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The International School of Brussels (ISB) is an English-language international school that provides an international education to over 1500 students aged 2 ½ to 19 from 62 countries. The 40-acre (160,000 m2) secure campus lies in the Brussels commune of Watermael-Boitsfort, about 9 kilometres southeast of the city centre.
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The International School of Brussels first opened its doors in October 1951, with four teachers and twenty-seven students between the ages of 5 and 11. It was located in the Brussels commune of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre.
By the end of the 1953 term the school was home to about one hundred students and had moved to its current location at the Château des Fougères, in the Brussels commune of Watermael-Boitsfort. It also changed its name from the American School of Brussels to the International School of Brussels.
In its early years, the entire school was housed in the old Château des Fougères. The classrooms had desks with inkwells and students were taught how to take a pen (which was basically a fountain pen nib on a stick), dip it in the inkwell (built into the desk) and write their assignments.
The school is now a modern educational centre on a forty acre campus serving a diverse community of students.
In February 2006 the school board opted to begin fundraising because it determined that the tuition charged to its students was insufficient for its needs.
ISB is located on a 162,134.6 m2 wooded campus. Green is the predominant colour on campus. All of the buildings use new 'green' technologies, and trees planted by Middle School students dot the grounds. Surrounding the school is managed forest, with entries to the Brussels region's extensive forest trails across the campus.
The campus includes an outdoor track, a performing arts center, two gymnasiums, and 15 hectares (37 acres) of playing fields and woods are located on the campus.
The 19th century building called the "Château" is the school's administration building. Decorated with pillars, the building houses a reception area that hosts parents of prospective students. It is the first building that visitors see and houses the reception area and administrative offices. The remaining buildings, which include the four schools, the performing arts centre and the gymnasiums are scattered throughout the campus, which also has extensive sports fields, covered play areas and a brand new running track.
Most classes at ISB are housed in one of four main buildings.
At the moment, as the High School building is being completely rebuilt, the ICC was renovated to serve as a High School for two years. After that, when the High School is finished, the ICC will be transformed into an Elementary School as that building is getting rebuilt as well.
ISB is a secure campus: all parents, faculty, and staff are issued bar-coded security and identification badges which enable them to access the campus and car parks. Visitors must sign in and obtain a badge at reception.
The campus is closely monitored by a full-time professional security team. CCTV cameras are strategically placed. Guards are on campus 24/7.
Brand new security infrastructure was funded by a generous grant from the US State Department’s Office of Overseas Schools. This includes an upgrade of existing infrastructure and the installation of an access controlled security fence around the Early Childhood Centre and Elementary School.
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Like other international schools, ISB faces a unique challenge when it comes to curriculum. Within a national system, it may be obvious that students should learn principally about the culture of that nation. The dilemma for schools like ISB can be summed up by the question, "with sixty-seven nationalities at ISB, whose history is taught?"
Instead, content at ISB is structured through a set of themes that express the common ground of human experience; the ideas and issues that have relevance for all cultures.
On a less abstract level, ISB offers the four core courses – Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. In addition, ISB students take either French, English Language Development, or Study Skills. High School Students at ISB are offered both the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Diploma; the school itself offers two tiers of diplomas. Unique among many international schools, ISB also offers a Special Education Diploma.
ISB also offers courses in many other languages. From beginner to mother tongue levels, Spanish, Dutch, German, Japanese, Hebrew, and many other languages are available either in-school or through the ISBPlus programme.
As of 2006 it had 1,400 students raging in age from 2 to 18. The students originate from 65 countries.
As of 2012 most high school-aged Japanese residents of Brussels attend ISB. Pang Ching-lin, author of Negotiating Identity In Contemporary Japan: The Case of Kikokushijo, wrote that due to a language barrier and different after-school social life many Japanese students felt isolated from Anglophone student groups such as the Americans and Swedes and often clustered together. Japanese students did participate in after-school activities depending on the gender.
Pang wrote that many Japanese students had difficulties in writing and speaking English, and he added that because they translated their thoughts from Japanese to English, many "did not succeed in producing an essay in Standard English". Pang added that there were some Japanese students who had previously lived in English-speaking countries and had gained proficiency or mastery in English.
The school charges different levels of tuition based on page. As of 2006 the price for an infant in half-day nursery classes is €7,000 per year, and the prices increase from that point. As of 2006 its annual income from tuition was €27.9 million.
ISB’s broad athletic programme offers more than 50 individual and team sports over a three-season year. These include – just naming a few, American Football, Baseball, Basketball, Cheerleading, Cross Country, Golf, Lacrosse, Swimming and Soccer. These U12, Junior Varsity and Varsity sports compete in both the International School Sports Tournament (ISST) and DoDDs Leagues. Non-competitive and intramural programs are also offered for younger children.
ISB has a wide range of sports facilities. There is an outdoor grass field, and two full-size artificial ones as well as a track for running and field events. Furthermore, there are two indoor tennis courts. In addition to that, there are two large gymnasiums, and an Outdoor Education Centre packed with climbing walls and mountain bikes.
ISBPlus is the extra-curricular programme at ISB. It offers students the opportunity, via a range of age-appropriate, in-school and after-school activities, to extend and enrich their interests in all learning areas in fun ways.
The activities provide opportunities for personal development for all students by introducing them to different interests and experiences. It is a safe, non-competitive environment where students can learn new skills or perfect existing ones. Thus, students are challenged and successful in their endeavours.