Brussels, Belgium Report of what it's like to live there - 06/27/16
Personal Experiences from Brussels, Belgium
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
Middle School and High School.
3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Yes, there are many options. We chose St. John's because is was small, extremely personal, and had more of a small-town feel.
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
Very welcoming. Easiest transition for my children, despite being teens.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Communication with teachers and athletics could use improvement.
2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
Sports are crazy expensive. 200 euros per season plus travel expenses.
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
The counselor is amazing and dedicated. I can not imagine a school could have a better one.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
The school library is great, and the books are up-to-date.
4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
There is a one-on-one laptop program, but the quality is not as good as at other schools.
5. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
Gyms, tennis courts, baseball and soccer fields. Lacking are a track and a swimming pool.
6. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
Very small classes. This is one of the best reasons for attending this school.
7. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
Few AP classes; definitely more IB focused. In fact they grade incredibly harshly because they only care about IB scores. Also, they do not recognize GPA matters. This school is excellent for the exceptional child, but if your student gets B grades in the States, be ready for some C grades.
8. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?
Challenging but very harsh. This is more of a European approach to education, as opposed to ISB where the students are more coddled. Definitely a tough-love school.
9. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
Fine amount. It is possible to have a proper balance.
10. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Many, and the selection is very good.
11. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
12. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
This is the better choice for a gifted student. For others, ISB is the better choice.
13. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
They are still developing this service.
14. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
15. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There are many ESL kids. Approaching too many.
16. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
They have great activities, but they are too pricey.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
There are many opportunities to socialize.
2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
The least amount I have ever seen. It is incredibly welcoming to kids and families.
1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?
B. We would not choose it again, as the grading is to rigorous for our children.
2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
The administration and teachers are extremely dedicated and hardworking. The students are amazing. If your GPA doesn't matter but IB scores do, this is the school for you.