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Montgomery International School (EIM) on achieving the best IB results in Brussels in 2022
Since its humble beginnings with 10 children in 2007, Montgomery International School has developed into a thriving multicultural community with excellent International Baccalaureate results, says founder David Gerone (pictured below).
Located close to the Montgomery roundabout in Brussels, hence its name, the independent Montgomery International School (Ecole Internationale Montgomery – EIM) offers high quality education for almost 200 pupils, aged from five to 18.
“We are the only school in Brussels to offer the International Baccalaureate with a fully bilingual programme from the age of five,” says Gerone. “Pupils can choose in the primary and secondary sections between a French/English bilingual programme or one entirely in English.
Gerone’s confidence in the IB was rewarded in May 2022 when EIM achieved the best IB results in Brussels: “We had a 100% success rate. One student achieved 45 out of 45. Our average mark was 37, compared to the world average of 32, and 70% of pupils graduated with the bilingual French/English diploma.”
For the founder, the IB is better than the Belgian secondary education certificate CESS (Certificat d'enseignement secondaire supérieur) and British A-levels as it provides a much broader education, with mathematics and science compulsory until the age of 18.
In comparison, the CESS has only two external exams – in French and History – while pupils usually take only three or four A-levels. The IB also offers students the opportunity to do group and independent work, as well as research projects.
“In addition, the IB, gives more access to universities worldwide than A-levels. There is no need to do additional ‘equivalency’ exams,” adds Gerone. Since 1975, the IB diploma is also recognised by Belgian universities.
His conviction in the exam system is backed up by recent research showing that first year university students graduating from high school with the IB diploma programme have a substantially higher success rate than those taking other exams.
Offering only the IB means there is no selection process or pressure to choose an exam route according to a pupil’s perceived strength or weakness. “We are an inclusive school and aim to maintain our values, good atmosphere and results throughout the primary and secondary years,” Gerone says.
“My biggest challenge is to ensure our children reach their full potential, choose the university they want, a subject they love, and that the path to doing so is the best possible one.”
This means that the school is not only focused on academic results. With a maximum of 16 to 18 pupils per class and with many mixed-age activities, the school has a real family feel. It’s also multicultural with children from more than 40 different countries.
“Our aim in the next two years is to grow to 250 students,” Gerone says. “We also want to develop partnerships with major international schools, for example in Paris next year, to create an international network.”
While expansion is welcome, Gerone is adamant that EIM will retain its manageable size. “Everyone knows each other and there are close teacher-pupil relationships. After obtaining their diplomas, even if our students choose different universities, they stay in contact.”
Around 70% of children come from families connected to EU institutions, NATO and embassies. Fees start from €23,000 per year with final year diploma pupils paying €30,000. EIM is at the lower end for private school tuition costs in Brussels, says Gerone.
Families are encouraged to get involved via a parent council, monthly coffee mornings and external activities. “It is important for parents to know each other too.”
Such a tight-knit community has clear benefits: “We definitely do not encounter drugs or discipline problems. We have a very good reputation for this,” Gerone makes clear.
Most families live close to the school in the surrounding municipalities of Woluwe-Saint Lambert, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre and Ixelles. This means that the majority of students use public transport, which represents a real advantage compared to other international schools that are largely sited in the suburbs.
Due to its inner-city address and proximity to numerous sport centres, extra-curricular activities are not extensive. But there’s still a wide range on offer, from individual piano, violin and tennis lessons to yoga and one team sport a year, such as basketball or football.
Gerone has Italian roots and pupils at EIM can learn the language from Italian embassy teachers. There is also a Coding School (in collaboration with Logischool programming school) and a popular theatre/media course with pupils putting on plays in Brussels’ theatres.
When asked about his own work-life balance, Gerone, who lives in the capital, is thankful that his own children attend the school. “It is very hard to stop thinking about the school, it is a 24/7 job, but I have more of an advisory position now, with a director, deputy director and an excellent, supportive team of 24 teachers.”
Montgomery International School
(Ecole Internationale Montgomery-EIM)
Rue du Duc 133