Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of the First Stage of Secondary Education

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Overview Belgium (Flemish Community)

Contents

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Historical Development

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Political and Economic Situation

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation and Governance

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Private Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Qualifications Framework

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Funding in Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Higher Education Funding

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Adult Education and Training Funding

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Early Childhood Education and Care

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Childcare

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in Childcare

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in Childcare

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Pre-Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in Pre-Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in Pre-Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of the First Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in the First Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in the First Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of the Second and Third Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in the Second and Third Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in the Second and Third Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Vocational Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in Vocational Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of secondary-after-secondary education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and learning in secondary-after-secondary education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in secondary-after-secondary education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Belgium-Flemish-Community:First Cycle Programmes

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Bachelor

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Second Cycle Programmes

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Distribution of Responsibilities

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Main Providers

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Main Types of Provision

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teachers and Education Staff

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Management and Other Education Staff

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Management Staff for Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Quality Assurance

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Educational Support and Guidance

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Mobility and Internationalisation

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Mobility in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Reforms in School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Reforms in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Belgium-Flemish-Community:European Perspective

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Legislation

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Glossary

Types of institutions

The first stage of secondary education is subdivided in two grades. The first grade has an A-stream and a B-stream.

The A-stream is organized for most pupils with a certificate of primary education.

The B-stream is destined for pupils without a certificate of primary education or for pupils who are less apt at predominantly theoretical education. This school year functions as a bridging class between primary and secondary education. After the first grade B pupils can continue with a pre-vocational year or they can move to the first grade A.

The second grade of the first stage builds upon the A-stream and offers in addition to the basic curriculum an offer from various basic optional subjects. It prepares a pupil to choose in the second stage for a course of study in general (gse) or technical (tse) secondary education or secondary education in the arts (sea).

An alternative pre-vocational second grade offers in addition to the basic curriculum a choice from various programmes which are called occupational fields. It prepares the pupil to choose in the second stage one of the courses of study in vocational secondary education (vse).

A school is obliged to offer in the first stage both the first as the second grade. The school board can choose freely whether it offers the A-stream, the B-stream or both. It is also the school board which decides which basic optional subjects and/or occupational fields it wishes to organize in the second grade, after consultation with the school community to which the school belongs. The introduction of a new school year, a new basic optional subject or a new occupational field in a school is dependent on the programming norms.

Approximately 130.000 youngsters, or 32% of pupils in secondary education, are enrolled in the first stage.

Geographical accessibility

Schools with a first stage are in the various educational networks quite equally spread over the Flemish territory. The legal programming norms allow for the establishment of new schools under certain conditions where certain favourable norms (namely lower minimum numbers of pupils) are applicable to guarantee a spreading over the entire territory.

Parents and pupils are free in their choice of school (see also 2.1.2 for additional info on the topic). The Flemish Government offers a tool to find a suited school.

Admission requirements and choice of school

Admission requirements

The following admission requirements are applicable for the first grade of secondary education:

  • First grade A: certificate of primary education or certificate of first grade B
  • First grade B: age of 12 years
  • Second grade: certificate of first grade A
  • Pre-vocational year: certificate of first grade A or B or age of 14 years

The admissions committee can deviate from these general rules.

The detailed admission requirements are laid down in a decision of the Flemish Government of 19 July 2002 and explained in circular letter SO 64 25/06/1999.

Choice of school

Parents have, in consultation with the pupil, the right to an enrolment in the school of their choice. The enrolment is valid for the duration of the entire school career (‘guaranteed school career’) unless the school governing board or the parents decide to deregister the pupil. The right of registration, the procedures and the priority regulation are applicable (see 2.1.2. ‘Freedom of choice of school and right of registration’ for more information). Parents must in writing declare themselves in agreement with the school regulations and the educational project.

A school can under certain conditions refuse the enrolment of a pupil, when:

  • the pupil does not meet the enrolment conditions on the day of the actual enrolment;
  • the enrolment of the pupil aims at allowing the pupil alternately to go to various school in that school year;
  • the capacity of the school is exceeded;
  • the level in which the pupil wants to enrol has been declared full;
  • the pupil in the current school year, the previous school year or the year preceding that has be deregistered from the school as a result of a final exclusion as a disciplinary measure;
  • the pupil has been deregistered elsewhere as a result of a final exclusion as a disciplinary measure;
  • the pupil has specific educational needs.

The application of the right to register in secondary education has been explained in circular letter SO/2012/01.

Age levels and grouping of pupils/students

Characteristic for secondary education is that fact that the teaching programme is taught by various teachers. Every teacher gives one or more subjects in function of his qualification. The maximum / minimum class size and the filling of these classes with pupils of various age groups belongs to the autonomy of the school or school group.

Organisation of the school year

The school governing boards has a large autonomy for what concerns the organisation of the school day, school week and the school year in secondary education.

The school year starts on 1 September and ends on 31 August. This period of 12 months is interrupted by various holidays in which classes are suspended:

  • Autumn holiday (1 week)
  • Christmas holiday (2 weeks)
  • Spring holiday (1 week)
  • Easter holiday (2 weeks)
  • Summer holidays (2 months)

The non-holiday periods are dedicated to classes and other educational activities which are put on a par with classes such as work placements, work-based learning, school excursions and examinations. Existing regulations determine the spreading of classes on a daily and weekly basis, but a school board can deviate from this for well-founded reasons as long as this does not impair the normal class volume on a yearly basis nor impedes finishing the learning programmes.  

The regulation on the organisation of the school year has been explained in circular letter SO 74 12/06/2001.

Organisation of the school day and week

School week

Classes in secondary education are spread over 9 half days taught from Monday to Friday. Work placements are not taken into account here. Within that period of time fulltime secondary education is organized during at least 28 teaching hours of 50 minutes. The total number of weekly teaching hours which is financed by the government depends on the stage and type of secondary education, with a maximum of 36 hours. A school board can draw up teaching tables which exceed the governmental maximum in case it finances the additional teaching hours itself.

School day

Classes start at earliest at 8 o’clock and end between 15h and 17h. There is a lunch break of at least 50 minutes. The number of teaching hours per half day has only been laid down on a weekly basis.


out-of-hours provision (before lessons)

lessons (starting and finishing times in the moring)
lunch break
lessons (starting and finishing times in the afternoon)
out-of-hours provision (after lessons)
 Monday
autonomy of the school
autonomy of the school - at earliest 8 am
minimum 50 minutes
autonomy of the school - between 3 and 5 pm
autonomy of the school
 Tuesday
autonomy of the school
autonomy of the school - at earliest 8 am
minimum 50 minutes
autonomy of the school - between 3 and 5 pm
autonomy of the school
 Wednesday
autonomy of the school
autonomy of the school - at earliest 8 am
minimum 50 minutes
autonomy of the school - between 3 and 5 pm
autonomy of the school
 Thursday
autonomy of the school
autonomy of the school - at earliest 8 am
minimum 50 minutes
autonomy of the school - between 3 and 5 pm
autonomy of the school
 Friday
autonomy of the school
autonomy of the school - at earliest 8 am
minimum 50 minutes
autonomy of the school - between 3 and 5 pm
autonomy of the school
 Saturday
no class
no class
no class
no class
no class