The history of the Haagsche Schoolvereeniging dates from the 6th of September 1901 when nine shareholders signed the legal document which marked the beginning of the school. This was to be a new and unique school in The Netherlands. Shares in the new venture were bought by the great and the good of the time so that an independent primary school could be established. A building was then found to house the school on the Nassaulaan, a place where the primary school HSV has now stood for 110 years.
However, the story of the HSV began ten years earlier. In 1891 a Leiden factory owner, Mr. C.H. Kranz, set up a school on the Koningin Emmakade in The Hague. The daily timetable was based on a Swedish model and subjects like handicraft were offered, not as preparation for jobs in the craft industry, but because an emphasis on craft coupled with the academic subjects would, he believed, lead to a total well balanced development of the young individual.
This was a unique and pioneering development in the Netherlands and the school attracted a lot of attention from many interested parties. Pupil intake was high and it was necessary to move to another building that was located by the Buitenhof. The originality of such an educational establishment is evident in that the reigning Queen Emma and her daughter Wilhelmina paid a visit to the school.
Jan Ligthart, the famous Dutch educator also enrolled his children at the school and went on to play an important role in transforming the little school at the Buitenhof into what became the Haagsche Schoolvereeniging. Interested parents could join the School Board and in that way they exercised their influence on the school’s development.
They decided to set up an association which did not need to rely on Government funding and which would be financially independent. Such financial independence, coupled with the visionary ideas of the founders, ensured that the Haagsche Schoolvereeniging was truly a “school of the parents”.
The school set itself joint goals for the children: not only preparing them for the academic secondary schools of the period (HBS and the Gymnasium)but also helping them develop into well balanced individuals ready to move into the highest social and professional professions.
The school quickly outgrew the Nassaulaan building. Already in the first year new classrooms and a new storey were added to the building. The interior of the school was modern in comparison to the majority of schools in The Netherlands. The modern amenities including electricity, telephone, fire prevention and more frequent, improved, cleaning.
The HSV was open to the influences of various education movements of the time such as Montessori, Jena and Dalton. The school leaders also had their eyes on developing a second school: the Netherlands Lyceum, where a HBS and Gymnasium department could be found under one roof.
During the First World War The Netherlands neutrality did not mean that the HSV was untouched by worlds events. As soon as the war broke out 320 soldiers had to be billeted at the school. Some of the teachers joined the army and went to war and The Hague found itself with a large amount of refugees from Belgium. This apart, the HSV was relatively untouched by the conflict in Europe and pupil numbers continued to grow.
In 1929 a difficult period began. The HSV was affected by the economic crisis and pupil numbers severely decreased. The situation gradually improved over the years as the political situation deteriorated. The German occupation during World War Two was a difficult period. The school building was taken over three times and the poor living conditions especially in the final winter (The Starving Winter) of 1944/1945 meant that only a couple of hours teaching per day could take place.
From September 1945, with the liberation of The Netherlands, things began to look up. There was a sharp increase in pupil applications however, because teacher’s salaries also rose, the school had to abandon one of its tenants of independence; from September 1950 the school received financial support from the Government.
During the 60’s the school again considered moving to another site. The building was gradually becoming too small and many of the surrounding buildings were being turned into offices. This meant children were living further and further away from the school.
A decision was finally made to invest in rebuilding. Unfortunately, shortly after the work was completed the school nearly had to close because the pupil numbers did not satisfy the governmental standards. These regulations set minimum pupil numbers in schools and the HSV was only saved from closure at the last possible moment, not least with the help of its latest initiative: in 1985 the international department was established and with it came an increase in pupil numbers.
Parents from many of the surrounding embassies, as well as the increasing numbers of international companies and governmental organisations began to look to the HSV for their children’s schooling.
The intercultural contact between children from more than 50 countries played an important part in the schools development. Integrated lessons of gymnastics, handicraft and music allowed the Dutch an international department children to follow lessons together.
By the end of the 90’s the International Department had become so successful that another building was needed to house the children on the waiting lists. This new facility was found in the former St. Paul school building on the Koningin Sophiestraat and opened to new students in August 2000. It has quickly become known as KSS.
During a number of years HSV worked together with IVIO (Instituut voor Individueel Onderwijs), a special needs school founded in 1909, accommodated near the dunes at the Laan van Poot. In 1991 the boards of both foundations decided that it was in the interest of both schools that the HSV Foundation took over IVIO.
Today IVIO still is a special needs school, still in the same beautiful building at Laan van Poot.
In 2001 the board of HSV decided to take over a small private school for dyslexic children, called Het Open Venster. The school is still part of HSV and is accommodated at Tarwekamp in The Hague. The school is still small, about 35 students, but has an excellent reputation concerning the education of dyslexic children.
Primary school Willemspark, accommodated in Frederikstraat, very close to Nassaulaan, was raised a hundred years ago as a Catholic primary school. Since 2000 the number of pupils went down and the board of the school decided to close at the end of the academic year 2006/2007. The board of HSV saw a chance to take over the school as a second Dutch primary school. They succeeded and from August first 2007 the school is part of the HSV.
In 2007 there were about 70 pupils; in 2010 this number increased until 200. Within a few years a new school will be built on the same spot.
The last takeover was December 2008: at this date Lighthouse Special Education was handed over from the Foundation Lighthouse Special Education to the HSV Foundation.
The Lighthouse Foundation still exists and has as an aim now to support the Lighthouse School in many ways: fundraising, support of the management etc.
The school provides special needs education for expat children and is the only school in this kind in The Netherlands
So, we may say that the HSV, 116 years after founding, is still a very special and fascinating organisation!