The demand for places in the European Brussels schools continues to increase, with 1615 new places sought across the four Brussels based schools. 369 of these places were offered at Laeken and currently 275 places offered have been accepted, 74 places were refused, and in 20 cases, parents have yet to reply.
Who will be joining us? Of the new places in Laeken, almost half (128) are in the French section, 52 in the English section, around 25 in each of the German, Italian and Dutch speaking sections, 14 in the Romanian and 3 in the Bulgarian sections. 155 of the 278 are in Kindergarten, 88 in primary, and 32 in the secondary.
Will Laeken face overcrowding? Not yet. With the new enrolments, Laeken will continue to grow, reaching an estimated 2,545 places, but still within its capacity. These numbers may still change over the summer, as there are further responses to places offered, additional notifications from parents that they will move and new enrolment requests come in.
What does the growth imply? There will be additional challenges for the transport and canteen services, whose staff are currently busy planning on how to address the increased demand and provide a good service. There will also be more demand for periscolaire, which makes it likely that the threshold for more activities will be reached, broadening the scope on offer further. Note that the APEEE is engaged in the periscolaire and oversees the functioning of the transport and canteen services, so additional input from parents into the APEEE, and the range of associated working groups, will be most welcome. This can take place formally, with parents putting themselves forward for the APEEE board in the general assembly, or by engaging with working groups by contacting the relevant APEEE members.
How will it affect our children — will it lead to more pressure on classes or less? More often than not, there will be more children per class. However, given the class size thresholds, it will also mean that a few additional classes are likely to have be made – for example, an additional FR Kindergarten class is planned to be created for the new school year. Currently several language sections are at the ceiling of pupil numbers, and, pending final numbers, may lead to additional classes. For example, FR P1 is at 90 students and FRP2 at 89. Both may be split into four classes if the threshold of 30 per class is breached, the numbers of students in those classes will be lower easing class crowding. If the threshold is not breached, the classes will be very full, with the silver lining for P2 being that they could then keep their current teachers. The decision will be taken over the summer.
The growth of pupil numbers in secondary should also make it slightly more likely that options are of offer, as again minimum pupil number thresholds are needed for the options to be offered.
What does the future look like? The pupil population in Laeken is expected to continue to increase in 2016/2017 and beyond, first due to the S7 pupils in 2016/17 and the growing maturity of the Bulgarian and Romanian language sections, which currently only go to year P4 and P3 respectively, and the Dutch language section only to S5. This will lead the school being at full capacity in the near future. With the other European schools already facing overcrowding, (3398 in EEB I, 3045 in EEB II, and 2984 in EEB III), future demands rises expected across the European schools in Brussels, will need a fifth Brussels school. The discussions are still underway as to where this school will be, when it will be opened, and what language sections it takes. It will be important that those decisions build on reflections from Laeken language sections and any new school could build on our own lessons for developing services in a new and fast growing school. That will be the feature of a next APEEE newsletter article.