirit of the IB curriculum's international focus, the school regularly invites parents to come in and explain about their culture, religion and celebrations, which has so far resulted in a common celebration of the Chinese New Year and the Diwali festival of lights.
On Friday afternoons, the school closes at 12:30pm for staff meetings and teacher courses and one father told us that ‘this long weekend was one of the best aspects of the school’.
Most parents appreciate the no homework policy in the primary school, allowing them all time to explore their new host country. Children whose parents are still at work when the school closes can be taken care of by one of the nearby, external, after-school care organisations with which the school has connections.
Pastoral Care and Discipline
Most parents agree that Amity offers a very nurturing environment for all children. New pupils are matched up with a buddy with whom they share a home language, nationality, or interests. For children who don’t speak English yet, this buddy could also be found in another class.
Everyone is still somewhat new at the school, which almost automatically creates a bond. The community is very welcoming and inclusive, and a lot of attention is paid to make the new pupils and their parents feel at home.
New students may start throughout the year. Thus far, no waiting list.
Watch this space. The majority of the original families whose children entered the founding classes are still here so more time will be needed before the school can provide any solid information as to where pupils go from here.
Aside from a 5% sibling discount currently offered, there are no scholarships or other types of discounts.
The school that many international parents initially saw as merely catching the overflow of the other, more established, international schools in the area, is increasingly finding its own identity. Many parents now consciously pick this school and their children seem to have happily settled here.