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Schools/friends in Brussels

(16 Posts)
flora2011 Fri 03-Jun-11 00:01:36

Desperately need advice please: we've just moved from the UK to Brussels (for 4 years) with our dd aged 9 and ds who is 4. We are living near Schuman and finding it impossible to get our kids into a school for Sept this year.

We tried local French-speaking schools first (as i speak French), Emile Jacqmain, Adolphe Max and others but have been told the waiting lists are long and there is no chance of a place.

Then looked further afield, Paradis les Enfants, Sacre Coeur de Lindthout, Chante Oiseau, Ecole du Bonheur and others, but the same story here - long lists.

On top of this I'm really beginning to panic about language. Both children are shy and speak only a few words of French - I'm filled with dread at the thought of them crying and not wanting to go to school as they don't understand anything and have no-one to talk to.

I would REALLY appreciate any advice on schools where there would probably be other English-speaking children.

Fees for the international schools (up to 30,000 euro per child/per year) are not an option, but maybe we should be looking at Acacia or Bics?

Thanks so much if you're still with me and have read as far as here!

One last bit of advice please........anyone know of social events/gatherings/clubs for 9 year olds in the EU Quarter, Cinquantenaire area? Our dd has been emailing friends saying how lonely she is. She's a gentle, fun little girl. We really need to help her find a friend.

MammaBrussels Sat 02-Jul-11 12:35:21

You can find lots of information about schools in a magazine called The Newcomer - you might want to look there. Otherwise if you join the Brussels Childbrith Trust they have a schools advisor who I'm sure would help you out. The BCT also organise events for children - it's a fantastic organisation, I can't recommend it highly enough!

flora2011 Wed 06-Jul-11 08:11:16

Thanks MammaBrussels...I found the BCT and, as you say, they were wonderful. Their Schools Network is an excellent source of information and support.

One of the local French-speaking schools eventually had places for our children and we paid a visit en famille last week. Huge relief. For anyone moving to Brussels the BCT should be their first stop!

Have a great summer and thanks again for advice!

Portofino Wed 06-Jul-11 08:42:42

I think I replied to your question via the BCT lifers....If you don't mind I will add your email to the Belgian MNetters circulation list. We meet up from time to time - stuff with the kids/cinema/meals etc

Zonpintje Thu 29-Sep-11 17:12:15

Hello there! I'm new to this site, but I've been reading many, many posts like mad! We just recently landed in Antwerp, my DH's job is here and we didn't know where else to start, but we are thinking we'd rather be around Brussels.
We have 3 DS 11, 10 and 6. They are currently in a flemish school and I'd like to keep them in a flemish school, but we have no idea what area would suit us.
I love the idea that they could play outside with other kids (something they can't do right now here in the city) and also have access to other english speaking kids.
I'd love to hear about a possible meetup and get feedback about where we could possibly fit in here in Belgium. Truth is that I am Belgian but left more than 22 years ago, I have lived in England, and now have returned and feeling like I can't adjust to an all-belgian life ;) We also lived in France and so the boys speak french. This is another reason why Brussels appeals to us, as it could allow them to keep practicing their french.
Any input would be appreciated ;)

natation Fri 30-Sep-11 20:28:17

But what's wrong with Antwerpen?
There is a smaller English speaking community there, I'm sure the 3 international schools in English in Antwerp have activities open to non students, just like some of the international English schools in Brussels have. Have you contacted the 3 schools to ask what might be accessible to your children? There is also a small group like BCT which is admittedly centered around greater Brussels, it's called Antwerp Parent and Child - definitely worth contacting.

A huge proportion of the anglophone community in Brussels lives in the southern and eastern communes of Brussels and the gemeenten in Vlaams Brabant near to south and east Brussels eg Hoeilart, Overijse, Tervuren, Zaventem, Wezembeek-Oppem and Kraainem, the latter 2 are in fact 80% francophone! But a commute from the south area of Brussels would be a nightmare to Antwerpen and even the east side would not be much better. On a good day, you can make it from our home in Woluwe St Pierre to edge of Antwerpen in 30 minutes, on a bad day it is over 2 hours.

The Flemish schools in the east side of Brussels contain 80% + of francophones, this must cause problems and resentment in the minority 20% ish of nederlandstalige kinderen, but so long as you are happy with this, it should work out fine for you. I only know which nederlandstalige scholen are the most desirable in the near area.
You may actually want to consider the Tervuren "english bubble" enclave!!! The gemeente has lots of green area, a varied housing stock from terraced houses 4 beds costing 1000 euro per month up to palaces costing several KKKKKs per month. Heilig HartCollege might be just up your street, 6-18 school, the most academic in the area, very very big though - it has links with the British School of Brussels (BSB) in Tervuren, it's only about 1km from BSB, must be at least 500 English speaking kids in the gemeente of Tervuren who go to BSB and the 2 other international schools in the gemeente. There are loads of activities which take place at BSB in English and non pupils can attend..... but having said all that, you would have to balance that against a long commute to Antwerpen.

natation Sat 01-Oct-11 08:36:27

I just looked on Antwerp International School website and it states that non pupils are most welcome at their after-school programme. They have a downloadable PDF of activities.

Zonpintje Sun 16-Oct-11 11:24:41

Natation! Thanks so much for your input ;) I didn't realize you had responded already, I was expecting a notice in my email (new to this), but now I decided to check the actual post... so thanks!
I will definitely check out your recommendation about the Antwerp international school and what it has to offer for non-pupils, this might help us to feel more settled.
The down side of Antwerp (just for us) is that there is very little access to french here. We just moved from France where they children were in a local school so we would like to be able to sign them up in french-speaking activities so they could keep that up. One of our DS is already signed up for something in Auderghem. We do like many things about Antwerp, but we really would like to live in a greener area.
We like the feeling of Brussels and the surrounding areas plus DH does his mountain-biking every weekend in the Zoniënwoud.
I've been doing a lot of driving around, Tervuren etc... and I it really is a beautiful area, but I do worry about the commute. This is why we are considering more the areas of Zaventem since you can drive up to the e-19 from behind the airport, plus train commute to Antwerp is quite easy (at least it seems that way after checking the
With Halloween coming up I will check out the links you sent me and see if maybe we could find something for them to participate in, our DSs miss Halloween.
I get the feeling, but maybe I am wrong, that the BCT focuses more on younger children, is that so?
Thanks and Cheers ;)

natation Sun 16-Oct-11 19:37:17

BCT does indeed concentrate on younger children, but that is the fault of members getting disinterested once their children make it to school age. However, there are an increasing number of events for older children, a disco was held for them this weekend, then there is a Christmas fun day, there is a playgroup sepcifically on a saturday for working parents and school age children, bike training sessions, plenty of interest groups. The area coffee mornings are open to mums and dads with children at school.

So is your husband a member of ?

Zonpintje Mon 17-Oct-11 07:25:53

Yes, that's funny, he is a member of BigM smile
You really know your area, do you know someone in the club?
I saw that we missed the disco night, maybe we can make it to the fun day!

natation Mon 17-Oct-11 21:55:56

yes I know a member, not me, a friend

Zonpintje Tue 18-Oct-11 09:20:04

aha! Then they'll probably know who my DH is...

natation Tue 18-Oct-11 19:21:01

friend is American and works in a big building near Evere! Shares first name with American actor famous for action film series.

I would love to join a cycling club but my husband works nearly every weekend day so I am effectively a single parent at weekends so no hobbies in my life unfortunately.

Zonpintje Wed 19-Oct-11 05:57:17

Ok, I'll ask my American husband ;) who's name is spanish ;)

I'm pretty much grounded in the weekends too, he has to have his cycling day (I think he's confusing it with religion) and then the rest is filled with scouts and kid's stuff. I have to do my hobbies during the week when everyone is settled, more or less.

natation Wed 19-Oct-11 14:18:57

They must know each other then, I hear there are never too many on the rides.

I can highly recommend our girls' Scouts / Guides - the boys (and girls 6-8) are 106e Bruxelles St Dominique,located in Kraainem. The locaux are right next to a beautiful and peaceful park which is well used by the Scouts, or they walk a little further to the foret de Soignes, or particularly in the winter they walk down to Stockel metro and go into Brussels to museums, to the ice rink etc. It's a big group, about 700 in total girls (67e Bruxelles) and boys. I haven't yet met other anglophones in the groups, but heard Spanish, Polish, German and plenty of Dutch.

I have a friend whose son does the Scouts with 71st (not sure of number) Bruxelles in Wezembeek-Oppem, that group has strong connections with the local Chiro group too.

Zonpintje Thu 20-Oct-11 08:24:01

We figured him out ;)

Thanks for the scouting tip!!! I will definitely take a look at that as well.

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