Brussels, Belgium Report of what it's like to live there - 02/08/19
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?
Year 9 (US 8th Grade)
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?
My daughter liked the atmosphere at the school, the curriculum (with a variety of opportunities to try different subjects in middle school) and the sports facilities, particularly the pool and gymnastics facility.
Admissions & Welcome:
1. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
Absolutely spot on - they paired my daughter with a buddy who helped her adjust to her new school routine and answered questions. She made friends quickly and the school maintains a positive atmosphere. They are proactive in preventing a negative environment from developing and respond quickly and appropriately to incidents of bullying.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
The eBSB website is an excellent resource for parents to easily access school communications, view attendance information, top up cafeteria card balances, view grade reports, etc.
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?
Nearly everything is already rolled into the school fees (laptop, PE kit/uniform, swimsuit for PE, costs of field trips, etc.). The only things I have noticed are charged separately are voice/instrument lessons, the LAMDA drama exam preparation classes and exam fees, and the fees for a special optional theater trip to Prague.
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?
I imagine there is but I have not accessed this resource, as my child is not in high school.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
Unsure because my daughter is not in the age range where she requires this.
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Excellent library and yes, my daughter borrows books to read at home on a regular basis.
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
A laptop for use for school work was issued to each student and homework assignments are posted online for ease in tracking.
5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
Very up to date. In addition to normal computer resources, they also have an elaborate Design and Technology Lab, which is a class that all middle school students rotate through.
6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
Excellent sporting facilities - gym, gymnastics, swimming pool, fields, etc.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
There are about 20-25 students in her classes.
8. 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?
Unsure - she is not at this level, but as it is British system I believe they have A levels and O levels.
9. 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?
Yes, Math is differentiated according to ability (I believe there are 6 or 7 levels) and students can be moved up or down as needed. Foreign languages are also differentiated with the ability to move. My daughter moved to the highest level Spanish class and was moved up a level in French based on her performance.
10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
Yes, she has homework but is does not consume all of her free time.
11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Middle school students are required to take music, art, drama, as well as other classes like Design Technology, textiles, and cooking. Drama is also available as an extracurricular activity, including a school play in the Spring. This year they are doing Around the World in 80 Days.
12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
I do not believe there is a specific gifted program, but math and foreign languages are differentiated by ability and the curriculum is engaging for high-level learners.
14. 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?
Wide range of sports - team sports, swimming, gymnastics, running, etc. I don't think there is anything specific missing, but I suppose if one were American and wanting to play American football, that is not offered. They do have rugby, however.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?
As mentioned above, the school maintains a positive atmosphere. They are proactive in preventing a negative environment from developing and respond quickly and appropriately to incidents of bullying.
2. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?
Yes, there is an atmosphere of inclusion in all respects.
3. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Yes, there is a wide array of nationalities and no noticeable cliques that I have observed.
4. 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.
No, the school is very proactive in this regard. Maintaining a positive, supportive, climate is their top priority.
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?
A, yes I would choose it again. I wish we could stay here longer.
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
Highlights have been the opportunities to study drama at school on a regular basis and participate in theater after school. She absolutely loves the history curriculum, which takes advantage of the location in Belgium to delve into Wold War I and World War II in depth. Recreational gymnastics has also been an area where she has progressed a lot, which is not offered at very many schools.