2017 Education Karlien Tiebout, director of education
Vier Winden is a Dutch-language community primary school in the Brussels municipality of Molenbeek. With pupils coming from all over the world, the school embraces its multicultural nature and draws richness from it.
A young and energetic team of teachers and managers works with and for some 200 pre-schoolers and primary school pupils to offer quality customised education.
The school doors are open to parents and the community, and its windows offer a broad view inside. For the school basis its operations on dialogue: with pupils, parents, the community and its teachers.
Triodos Bank financed the renovation, which included a new build.
What challenge was the source of inspiration for your project?
Our school is located in the old part of Molenbeek, a municipality in Brussels that has always had a large influx of migrants. Children here are underprivileged and grow up in a disadvantaged environment. In recent years, the area has received quite a bit of negative media coverage. On the other hand, we’re seeing a new influx of more advantaged families and we’re trying to reflect that diversity in our school.
Our society requires that we address diversity and draw our richness from that. If we can teach our children to handle that diversity they will have a major advantage for the rest of their lives.
What makes your approach so innovative?
We explicitly involve parents and the community in the school’s activities, which is one of our strengths.
Our school doors are literally open for our parents, because we are all (school and parents) working towards the same goal: allowing the children to grow and give them the best possible opportunities. The dialogue on this is of paramount importance and extremely enriching, as each of the parties only sees part of who the children really are. Where school and parents share their experience, it’s easier to complete the puzzle. We do this by means of open class sessions, cooking lessons, a music group. This way, we create a bond between children, parents and school. It also helps to break down barriers, making it much easier to ask for help or to find solutions.
What impact has your business/organisation had on the sector you work in?
The diversity of our school and the open collaboration with parents and the community is refreshing and offers opportunities. The school has so much talent and positivity and it’s nice to have that acknowledged. The school is creating connectivity here in Molenbeek, which is exactly what our society needs. We want to pass on that inspiration.
What impact has your business or organisation had on the community?
Our school is connected with the community. As part of the new build, for instance, we were able to realise a gymnasium. This allowed us to collaborate with a great partner, Circus Zonder Handen, a social and inclusive circus school. They use the gymnasium after school hours and during holidays. That makes it also more accessible for our children.
What was the impact of Triodos Bank on the company or organisation?
Triodos Bank financed the renovation of the school. With the new build, we explicitly demonstrate that we are an open school, a school that shows itself to the community. This has helped convince a number of people to opt for our school. This way, the building has had an impact on the diversity within our school. Moreover, the fact that we have attractive classrooms offers both teachers and pupils enormous added value.
How does Triodos Bank share the vision behind the project?
Working together with Triodos Bank is in line with the type of school we are. Incidentally, the new build is almost net zero carbon and we are reviewing how we can further improve the energy performance of our school.
Our main goal as a school is to offer as many opportunities as possible for all our children and that we look at what every individual child needs and offer them the best possible solution. Every individual’s right to develop, that is also one of the starting points of Triodos Bank.
As a team, we really believe in our children. There’s a lot of talent among them and that motivates us to commit ourselves on a day-to-day basis.