Elaine Purves, Head of St John’s International School in Brussels explains how its distinctive educational approach is helping shape the global citizens of tomorrow.
In an increasingly globalised society, one of the greatest gifts is empowering young people with the skills and confidence to ensure they feel comfortable wherever their future takes them.
With our students representing over 55 nationalities between the ages of 18 months and 18 years, every day we see the benefits of having such a diverse community. That St John’s is one of a select group of schools in Belgium to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum all the way through is one of many reasons we are widely regarded as one of Europe’s best international schools.
Our elite teachers are skilled IB specialists handpicked from around the world to help students access the highest educational standards. On top of their multicultural experience, being part of the global Inspired Education Group sets St John’s even further apart from other Brussels international schools.
In 2016, St John’s became one of the first schools to join the fast-growing Inspired network, which now boasts 70 premium schools across 20 countries and five continents. The Inspired belief is that education is the catalyst for personal development, and being a student at St John’s therefore opens doors to a whole new world of international possibilities beyond the classroom, from exchange programmes to global leadership projects.
Our wider Inspired connections also ensure we are always at the cutting edge of educational practice, learning from the experiences of our global peers and delivering the highest international standards.
Our educational philosophy mirrors the aims of the IB programme, with its focus on turning eager students into internationally-minded citizens and lifelong learners. We embrace its international curriculum all the way through school to ensure students leave us with qualifications that prepare them just as well for further education as for the world of work.
True to our international roots, we offer Advanced Placement (AP) exams as an additional qualification option. Taken up by around half of St John’s students in their penultimate year, this internationally-recognised standard is a valuable passport to universities around the world. AP Graduates also achieve a Council of International Schools (CIS)-accredited High School Diploma which enables smooth access to North American universities.
Mastering another language allows us to connect with more people and appreciate diversity. We are therefore proud that the number of students achieving the bilingual diploma (BD) is among the best in Belgium, and well above the global average
We promise parents that, no matter what language level their children come to us with, we will support and promote rapid linguistic progress.
Our Dual Language Programme runs throughout primary school, when families decide whether they’d like their child to be in the English or French-English bilingual class. French is taught throughout the whole school, with additional languages introduced in Year 8. And, once they approach the IB Diploma, our extensive network of language experts gives students the opportunity to select their home language as part of their IB qualification, allowing them to connect further with their heritage.
We are equally passionate about ensuring our students grow socially as well as academically, and offer a vast range of extracurricular activities. By creating new spaces where they can challenge and be challenged, and by collaborating with parents so they too feel connected with the day-to-day running of the school, we ensure our students can reach their true potential.
Equally, we pride ourselves on using visual and performing arts to create a sense of belonging and enrich our international connections.
Our professionally-run performing arts facility is one of the largest of any international school in Belgium and hosts numerous productions and events every year.
We also believe in a holistic approach to health, from emotional resilience to physical wellbeing. As a founding member of the International Schools Sports Tournament (ISST) fifty years ago, our sporting facilities extend well beyond the traditional, encompassing a rock-climbing wall as well as more traditional sports. On top of fostering teamwork, our ISST and Inspired connections open further doors to play against other European schools, staying with host families.
Finally, our location in the family-friendly, well-connected and safe Waterloo neighbourhood further reflects our approach to internationalism.
If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that we live in an ever-evolving world. As educators and parents, we owe the next generation the chance to be as prepared as possible for the world of tomorrow where change is the only constant. And at St John’s we believe our international approach ensures our students are truly prepared to take on the world.
St John’s School is part of Inspired, a global group of leading premium schools. To find out more about its innovative blend of academic excellence, outstanding pastoral care and true sense of community visit www.stjohns.be.