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Moving to Zaventem. Need advice on pre-school & housing

(24 Posts)
Raee Mon 14-Dec-15 04:09:58

I am new to this site. Will be moving to Zaventem very soon and looking for a house and good preschool for my 3 and 5 year old kids. Housing will be dependent on the location of the pre-school. Workplace is in 1930.
Can anyone please tell me if there are any pre-schools which offer Dutch preferably English around this area? Will be using car a for commuting so travel to workplace is not an issue. Very important is a closer distance from home to school so that it is easy to drop off n pickup kids and will be nice if amenities are closer to home.

Also, planning to be in Zaventem in April 2016. Will it be too late to register the kids to school for the current year? Will the schools allow to register remotely?

lifeisunjust Mon 14-Dec-15 21:44:28

Pre-schools are kleuterscholen and they are in Dutch only if it's a public one.
They are free from age 2.5 years. You ask every kleuterschool independently how they do enrolments and when. It is better to start enrolment now than April 2016. All you need is a passport or EU naitonal ID card.

There are no public English kleuterscholen, all private and fee paying from 10k to 30k. There are 2 Montessori English-French (but English dominant) kleutercholen in Zaventem.

Just look up all the public kleuterscholen on this map for Vlaams Brabant here Zaventem is located.

Raee Mon 14-Dec-15 22:16:15

Thanks a lotsmile

TheHammaconda Sat 19-Dec-15 21:52:47

Hi Raee

To look for a house the best websites are either vlan or Immoweb.

What takes you to Zaventum?

Raee Mon 21-Dec-15 12:48:24

Thank you. Checking out these sites.
Relocating for DH work.

Raee Tue 22-Dec-15 04:06:04

I have checked for the vacancy in schools for the year 2016-2017 from this site And I don't know why only few areas are listed here. I don't see areas like Vossem, Zaventem, Overijse, Tervuren etc listed here. Does anyone knows why?

These are the schools that have places available at this moment. Can anyone please give me the reviews on these schools? and also how is it to live around these schools?
I know, it is too late to register now and I don't have much option other than to choose among these available ones. My children, 5 & 3 yrs old twins are english speaking so looking for a school that offers english. Does'nt matter if it is bilingual. Preferably Dutch speaking system. We are not looking for private schools.

Sint-Pieters-Woluwe 1150
1. GBS Mooi-Bos
2. Gemeentelijke Basisschool -Mooi-Bos

Oudergem 1160
1. De Stadsmus/Inv
2. De Stadsmus/TR

Heren 1130
1. De Schatkist

Neder-Over-Heembeek 1120
1. Kasteel Beiaard
2. Kristus Koning - Assumpta

Jette 1090
1. Kleuterschool Florair

Schaarbeek 1030
1. Basisschool van het Gemeenschapsonderwijs -H.Conscience

thanks in advance

lifeisunjust Tue 22-Dec-15 22:31:07

Do you speak Dutch already? I am assuming you don't otherwise you would know why you have looked on a website for Dutch schools in Brussels. That website is exactly for what it says it is, for enrolments for BRUSSELS.

Zaventem is not in Brussels. All Zaventem schools do their own enrolments, as per what you can read on their websites. Enrolment dates vary.

Now if I am right in assuming you cannot speak Dutch, then I would say to think very very very hard about school choices because the majority of Dutch speaking schools will refuse to speak to you if you don't speak to them in Dutch. In French schools and the minority of Dutch schools, no such rule and makes communication far easier.

Don't be choosing Dutch on the false assumption their schools are better, the PISA results indicate that comparing like for like Dutch and French schools, the biggest determining factor on performance is socio-economic group, not language.

Dutch schools do not offer English!!!!!!!!!!! Not until secondary age 12. And in Brussels Dutch schools cannot offer English until age 14. The only exceptions are a tiny few who have opted into the new immersion system and it is only a few hours a week and NOT for English speaking first language.

If you are after local public Dutch schools offering English, well I'm afraid you won't find any. There are a few French schools, outside of Brussels, 25km south of Brussels, which offer English immersion - NOT for English speakers, plus the ONLY public school in Belgium in French system which offers English to mother tongue speakers called Le Verseau. You have to pay 5k. Living in Zaventem and going to Le Verseau will mean having to have a car just to make this commute and you'll spent 2 X 2 X 5 = 20 hours a week in the car.

If you want a school teaching in English below the age of 12, then you will have to go for the private system and will pay a minimum of around 10k up to 30k.

Now is there a specific reason why you MUST live in Zaventem?

If there is no specific reason why you must live in Zaventem, then do widen your area search and that would mean considering French schools too.

Raee Wed 23-Dec-15 06:55:04

Thanks a lot for your time lifeisunjust. You have made it very clear to me now.
Yes, we don't know any Dutch!!! And my children are not even close to hearing it at all.
Heard from some of our friends who live there and also learned from comments on this site & others that Dutch speaking system is very good in comparison and not rigid as other systems. Also, read Dutch grammar is pretty much close to English and assuming there would be bilingual(Dutch-English) local public schools, thought of looking for such schools so that kids can find the transition easy at school. Looks thats not going to happen. Thanks for the valuable info.

We are not ruling out on the option of French-English schools. Have been looking at them too. Have checked on the Le Verseau school but haven't pursued it yet as was more into dutch speaking system. Will start now on.

Not a MUST to stay in Zaventem. Interested in places like Tervuren, WSP and WSL but basically, school is the first priority for us. We plan to stay within walking distance to school (no matter where we get places for all 3 children! and being so late for registration). DH will be commuting by car to work which is in Zaventem.

lifeisunjust Wed 23-Dec-15 08:27:11

I think you'll find in fact the Dutch system is more rigid than French but that is a great generalization indeed as each school is different, you will find very rigid schools and very liberal schools in both Dutch and French, so I would immediately disregard this as a reason for choosing either language system.

Yes Dutch grammar is closer to English than French, but 40% of children in French schools inside Brussels manage French just fine with a different language at home!!

Zaventem touches mainly French speaking Kraainen and Wezembeek (they are communes also in Vlaams Brabant) where there are schools in both Dutch and French, with French you must live inside one of the 2 communes with Dutch you can live anywhere. Also touches Woluwe-St-Lambert.

There are buses which go from WSP, WSL, Wezembeek, Kraainem to Zaventem.

You won't find French-English schools in the public system in Brussels, and remember the ones in Brabant Wallon in Wavre and Rixensart area, all offer a few hours of the school day in English, but this is designed for French speakers, so the English will be far too basic for your children and they are very very unlikely to benefit, when they already speak English. Only Le Verseau offers 4 hours out of 28 hours a week in English, to mother tongue level. It's an expensive option, each hour will cost you over 35 euro in top-up fees. In a class of 20 kids! For that, you could instead consider living near to work and sending to a French or Dutch school and walk to school and spend that 35 euro an hour on individual English lessons. Or spend it on one of the 40+ activities in English in the Wezembeek-Tervuren-Woluwe-St-Pierre area!!!

There are many children from the Indian sub-continent in French schools in Brussels. There are now at least 10 children in my youngest children's school. They can all speak English still, speak Tamil/Hindi/Teluga/Gujurati etc as well.

Nearly all French schools in Kraainem, Wezembeek, WSP and WSL are very good and full of non Belgian children and very used to children being there for a short period. Even my child at French secondary goes to a very traditional and academic school, even there they have about 30 nationalities and about 30% of the children are not Belgian, about 10% of my child's year actually speak English at home.

lifeisunjust Wed 23-Dec-15 09:20:57

Ecole la Fermette, Institut St Georges, Notre Dame de la Trinite - Wezembeek
Ecole Diabolo - Kraainem
Ecole communale de Stockel, Ecole du Sacre-Coeur de Stockel, College Don Bosco, Ecole Crommelynck, Ecole communale Joli-Bois, Ecole Mater Dei, Ecole Parc Malou, Ecole Chapelle-aux-Champs, Ecole Singelijn, Ecole Vervloesem, Ecole Ste-Jeanne-de-Chantal, Ecole Schuman - WSP and WSL

These are all the French schools nearest to Zaventem and of course it matters where in Zaventem too. In these areas 90% of people who are long term residents or Belgian speak French, though Brussels is officially bilingual. Even 20% of Zaventem is French speaking, 80% of Kraainem and Wezembeek is French speaking too, despite being officially Dutch Flanders, meaning they have the right to those 4 schools ONLY for residents of the 2 communes.

You're not too late for most of these schools and in fact if not fussy, you'd easily find spaces at Joli-Bois and Crommelynck. Almost impossible for Mater Dei but enrolments don't happen till Monday 11th January 9-12 by phone only. Sacre-Coeur de Stockel will have opened their enrolments already and difficult to get places but get on the waiting list. Same for several of the other schools on that list. Many people reserve multiple places, many people reserve places for the following year then relocate and don't tell the school and suddenly first week September places open up and the schools call those at the top of waiting lists.

There is less turnover in Dutch schools because very few expat children in comparison to the French, so harder to get 3 free places in classes where children have already been at school a few years. However I believe Dutch schools in Vlaams Brabant - that is Zaventem, Tervuren, Kraainem, Wezembeek, don't commence till 1st March 2016.

Raee Thu 24-Dec-15 08:06:18

Awesome lifeisunjust. Thank you for your time and appreciate your kindness to explain to me in detail. Will discuss your suggestion with DH. Make sense to me. And will check out the schools you have mentioned. May be the schools are closed for Christmas now. Have written to a few but no response yet. Will wait for their response.

lifeisunjust Tue 29-Dec-15 12:43:57

don't expect much response by email, especially if you've written in English. It's not the Belgian way which is to phone up. If you have to email, do it in French and English. And never take the first no as a no, that is Belgian for "not yet but come back and ask again and it might change to yes".

Longtime Tue 29-Dec-15 22:45:52

Raee, we have a Benelux mumsnetters (secret) Facebook page. If you want to join, pm me. Lots of mumsnetters live in stockel. Great place to live - good schools, restaurants, cinema, shops, market and best of all its on one of the main metro lines.

Longtime Tue 29-Dec-15 22:49:13

Raee, we have a Benelux mumsnetters (secret) Facebook page. If you want to join, pm me. Lots of mumsnetters live in stockel. Great place to live - good schools, restaurants, cinema, shops, market and best of all its on one of the main metro lines.

Raee Mon 11-Jan-16 15:19:35

Thanks for your reply lifeisunjust and your invite longtime. Sorry couldn't get back for a while.
We got responses from a few schools and some of them do have places. Will have to meet them personally when DH is there.
DH was thinking of looking into private schools too. He has shortlisted a few schools. Can you please tell me if you have any reviews on these schools? Truly appreciate your time and help. Your reviews will help us in making right decisions. Thanks a lot smile
Here is the list of schools
1. Agnes School in Etterbeek
2. St Pauls British Primary School
4. ISF Educational Trust

lifeisunjust Mon 11-Jan-16 15:54:33

Well none of those schools are near Zaventem for one thing.
Agnes. If you speak English as you do, then frankly the level of French for your 5 year old is going to be insufficient to ever be fluent, but for short term knowing you are definitely moving on to another English country in a couple of years, it's an excellent choice, but for language level in French no and for integration.

St Paul's. The 2nd most expensive school in Belgium if you are paying yourself! I wouldn't have it on the same list as Agnes, 3 times the price. It's pretty cool, tiny, friendly, but shockingly expensive. It's also a long long way from Zaventem and would be quite isolating if you don't both drive. You need 2 cars.

BISB. Well why there and not BJAB? It's now become a 70% Indian and Pakistani school, not really international. Great if that is what you want. But not multinational any more.

ISF in Rhode-St-Genese. 2 hours from Zaventem. Why?

lifeisunjust Mon 11-Jan-16 16:04:25

It might be better if you state your top limit for fees, because the schools you've mentioned are all very very different, geographically some are extremely far from work, price wise from 8k up to 25k. There are loads more private schools than these ones. What do you expect to gain from the private schools you won't gain from the free local French schools?

I personally would have only one of these schools on a shortlist, Agnes, that is due to price and at least there is some French but not much in 1st primary, and due to the fact it is the nearest to work. I'd also have other schools there instead, such as IM Sint-Stevens-Woluwe (it's 16k though) and Roots and Wings and BJAB (again 16k range).

lifeisunjust Mon 11-Jan-16 17:20:42

Ok I now see St Paul's offer a reduction to around 16k for those paying themselves. So 2 X 16k = 32k I would really be finding it hard to justify the expense, unless I were extremely rich. Even the 2 X 8k = 16k for Agnes, I'd find that hard, given you can live on that as a family of 4 for a whole year.

Do consider if 16k-32k is a considerable part of your income.

Imarriedaniceman Wed 13-Jan-16 12:00:52

Hi Raee

I can highly recommend St.Paul's. Zaventem is about twenty minutes by car from there but you could live in one of the towns in between like e.g Moorsel. Look at google maps and you will get a better idea.

I guess it really depends on if you are paying fees yourself. I would definitely contact St. Paul's and arrange a visit and discuss fees then. It is is a small nurturing school which will make the transition very easy for your children.

Belgian school works for some new comer children but not all. It is very different culturally to the Anglophone model of childcare. I am just giving you the heads up as I found out the hard way. Not all children will thrive. I guess you have to weigh up the options and decide.

Imarriedaniceman Wed 13-Jan-16 12:03:27

Sorry that should read Zavemtem is about twenty minutes by car.

Imarriedaniceman Wed 13-Jan-16 12:04:20


Raee Wed 02-Mar-16 13:45:22

Thank you all for your valuable advice. We did check out almost all options for schools for our children. Still in the process of enquiring/registering into French schools as the registrations are open this month. DH visited a few schools while he was there recently.
However, we had also registered for Dutch schools in Brussels and my elder child got a place into GBS Mooi-Bois in WSP and my younger twins r on waiting list in the school. Haven't finished the process of registering with the school yet. I would like to know the review of this school if you have any (I had checked a few messages on this site which recommended this schools n also heard from a Friend currently residing in Brussels n hence shortlisted it while registering)
Thanks a lot in advance.

lifeisunjust Wed 02-Mar-16 20:31:13

Enrolments for French schools started last September, it depends on the school in fact.

I would recommend NOT ABSOLUTELY not to take up the Mooi Bos place. The reason you got a place is the Dutch speaking families would not dream of choosing that school. Out of 200 kids, maybe 5 speak Dutch!!!

Please please don't make the grave mistake of doing Dutch in Brussels when you cannot speak it.

However, if you live in Flanders where Dutch is spoken by most and not a handful like in WSP, GO DUTCH.

Raee Thu 10-Mar-16 15:46:48

Thanks a lot to everyone for your valuable advice and suggestions. I am really very happy with the guidance I have received from you all. Especially lifeisunjust, a special thanks to you. Unfortunately, our move to Belgium has changed. Moving to Ireland instead. So will be starting to look for good schools in and around Dublin. Please let me know if you know of any good schools or housing area in the city. Thank you all for your time.

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