The most valuable gift a parent can offer to her child, the one that lasts a lifetime, is education. How to best equip one’s children to face the challenges of today’s world, to have a fully realized life, are questions that every parent is confronted with. Choosing a school is not easy. There’s so much at stake, especially when one moves to another country.
In a multicultural city like Brussels, the need for an international and wide-angle view on education has become fundamental. In a globalized and ever-changing world, what are the methodologies that are being used to challenge and stimulate a child’s mind? This month Brussels Express visited BEPS International School to speak about the educational trends and methods with Mrs. Pascale Hertay, the school’s director.
“We want to prepare our students for the challenges of today, but also for the ones of tomorrow’s world,” Mrs. Hertay said. “We seek to respond to the major findings on how the brain works. We want to constantly stimulate our students’ minds. In our school teachers act as facilitators. Their role has become that of helping the students find the right tools, creating the proper environment to learn.”
“The students are the F1 drivers,” said Tim Gill, Assistant Principal Secondary School. “They are the ones behind the steering wheel. We are giving them advice all the time, yes, but they are the ones who take action. That’s I think a good metaphor.”
In the past, the focus was on the delivery of knowledge. A teacher would stand in front of the class and lecture, write on the board, then lecture some more. Students took notes. They had to memorize facts and figures, anatomical names and functions, formulas and coefficients, the knowledge of which would be later tested. But did the students understand how to use such knowledge?
“Here we want them to learn how to think,” said Mrs. Hertay. “We give a lot of importance to the act of reflection. Students need to ask themselves, ‘How am I learning this? What is the purpose? What is my next step?’”
An effective teacher or mentor will not give a student the answer, but the ability to ask the right question.
“They become confident learners,” said Andrew Mitchell, Curriculum Coordinator Secondary School. “No matter what the context is, what the problem is, they will find a way to solve it. That’s what we call, taking ownership of your own learning.”
BEPS International school is located in a quiet neighborhood, not far from the Bois de La Cambre. BEPS has recently expanded from Early Years and Primary levels, and now has a Secondary school as well.
“It all came from the parents of our primary school students,” said Mrs. Hertay. “Many of them would say, ’We’re having trouble finding a secondary school that combines a rigorous learning approach with BEPS’ family atmosphere.”
BEPS is a candidate for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and intends to complete authorisation as an IB World School next academic year. The IB programmes provide an internationally accepted qualification for entry into higher education and is recognized by many universities worldwide.
“In our secondary program, each student is accompanied in their learning by a mentor,” continued Mrs. Hertay. “They provide counsel to the students, help them to plan and organise. They provide emotional support where appropriate, as well. We understand these adolescent years are crucial for them.”
When asked about what made BEPS’ teachers different, Mr. Gill said: “The teachers work hard, planning to make learning relevant, encouraging individual students to explore both how they learn and what they learn. Enthusiasm and good rapport build bridges for creativity, positive action and solid achievements, valuing the cultural differences that enrich the atmosphere of the school.”