Expat Essentials

Expat Essentials: Dispatches’ guide to international schools in Brussels, Pt. 1 (updated)

(Editor’s note: Terry Boyd also contributed to this post. Also, it was updated with the addition of Academy for Collaborative Education in Brussels.)

One of the bigger challenges for English-speaking expat families – even for well-paid corporate nomads – is finding a satisfactory, English-language international school.

Such schools cater to expat students, with curricula tied to the host nation in question, or an international education organization such as Edexcel, Cambridge International Examinations, and International Baccalaureate; if you’re curious about the International Baccalaureate program, by the by, Dispatches Europe has a primer for your convenience.

Majestic Brussels Grand Place illuminated at dusk, Belgium

Majestic Brussels Grand Place illuminated at dusk, Belgium

Wherever you’re headed, do not wait to get there before starting the application process with your preferred international school, which can be lengthy. With business growing ever more global, many international schools have more applications than spaces. And of course, school will start next month in most European countries.

You might also want to check out the schools in person and interview parents in case the reality fails to live up to the promotional literature and beautiful photos of campus life at a given international school.

Brussels is the de juris capital of Belgium, the de facto capital of the European Union, and the home city of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Dutch was the predominate language spoken throughout most of its existence until the Francization of Brussels – already underway in the 18th Century – accelerated upon the founding of the Kingdom of Belgium in 1830.

The city’s diverse architecture includes the UNESCO World Heritage Site Grand Place in the city square, where Flamboyant, Neo-Gothic and Baroque styles dominate the scene. Multinationals in Brussels include Spa mineral water, Godiva chocolates and InBev, the global collection of beer brands including Budweiser and Stella Artois, is based just outside Brussels in Leuven.

With EU organizations and multiple multinationals, it’s no surprise Brussels offers many, many choices in international schools.

Here’s Part 1 of two parts.

Academy for Collaborative Education of Brussels: Principal Jackie Daire, who is British, oversees ACE of Brussels.ACE blends traditional and modern teaching, together with technolog, to created  individualized study programs, according to the school website.

From the website:

Our goal is to inspire a lifelong love of learning through exploration and discovery.   Our curriculum focuses on the whole child, so that our students leave our community as well-rounded and confident young people who are ready to face life’s challenges.” ACE’s curriculum is project-based and follows the UK National Curriculum.

  • Fees: Payable by parents receiving partial and full funding from their sponsors or employers. Reduced fees – Payable by 100% self-funding parents, Eurocontrol and NATO international staff. Those at EU Institutions who receive less than €300 per month in funding for education are also eligible.
  • Full Year – school hours, term time. This can be paid in four regular installments. Additional school holiday days can be booked as above. Full €18,550; Reduced €10,100
  • You can see the complete terms and agreements document here.
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: [email protected], or telephone: cc32- (0) 2 420 02 04  ​


Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 7.53.53 AMBritish Junior Academy of Brussels: There are a handful of international schools in Brussels which fly the Union Jack alongside the Vlag van België, the first of which in this guide is the British Junior Academy of Brussels. BJAB values every student as an individual within its “welcoming and supportive atmosphere, promoting the essential qualities of integrity, loyalty, self-discipline, independence, self-confidence, kindness, mutual respect and consideration.”

The primary school follows a modified version of the National Curriculum for England, and is a member of COBIS (Council of British International Schools) and IAPS (The Independent Association of Prep Schools).

  • Fees (2016-17 academic year): €9,023 – €19,211 annual tuition, depending on stage level; non-refundable €500 registration fee for the first child, €250 for each subsequent child; €500 refundable deposit
  • Requirements: Preliminary interview with headteacher; completed application with required documentation; payment of registration and deposit fees
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: bjab.org

BEPS logos definitiveBEPS International School: Since 1972, BEPS International School has welcomed hundreds of students between the ages of 2 1/2 to 12 to its mansion within the green spaces of Bois de la Cambre. BEPS offers the International Primary Curriculum to its young students, and French is taught to English-speaking students; English is taught as an additional language to students who don’t speak it. The school aims to provide its students “with exciting learning opportunities to ensure that they reach their full potential academically but also emotionally, socially and personally.”

  • Fees (2016-17 academic year): €14,900 – €22,900 annual tuition, depending on grade level; €800 refundable deposit; €600 non-refundable registration fee; €600 non-refundable contribution to school development fund; variable learning support fee, determined on an individual basis
  • Requirements: Submit application with required documentation and deposit, registration and development fees
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for more information
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: beps.com

logoBISBBritish International School of Brussels: Around 120 students between 2 1/2 and 11 years of age, all representing over 30 nationalities — the most common of which are Belgian, British, Danish, French, German, Greek, Indian, Japanese and Pakistani — attend the British International School of Brussels’ Infant and Junior departments annually. As with the other schools mentioned here, BISB bases its curriculum on a modified version of the National Curriculum for England. The little ones can also enjoy a wide assortment of extracurriculars, such as singing lessons, dance, arts and crafts, and cooking, as well as field trips and school productions.

  • Fees (2015-16 academic year): €9,000 – €19,950 annual tuition, depending on year group; non-refundable €600 registration fee; refundable €500 deposit
  • Requirements: N/A; complete initial enquiry form for more information
  • Application Deadline: Rolling deadline policy in play
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: bisb.org

logoBritish School of Brussels: Around 1,350 students comprised of 70 nationalites attend the British School of Brussels from nursery to secondary education. BSB is the only international school in Belgium to offer three pre-university tracks: British A Levels, the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and Business and Technical Education Council vocational courses in Business, Hospitality and Sport. Accreditations include IB, COBIS, CIS, and Fairtrade Foundation, among others. The mission of BSB “is to create young adults who rise to the challenge of the modern world” by motivating and inspiring “responsible, engaged students who have respect for themselves and each other.”

  • Fees (2016-17 academic year): €14,450 – €32,800 annual tuition, based on year level; €1,000 one-time application fee for the first student in the family, €500 for each subsequent child; full list of fees here
  • Requirements: Completed application form with copies of all school reports over the past 12 months, additional education needs, and passport page
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for more information
  • Contact: Submit enquiry here
  • Website: britishschool.be

img-thingBrussels American School: Two things stick out regarding Brussels American School: the fact it flies the Stars and Stripes instead of the Union Jack, and the fact BAS is a member school of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, or DoDDS system. What does the latter mean? It means such schools, like BAS, are aimed at those in the United States armed forces, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense. (Remember, Brussels is NATO headquarters, and there are U.S. personnel assigned there and to various sub-regional commands in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Students whose sponsors are either retired military, DoD employees, non-DoD government personnel such as State Department employees, or non-government personnel can also attend the K-12 school, but will need to pay tuition, which varies based on the sponsor’s affiliation with the U.S. government. BAS is home to 270 K-12 students, all of whom are taught in “a safe, supportive environment that promotes academic excellence, life-long learning, self-discipline, global citizenship and tolerance.”

From our personal experience, DoDDs schools use high salaries and the promise of international travel to generally recruit top educational professionals from across the United States. Class sizes are small, and when your parents are military, kids are less likely to be discipline problems. Some DoDDs schools in international capitals such as Ankara and Brussels have stellar reputations for producing alums who have gone on to great international careers.

But, all this isn’t cheap. If you don’t have access via U.S. governmental agencies, tuition can be as much as $30,000 per year.

BICS-1Brussels International Catholic School: Our last stop in the first part of our guide to international schools in Brussels takes us to Brussels International Catholic School. Around 600 students from pre-primary though secondary education attend BICS, which offers a bilingual curriculum (French and English) to pre-primary and primary students, and an English-focused curriculum for secondary students. BICS is a Cambridge International School, a member of the European Council of International Schools, and its curriculum meets the requirements set by the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelle. BICS’ mission is to help students “to try their best and to strive for excellence in everything they do… and discover intellectual interests that will stay with them for life,” all under a Christ-centered environment.

  • Fees (2016-17 academic year): €7,950 – €9,950 private registration annual tuition, €13,750 – €17,750 professional registration annual tuition, both sets of fees dependent on grade level; €500 non-refundable application fee
  • Requirements: Schedule appointment to visit the school; submit completed application form; submit application fee upon acceptance; provide copy of latest school report from previous school
  • Application Deadline: N/A; contact school for information
  • Contact: [email protected]
  • Website: bicschool.be/en
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Lifestyle journalist. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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