Brussels public local schools for 6 year old-recommendations?
My family and I will be relocating from the United States to Brussels by mid-August. We would very much like our daughter who will be in first grade (ecole primaire) in the fall to enroll at a local public preferably Catholic school. We also have a 2.5 year old (who will be 3 by the end of the year) to be enrolled at a Maternelle (preferably the same school as the 6 year old).
My husband is French speaking. My daughter is somewhat bilingual although very rusty on her French since I mostly speak to her in English.
Which schools would you suggest? Are we late in enrolling both children at a decent public school in Brussels (either in Ixelles, Woluwe Saint Lambert/Pierre, Etterbeek, Uccle)? Should I start contacting the public schools now to see availability? Or should we just stick to the international private schools? Help! I would love to take advantage of the local public schools, but feel that it may be TOO late! : (
Any help you can provide is much appreciated!
-a mom looking for the best public local schools for her children in Brussels
Ok first of all forget Ixelles. Uccle might be absolute non starter too.
Where is work?
What is your budget for what size house?
Forget schools and parks and shops, they are everywhere, anything in particular you'd like to live near?
Work is about 25km north of woluwe saint lambert. I don't remember the name of the town...
Ideally, I would like to live in a 3-4 BR home/townhome in the Woluwe Saint Lamber/Saint Pierre, Audenghem (sp?), Etterbeek, Ixelles area (budget is no more than 2000Euros). We are familiar with WSL area as my DH's grandmother lived there (before she passed away).
We would like to live near a park, walking distance to shops, schools, restaurants.
Do you need to be walking distance to public transport too? That changes where you would be best living.
Yes, it would be nice to be walking distance to public transportation; but not necessary. We would most likely have 2 cars.
There are parks, schools shops and restaurants everywhere. Is there anything in particular you'd like to be near?
Is it Mechelen? Were it not for your husband's French, I'd recommend being closer to work. Can he take the train there? The commute from north Brussels even will be bad, bottleneck on the RO from east Brussels, to north Brussels and onwards towards Mechelen every morning.
I would immediately cross off Uccle because of location adding up to an hour to commute and Ixelles if you want 2 cars and outside budget and bad location and impossible for schools.
Now do you want urban like Etterbeek or suburban?
How about Wemmel which is the nearest French speaking area to Mechelen?
Or Laeken in north Brussels? Schaerbeek even.
WSL and WSP will cost more, Auderghem less but I'd want to be near an exit route for commute so as north or east as possible in the commune.##
Thank you so much for your information! My DH and I prefer urban like Etterbeek. We both grew up in big cities, and prefer that urban atmosphere. Yes, DH work will be iin Mechelen! I have not yet heard of Wemmel, Schaebeck or Laeken. I will research those areas. As for WSL and WSP, I found some decently priced homes. Which schools would you recommend as we will be arriving very late in the ball game? Again, thank you for all your advice.
I think you might want to cross Wemmel back off, it's very suburbun and Laeken one side is inner-city but a bit run down, other side suburban.
I think you'll probably prefer within about 1km of Square Leopold - Montgomery.
Will look at square leopold-montgomery. Come to think of it, having two cars in the city sounds nuts! Most likely we will have one car...
Here is a radius map 2km from Montgomery roundabout.
I would look first for a school in that area. Schools are not limited by commune but some communal schools do prioritize those in the same commune and some Catholic schools do prioritize according to distance.
Try all types of public school, Catholic, communal, direct French community etc.
Phone and email all schools and never take the first no as a no. Keep trying. Particularly good SC de Lindthout and du Bonheur near Montgomery.
Then I would look for a house.
Don't try and do it the other way around.
This area falls under Etterbeek 1040, WSL 1200, WSP 1150, Schaerbeek 1030, Auderghem 1160 and Ville de Bruxelles 1000 (really avoid for simple registration nightmare the last one if you can).
This area is basically near the E40 and R22 routes out of Brussels and onwards on to E19 to Mechelen. More northerly French speaking areas than this are suburban and not quite a nice.
And here is the schools map.
This house is a 5 minute walk from Jean 23 Woluwe. It's near Chien Vert 39/44 tram stop. I know who used to live here, it's a fair price at 2k per month, enormous living room. 1 minute away from the shops. Walk past a playground on the way to school You may well find places in Jean 23 Woluwe. It's a bit more socially mixed for WSP which is very affluent, lots of nationalities at this school, especially good at welcoming non francophones not that's a problem for you. Benefits from being on same campus as secondary.
It's Rue Francois Gay 1 , 1150 the address I think of that house, take a look on google maps.
This school is also not far from that house, downside is crossing the wide boul de la Woluwe.
We lived in Schaerbeek technically, although had we lived three houses down the road, we would have been in WSL. Great location, near public transport. We found it an awful lot easier to get DD1 into maternelle in Schaerbeek than our friends did in WSP/WSL. There are some good schools there too and a good mix of nationalities in the school DD went to.
mind you, registration in Schaerbeek was an utter nightmare. We were amazed when we went to the commune in WSL for something at the difference in approach/treatment/ease
Is there any way you can visit in advance? We found it a lot easier to get straight answers from places like schools and daycares when we were on their doorstep
The problem with this time of year and finding school places are that most school places have been reserved by current children and people wishing to move have enrolled for next year. Schaerbeek has one of the biggest populations growths, perhaps the biggest out of the 19 communes. Whilst the commune has tried to keep up by providing temporary classrooms and re-building schools, it's on average going to be harder to find a place in a Schaerbeek school than a WSP school where places are still always available - such as at Crommelynck and Joli-Bois schools but they are suburban areas, so suggested those 2 schools in WSL/WSP on edge of urban life which just might have space for a P1 child, certainly on average more chance than in Schaerbeek now.
But it's still worth phoning as many as possible, even if in Schaerbeek, Ville de Bruxelles, Etterbeek.
If you want a plan B instead of local French school, if you can afford it, for the first year you could pay for a private bilingual school French-English.
There is Acacia (Agnes) school in Etterbeek at around 7.5k.
There is BSB in Tervuren, it's at least 20k now, only starts French at age 4 years though. It's a bit far out to travel from urban Brussels but it's 25 minutes by tram direct from Montgomery roundabout.
If you lived in that 2km radius of Montgomery roundabout, and you cannot find a local school with places for 2, I'd do one of the 2 above schools for a year, then if you still wanted a local school, be ready and on time for enrolments at local schools for start September 2015, chances of places are better than even if you are enrolling on time. There are lots of international children at local schools and there is movement in even the most Belgian of schools, it's simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
I live in WSP across from the house posted in this thread. I have a 2.5 year old son who is enrolled to start school in Jean 23 this fall. My husband and I moved from the US about four months ago. Before we got into Jean 23, we were on the waiting list for a few months. We barely made it in. It will most likely be difficult for you to get in Jean 23 this fall as schools close this week and there is a waiting list. However, Providence still has openings as far as I know and if you are willing to go a little further in to WSP, Jolis Bois has openings too. We chose Jean 23 because it is the closest to us and not because we have any inside knowledge on how good it is. Hopefully it is good. If you decide to move to Rue Francois Gay please do let me know and we can help the best we can with your transition. Moving here from the US has been quite an adventure for us but we are loving it.
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