Under the Belgian education system, expat children will be able to attend many different types of schools in Brussels. Most expat parents will either enrol their children in a public school or one of several international schools in Brussels. The quality of education in Belgium, be it private or public, is very high.
Children generally start school at age two and a half, although it isn't required until age six. Before this age, most neighbourhoods offer daycare solutions for working parents. Parents are expected to be active participants in their students' work and check that homework is neat and correctly done.
Most neighbourhoods in Brussels also offer extra-curricular activities and day camps during weekends and school holidays. Notices are usually posted around schools and businesses. Lists are usually also available from the city hall, the commune or the gemeentehuis.
Public schools in Brussels
Public education in Brussels is known to be of an excellent standard. Expats will be able to find schools which offer tuition in French or Dutch, with weekly foreign language classes in English or German.
Public schools are an excellent option for expat families who already speak a local language or are looking for an immersive experience for their younger children. However, most expats who are planning to live in Brussels for a shorter period and can't speak the local language will opt to send their children to one of the city’s many excellent international schools.
Private schools in Brussels
There are several private schools in Brussels. These are generally religious institutions that are subsidized to some degree by the Belgian government or schools with alternative curricula such as the Montessori curriculum.
The city’s private schools are usually slightly more affordable than its international schools. These schools also offer a wider selection of extra-curricular activities and school outings than public schools.
International schools in Brussels
Brussels is a nucleus of international activity and expat families will find themselves with a healthy choice of international school options. Some international schools teach an English curriculum, while others are bilingual and follow the national curriculums of France, the Netherlands or Germany.
With a large expat community in Brussels, space at international schools can be difficult to secure. Parents should, therefore, apply far in advance to place their child at their preferred school.