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BEPS, IBS or Montessori in Brussels?

(10 Posts)
Lauragiulia Tue 30-Apr-13 04:37:42

Dear Mumsnet parents.

We see that some of you know Brussels very well and we would really be grateful for your advice. We are an Italian/Spanish couple moving to Brussels after a period in the US, where our 4 ys old child is enrolled in pre-school. She is now fluent in English and we would like her to keep it up. As we speak Italian and Spanish at home, the best way for her to maintain the language would be through school, so we thought of enrolling her in an English school in Brussels. For geographical reasons, we would be interested in BEPS - do you have any information about it? Other options would be IBS or Interrnational Montessori, do you have any feedback on those?

Thanks a lot in advance

marchmad Tue 30-Apr-13 06:59:25

Are you paying your own fees?
Where is work?
There are 7 Montessori schools in Brussels and just outside, which one are you referring to?
All 7 Montessori schools do French as well as English, some also have few mother tongues English or French speakers.
Is there a reason why you are not considering all of the English schools such as BJAB, BISB, Roots and Wings, BSB, St Paul's BPS?
I know several children who are in French and Dutch medium schools who speak other languages at home and hear English as a lingua franca between as well as 2 mother tongue languages, one from each parent, they also continue in English through the extensive after school programme of activities here, as well as achieving fluency in French from school and after school activities.

Lauragiulia Tue 30-Apr-13 17:23:55

Thanks a lot for your reply, Marchmad. Work is around Place du Luxembourg/Schuman, but the house we found is near Chatelain. That is why I was not considering the schools in Tervuren or Waterloo. But you are right, BJAB could also be an option, have you got any feedback on it? Roots and Wings, that is only maternal, isn't it?
We are going to pay our own fees - that makes it expensive, of course, but we are really keen on this language thing.
Actually, however, what you suggest about enrolling her in a French school (we would actually have some options) and having after school activities in English might also be the good solution. Do you know where I could find information on such activities?

Thanks a lot again

rushingrachel Tue 30-Apr-13 18:01:52

Hi. Our son has been in BJAB for 2 school years and we also pay our own fees. Not cheap. But we are delighted overall with the school. Never once has our son got out of bed and not wanted to go to school. The quality of education in early years at least has been excellent. Our son reads extremely fluently, writes well and has a good grasp of basic numeracy by the end of reception (he is 4). Academic standards throughout the school are pretty high and the school recently had a great inspection report. It seems a happy school and our son has made lots of friends and been to clubs after school. They do French every day and he is ok to speak to punters on the street and Belgian friends of mine in French, although he is not fluent if that is a priority. The only thing I would say is the buildings are a bit cramped. Comes with the territory of being in the city but somewhere like ISB has a far superior campus. Also the headteacher is retiring this year and she is a very driving force in the ethos of the school. How her retirement will change things remains to be seen.

marchmad Tue 30-Apr-13 18:21:41

Chatelain and EU area? Are you sure about that? I'd personally never choose there for working in the EU area, I'd be thinking south Schaerbeek, Etterbeek, WSL, Auderghem, EU area itself. You can rule out a local school immediately as you would need to have enrolled many many moons ago as it's possibly the hardest area in Brussels to find a local school place. No I am not kidding.

I'm afraid in your position, if I hadn't signed a contract for a house already, I'd be thinking again about location. You are making your life quite difficult. There are no private schools in that area past the age of 6 - would have suggested Tutti Frutti if you're looking before maternelle age.

Chatelain - BEPS - EU area is a crazy commute and will take a long time by public transport and probably even longer by car. Have you visited BEPS? Hmmmmm.

Chatelain - ISB - EU area, another crazy commute and mega expensive.

Chatelain - BJAB - EU area, well so long as you are at the near the 81 tram route, it might not be too bad. Montessori House Brussels is the same routeing but only goes to 6.

Chatelain - BISB / Roots and Wings / International Montessori / BSB / St Paul's BPS, just a little too far really for me for a 4 year old to be made to commute every day, BISB might be my limits.

If you are insistent in living in Chatelain and going a long way to school and then on to work, I'd go for BJAB.

marchmad Tue 30-Apr-13 19:22:00

Little hint. If you plot home - school -work on a map, the best fit is where the line is reasonably straight. Try doing that with your chosen home and work and see which line is straightest when you add in possible schools. Then also run the trip through the public transport planner and see how easy/difficult each commute would be.

Lauragiulia Wed 01-May-13 00:08:09

Thanks a lot for this help! We will definitely look at BJAB. Otherwise, assuming commute was not a problem, would you have any feedback on ISB or International Montessori (the Woluwe school)?

marchmad Wed 01-May-13 08:54:25

Fees for a 4 year old, full time (half day weds), self funding
ISB 25k (know the school rarely offers reductions to new students)
International Montessori (Woluwe) 12.5k
BJAB 15.7k
BISB 15k?
BEPS 16k? - 21k
Roots and Wings 10k? - yes the school now takes primaire
BSB 12.5k-17.5k
St Paul's 18.4k (don't know their percentage reduction)

As you see, there is wide variation in fees, if you're paying yourself, I'd be thinking long and hard about costs. Are they really worth it, given you could get exposure to English easily outside school and you'd never be paying these sums of money for extra-curriculars in English.

International Montessori (Woluwe) is very popular, have you checked there is even a place there?

International Montessori is 10km from Chatelain, it's a 60 minute journey on public transport or 30 minutes by car
BJAB is only 4km away, 20 minutes on the 81 tram (so long as the tram doesn't get stuck in traffic) or 15/20 minutes by car - this one is by far the easiest for continuing to the EU area
ISB is 6.5km away, about 30 minutes by 94 tram/short walk and about 15/20 minutes by car
BEPS is 2.5km away, 20 minutes by 94 tram/short walk and 10 minutes by car

Then you have to add on the time taken to go to work. None of these schools are between Chatelain and work.

Is there any chance at all that it's not too late to consider another area to live in? Montgomery/Mérode is very similar to Chatelain but nearer to work, easy to commute to work, local schools which might still have some places!

When moving to Brussels, it is always wise to choose a school first and then choose where to live second. I don't mean to sound mean and nasty, it's however the mistake people make most often and then come to regret and either accept spending a part of their day taking their children across the city to school or they move or they choose a highly inappropriate school and come to regret it.

You could consider a local school a bit of a distance away from your home, but at least on the way to work. You might find places still at Jardin des Ecoliers (Rue de la Croix 37) or Cardinal Mercier (Rue du Nid 8)

marchmad Wed 01-May-13 09:08:20

Those 2 local schools I mentioned are however both closer to Chatelain than all the international schools, they are 1 to 1.5km away, the 2 Chatelain schools are oversubscribed and Tenbosch in particular will have a waiting list so long, a child might reach secondaire school age before getting a place.

marchmad Wed 01-May-13 09:14:19

Or just south of Chatelain area, you'll find a maternelle called "Petite Ecole Montjoie" on Rue Stanley, and it feeds into a primaire nearby, they might still have places, it's only 4 classes, you should find English speakers there.

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