Welcome to Dutch Language and Culture School De Luchtballon in Chester
De Luchtballon is a Dutch Language and Culture school for children aged 4 to 14 who have a connection to The Netherlands or Belgium, and can speak or understand Dutch or Flemish. The objective is for the children to learn to read, write and speak Dutch at our school, and to broaden their vocabulary. In addition to the language, we also focus on Dutch and Belgian culture and traditions, which includes celebrating national holidays such as King's Day, and other festivities such as Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas Day). The school is based in Chester, in the north-west of England. Classes run on Saturday mornings in term time, from 9:15 am until 12:30 pm.
Our pupils often have one Dutch or Flemish parent, and many have relatives in the Netherlands or Belgium. Most of the children have been born in England and will continue to live here, though some may only be here temporarily before moving to a different country or moving back to the Netherlands or Belgium and continuing their education there. We hope that, through our school, children will gain knowledge and skills that will be useful to them in their future adventures..
Our school follows the Dutch school curriculum and uses Dutch course materials. We are also a member of the Stichting Nederlands Onderwijs in het Buitenland (NOB: www.stichtingnob.nl). This means that our school is subject to inspections by the Dutch Education Inspectorate. Our school passed its most recent inspection with flying colours, as evidenced by the inspection report. Please feel free to request a copy of the inspection report from our board members.
This academic year, we have 23 pupils taught by 3 teachers and 2 teaching assistants. Teaching takes place according to a detailed scheme of work. The school has its own Dutch library, where the children can borrow books on a weekly basis. For more information about our school, please refer to our school guide (schoolgids).
Our preschool group works with the 'Ik en Ko' language method. For year 1, we work with the 'Veilig leren lezen' language method. Years 2 through 6 are taught through the 'Staal' method, and we also use their digital service. This allows children to work independently in the ICT suite. All of these methods are also used in Dutch primary schools.
In years 1 through 6, children take the Dutch Cito test twice a year. The Cito scores give us a good overview of the pupils' reading skills and speed, spelling, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Preschool pupils take the Taal voor Kleuters test at the end of the academic year.
We focus heavily on reading skills. This is done by keeping a reading journal. The older children work with the 'Nieuwsbegrip' programme, and we read with the children individually and as a whole class. In addition, we ensure that our library is filled with fun, interesting and exciting books. We do ask parents to ensure that they read to their children at home or encourage their child to read independently.
Every year, we celebrate the Dutch Children’s Books Week.
For the Dutch Culture lessons, we use the 'Land in Zicht' method, which has been created by the Stichting NOB (Foundation for Dutch Education Abroad). This method offers a fully tailored experience of all aspects of Dutch culture, with a focus on Dutch language.