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Hi there,


My family and I shall be moving to Brussels this Summer.  We are are an Irish family who are currently

living in South Florida 6yrs.  My husband's work will be in the Zaventem area.  We are not sure which international school would be good to send them.  My son will be 6yrs and my daughter will be 9 yrs.

I did like what I saw for St. John's (one website) but would traffic be crazy for commuting to Zaventem?

We do not plan on returning to USA.

I would be too nervous about sending them to Belgians public schools as we do not speak French/Flemish.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated.







First of all how long are you planning to be here? Certainly if 2 years or less, a local school would be perhaps not suitable, as it would take that long to really get a 6 and 9 year old fluent and also flourishing in Dutch or French. But if you are here 3 or more years or permanently, then the choice of international school may only be a wise one if you are either rich enough to fund the fees or have a guarantee from your employer that they will not change the terms of contract and stop paying fees (I don know people for whom this has happened and the children have been so far into the international system, they have made the difficult choice to fund themselves at great financial cost to the rest of the family). So I really really would think hard, or at least keep an open mind about local schools too, there are many many children who have joined the Belgian system in primary and have picked up their new languages. If you chose an area with a good mix of international families plus a school with a good mix of nationalities, your children could really integrate and make full use of the many local activities which are even often free, if they were at international school, their social life will almost definitely revolve around their English school expat bubble, fine if that's what you want but is it really a good way of taking advantage of the opportunities available in a new country?

As for St John's and Zaventem, well you seem to know already that the commute from Waterloo to Zaventem is the worst possible commute you could do, if it means an obligatory use of the R0.

There are loads of other international schools much closer to Zaventem. Many Zaventem employers settle in Zaventem itself, including its suburbs of St Stevens Woluwe and Sterrebeek, or in Wezembeek-Oppem, Kraainem, WSP, WSL, Tervuren. In these areas, schools which are practical are :

primary only




Acacia (but not really suitable for 6 year old, complicated here to explain)

St Paul's British Primary

International Montessori Rotselarlaan


Primary and Secondary

BSB (French immersion available for 6 year old but not 9 year old)

International Montessori Woluwe (nominally bilingual but don't actually expect your children to actually speak French, understand it maybe)

BICS (bilingual and yes they would pick up some French here, it gets more French the further up the school)


I would not recommend any of these schools and I would not listen to anyone who says "don't choose XX because XX", the decision needs to come from yourself after visiting the school. Where you live and whether school bussing is paid by employer may also influence school choice.

Oct 27, 2011 19:40