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BEPS International School now an IB World School
Like most schools in Belgium, BEPS International School in Brussels will be welcoming some of its students back next week. And it will be sharing some very big news: It’s secondary is now an official IB World School.
BEPS, located at the edge of Bois de la Cambre, has been busy over the last few years. It has not only opened a secondary school to join its existing primary, it became an authorised provider of the IB’s Middle Years Programme (MYP).
In many ways the secondary school is a completely new school “We have taken the DNA of BEPS and an innovative start-up mentality to produce something new and exciting,” says BEPS MYP Curriculum Co-ordinator Andrew Mitchell. “From conception, it was always our intention to create a school that looks forward.”
It was because of this start-up mindset that the team were able to complete the process of becoming an IB world school in such a short time. Many of the staff were new to the IB philosophy but their desire to work together to create a successful school meant that they worked exceptionally hard, not only to meet the rigors of the IB authorisation process, but to match it with the BEPS vision and mission.
This is the first big step towards BEPS’ final IB goal – to be able to offer students the Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-related Programme (CP). Internationally recognised programmes which will send pupils into the world with a coveted International Baccalaureate Diploma.
Nothing like BEPS
That will take a couple of years, as the school will expand to MYP 4 and 5 first. “Our students who are now in MYP 3 will be our first graduates of the MYP in two years’ time, and of the Diploma or Career-related programme in four years’ time” explains Mitchell. “So all of the students who are in the school now will be able to finish their schooling with us.”
And this is important not just to the teachers but to the students and their parents, explains BEPS director Pascale Hertay. “The reason we opened the secondary was because our parents couldn’t find anything like BEPS in another secondary school,” she says.
BEPS focuses on teaching students how to think critically and creatively as well as supporting social and emotional wellbeing. The approach is based on current best practice and research into how students learn best.
“Our school is learning from and with other innovative schools,” says Mitchell. “BEPS does not exist in a vacuum and as professionals we need to look around and see what others are doing and what we can learn from them. The world is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, this current crisis is a perfect example. In January we were already listening to stories of school closures in China, and since then we have been talking with colleagues and professionals to respond in the best possible way given our context. ”
“This is exactly what we want for our students,” continues Hertay. “We don’t just focus on content, but on adaptability, co-operation and communication. No matter what the future looks like, all of those skills will be critical in making students successful, whatever they choose to do.”
Becoming an IB World School is no easy task. The IB has rigorous standards for academics, the school as a community and the development of a child’s sense of civic responsibility. “We needed to balance all this with our own approach,” continues Hertay, “and the desire to create a dynamic and authentic learning environment where the individual learner is challenged and supported.”
There is a long and thorough process schools have to go through to become an authorised IB school. Hertay: “There are many different curricula that are used by international schools, but it was important that we used the IB framework to develop one that was in line with what we believe about learning.”
Global vision - Individual approach
The founding team was behind the choice of the IB; it supported their own vision of what learning should be. “We believe in the development of students as learners for life, and this includes global citizenship,” says Hertay. “That means that when students make decisions, they will be based on a reflection of the consequences. That is the type of authentic learning that we want to develop in our students!”
“Our emphasis has always been on how we can create a learning environment that nurtures students as well as encourages them to move forward, no matter what level they are at,” says Mitchell. “The feedback from IB was that we had a deep understanding of differentiation – understanding that the backgrounds of the students can influence where they’re learning journey begins and which direction it takes.”
In other words, students are treated as individuals with different learning approaches and needs. “All of these sorts of things that are about the needs of the students – these are the things that came to the surface in the IB report. It was a perfect external validation of what we are and what we believe in.”
Student Experience - Learning in Colour!
The big question is - How do students experience this type of learning? “A student who joined us this year and who had been in a couple of schools before put it beautifully,” recalls Hertay. “We were amazed because it captured exactly what we are trying to do. She said: ‘You know, at my other schools it was like I was learning in black-and-white. Here, it’s like I’m learning in colour’.”
The admission period for the 2020-21 school year has begun at BEPS
BEPS International School
23 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt