French school in Uccle or nearby, for an English speaking 3-yr old

(19 Posts)
smlb Fri 22-Feb-13 01:34:26

Can someone suggest a good local school we can check for Maternelle for my daughter who is almost 3. She can only speak English so a few months back, we tried KidFarwest Creche and she hated it. She was there for two months. In the Creche, she was only talking to one teacher, the one who could speak English. And did not mingle much with the other kids as she cannot converse with them. The language is not the only problem, she is also very very shy. She is not exposed to other kids.

OP’s posts: |
natation Fri 22-Feb-13 06:58:04

Uccle has around 30 fondamentales and is a huge commune so I couldn't even begin to suggest any schools without knowing your exact address. The schools are hugely oversubscribed, especially in the north on the commune, so ANY SCHOOL PLACE is desirable, no good looking at individual schools and thinking you're going to get a place. Enrolments already took place, starting last September, so looking in February is rather late, you may have to accept either any place anywhere or wait another year. Given the age of your daughter, she has already missed the first class, so that makes it even harder to get a place, as most children will have already started school by the age of 3, after their parents having enrolled them in the schools before the age of 2.

Here is a map of all Brussels French schools, start PHONING not emailing the closest ones and just keep phoning regularly, get your name on every waiting list, phone at least once a month to find the placing on the waiting list. It's the only way of increasing your chance of a place, as the persistent parents are far more likely to succeed than those who phone schools once only.

Uccle/Forest/Ixelles is unfortunately the worst area I have found for parents looking for maternelles out of the areas expats live, Ixelles is the very worst so I try to dissuade anyone with a child already born from moving there.

smlb Fri 22-Feb-13 15:03:09

Thank you, Natation, for your reply. We live in Rue Basse to be specific.

OP’s posts: |
weegiemum Fri 22-Feb-13 15:11:09

I don't know anything about your specific situation, but we chose a bilingual school for our dc, where it was all in Gaelic for 2.5 years. There are multiple advantages to bilingual education - we lived in a Gaelic-majority area but neither dh or I spoke the language, I took phonics classes to help, though.

We now have 3 fully bilingual dc and the rate the older 2 (11 and13) are picking up a 4th language (I speak a 3rd they are already proficient in) is amazing. There are quantifiable advantages in all languages, maths and music.

Nursery level can be hard - our dc went to bilingual nursery but t wasn't forced. I'm glad we stuck it out. Our dc school ha a motto "2languages, 2cultures, many opportunities". I'm glad we're giving them the opportunities!

natation Fri 22-Feb-13 17:03:35

Did you try the lycee francais? As I know a French family who failed to get a place last year living next to an English family in Uccle, it seems there may be some picking out of English speakers for the bilingual classes in preference to French nationals who are, according the school's criteria, supposed to have priority! The website says enrolments started 10th January, you do it online, you might be too late. I'd definitely follow up an online enrolment with a few phone calls. It's the only bilingual school in greater Brussels where I'd say an anglophone child would become fluent in French with ease, as it's the only "bilingual" school which has a majority of French speakers in the French-English classes, some schools have no French speakers at all in their French-English classes! It's under 6km per year, a bargain for a private education. It's very French though, you'd have to be happy with their education system.

La Petite Ecole dans la Prairie is not the most popular of the local schools, but it's your nearest, so I'd try there first, given how late you have left it to look for a school place. It's not a bad school, just not so sought after, so is most likely of all the local schools to have vacancies. It has apparently lovely grounds.

Ecole communale St Job

Ecole Notre Dame + Wolvenberg

Ecole Plein Air - extra fees and enrolments already done, but contact them anyway

As you're in the south of the commune, you have a slightly better chance of a place at this late stage of looking.

Remember, be persistent. I had an email today from a mum who was 40+ on the waiting list for one of the most sought after schools in Brussels, she got a place, bet it is linked to her continual following of the waiting lists.

Romann Sat 23-Feb-13 20:48:42

Mine are at Lycee Francais. It's near to you, though the maternelle has moved to a new building further away from Rue Base than the main site. DS3 didn't speak French when he started at 3.5yo, but was fluent in a matter of weeks. He's not particularly shy though, and obviously youngest of 3. Most of the children are French. It's difficult to get a place, fill in the online form right now if you're interested, and then make an appointment to see the director and sell yourselves.

natation Sat 23-Feb-13 21:59:10

Goodness, when Lyccée Francais Jean Monnet anounced they would be building a new maternelle building nearby, I was very naive to think it was across the road! I now understand why a mum came to me saying she was going to remove her children, it's because of the distance between primaire and maternelle, I really didn't understand it when she told me but I do now, 2km apart. This might be to the OP's advantage, if there is only one child, as no problem of the split site school and I was told by another mother there is no transport between them, I couldn't understand why she was suggesting it until now.


Romann Sat 23-Feb-13 23:27:47

Yes indeed. Luckily mine are all in primary now. Apparently there's a navette in the morning, but not in the afternoon confused

Bonsoir Sun 24-Feb-13 07:34:33

I'm not sure that French maternelles are great for very shy DC. The classes are huge - 30 DC is the official number of children per teacher, though schools/communes may opt to have a teaching assistant to help with logistics).

I sent my DD to a sous contrat maternelle in Paris because I wanted to ensure her spot at the same oversubscribed primary school, but if I hadn't wanted that particular school I would have sent her to a private hors contrat maternelle with much smaller classes.

natation Sun 24-Feb-13 08:00:59

I've now got 3 contacts at Lycée Francais Jean Monnet, they all say the class sizes in maternelle are 25, same as the local maternelles in Belgium. One has a place there simply because she failed to get into a local maternelle and for some reason her child got a place, as many living nearer don't, including supposed priority French nationals. If you manage to find a local maternelle in Brussels with only 20 in a class, that is a good reason to be alarmed. Same in the Flemish system - 900 children failed to get spaces in the centralised enrolments, including many Dutch speaking children and priority GOK children, still 90 spare places which will be filled, leaving 800 without places, I can now understand why Dutch speaking children get priority.

That's really logical Romann!!! And very unenvironmental, guess it forces the parents to get in their cars and drive between buildings when quite proportion would actually have walked to the main site previously.

Bonsoir Sun 24-Feb-13 08:03:16

The the Lycée in Brussels must have some kind of special dispensation, because the official number of DC in a French maternelle is 30, not 25 (25 is the official number of DC in a primary class).

natation Sun 24-Feb-13 10:19:27

I will ask all 3 contacts again with children in maternelle at LF Jean Monnet. It actually says there is indeed a navette morning and afternoons on the website between sites, yet that's now 2 mums who've said there isn't (at least in the afternoons), it says the afternoon navette is only for those who use the school bus service, which would mean those who don't use school buses, cannot have their children using it. The school bus service isn't cheap, at €1149 per year, compared to the free local transport for under 12s anyway in Brussels.

There is no standard limit in local maternelles, there is I believe now an average limit over a whole school, but not on an individual class basis. It means 25 is the rough standard for local maternelles, but I know someone with a child in a class of 33 and one teacher, so going over 25 does happen. Acceuil went up to 36 one year at our school too, but had a puéricultrice and part-time 2nd teacher to cope with the extra children.

There isn't really an alternative in the private system in Brussels. The Montessoris tend to have 25 in a class too, but with 2 teachers at least, other cheap international schools can have 25 with just 1 teacher. You'd have to go to ISB or BSB prices to get a 10 to 1 ratio for 3 year olds.

Bonsoir Sun 24-Feb-13 14:00:38

Indeed, it says here that there are 300 pupils in the Brussels lycée maternelle and 12 classes => 25 children per class. They got lucky! Though I think that a single school of 300 3-6 year olds is a very large maternelle indeed...

natation Sun 24-Feb-13 14:36:41

There are a few combined maternelle+primaires in Brussels with 1000 children and 4+ classes per year. I don't know how I'd cope with that. Our children's maternelle/primaire has about 450 children, up from the 330 when they arrived 4 1/2 years ago.

Some of the European schools in Brussels are even bigger, starting at the equivalent of moyenne section. They can have 3000+ in them.

Bonsoir Sun 24-Feb-13 17:19:30

My DD's school (maternelle + primaire) is very large - 900 - though there are couple of annexes so that they aren't all in the same building and the maternelle children (270) are definitely not all in the same playground/sandpit at the same time but in quite different places - at any one time there are max 60 on one side of the park and max 165 on the other. I think that maternelle can be quite scary for 3 year olds, especially, who aren't used to crowds.

Romann Sun 24-Feb-13 20:15:25

Yes the whole of the French lycee, or at least the primary bit, in Brussels is 25 per class. The school is huge though - there are 6 classes per year from CP onwards in the primaire, not sure about after that, and the 6-18 year olds are all on the same site.

They actually would have a job putting more children in the classrooms at the main school site. They are pretty small and crowded.

I'm sure there's a navette for the children taking the school bus service, which indeed costs a fortune, though I don't think it makes any profit.

Romann Sun 24-Feb-13 20:17:06

In maternelle every class has its own assistante maternelle, so there are 2 adults for 25 children. Mine were happy and they adored the assistantes - they are really kind and lovely people (wish I could say the same for all of the teachers!)

pm2012 Wed 07-Jan-15 11:14:45

Hi Everyone,

I am looking for a place in a good French school, where non-French speaker kids can have some help in getting their French up to the speed. My daughter is a native English speaker and in year 2 (Australian public school).

I have a place for her at Ecole No. 7 Ixelles as well as Le Petit Ecole Dans La Praire in Uccle. I have been to Ecole No. 7 and was just wondering if there are any other schools which will be academically, activity-wise, better, with multicultural environment! I am not in Brussels now and can't visit the Uccle school. Can anyone advice whether I should give up the position in Ecol No. 7 in favour of Le Petit Ecole or not? Should I try to wait-list my dd to any other good school in the neighbourhood?

Best Regards,


cannotseeanend Wed 07-Jan-15 18:12:44

Depends on where work and home is....

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