Winford Bilingual School has opened in Haarlem

On the border of Overveen and Haarlem, the former 21st Global Century school was taken over by Winford College and has now fully transitioned into a Winford Bilingual School. Winford College is a private educational institution offering Dutch education with schools in Amsterdam, Apeldoorn, Arnhem, Den Haag, Leiden, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Haarlem.

Both Haarlem and Amsterdam offer bilingual Dutch/English education via Winford Bilingual Schools.

Winford Bilingual School Haarlem consists of a primary school, located in the same building as the former 21st Global Century School.

Alesi Haan, the director of the school, and Jenni Iyoyo, the marketing and admission manager welcomed me warm-heartedly. Alesi moved to the Netherlands from the UK, nine years ago. One year after she moved, she started to work as a teacher in bilingual education. Two months ago she became the director of the Bilingual School in Haarlem. ‘At Winford, we follow the UK curriculum, the Dutch national curriculum, and the IPC.’ (International Primary Curriculum)

Could you describe a day in school?

‘Let’s describe a day in lower school. When in lower school, children 4 to 7 years of age will already spend time engaging in both English and Dutch. They have a conversation about the weather, about the day of the week, and they pick their own classroom monitor jobs. They can be a gardener, line leader, or lunch helper for the whole week. The teacher will then tell the children what they are going to do throughout the day. After that, the group will split up. The 4 – 5-year-old students will go to the classroom with the English teacher and the 5 – 7 year-olds will go with the Dutch teacher. After one lesson, the two groups will come together for a break, a snack, and some playtime outside. Afterward, they will switch groups.

The teachers will teach math, English, and the Dutch language in the morning. In the afternoon we will teach extracurricular activities such as music, art, gym, and science topics from the IPC, such as history, plants, and water.

All children will come together for IPC and social-emotional lessons. Two lessons are taught in both English and Dutch weekly. This way a child has the freedom to express themselves in the language they feel more confident in.’

What is the group size?

‘The school is open for groups 1 – 8. The groups can go up to 20 children per class. We have group 1, group 2, and 3 as a combined class and groups 4,5, and 6. There are no groups 7 and 8 yet.’

What would be the next step when children finish primary school?

‘The lovely thing about bilingual school is that children have several choices available to them. Before they leave, the children will be asked whether they are thinking of joining Dutch secondary or English secondary so we can guide them during their last year by directing them to where they wish to go. Both these options are open to the children, depending on how long they have attended the school.’

Winford has secondary schools but Haarlem doesn’t have one yet.’

Winford is a private school where parents have to pay a fee. What is included in the fee?

‘Two teachers per class. A healthy morning snack, homemade warm vegetarian lunches, extracurricular lessons by qualified teachers (music, art, P.E.), field trips, excursions, curriculum materials, tests, and flexible holidays.’

Who prepares the lunch meals?

‘Our cook, Anna, prepares lunches. She works four days in Amsterdam. She also prepares healthy and fresh meals such as curries, falafel, burritos, soup made with fresh vegetables, and fresh Bolognese sauce.’

Are there vacancies at the Haarlem location?

‘We are always open for interns to come and work with us and to see how we teach our dynamic bilingual program. As we grow, more vacancies will become available. We like to invite people and introduce them to how we work here. We then get a feel for their experience and see if they would be a good fit.

Those who are interested can contact Winford via the website.

Winford and the Montessori philosophy

‘It’s about independence and helping children in being able to do things by themselves. Hence when they pick classroom jobs, they learn responsibility for their classroom and their belongings. They even tidy up after themselves.

During language classes, we use Montessori symbols for grammar, which is a lot easier for the children as well. Once they learn the Montessori symbols, they can switch between English and Dutch because the meaning of the symbols stays the same. In this way, we incorporate in the curriculum Montessori’s philosophy and the concept of hands-on learning.’

The benefits of learning a bilingual language at a younger age

‘There are a lot of expat families that come here and want their children to learn the host-country’s language. They find this as being important to them, even if they are only staying for a couple of years.’

‘It’s great for the child to learn another language at a younger age’, believes Jenni Iyoyo.

Alesi Haan says she couldn’t agree more. ‘It’s so natural here how that goes. The children are fully immersed in it. Children easily switch from Dutch to English and vice versa throughout the day. It’s not costing them any excess energy. Another benefit is that they are exercising their brains constantly.’

Is there an increasing interest in bilingual education?

‘Yes, absolutely. There is a huge interest in bilingual education owing to more international jobs, more people traveling, and what this type of education offers their children.

People might not stay here continuously for the entirety of their child’s education in which case going to an international school is an option that keeps their English strong and provides their parents some flexibility.

We see that Winford Bilingual is fully immersed in learning and excelling in both languages simultaneously rather than learning one language first. Moreover, attention is also given to other aspects such as creativity, logical thinking, and problem-solving. A child’s brain is exercised differently, and I think this speaks to parents.’


Would you like to know more after reading this article? Or would you like to get a tour at the Haarlem location? Feel free to reach out to the Winford Bilingual School Haarlem via their website