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St John’s International School and the IB continuum, getting results through happiness
With many excellent private schools available in Belgium and only a handful of them offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum, why are local and international parents opting to choose these few IB schools for their children?
St John’s International School was the first IB continuum school in the region and now has over 40 years of experience teaching the programme. As the only full IB school in Belgium to offer the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), and Diploma Programme (DP), the school’s strong track record of attracting families from near and far, can shed some light on the decision-making process.
For US expats Lisa and Jean-Luc Di Liberti, parents of Ella from St John’s class of 2023, the move to an IB continuum school was born out of a desire for their daughter to meet neighbourhood children and learn fluent French. Lisa says, “my daughter, Ella, enrolled in St John’s as a 9th grade high school student. Before then, she had attended public Belgian schools. Her Belgian schools were very good, but her experience at St John’s has been outstanding. We could not hope for a better high school for her. We found that St John’s has many students in our area, and Ella has been able to take native-level French classes.”
Located in the leafy green surroundings of Waterloo, just outside Brussels, St John’s International School is an English-language international school with a reputation for unrivalled world-class academics. It has been a couple of particularly challenging years with the onset of a pandemic and multiple lockdowns globally. Students at the school still achieved an impressive average IB score of 35.44 points this year. These results are all the more impressive as, in contrast to many other schools, St John’s is non-selective and enables all students to take IB examinations. But it’s not just about high academic results. The school is also a passionate advocate of looking after the welfare of each child entrusted in their care. Teaching staff pride themselves on creating a warm and joyful space where students can grow, both academically and socially. A superb pastoral care offering nurtures students' emotional well-being, builds their confidence, and ignites their individual passions. There’s an exciting range of extracurricular activities available too. Class sizes are small, with a warm family feel and a truly international community.
Lisa continues, “in fact, St John’s has provided consistently excellent education for our daughter. Because the classes are small, her teachers know her. They’ve helped her improve in areas where she was weak, and they’ve inspired her to soar where she’s strong. St John’s teachers have encouraged Ella to develop her ideas well beyond the parameters of her assignments and to explore connections outside of class discussions. Because of the IB structure, Ella has been able to take all three major sciences simultaneously while also taking two foreign languages, math, literature, history, and art. St John’s has such a well-rounded team that Ella loved all her courses.”
It's this attention to the happiness of each individual student that sets St John’s apart. Students can expand their education among a community of incredibly bright friends. Also, since 2014, St John’s has been part of the Inspired global network of premium schools. Inspired is a leading global premium schools group educating over 50,000 students across an international network of over 70 schools on five continents. As an Inspired school, St John’s has access to best practise and the best teachers from across the global network of schools.
Lisa adds, “Ella’s friends encourage one another and push each other to take academic risks. Ella has participated in student organisations, the Koh-Ed STEM contest, and an Inspired international leadership conference, all with the companionship of a fantastic cohort of St John’s students.”
Finally, St John’s has been invaluable during the family’s move back to the US. They had been told by other expats that it would be no problem to transfer from Belgian public schools to US public schools, however, they found out that this was not the case when their older daughter returned to the US for her sport. Her US school didn’t accept her classes and mistranslated her grades (giving her a failing GPA instead of top marks). Lisa says, “the worst was that we had no one at her Belgian school who could effectively advocate for her. Ella’s experience at St John’s could not be more different. The St John’s academic counsellor knows the US system perfectly. When it was time to enrol Ella, her St John’s counsellor contacted her US counsellor directly to determine the appropriate course schedule to see her through graduation. Furthermore, Ella’s counsellor has met with her several times to talk about plans for university and her possible major. Thanks to St John’s, we have a roadmap for Ella’s education that covers at least the next two years.”
Through the academic excellence of St John’s and the grounded nature of their IB continuum offering, more and more families will be knocking on St John’s doors. The school’s advice is to apply early for the next academic year or to contact them at any point in the school year for more information and admissions.
Lisa sums up, “in short; we have been extremely happy with our experience at St John’s International School. Our only regret is that we have to leave it when we leave Belgium. We highly recommend it to anyone.”
To find out more contact Caroline Tailor or Romy Roodnat at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: St John's International School graduation 2021 (main image); classroom; school interior; career consellor Caitlin Fitch; school interior