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BEPS’ new secondary school building aligns space with learning
The autumn of 2022 promises to be a turning point for BEPS International School in Ixelles. It will launch the final two years of its relatively new secondary school, offer the IB Diploma and new IB Career-Related programmes, celebrate its 50th anniversary and move the secondary school students into a new building.
The new location for the secondary school is a dream come true for BEPS, a trusted institution in international educationin the capital. BEPS is an IB World School, already authorised for the IB MYP. It also offers the International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) and the International Primary Curriculum (IPC).
BEPS opened its secondary school just three years ago, in a building about a 20-minute walk from the primary school. While a perfect size and location for getting the secondary school off the ground, the BEPS team knew from the start that the building would be temporary because it just wasn’t big enough. The final two years of secondary would need to be somewhere much more suitable for a full secondary school.
The building that will serve as BEPS’s new secondary school (right) is already attached to the primary
Lo and behold, the mansion now housing Lycée Molière – literally attached to BEPS’s primary school – became available. BEPS secondary will move into this space in 2022. So BEPS’s secondary students, many of whom went to BEPS primary school situated at the edge of Bois de la Cambre, are coming back home, so to speak.
“The whole BEPS community is very excited about it and really looking forward to the move,” says BEPS Finance & Administration Director Charlotte Van Brussel. “Before we can make the move, though, we need to carry out major renovations to adapt the building to fit the type of learning we want to provide.”
That means a more open floor plan, maximising the potential for students to collaborate on projects. “The space will be reinvented to have more open locations, less closed classrooms and more possibilities,” explains BEPS Director Pascale Hertay. “We are decompartmentalising, basically.”
Students in the driver’s seat
This shift towards a more dynamic learning environment will literally break down the walls which separate traditional classrooms. BEPS has long been focused on going beyond a teacher just who stands at the front of a row of desks and delivers a lecture. “Teachers are now facilitators, mentors, coaches – supporting the students in their learning,” says Hertay. “Now the students are in the driver’s seat!”
BEPS staff have not only learned a lot about adaptability during the Covid crisis – which is helping form a vision for an adaptable space – but are working to mirror the kind of environment that awaits students in the future.
“We have always said that we are not educating children for the world which exists now, but preparing them for their future,” notes Hertay. “Educators have long been talking about a shift from a knowledge-based to a skills-based system. Over the last few years, that shift has really accelerated, and BEPS seeks to keep pace with these changes by developing a meaningful curriculum as well as future oriented physical and virtual learning environments.”
The last thing we want, she continues, is for students to feel that the learning process at BEPS is out of date, disconnected from the real world. “We want them to be engaged in authentic learning that is meaningful because it reflects the way they experience the world. We encourage them to be agile in the connections they make within and beyond school, equipping them for lifelong learning.”
And it will help them transition between school and the working world, she says, because it will involve a similar atmosphere. “In companies, you have to collaborate, think critically and creatively, and transfer skills to different domains.”
While the idea is that the new building will house the secondary school students, the two separate buildings will be fused. “Instead of being two schools in two locations, we are going to turn it into what we wanted from the very beginning – one school in one location, where we can optimise the use of the space.”
Sense of community
This will, she explains, allow teachers and staff to share information much more easily and even bring the school’s administration team – long located outside of Brussels because of a lack of space – back to the school.
“It’s going to be so much easier for families with children in both Primary and Secondary sections,” says Van Brussel. “We also have teachers who work in both schools, and this will allow a lot more flexibility in scheduling.”
But there’s something even more important than all those practical aspects, adds Hertay: a sense of community. “At the moment, our primary students and parents know that we have a secondary school, but they don’t see it. Now the children will be able to project themselves into the secondary space, glimpse the learning and become excited about transitioning from primary to secondary.”
BEPS International School
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 23