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Relocating to Belgium & need advice on Schools


Hello everyone,

I am due to relocate to Belgium at the beginning of next year for work and I am bringing my Wife and three children. We are relocating from England and I am currently struggle to find any free international schools in Belgium, do these even exist? I have seen a few paid international schools however the fees are not something I can afford to begin with which is why I would prefer a free school.

My children are only just starting to learn French in school however it won't be enough to put them into a public school in Belgium. One of my children is 12 so has just gone up to big school and the other two are 10 and 7.

If free international schools don't exist, is home schooling an option we could do with our children? maybe my Wife teach them as she won't be working straight away.

Any information would be very much appreciated.

Thank You


There are no free international schools.
Your options are local schools, home schooling, or UK bording schools.
Local schools are good. Certainly the best option for the youngest.
You don' say where you're moving to, but remember French is not the only official language in Belgium.

Oct 14, 2016 01:27

You don't say where in Belgium you are moving to but where you work will determine where you live and where you live will determine the language of the local schools.
Generalising - Dutch-speaking schools are more used to dealing with incoming children who don't speak the language and tend to be well equipped to cope with them. I would have no hesitation over putting your 3 into local schools; they will very soon pick up the local language and the 12 year old - and probably also the 10 year old - will have classmates with basic English.
Think about the situation for immigrant kids in UK - where do, say, Somali or Libyan or wherever kids go to school? Certainly not free international schools.

Oct 14, 2016 11:57

Agree with the answers given. My ex and his sister arrived in Belgium at ages 12 and 10 and went into local schools in Brussels. They were fluent in less than six months, had integrated and made friends, and were walking distance from home. How good can it get!

Oct 14, 2016 13:34

Please ignore the claim Dutch speaking schools are more used to dealing with incoming children who don't speak the language because the facts are that more immigrants move to French speaking majority areas in Belgium than Dutch majority, so therefore the French speaking schools overall and as a generalization are more used to children who do not speak the school language.

In Brussels about 50% of children are non Belgian, with over 100 languages in the schools, a typical French Brussels school will have over 30 nationalities and languages, a typical Flemish (Dutch) Brussels school will have far few nationalities and a majority of non Dutch speakers mainly French speaking.

You need to state EXACTLY where you plan to work / live, before anyone can advise you further but I'd go with the majority language of whichever area you plan to move to.

The UK have 40+ state boarding schools which cost between 10-15k per year. Some are just fabulous schools and take the advice above to look into them for the eldest child. It's not impossible but will be harder on the 12 year old, but tell us where you are moving to.

Oct 14, 2016 18:48

Hello everyone,

Thank you for the information provided so far.

Sorry for not mentioning where we plan on moving. I will be working in Brussels however we are exploring areas such as Antwerp as a possible location for living.


Oct 15, 2016 11:54

There are bilingual schools here that ad state schools designed for Belgian children. There is a list on the pdf on this page:

If you look at the pdf you will see which ones teach English and one of the Belgian languages.

But I don't actually know if they take native English speakers with no knowledge of the local language - maybe some in else knows?

Oct 15, 2016 12:36

@ Shortof, I don't really see how you can make that claim that more immigrants move to French-speaking areas unless you are just comparing Brussels to Flanders. Probably more immigrants move to Flanders than to Wallonia (relatively speaking). A lot of people seem to forget Wallonia exists.

I do agree with the suggestion that the topic starter should go for a local school if the budget is an issue; or even if it's not, honestly. Most expats living in Brussels itself and staying temporarily go for a French-speaking school, but knowledge of Dutch is extremely useful on the labor market so it's something to consider if this is supposed to be a more permanent move. In Flanders, all state-funded schools are Dutch-language, so there is no other option unless you have your children go to school in Brussels or Wallonia (which I would strongly recommend against if you're living in Flanders).

Oct 15, 2016 16:13

If you will be working in Brussels and considering Antwerp as a possible location for living you should do some serious research beforehand.
Obviously, again, it depends exactly where you will be working but Antwerp to Brussels as a morning commute is a nightmare unless you take the train. Train has advantages as employers give financial support for season tickets but it's not a huge benefit if you are nowhere near a station - ideally at both ends.

Oct 15, 2016 16:48
J C Hill

Our boys (English mother-tongue) went to a local French-speaking school. They had classmates arrive from the UK and were asked to help them settle, but within weeks were no longer required. There are a couple of schools which offer English and French (eg. Le Verseau)

Oct 15, 2016 17:24

The above link is not a list of bilingual schools. it is a list of french schools which do immersion for french speaking children from age 5 in Wallonia and age 13 in Brussels to learn max 13 hours a week in English. Or from 5 years same except Dutch as immersion language. Not like bilingual schools.

I would advise against living in an twerp unless you like a long journey to work and Like the idea of not seeing your family for many waking hours. A twerp is super cool but not compatible with work in Brussels.

It is untrue all schools funded by the Flemish community are in Dutch. Some of them teach in french.

Le verseau is a french school which offers 4 or 5 hours a week in English and it is not in Brussels.

Oct 15, 2016 20:56