European Schools

Hi all. My husband and I are looking at moving to Brussels for a fixed term of 5 years. We have 2 daughters. My husband plans to move in January 2018 while our 2 daughters finish the academic year in Ireland, so we plan to start them in school in Brussels in September 2018.

I would be grateful if anyone could point me in the direction of a recommended European School. Their mother tongue is English and I would like them to be literate in French after the 5 years.  By September 2018, they will be 6.5 years & 9.5 and will have done 2 years & 5 years in primary school respectively.
I would like to know what challenges we could potentially face with school enrolment and tips to overcome them.
Additionally, I would love to hear from anyone with similarly aged children who has gone through the experience - how was it for the children socially?

We hope to live in Woluwe St. Pierre or nearby.

I realise I am probably very early starting my enquiries, but school and education is our priority and I want to do all possible to get it right.


You won't get a place at European school because you're not going to be entitled. That is my guess as those entitled won't need to ask and those entitled will know you cannot choose English section.

Send them to a public French school. Any are fine in wsp.

Thank you Schoolmum, but I don't understand your point.
We are entitled to a European School (I understand there are 5) with the job offer we are considering, I didn't state that clearly in my query.
I have read a lot of forums where people have experienced challenges, with the entitlement and I am trying to get my head around it.

If you're entitled to European school you apply by reading how to apply and you ll be allocated after Easter. Most likely to be laeken. 4 European schools in Brussels. No point in recommended school as you will not be choosing between the 4.

I was writing a really long post to fully answer all your questions, but then internet decided to auto-refresh the page, deleting everything I was writing. After yelling at the laptop for twenty minutes, I decided I will write many short posts.
Let me introduce myself,
Hi I’m Stella, I just graduated from the European School in Laeken (EEB4). My journey in this school has been amazing, fulfilled with incredible experiences and friendships. I hope that in 5 years your children will share the same opinion as well.

You will be asked where you want to send your kids, but there’s a great probability that they will send them somewhere else (90% to Laeken). But in case you can choose, here’s some info and advice:

As said before, there are four schools (Ecole europeenne Bruxelles, EEB) located in four different areas of Bruxelles: Uccle (EEB1), Woluwe (EEB2), Ixelles (EEB3) and Laeken (EEB4). They are all quite far to reach, especially the ones in Uccle and Laeken are far away from the center.
Advice 1: Unless you don’t live close to these zones, I suggest you to pay for the school bus. It will save you a lot of time.
Advice 2: For no reason in the world make your kids eat in the school canteen… the food is terrible (especially in Laeken. In Uccle they say is actually quite good).

Now to the real deals. The first three schools are the biggest, oldest and most crowded, while Laeken is considered to be the “smallest” and it’s the youngest (this was the first year they did the Bac… lucky me) and “less” crowded (that’s why they will probably send them there), but it grows year after year.
EEB1-2-3, being the oldest, are also the ones with more opportunities and activities for your kids: trips, courses, teachers with more experience, more nationalities, more people… and more “snobbish”. Let me clarify, as kids grow up they tend to exclude the kids who dress in a certain way (this creates a hierarchy, the more expensive-the better) or in worse cases to bully them for any reason. EEB4 might be the smallest and still  growing, but classes are less crowded and teachers can follow the kids better, the infrastructures are cleaner and newer (since it’s being built less then 10 years ago).

Languages topic:
All kids, since the youngest age, are introduced to languages and to linguistic trips abroad. Your youngest child will enter P3 (third year of primary, from what I understood) and your oldest kid the S1 year (fisrt year of secondary, equal to 6th grade). You will have to choose the languages they will study: L1 (mothertounge language) should be English which will determine the base teachings (literature, math, science…), but a lot of parents choose to sign their young kids in the French section (meaning L1 French) in order to make the kids become fluent in more than one language. L2, meaning the language your sons will apply to study history, geography and other minor subjects. Said this your kids in future will be able to pick the subjects they want to study (there’s a wide range of different subjects and languages).

Social life:
Kids and teachers in these schools are used to people coming and leaving, and from my experience I can tell you that the children in Laeken are all sweet and available. Your kids will have the opportunity to meet new people, from all around Europe, widen their mind and explore a brand new and overwhelming reality. Brussel is also a city from the many cultures, it offers several and different activities. It allows people to be very independent (I lived two years without a car and I went out with my friend almost every weekend).

I hope this posts were useful let me know what you thought about Brussel… frankly I loved it
Good luck,
p.s. I’m not taking the side of EEB4, it was just my experience… but it’s honestly the best school in the world

Hi DMRL, we're Irish and also moving to Brussels in Jan - am also having headaches trying to organise schools - according to the EU schools enrollment policy we can only enroll mid-year by applying 15 working days before starting school, so won't know where to find accommodation in advance! Have you had any more progress on your own plans?

Tax payers of the EU and other sources are likely to pay for free busing for your children. Few eeb children live within 1km of their schools. If going into english section, odds on laeken.

Thank you so very much Stella. Apologies for the delayed acknowledgement. I really appreciate the effort & information you put into the response.

Hi SaskiaD8,
We are slowly moving forward as we've decided to let the kids complete this academic year in Ireland & join my husband in Summer 2018, to start school in September 2018.
We are looking outside of the European Schools. To start, we are looking at ACE School. I suppose at this point in time we are educating ourselves about the workings of the school system(s), so we can hopefully(!) make a well researched decision. I would be very keen to hear how it goes for you. I wish you the very best of luck with it.

Thanks schoolmum, good to know.

Hi DMRL, sorry to hear you won't be moving same time but best of luck with yours too - I'll try to post how we get on if we get sorted - so much to organise!

Dear SaskiaD8,
I just wanted to check in with you and see how everything has worked out with your plans?
We have since decided to move in Spring 2018, with my husband starting in January.

Hi DMRL, we're moving in a couple of weeks (eek!) - very relieved, got central confirmation of a place in european school, just waiting to hear from the school itself with day 1 details. Interesting to hear you might be coming over sooner, keep in touch and we might be able to hook up!

Hi SaskiaD8, I hope the move goes smoothly & you all settle easily. We’re on the move around St. Patrick’s. Stay in touch 😊

Hi Stella - thanks for your really useful posts. We are going to move to Brussels in two months and my five year old son will start at the European School in September, but we won't find out which campus until next month.

I was wondering if you know a bit more about the European school bus system. We may live somewhere near Flagey, but I'm worried then we will be assigned a campus in Woulwe or Laeken and then my son will have a very long journey on the school bus to get there each morning. Is there a maximum time period that kids will be on the bus? Is there anything the schools do to make it easier for kids who live far away from the school?

Thanks so much for your advice!

I would wait until you find your school allocation before moving.
Are you aware how child unfriendly your chosen area is, compared to the rest of Brussels?
Are you aware it is also one of the most expense areas to live in Brussels and Belgium?
You might want to reconsider where you want to live, putting the needs of your child at the forefront.
There are some nice urban areas to live which offer far more than Flagey to a young child, if urban is what you are after and all other areas are cheaper too.

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