The standard of education in Belgium is high and expat parents will have a wide variety of options when it comes to their children’s schooling. There are three different national education systems in Belgium as the French, Flemish and German regions each have their own government-run education system that corresponds with the regional language. There are also private and international schools in Belgium, which offer an alternative to the public systems.

Education in Belgium is compulsory from age six to eighteen and the academic year usually runs from September to June.

Public education in Belgium is of a high standard and is a good option for expat families who already speak a local language or who are looking for an immersive experience for their younger children.

Extra costs associated with school supplies and school outings are kept to a minimum in public schools. However, these schools tend to offer less extra-curricular activities than private and international schools.

The Belgian secondary education system is highly regarded but admissions procedures can change frequently, and often without warning. Expat families need to be prepared and take the steps necessary to secure a place at the secondary school of their choice. In their second year, students choose course options, which can be general, technical, artistic or professional in nature. Exams are taken each year to assess the readiness of students for the next academic year.

Expats will also have the option of sending their children to private schools in Belgium. The teaching philosophies vary between these institutions. Some of these privately run schools are also subsidised by the government.

Many private schools are religious institutions, and most offer a curriculum that differs from the regional government curriculum, such as the Montessori and Waldorf curricula. 

There is a wide range of international schools in Belgium. Some of these schools teach an English curriculum, while others are bilingual and follow the national curriculums of France, the Netherlands or Germany, among others. Many of these schools also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.

Considering the complexity of public high school inscriptions and assessments, expat families with secondary-school-age students may find it easier to enroll their children at an international or private school of some sort.

With a large expat community, particularly in Brussels, space at international schools may be limited and parents should try apply as early as possible to secure a place for their child at their preferred school.