Brussels' first outdoor and bilingual school sees surge in demand amid coronavirus

Brussels' first outdoor and bilingual school sees surge in demand amid coronavirus
Credit: BOS/Facebook

Brussels' first open-air school has seen a surge in demand fr0m parents seeking to sign up their children to outdoors school amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Brussels Outdoors School (BOS) said that it had received more than a hundred information or application requests in just one week.

Set up in the Sonian Forest in the outskirts of Brussels' southern metropolitan area, BOS opened in 2018 with a small class of pre-schoolers who are taught in French and Dutch.

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As children march back into the classroom for a new school year on Tuesday, BOS opened new classes for children from 3 to 12 and will kick off the new school year with a total of 15 students, despite the surge in demand.

"We received many more applications because of coronavirus," school coordinator Martina Paone told Bruzz. "In the past week alone, about a hundred parents wanted to register their children."

Despite the surge in demand, the school, who attracts parents both for its novel learning setting as well as for its bilingual teaching programme, will kick off the new school year with only 15 students.

BOS pupils are taught following a bilingual outdoor programme which includes extracurricular activities in nature and does not divide children based on age and instead seeks to promote cooperation between different age groups.

"We believe that age differences do not cause conflict, but better cooperation. The younger children learn from the elderly, but also vice versa," Paone said.

While classes are set to remain small for the time being, Paone said the school was striving to gain recognition from education authorities in order to expand their classes and their vision for bilingual teaching in the Belgian capital, where most schools still teach only either in French or in Dutch as main languages.

"We want to be recognised and not become an elite school, but bilingual schools are virtually non-existent," she said.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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