The European Schools in Laeken (Brussels) and Mamer-Bertrange (Luxembourg) have capacity for 3000 pupils each, but are already full
The three European Schools in Brussels, and the school in Luxembourg-Kirchberg, which have been chronically overcrowded since the 2004 and 2007 enlargements and the entry into force of the APA Statute, have received a vital breathing space with the opening in September 2012 of the schools in Laeken and Mamer.
But this will not be enough: the new schools are already full.
European school Laeken*
The Laeken European School has a capacity of 3000 pupils at the three levels (nursery, primary and secondary) and offers five language sections (French, English, Dutch, German and Italian) and two language groups (Bulgarian and Romanian).
These 3000 include the 1000+ pupils of the Berkendael (Forest) school, which was opened as a ‘temporary’ school in 2007. The premises at Berkendael will continue to serve as a temporary school for a few years (the pupils at the Uccle primary school will be the first to move in there while their classrooms are renovated.)
European school Mamer-Bertrange**
French, English, German, Czech, Danish, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Maltese, Romanian, Slovene and Slovak. Like the Luxembourg-Kirchberg school it also provides teaching in Irish.
Facts about European Schools?
– The first European School was built in Luxembourg in 1953. In 1958 the first European School in Brussels opened in the rue du Trône. It moved to larger premises in Uccle a few months later.
There are currently 14 Type I European Schools, of which 5 are in Belgium. After Uccle in 1958 came Mol in 1960, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert in 1974, Ixelles in 1999 and Berkendael in 2007, ‘replaced’ in 2012 by the Laeken school.
– All the European Schools teach the same curriculum and are organised in accordance with the same administrative structure.
– There are two types of European School.
Type I schools are governed by an inter-governmental agreement and are mainly intended for the children of staff of the European institutions.
Type II schools are national establishments governed by the educational authorities of the Member States requesting them. They provide teaching in line with the criteria established by the Board of Governors of the European Schools. There are currently five of these: Parma, Heraklion, Dunshaughlin, Strasbourg and Helsinki.
* Focus on Laeken
Surrounded by parklands and forests, the Laeken school occupies the buildings of the former Royal Cadet School on a 4.7 ha site.
The Belgian Buildings Authority, which was responsible for the project, renovated the historic buildings, demolished those buildings which had no particular architectural value, and put up new buildings in a contemporary style.
These include a large concrete structure surrounding a panoramic terrace with an exceptionally good view of Brussels. This building contains the canteen (serving 1800 meals per day), the gym and technical offices, and gives access to the car park.
Centred around the large playground at the top of the site (the former parade ground) are the various administrative buildings, the art rooms, the canteen, the sports centre, the multi-purpose room, the library, the underground car park and the outdoor bus park, which also serves as a sports ground.
The nursery school, built around a large central patio, contains 12 classrooms, a dormitory, a kitchen, its own administrative offices and a multi-purpose room. The building consists of a single storey.
The primary school, on the Drève Sainte-Anne side, is built around a patio and comprises the classrooms, a library, an after-school centre and the caretaker’s office. The building has been given a new ‘green’ roof, new insulation and new high-grade double-glazed windows with wooden frames.
The secondary school and the administration occupy the renovated buildings on the Rue Médori side. The classrooms, study rooms, some 15 brand-new science laboratories, a library, sports complex and offices share the old and new buildings.
The impressive G Building, in the Flemish Renaissance style, was built in 1899 during the reign of Leopold II. It was given a ‘gentle’ renovation to preserve its exceptional character. On either side of the monumental entrance door are the headteacher’s offices and the art rooms.
Particular attention has been paid to heat insulation (roofs, façades, windows, floors and basements) in all the buildings, and there is sufficient natural light to reduce electricity consumption to a minimum. The buildings have external views over peaceful and well-managed landscapes.
Access and security: access to the school for everyone (school buses, parents, staff, cyclists and pedestrians) is from the Drève Sainte-Anne and is monitored by security staff. Most pupils take the school buses which drop them in the bus courtyard inside the school walls.
There is a 163-space underground car park for school staff, but a large ‘kiss and ride’ area has been provided for parents to drop their children at school. There is also a bicycle shelter.
The nearest Metro station is Bockstael (Line 6).
New doorways have been created in the old surrounding walls, and are opened only on specific occasions (e.g. for removals etc. )
All the outside areas are very well lit.
** Focus on Mamer-Bertrange
The Mamer-Bertrange European school is built on a 12 ha site which was once crossed by a Roman road. It occupies the west side of a hill straddling the municipalities of Mamer and Bertrange and is surrounded with greenery.
The school has six buildings: one each for the nursery, primary and secondary schools, a sports complex, an administrative building (which also contains the school hall and canteen) and finally the Early Childhood Centre (crèche, after-school and study centre), managed by the Luxembourg Infrastructure and Logistics Office (OIL).
The school and the Early Childhood Centre share some common facilities, including a central courtyard, a sports hall and a restaurant.
The buildings are quite low, with an extra storey further downhill to ensure the best possible view, and follow the downward slope of the site.
They are painted in different colours, grouped around a very large central courtyard, interlinked by ramps and staircases, and to prevent any risk of falling they are edged with hedges and flower beds which also provide shade in the summer.
They are made of very thick solid concrete, are very well insulated and very light thanks to high windows reaching to the ceiling to take advantage of the natural light. Triple glazing protects them from the cold and external adjustable louvred blinds keep out the sun.
Part of the central courtyard is reserved for the emergency services. Fire engines, ambulances, police and other emergency vehicles can easily reach all buildings and there is room everywhere for them to turn.
Access and security: to ensure as smooth a traffic flow around the school as possible – given that access is from the very busy Route d’Arlon – the Luxembourg State has built a bypass under the Tossenberg roundabout and a 150 m bridge above the Route d’Arlon, as well as a new roundabout near the school. The existing cycle paths and footpaths have been retained.
Near the nursery and primary schools two car parks with wide ‘kiss and go’ bays have been provided for dropping off children. A third ‘kiss and go’ area adjoins the bus station near the secondary school. A 180-space car park is reserved for school staff.
The campus is surrounded by a fence with a number of gates and doors. Some of these entrance and exit points have card readers or bells and are monitored by security staff and video cameras.