There is a wide variety of choices of the type of school in which you enrol your child, depending on their language, background and talents.
The first decision to make is whether your child will go to a local or an international school. This depends largely on the child, their age and your family’s plans for the future.
The advantages of choosing a local school are mainly ones of immersion, convenience and cost. Your child will be immersed in the local language (French, Dutch or German) and culture. Also, since the school will likely be close to home, he or she will get the chance to make friends who live in your neighbourhood. Finally, Belgian schools are free, while international school are private and can be very costly.
In Belgium, schools are the domain of the language communities, so Flemish schools are run by the Dutch-speaking Community, French schools by the French-speaking Community and German schools by the German-speaking Community. All provide a high standard of education and one is not restricted to the schools of one's native language or the region in which one lives. Many French-speakers send their children to Flemish schools and vice versa.
Throughout Belgium, but especially in Brussels and the surrounding areas, there are a number of international schools that provide excellent education both in English and a variety of other languages.
International schools are likely a good choice if you know your family will only be in Belgium for a short, fixed term – for example, two years. Typically, secondary school programmes follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme or the GSCE programme based in the UK; some offer both. These mean that when your child moves back to your home country, or to their next international school, they will likely be able to catch up with the local school systems and have an easier time adjusting to the change.
The biggest deterrent to international schools is the price. While the bill for a local Belgian school is zero, some of the international schools cost upwards of €30,000 a year. A large number of children who attend these more expensive schools do so because the businesses or organisations for which their parents work pay the tuition as part of the terms of their coming to work in Belgium.
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