Hurray! Buroconcept celebrates its 30th anniversary!

The Kids&Us franchise opened its doors in Gembloux on 5 September 2022 as planned

Ten years after the Belgian Kids&Us franchise opened in Wavre, its headteacher Nathalie van den Berch inaugurated a second Kids&Us centre on 5 September 2022, this time in Gembloux. Kids&Us, which operates English schools for children, is based on a unique concept that was created in Barcelona and has already proven successful both in Belgium and abroad. The design of the Gembloux school had to be appropriate for young children and teenagers alike, aged 1 to 18, and follow some strict specifications. “When it came to designing the premises, only Buroconcept could meet the franchisor’s requirements by the deadline. It was critical for the Gembloux school to open on 5 September 2022.” Buroconcept was ready to take on the challenge.

Have you heard of Kids&Us? This purposefully different school uses an intuitive method to teach children English. Given that we master our mother tongue from such a young age, the Kids&Us method recreates the same stimuli so that children can absorb another language in the same way.  The approach is highly successful. Kids&Us currently has around 150,000 pupils in 526 centres spread over 9 countries, 22 of which are in Belgium. 

The concept was created in 2003 in Barcelona using a natural, spontaneous and logical methodology for teaching English to children aged 1 to 18. The Kids&Us franchise arrived in Belgium in 2012, first in Wavre and most recently in Gembloux in September 2022, two franchised schools set up and run by Nathalie van den Berch.   

“The Kids&Us method works because it is intuitive. We start with babies aged nine months to one year, accompanied by a parent or carer, drawing straight away on the very best of their natural aptitudes and their innate ability to learn a language. Little by little, the children start to learn independently. Once they do, their parents or carers no longer need to be with them, and they continue to learn until the end of the curriculum. We start with a one-hour class each week and progress to two classes of one hour 30 minutes per week for the more advanced levels. The most important thing is for the children to be constantly exposed to the language. We work in small groups to give greater weight to developing the children’s speaking skills.” 

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As you will have gathered, advocates of the Kids&Us method see listening to English as the priority along with exposure to the language during the first year of life, gaining an understanding of English as a whole without worrying about using too many words or using babyish language when talking to children. Speaking comes next, developing naturally from listening to and understanding the language. Learning to read and write comes much later. That’s the introduction. 

A tight deadline 

When a new franchised school is set up, the layout has to correspond to the best practices specified by the master franchise. “I won’t lie to you. Over the last 10 years, several franchisees in Belgium have worked with different interior architects other than Buroconcept, and so I knocked at a lot of doors. My project came with a lot of restrictive specifications. An area measuring 150 m² had to be divided into classrooms, which is a small site. Who would be interested in a project like this? The instructions from the master franchise also had to be followed to the letter in terms of layout, flooring, creating mosaics and so on. The architects would therefore have very little room for creativity, if any. I also absolutely had to open the Gembloux Kids&Us centre on 5 September, having only signed the lease on 9 June and with the holiday period for the construction industry starting in July. That’s one short deadline! What firm of architects would be able to get everything ready for 5 September? Only Buroconcept was up to the task!”

Small is mighty  

Nathalie van den Berch, the headteacher at Kids&Us Wavre and Gembloux, was right to wonder. We all know someone who has been turned down by construction workers because the job was too small. At Buroconcept however, small is mighty. “At no point did I get the feeling that they were doing a shoddy job. In fact, they put their heart and soul into it. David from Buroconcept loves his job, which you can clearly see in his conviction and determination to make the project a success.” 

Kids&Us Gembloux is a franchised school, so it of course has to follow the franchisor’s specifications about the dynamic pedagogical techniques that guarantee innate learning of the English language to the letter. However, there are also specifications pertaining to first-class services and technologies, brand image and the layout of the premises. “It’s the master franchise that determines which floorings we use and dictates that the classrooms must have floorboards and the toilets must have mosaics. Buroconcept therefore had to reign in its creativity and follow the specifications very closely. They managed it by thinking like entrepreneurs and project coordinators. Buroconcept created classrooms and storage cupboards, installed false ceilings and a mechanical air ventilation system, and fitted the floors, floorboards and mosaics required by the master franchise.

Nathalie van den Berch very much appreciated how Buroconcept honoured its commitments. Opening the Gembloux school on 5 September was non-negotiable. “They assured us that the work could be done by the deadline, which we knew was very short, and they honoured their commitment. I had a budget for the project, and the work remained within this budget. Even better, Buroconcept really adapted to our budget. It was smooth sailing, because Buroconcept really listens to its clients and what they need. For example, Buroconcept encountered a problem when fitting the mosaics in the toilets. We couldn’t buy a different mosaic to the one in the specifications, and this type of restriction was a first for Buroconcept. It wasn’t a problem for them, and they started the work again, carefully complying with the requirements that result from the fact that we are a franchised school. I really appreciated the constructive relationship we had with the firm and the very high-quality work they delivered. Of course, that’s what we expected, but they went above and beyond, and on time” celebrated Nathalie van den Berch, owner and headteacher of two franchised Kids&Us schools.

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