The British School of Brussels - BSB
BSB Principal, Melanie Warnes
Congratulations, and welcome. The academic success of BSB this year has been phenomenal :
BSB is named the #1 of 89 schools in Belgium in the International Baccalaureate (IB) for the second year in a row;
BSB is also ranked the #2 school overall in Europe this year;
BSB is ranked #1 in the Belgian Physics Olympiad for the second year in a row;
This must be very encouraging for your many students, teachers and families?
Yes, we are truly delighted with these academic results, especially as we do not select our students by academic ability. Our guiding principles are to provide students with the highest quality of teaching, learning and support that is second to none - to enable a healthy, vibrant, respectful, progressive culture where children and adults learn together: “Learning together, Inspiring success.”
We celebrated 50 years in 2020 – and we consider ourselves custodians of our past as well as of our future.
BSB is also ranked as one of the most diverse schools in Europe?
Yes, currently we have 1,350 students representing 70 nationalities. We are an inclusive, co-educational day school for students aged 1-18. 34% of our students are British; approximately 30% are American. Our American students bring a real spirit of optimism and entrepreneurship to the school. More Belgian families are joining BSB now, as they see the advantages of a holistic, international education.
How does BSB balance academic and enrichment activities?
Exams may be a passport to world class universities and jobs, but our emphasis is on the development of the whole child – intellectually, linguistically, emotionally and socially - to be confident, caring, courageous, resilient people who engage ethically, purposefully and happily – and hope to make a positive difference in this complex world.
Our BSB campus is like a global village, located next to the tranquil woodlands of Tervuren. We have a state-of-the-art Design & Technology center, ten science labs, three libraries, four art studios, modern languages and humanities suites, food &nutrition kitchen classrooms, purpose-built theatre spaces, a music recording studio, a 25m swimming pool, dance studio, fitness suites, gymnasium and multi-purpose sports hall. We include a wide range of sports, music, drama, travel and career guest speakers.
But, of course great facilities are only as good as the people in them and we have very dedicated teachers and Support Staff. We recruit the best and invest in their development.
Most importantly, we are a family-friendly campus. With an emphasis on community and pastoral care, we include classes for parents, who know that with our parent-run Families of BSB they are never alone.
It was your dream to expand your education career beyond the UK to mainland Europe. How did you arrive in Belgium in 2016 to assume leadership as Principal of the BSB, and how was your prior experience so relevant to your current position?
My most recent teaching position in the UK was as CEO of a group of seven schools, following my 20-year career as a school leader, and as an accredited UK National Leader of Education. I was also a founding Trustee of an education charity called Achievement For All, which is now an acclaimed national education program for disadvantaged children. This followed a nine-month secondment to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
My husband and I were delighted when I applied for, and was offered, the position of Principal at the BSB. The culture and ethos of the school truly inspires me. We have extended family in Bulgaria, Germany and in France, and three bi-lingual grandchildren, so we are happy to be now closer to family.
What are helpful coping skills during these Corona times?
Being in nature – the Ardennes, and there is so much greenery in Brussels to uplift our spirits.
Adolescents are social beings, getting ready to stretch their wings, seeking freedom – this has been a challenging time, but we build in significant outdoor time into their education, which helps to clear the mind.
We are a humanistic community – it’s all about how we take care of each other.
What are three things that you love about Belgium?
The variety of culture, arts, music that is so accessible. To get affordable front-row seats at the Opera - compared to London–now that’s a real treat!
It is very liberating, a pleasure to live here. There is openness to strangers, a generosity of spirit, a kindness, neighborliness, a sense of harmony even among disparate neighbors.
It is inspiring for my husband’s prolific writing.
The ACB congratulates the BSB and welcomes The British School of Brussels as Corporate Members.NOTE: To help you write your story, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org