BEPS vs ISB or wrong route entirely! And where to live!!

Ok, firstly - I know there have been several threads on this subject but I am still not finding what I am looking for so looking for any advice!!  We move to Brussels the end of June this year (specifically to allow our two little ladies (aged 5 and 7) the time to settle in before school).  We are on expat contract with my work so schools covered and relocation agent first meeting done and I am so much more confused than I expected!! The first options given were the 2 schools above (also the British School but I would not be willing to live so far out of the city).  My office is Uccle but I will be travelling in Europe a lot so not such a big consideration.

So! my questions are as follows:
1. My girls (despite all encouragement, classes, creche etc) are basically shy and not so open to change (neither was I at their age so unfortunately its in the genes!).  I had originally considered local schooling but I could not face the idea of them not understanding any potential friends (the schooling I could get over) so opted for international schooling.  What are the experiences of others?  Just keep in mind - mine won't even go to Ballet as they would have to attend a class alone - they are both in school but it took 3 months before the younger one stopped crying each morning.....are any of your kids in either of these schools - what are your experiences?  It seems the first is small and community based (how small though?) while the other has lots more facilities but very large (will they be lost in it?)

2. Where to live!  End of Ixelles near the BEPS school - Uccle (public transport seems poor) - Watermael?  Any other suggestions.  My hubbie won't work at the beginning so fine to get the girls to school but longer term I am thinking either Au Pair or lots of granny visits when we are not available - so need to live near school - right?

3. Am I making a big mistake in not going for local schooling?

Uccle is a huge commune, where exactly?

Are you paying your own fees and if yes, how much can you afford?

IFS in Rhode-St-Genese perhaps?

LF in Uccle perhaps?

Yes a local school, if here 3+ years, such a shame not to take advantage.

Hi there, office is in Dieweg so quite close to LF but fees will be fully covered by my company and given my childrens aversion to change I was thinking that BEPS might be the best option.  Haven't had much luck in hearing any opinions on it or any of the international schools however....

There is a super local school called "Plein Air" on Dieweg, would choose that over BEPS. Your children are going to go through change by coming to Brussels anyway.

Go and look at ISF as well, about the same distance as BEPS.

Thanks but for me change in language would be fine in the classroom but too challenging in the playground - I am quite aware they will be dealing with change already by moving to Brussels - why make it more challenging - I appreciate your response - I will definitely look at both but I would be interested to understand what is wrong with BEPS or ISB?

There is nothing wrong with Isb but there is a huge obstacle in bois de la cambre between uccle and watermael boitsfort. If you want Isb, live 500m max from school. Wonderful area for families. Leaves the worker with a nasty commute by car, or perhaps 41 bus  or train from Boondael in Watermael-Boitsfort to St Job and onwards by 92 tram which is the only way to cross the bois de la cambre at the bottom of it by public transport, but the rest of the family will have a nice life living in Watermael-Boitsfort, especially if they live within walking distance. The bois de la cambre is HELL to pass through by car. Don't consider it unless you like traffic jams and spending time away from family.

I don't know why you are not considering Bjab at Montgomery or Isf just south of Uccle. Bjab  is superb and commute from that area as bad as from Isb area, in fact it could be a better commute, fast 7 tram from right outside Bjab down to Vanderkindere then 92 tram from there. I'd prefer that to living near BEPS. ISB area is suburban and right next to the forest, Bjab is urban.Both areas have excellent opportunities for kids, but of course the children's activities are 90% in French.

Language of playground, well given the high percentage of rich Belgians paying their own fees at Beps (you'll therefore struggle to get opinions from anglophone parents as there aren't so many compared to the other English medium schools), French will feature highly. Language of playground in some local schools could be choice if 20 odd languages including English, some local schools have similar intake to some international ones, just the uniting lingua france is  French instead of English. Some local schools are up to 50% non Belgian, a reflection of the inhabitants around them, if you found one with lots of English speakers, it makes it much easier - like at Plein Air for example which might be the nearest one to work, mind you it's very very popular, but there are indeed English speakers there, as well as probably at least 20 other nationalities.

Here is the schools map - you can see where ISF, ISB and BJAB are on it. ISF is smallest, then BJAB then ISB is of course huge and American curriculum really, much different to BJAB which is based on English national curriculum and ISF which is neither. … 87ee44ccd5

This FB group has over 300 members, mostly local schools, but a few at international schools. … olParents/

PS language in the playground would be less of a problem to a non francophone than French in the classroom, if you chose a local school with English speakers in nearly every class and one which has enough non francophones, it receives extra funding for supporting French language learning. There are many of them, they tend to be found in areas with higher percentages of non Belgians.

The majority language of Brussels is French, it opens up much in after-school activities and social life, international schools come with their own challenges - having to say goodbye to 15-20% of the children at the end of each school year for example, keeping up with the more elaborate birthday parties!

Oh final word of advice, relocation agents have an apalling reputation here for misleading expats who have done little or no research on areas, schools, haven't a clue about public transport, haven't a clue about what families are looking for, and even if they ask, they don't listen and match up the family's needs to what is available. I would choose a specific area to live in, in conjunction with school, draw a map and tell the relocation agent to either keep to any housing within that map or sack them! I'd do the research of immoweb myself for housing actually, though it's a pity you cannot break down areas further than commune post code on immoweb, especially when it's a case of the bigger communes like Uccle. Choose your own housing shortlist if you can, leaving it to the relocation agent to set up the viewings, never ever believe them when they say housing adverts you've contacted are available and then they say they are "gone", never ever see any housing the relocation agent suggests without researching it yourself too. Leave the relocation agent to deal with LOWERING the PRICE, making sure there are no unusual clauses in a 9 year contract (don't go for fixed 1/2/3 years especially if it is suggested to you), DO attend the entry inspection, recording comments if you can, taking masses of your own photos, DO read the entry inspection report and report any mistakes within 30 days. Do not trust your relocation agent !!!! Well not at first anyway, some are excellent, but far too many are not. If it's your relocation agent only "offering" those 2 schools, well that says it all for me. Nothing wrong with the schools, just the fact the other options have not been offered shows their lack of knowledge.

Wow - thanks so much for all the detailed feedback - its really appreciated.  Clearly I have a lot more research to do and your map is a really great help.  I will also join the Facebook page - looking forward to getting all this stage behind us and getting to enjoy the new adventure but as you say I don't want to rely on the relocation agents - we are already browsing immoweb daily trying to get a feel for the options... thanks again!!

My  in laws are living in sint genese rode (its flemmish with many french speaking so its now duel language) many europeons live there its a lovely aera very rich however. Lots of larage villa neighbourhood's.  I interviewed for a family In watermeal as for uccle icant sayi know it well inly oassing through but never hear anything nice about it

Hi, I cannot help you with the schools in question as mine started in local schools this past fall. It was a tough transition but by late November things started to turn around, and now everyone seems happy.

As for where to live, we are in Watermael and really like it. If you were to live near ISB you would be closer to place Leopold Wiener than we are, though we can walk there in about 15–20 minutes. It is a very nice area, further from the center but a very sweet village vibe. There is the big Sunday market of course, but also a wine shop, bookstore, kids' shop, bio ship, pizza place, boulangerie, etc.

In terms of getting to Uccle, it's true the traffic can be terrible. My husband has to go that way about once a week but then continues on to Ghent. He sometimes prefers the train, which takes as long but he doesn't have to deal with the traffic. But I would think if you were just going to Uccle, it would be doable. Maybe drive some days, take public transportation some days. Personally I would prefer to live near to school, for us it has been really great to be so close.

Hope this helps a little, and best of luck!

Thanks again for all the feedback so far!  I think I have to accept that traffic to Uccle is rubbish regardless of where I live!! Thankfully I won't need to be there 5 days a week.  I have done a little more investigation and still decided to go with international.  I have an appointment at BJAB on May 5th - thanks for pointing me in the direction of this school - I had never heard of it.  Is Etterbeek a reasonable place to live?  I have been trawling immoweb but as you mentioned previously its quite impossible to figure out where the houses are really located without contacting the agents etc so will do more of that when we are over.  Any other suggestions are happily accepted - I still feel like we are all over the place but I suppose we still have some time!!

Etterbeek is very urban. Along tram 7 route would be perfect fir commute to work and school but anywhere in etterbeek is accessible for bjab. If you go with bjab, then personally I d live 1km radius max of Montgomery roundabout so walking distance or shirt bus or tram or metro ride to school. Some streets etterbeek, some wsl and some wsp. Take tram 7 to work

Oh and if you haven't joined the Facebook group, do join. A few bjab parents and probably isb too. Plus you can get advice on individual houses on there if you want, advice if location is good fir school

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