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

 

For quality assurance in childcare, see 4.1.

Contents

Responsible Bodies

The inspectorate

The Flemish Community’s educational inspectorate works on behalf of the Flemish government and is responsible for overseeing the quality of education. The inspectorate has competence for elementary, secondary and part-time arts education, boarding schools and CPGs. It is also competent for secondary adult education and adult basic education. It is not competent for higher education, including higher vocational education, or for the initial teacher training programmes. The inspectorate for religion/ethics [see 11.1.1.2] and for urban and provincial education [see 11.1.1.6] are dealt with elsewhere.


Organisation of the inspectorate The decree of 8 May 2009 introduced extensive changes to the organisation of the educational inspectorate and scrapped the classification into different educational levels. Under the leadership of a single inspector-general (IG), the corps of inspectors now consists solely of around 160 inspectors (working from offices in their own homes) and 8 coordinating inspectors (CIs). The coordinating inspectors together form the Board of Inspectors and control three services. The Implementation Service carries out the tasks described in the Quality decree and any additional tasks assigned by the Minister. The Development Service develops and refines concepts and tools for assessment and for additional tasks. This service is also responsible for monitoring and information management. There is also a supporting Staff Service, consisting of 11 management staff members. The Staff Service is responsible for planning, education and training, communication and so on. An assessment office is responsible for following up on and handling the assessments. Financial management, HRM and religion/ethics fall under the direct responsibility of the inspector-general.

The division between the various offices has not been defined. From now on, the inspectorate will be allocated a lump sum (fixed by the Flemish Government on an annual basis) by means of which it will be able to use professional experience and competences in a more targeted fashion. However, a number of guarantees in terms of the inspectorate's balanced composition were imposed by decree.

At least 35 % of its members must have been recruited from within community education or subsidised official education and at least another 35 % of its members must have a subsidised private education background.

In addition, minima have been defined in terms of relevant professional experience of staff:

  • Mainstream Elementary education 40 %
  • Mainstream secondary education 26 %
  • Adult Education or Adult Basic Education 3 %
  • Coordination of pupil guidance or CPG 2 %
  • Artistic education or art subjects 2 %
  • Special education 7 %

The organisation has also been given leeway to call on external experts for its full school inspections (e.g. at schools dealing with complex health and safety issues at work).

The educational inspectorate and the pedagogical counselling services meet together regularly on a permanent consultation body in the light of their tasks. Where the consultation relates to adult education, VOCVO (the Flemish Support Centre for Adult Education; see 11.3.1.3) is also involved.


Tasks of the inspectorate

The inspectorate shall invariably issue its advice on whether or not any new institutions seeking accreditation or any institution seeking to have a new programme component accredited have/has met the necessary accreditation criteria. Once an application has been received, the inspectorate will conduct an on-site inspection to check whether the accreditation criteria have been complied with. Following this on-site inspection, the inspectorate presents its report, featuring its accreditation advice, to the Flemish Government. This report must be published within six months of the application, if not the inspectorate will be deemed to have issued a favourable advice.

The inspectorate carries out full inspections of the educational institutions (see 11.1.2.3). Every institution is subjected to a full inspection at least once every 10 years.

The full-inspection reports, follow-up reports and any ensuing advice on the accreditation of institutions are governance documents governed by the Decree of 26 March 2004 concerning administrative openness. Since 1 January 2007, the full-inspection reports can be consulted on the inspectorate's website: http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/doorlichtingsverslagen/

The inspectorate is also in charge of monitoring the quality of training and non-formal training programmes organised by institutions which are not classified as educational institutions but which offer courses that nonetheless lead to diplomas, certificates or modular certificates that have the same civic effect as those officially issued by the educational institutions.

Every year, the inspectorate issues a report on its activities in which it also discusses one or more qualitative aspects of the education system. The Flemish Government subsequently presents this report to the Flemish Parliament. For some years now, this report has been published under the name “Onderwijsspiegel (Mirror of Education)” (see 11.1.2.3). http://onderwijs.vlaanderen.be/inspectie/publicaties/

The inspectorate has no authority to monitor how a pedagogical or agogic project is fleshed out or to check the pedagogical, agogic or artistic guidance methods used. Neither does it have any powers to inspect philosophy-of-life courses.

A code of professional practice is currently being developed for the members of the inspectorate.

Core legislation regarding the inspectorate, the educational development division and the pedagogical counselling services

  • Decree of 1 December 1993 concerning the inspection and guidance of philosophy-of-life courses.
  • Decision of the Flemish Government of 15 December 1993 implementing the Decree of 1 December 1993 concerning the inspection and guidance of philosophy-of-life courses.
  • Decree of 8 May 2009 concerning the quality of education.
  • Decision of the Flemish government of 24 April 2009 establishing the internal autonomous agency 'Agency for Quality Assurance in Education and Training'.
  • Flemish government decree of 01/10/2010] implementing the decree of 8 May 2009 on the quality of education with regard to the way in which some of the inspectorate’s powers are executed (B.S. 26/11/2010)
  • Flemish government decree of 01/10/2010] implementing the decree of 8 May 2009 on the quality of education with regard to the reference framework for the inspectorate (BS13/01/2011). The CIPO reference framework is described in Annex 1 to this decree. However, it can be consulted more easily on the educational inspectorate website. 


Inspection of and guidance for the philosophy of life courses

The Constitution guarantees all pupils, who are by law deemed to be of school age, two teaching periods per week of moral or religious education at school as part of the curriculum. These subjects are by no means subjected to any form of government control – as long as the basic democratic principles of society are respected.

The Decree of 17 July 1991 on the inspectorate and the counselling services quite specifically did not cover philosophy-of-life courses. Philosophy-of-life education is not governed by the new Decree of 8 May 2009 either. The inspection of philosophy-of-life courses and its educational-support system are regulated by a separate Decree of 1 December 1993 and the executive decision BVR of 15 December 1993.

The recognised bodies of the recognised religions (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant Evangelical, Anglican, Israeli and Islamic religions) and the recognised association of the non-confessional community specify the operations of the inspectorate and the guidance for the religions concerned and for non-confessional ethics. They are moreover in charge of the curricula of these subjects and the in-service training of the teachers concerned. The appointed inspectors-advisors have amongst others the following tasks and responsibilities:

  • checking that the timetable and the statements regarding the choice of religion or non-confessional ethics are adhered to;
  • checking the learning tools;
  • checking the habitability, didactical suitability and hygiene of class rooms;
  • issuing policy advice;
  • checking that the curricula are implemented and supervising the standard of education;
  • providing external support and evaluating the vocational and pedagogical competences of the teachers in question and stimulating initiatives to enhance professional quality;
  • developing initiatives to enhance the quality of education of the subject of study concerned and guarding and stimulating the pedagogical project which was adapted to accommodate the philosophy of life within the subject of study;
  • any other tasks assigned to them under the terms of laws and decrees.

The inspectors-advisors furnish information to:

  • the recognised bodies of the recognised religions and the recognised association for non-confessional ethics on the contents, the curricula and the vocational competence of teachers;
  • the senior chief-inspector – who heads the inspectorate, on the application of the statutory and administrative regulations.

In contrast to the inspectorate, the offices of the members of the philosophy-of-life courses inspectorate and guidance teams will remain level-of-education dependent.

Within the philosophy-of-life courses inspectorate, a CLBV, Philosophy-of-Life Courses Commission was set up, which is a consultation cell for inspector-advisers of all recognised philosophies of life. It issues common advice, applicable to the various subjects. Moreover, an In-Service Training Institute for Philosophy-of-Life Courses, non-profit association, was set up in which all the recognised and taught philosophies of life are also represented.

Agency for Quality Assurance in Education and Training (AKOV)

The mission of the agency, which was set up in 2009, is to create a quality assurance system for educational and vocational programmes and training pathways and for the EVC pathways leading to recognised qualifications by:

  • establishing final goals for learning pathways and EVC pathways;
  • ensuring unambiguous, clear certification processes;
  • overseeing the quality of education, CPG and training institutions in close collaboration with the educational inspectorate.

The task of the agency comprises:

  • carrying out studies to crystallize the:
    • development objectives, final objectives and key competences;
    • approval criteria regarding curricula and plans of action;
    • programme structure;
  • developing proposals regarding the educational qualifications for levels 1 up to and including 5;
  • organising and following up surveys in compulsory education, in conjunction with the Department for Education and Training;
  • processing the results of the institutions' realisation of the development objectives, final objectives and key competences with a view to fine-tuning these where necessary;
  • ranking vocational-qualification profiles as vocational qualifications and issuing advice on their recognition;
  • entering recognised educational and vocational qualifications into a qualifications database and administering this database and its website and seeing to the coordination and intrinsic management of the database featuring proofs of learning and proofs of experience;
  • directing, organising and attuning the quality control of nursery and compulsory education, Adult Education, the pupil guidance centres, Part-time Arts Education, apprenticeship and the training programmes offered within the framework of alternance training with the pedagogical counselling services; organising the supervision of the implementation of the regulations within the educational institutions and the pupil guidance centres;
  • developing EVC quality criteria within the educational institutions, including quality frameworks and procedures for the EVC processes within the educational institutions;
  • establishing an EVC knowledge network and an information bureau that specifically deals with EVC enquiries
  • ruling on the equivalence of qualification certificates and issuing equivalence certificates;
  • organising the Flemish Community exams for people wishing to obtain a diploma secundair onderwijs (diploma of secondary education) and the admission tests for the courses dentistry and medicine and the language tests for teaching staff.

In the future, a number of tasks will be carried out for policy areas other than the policy area Education and Training within the same quality framework, by a separate cell within the agency which will organise its activities independently and which has an in-depth knowledge of the policy area concerned. Every year, this cell will issue the Flemish ministers concerned with a report on its findings. It will:

  • organise the supervision of the quality of educational and training programmes that do not come under the remit of the policy area Education and Training and which lead to certificates of recognised vocational qualifications (of VDAB & SYNTRA Flanders);
  • organise the supervision of the quality of EVC institutions where people can have their competences tested or recognised.

The Minister for Education directs the agency, more specifically under the terms of a management agreement. (It is an internally autonomous agency without legal personality). The collaboration protocols with the policy area Work and Social Economy and the policy area Culture, Youth, Sport and Media form part of this management agreement. Within AKOV, the Department for EVC Services is responsible for the certification and recognition of ‘acquired competences’ or prior learning. This department is responsible for:

NARIC Flanders [see 11.2.1.4];

secondary education examination board. Young people and adults without a certificate or diploma of secondary education can still obtain these qualifications by taking examinations set by the Examination Board of the Flemish Community. The organisation of the entrance examination granting admission to university programmes in medicine or dentistry.

TheEVC, Curriculum and Qualifications Projects Departmentis responsible for issuing advice, performing development work and providing input on policy for themes such as:

development objectives, final objectives, core competences and surveys: (DVO) programme structure certification and recognition of prior learning: EVCqualification structure educational inspectorate[see 11.3.1.1] is an autonomous service which is placed by the Flemish government at the disposal of the agency AKOV with a view to the performance of its tasks.

Pedagogical counselling services (PCSs)

Pedagogical counselling services are organised by non-profit associations, set up by the educational umbrella organisations. Per umbrella organisation, only one PCS is subsidised.

The tasks of the pedagogical counselling services comprise:

  • supporting the educational institutions concerned to help them realise their pedagogical or agogic project and supporting the CPGs concerned to help them realise their own mission and guidance project;
  • supporting the educational institutions and CPGs in their efforts to promote the quality of education, the quality of pupil guidance respectively and helping them to develop into a professional learning organisation by:
    • promoting the establishment of networks and providing support to these networks;
    • supporting and training managerial staff;
    • supporting the professional competence of members of staff at institutional and cross-institutional level by focussing on beginning staff and staff charged with specific tasks in particular;
    • reinforcing the policy powers of institutions;
    • supporting quality assurance within institutions;
  • supporting and guiding institutions in their development of points of action highlighted during a full inspection, at the request of the boards;
  • offering, stimulating and supporting educational innovations;
  • providing and directing offer-oriented in-service training activities, including in-service training for the boards of the institutions;
  • discussing the quality of education and the quality of pupil guidance with the various education actors at the different levels;
  • participating in the steering or follow-up of support initiatives organised or subsidised by the Flemish Government aimed at supporting institutions, teachers or counsellors.

All pedagogical counselling services draw up a three-year counselling plan for the three subsequent school years. They subsequently present this counselling plan to the institutions and the Flemish Government.

Every year, they report back to the Flemish Government about their activities of the previous school year and also furnish an account of how their operational resources were used.

All pedagogical counselling services draw up a protocol which they forward to the institutions and their members of staff.

Every pedagogical counselling service systematically examines and monitors the quality of the services it provides. However, they are free to decide how they go about this.

The composition of staff of these pedagogical counselling services is fixed per individual school year, and separately for:

  • elementary education;
  • jointly for secondary education, Adult Education and Part-time Arts Education;
  • the CPG's.

The PDBs also receive operational resources with an extra 84 000 euro per year in supplementary operational resources for the overall network to support the equal operational opportunities policy.

They also receive a global amount of 1 332 000 euro a year to organise in-service and counselling activities for their own members of staff and for staff working at the institutions they support.

To organise in-service training on job descriptions and evaluations at the institutions they support, the pedagogical counselling services receive an extra overall amount of 430 000 euro a year.

To provide training for the directors of the institutions they support, the pedagogical counselling services receive an annual amount of 402 000 euro. (The above amounts apply to 2010. As of 2011 they will be linked to the evolution of the health index).

Every School Head can, throughout his career, seek to have the cost of in-service training covered.

From 2009-2010 onwards, widening and deepening counsellors will join the PCSs to assist special schools who wish to develop an educational offer for youngsters suffering from autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

More detailed information on pedagogical counselling can be obtained from the educational umbrella organisations:

  • For information on the PCSs operating within GO!, Education of the Flemish Community, please refer to: http://www.gemeenschapsonderwijs.be/pbd
  • Within the VSKO, the Flemish Secretariat for Catholic Education, the General Pedagogical Counselling Service looks after the training, further training and guidance of counsellors; it coordinates the various counselling bodies and acts as a study and information service to support counsellors, http://ond.vsko.be/ > tab diensten > pedagogische begeleiding

Association of network-related pedagogical counselling services

SNPB (the Association of Network-Related Pedagogical Counselling Services), has been created by the educational umbrella organisations Provincial Education Flanders, the Educational Secretariat for Cities and Municipalities, the Flemish Secretariat for Catholic Education and GO! Education of the Flemish Community. The goal of this non-profit organisation is to develop a cross-network collaborative structure in order to support, within the allocated projects, all institutions belonging to the project’s target group. This non-profit association is obliged to report back to the competent Flemish Ministry of Education and Training departments.

Every year, subsidies are allocated:

  • to develop a second-line infant-participation support structure to support nursery schools in municipalities which cater for at least 25 % of GOK pupils, provided these municipalities are located within the working area of a local consultation platform (see 12.3.2): 1 409 000 euro from 2011 onwards;
  • for second-line support in the area of linguistic-skills education in elementary schools'located in the peripheral and language-boundary municipalities and the municipalities in the wider periphery ofBrussels'(see 12.3.2.3); 1 020 898 from 2011 onwards;
  • further training for the coordinators and pathway counsellors working at the centres for part-time vocational secondary education and the centres for part-time training, the directors of the SYNTRA educational facilities and the learning-pathway counsellors (see 6.4); 199000 from 2011 onwards. (As of 2012, all the above amounts will be linked to the health index)
  • the provision of support to the Centres forAdult Education [see 11.3.1.3]: €332,000 for 2010-2011.

In addition, temporary subsidies can be allocated for guidance of educational reform.

Decree of 08/05/2009 on the quality of education.

Evaluationcommittee of the pedagogical counselling bodies

At least once every six years, and for the first time during school year 2012-2013, the workings of the pedagogical counselling services, the permanent resource centres, and, if applicable, of the Association of Network-Related Pedagogical Counselling Services will be evaluated on a six-yearly basis at least. These evaluations will be conducted by a committee appointed by the Flemish Government.

This committee seats members of the academic world, representatives from the institutions and officials from the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training. It will also seat a number of external quality-assurance experts. The representatives from the academic world and the institutions will be appointed upon proposal from the Flemish Education Council. The conclusions of the committee's evaluation will be presented to the Flemish Parliament.

Permanent resource centres within the CPGs

The decree of 1 December 1998 on the CPGs obliged the funded centres, subsidised public centres and independent centres to create a permanent support unit for network-specific support.

The Decree of 8 May 2009 concerning the quality of education stipulates that the role of the permanent resource centres is to boost the professionalization of CPG staff. To that end, they must come to an arrangement with the pedagogical counselling services within their own central network.

Every three years, they draft a counselling plan which they present to the CPGs and the Flemish Government. They report back to the Flemish Government on an annual basis about their activities of the previous school year and furnish an account of how their operational resources were used. They must also draw up a protocol and systematically monitor the quality of the services they provide. They are free to choose how they go about this.

Inspectorate and counselling services of cities and provinces

Some of the larger cities (Antwerp and Ghent) and provinces (Antwerp, Limburg and Oost-Vlaanderen) pay their own ‘inspectorate staff’ and/or counselling service. These should in fact be seen as senior officials who act on behalf of these authorities, in their role of organising body of subsidised official education (see 2.7.1.9).

Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance

Job descriptions and evaluation in elementary, secondary, part-time artistic and adult education

Principles

The evaluation process must be a constructive and positive process, not a means to pursue a repressive staff policy; it cannot be a snapshot in time but should be an all-encompassing process. Reception and guidance of teachers is a very important aspect of this.

The evaluation and support process bases itself on individualised job descriptions. Job descriptions are mandatory for each member of staff appointed for 104 days or more, but may also be drawn up for staff appointed for a shorter period of time. Job descriptions must be drawn up by the institution employing the member of staff in question, and for every office the person holds. Consequently, members of staff can have several job descriptions.

The organising body or the schools community (subsidised education) and the board of principals (GO!) negotiate the general arrangements regarding job description in the local committee responsible for the institution.

The subject-specific aspects featuring in the job descriptions for teachers teaching philosophy-of-life education must also be approved by the competent philosophy-of-life body.

Evaluations are only valid for 4 school years at the most. After that, a new evaluation must be carried out.

Contents of the job descriptions

Job descriptions consist of three parts:

  • the tasks and institution-related assignments and the manner in which the member of staff must carry them out;
  • the school-specific objectives;
  • the rights and obligations regarding continuing education and further training.

Personal and development objectives can be added after a performance interview or on the basis of agreements made at the end of an evaluation period.

When the individualised job descriptions are being drafted, the relevant general agreements made at organising-body or schools-community level and the provisos of the work rules, and in the case of subsidised education, the terms and conditions of employment, must also be taken into account.

The job descriptions for Elementary education staff may not comprise tasks that have been laid down in the so-called negative list, included in the Decision of the Flemish Government concerning the assignments of elementary-education staff of 17 June 1997, and must give due consideration to the performance regulation laid down in the Elementary education Decree (BaO/97/8). Some of the tasks which may not be included in the job descriptions are e.g. home visits, bus transport and supervision and maintenance of equipment.

In secondary education the main assignment, i.e. teaching, takes central stage.

  • This main assignment – the integrated-teacher assignment – comprises tasks such as:
    • planning and preparing classes,
    • teaching per se,
    • class-specific pupil guidance,
    • evaluation of pupils (tests, homework, exams),
    • In-service training, consultation and cooperation with the school board (staff meetings and pedagogical study days), colleagues (class councils and departments), the CPG (follow-up of pupils) and parents (parent-teacher meetings).
  • In addition, secondary-education teachers may also be asked to perform a limited number of school-related tasks, such as:
    • assuming responsibilities other than teaching (head of department, organising cultural and other types of activities, class tutoring...),
    • taking on some specific role or assignment (welcoming new pupils, mentoring, coordination tasks),
    • replacing absent teachers and providing extra supervision
    • representing the school in certain bodies outside of school (umbrella organisations, town meetings, etc.).
  • The School Head compiles a list of these tasks and presents it to the local negotiation committee for discussion. If these school-related tasks represent a major part of the teacher’s assignment, he may be (fully or partially) relieved from his teaching duties. The criteria on the basis of which teachers may be exempted from performing school-related tasks are also negotiated within the local negotiation committee. This modus operandi should guarantee a fair task distribution and a reduction in work pressure.

Procedures

Each member of staff has two evaluators who work at the same institution (or institution appertaining to the same organising body, in the case of subsidised education) as the member of staff being evaluated. The role of the first evaluator is an essential one as he is in charge of guidance and coaching. Therefore, he should have a higher hierarchical ranking than the member of staff being evaluated. In GO!, evaluators are appointed by the School Head. whereas in subsidised education, they are appointed by the organising body. Training for evaluators is recommended and the government specifically provides funding for this. The subject-specific aspects of philosophy-of-life education are evaluated by the competent body of the ideology in question. All other aspects are assessed by the normal evaluator.

Any evaluation process starts off with the appointment of evaluators, followed by the drafting of the job description and the evaluation process itself, including the staff member’s coaching and guidance. This results in an evaluation report and any consequences that might ensue.

Normally speaking, the job description is drafted by the first evaluator in consultation with the member of staff concerned. If no consensus can be reached, the organising body takes the final decision. The first evaluator signs the individualised job description and the member of staff signs for acknowledgement.

In a performance interview (which is held at regular intervals) the evaluator and member of staff are on an equal footing.

During the evaluation interview – which always rounds off any evaluation period – the performance of the member of staff is discussed on the basis of the pre-set job description. This always results in a descriptive and conclusive evaluation report.

In the event the evaluation report would exceptionally produce the score 'insufficient', the member of staff in question can lodge an appeal with the evaluation appeal board. Appeals have a suspensive effect. If the ultimate ‘insufficient’ does not lead to dismissal, the member of staff must be re-evaluated after a minimum of 12 months of active service. Dismissal only applies to that particular office at that particular institution. The terms depend on the office held, and on whether the appointment was a temporary or permanent one. Temporary members of staff, appointed for a definite period of time are dismissed once they have received the grade ‘insufficient’ on their evaluation report. Permanently appointed staff are dismissed once they have received 2 consecutive final markings 'insufficient' or if they have scored 'insufficient' three times during their career.

Appeal board

The evaluation appeal board has been established alongside the appeal bodies for disciplinary matters. It jointly seats representatives of employees and employers and consists of 3 chambers (one for GO!, one for subsidised private education and one for Subsidized Official Education). It is chaired by a magistrate. The evaluation appeal board examines whether the evaluation was carried out in a careful and qualitative fashion and rules on the reasonableness of the sanction. Its decisions require a simple majority and must be well-motivated.

Legislative framework

The decrees of 27 March 1991 (on the legal status of staff), the elementary education decree of 25 February 1997 and the Flemish government decree of 10 June 1997, the decree of 13 July 2007. WeTwijs – job description and evaluation

Internal evaluation in elementary and secondary education

Internationally, there is a growing trend in schools in favour of critical self-examination and a more systematic appraisal of the achievement of goals set by the schools themselves. The performance of self-evaluations has also become an important aspect of quality monitoring within Flemish education in recent years. Self-evaluation looks at whether the elementary or secondary school is meeting the goals that it has formulated on the basis of its pedagogical project. By contrast, the primary concern in an assessment by the educational inspectorate is whether the school is satisfying the minimum expectations that society has with respect to schools. Until recently, the vast majority of self-evaluations were initiated by the schools themselves, without any compulsion on the part of the government, which mainly played a stimulatory role in this regard.

The Decree concerning equal educational opportunities I (GOK-I) (B.S. 14/09/02) grants, for the first time, the status of statutory expectation to self-evaluations of schools. Elementary and secondary schools which can bank on GOK resources are expected to carry out a self-evaluation of the policy implemented during the lifetime of the Equal Educational Opportunities Policy. However, it is part of the school’s autonomy how they will concretely interpret this self-evaluation.

Since the decree on the quality of education (B.S. 28/08/09), educational institutions and CPGs have had the task of conducting a qualitative policy independently. However, this independent policy must take account of the policy context defined by the government in the regulations. Moreover, every institution should systematically evaluate its own quality. The institution may decide for itself how to do this.

For their internal quality assurance, schools may make use of numerous tools that have been developed with a view to the performance of self-evaluation in elementary and secondary education. The diversity of self-evaluation tools is due to differences with regard to educational level, the aspects to be covered by self-evaluation, the methods employed, the functions of self-evaluation, the support received by schools and so on. Schools thus determine for themselves how to shape their internal quality assurance, how to proceed with it and what tools to use in doing so.

Tests for schools

To reinforce schools’ policy powers on the basis of relevant information about pupils’ development level and progress, the government is investing in the development of tests that can support schools in their internal quality assurance. They make these available for voluntary use, free of charge, via the secure website Toetsen voor scholen, which is only accessible to recognised educational institutions. Three types of test have been available on this website since 2009:

  • The Flemish version of the pupil monitoring system of the Dutch organisation CITO. For Flanders, this pupil monitoring system comprises standardised tests for pre-schoolers (language and sorting) and for primary education (technical reading and spelling). A pupil monitoring system (PMS) consists of a series of tests which are used to determine pupils’ level of progress at regular intervals. It enables both pupils’ current performance and their development to be systematically charted. Teachers can also check whether a pupil’s performance and progress are comparable with those of other pupils: is the pupil progressing as expected, taking account of his/her starting level? A PMS offers useful information at pupil, class and school level.
  • The SALTO (Start of Primary Education Linguistic Skills Screening) test. Schools can use this listening test, developed by the Centre for Language and Education, to screen the Dutch-language proficiency of pupils starting their 1st grade of primary education at the start of the school year (in September-October). The tool assesses whether pupils have sufficient skills in Dutch to understand simple instructions, questions and information about the way school works. The results from the test indicate which pupils need extra care and support with regard to their linguistic skills. SALTO can help teachers attune their language skills education to the needs of their pupils, and aims to encourage schools to initiate reflection about a school language policy.
  • The parallel tests developed within the framework of the periodical survey on final objectives and development objectives [see 11.1.2.5]. Schools can administer these tests and then input pupils’ answers into a secure feedback system and request a free school feedback report. The data are analysed and used to draw up the report by a research group from K.U.Leuven. The report contains information about the extent to which the school is succeeding in achieving the final objectives or development objectives, and compares its results with the Flemish average and with schools with a comparable pupil population (added value). It can constitute a starting-point for internal quality assurance. The website is supplemented every year with new sets of parallel tests. In 2011, parallel tests are available for:
    • Elementary education:
      • Dutch: reading and listening comprehension (2 tests)
      • mathematics (20 tests)
    • 1st stage secondary education (A-stream)
      • French: reading (1 test)
      • mathematics (10 tests)
    • 1st stage secondary education (B-stream)
      • mathematics (5 tests)
    • 3rd stage general, technical and arts secondary education
      • Dutch: reading and listening (2 tests).

Full inspections in elementary, secondary, adult and part-time artistic education & annual report from the inspectorate

In Elementary education, secondary education, Adult Education (incl. Adult Basic Education), part-time artistic education and the de CPG's external quality control is based on the full inspection of the institutions concerned.

With the new Quality decree of 8 May 2009, the educational inspectorate switched from integral to differentiated assessments: it assesses schools, academies and centres on the basis of the institutional profile, previous assessment reports and so on. The institutional profile consists of centrally collected data about the institutions. On the basis of this profile and of a one-day site visit, the educational inspectorate gauges the quality of the institution. Via interpretation and deliberation, the inspectors determine an assessment focus in the conclusion to the preliminary evaluation: which learning area, course of study or other aspect will they examine in detail during the actual assessment? The inspectors decide on the focus in direct proportion to the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the school.

An assessment is carried out by an assessment team consisting of at least two inspectors, plus one or more external experts.

During the assessment, the inspectorate checks that the educational regulations are being adhered to and that the educational institution/CPG is systematically investigating and monitoring its own quality. The inspectorate also examines any roles that the institution has assigned to the schools community, the schools group or the consortium to which it belongs.

If the inspectorate discovers shortcomings during an assessment, it considers whether or not the institution is able to rectify them on its own and without external support.

Every institution should be assessed at least once every ten years. For the determination of the frequency and intensity of assessment, the inspectorate takes as its basis the institutional profile, previous assessment reports, and so on. The inspectorate may also, in the event of serious complaints about an institution, conduct an assessment at the request of the Flemish government.

The monitoring of the hygiene, safety and fitness for use of buildings and premises, as prescribed in the regulations, can be conducted separately from the assessment. The educational inspectorate may opt to conduct such monitoring at the same time as the assessment.

In its judgement, the inspectorate never pronounces on the role of the institution’s management, or about individual staff members.

Instruments

The framework of reference the inspectorate operates in the course of its full inspections is based on the CIPO model (which consists of 4 components: context, input, process, output); this model is in fact a structural framework which allows the interrelationship of findings to be looked at. Each component consists of a set of indicators. These components are fleshed out as follows:

  • Context: stable information regarding location, organising body, physical and structural conditions under which the school must operate and on which it hardly has any influence at all.
  • Input: information on the conditions under which and the resources with which the school must develop its processes, but which it can influence to a certain extent such as staff (profile, in-service training and training), financial resources, courses of study offered, pupils (offer, profile)…
  • Process: all the pedagogical and school-organisational characteristics which indicate what efforts the school makes to achieve the objectives laid down by the government. This covers the areas: general policy, personnel management, logistics and the school's pedagogical policy.
  • Output: both the hard output data which show to what extent the objectives ( final objectives, curricula, progression/transition...) to be attained are achieved and the softer output data such as the well-being of pupils and teachers. Non-quantitative data may also provide an insight into the results that an institution is achieving with its pupils / trainees. 11.1 context.png

The educational inspectorate’s CIPO reference framework, together with its indicators, variables and definitions, can be found on the website of the educational inspectorate.

From an indicator or variables point of view, the framework of reference in any case refers to the institutions' statutory obligations regarding minimum objectives, accreditation criteria and funding and subvention conditions and to the institutions' statutory obligations in the areas of:

  • the equal educational opportunities policy;
  • the special-needs policy and pupil guidance;
  • the language policy;
  • the policy in terms of the orientation of pupils;
  • the pupil and course-participant evaluation policy;
  • the policy choices aimed at the optimum deployment of and support to members of staff;
  • the in-service training and professionalization policy;
  • the policy on participation;

For each aspect of the institution’s functioning that is considered, the inspectorate asks the same basic questions:

  • goal orientation: what goals has the school, centre or academy set itself?
  • support: what support initiatives is the school, centre or academy taking in order to operate in an efficient and goal-oriented way?
  • effectiveness: does the school, centre or academy check whether its goals are being achieved?
  • development: does the school, centre or academy take notice of new developments?

The choice of this model means that the inspectorate views the functioning of the teacher and the principal within the context of the overall functioning of the school, and the functioning of the school within the local context. The model is used on the basis of an accountability and school development perspective. The school assessment is both a means of checking certain aspects of the school (accountability) and a possible opportunity for schools to optimise the quality of the education they provide (development). In addition, the assessment team checks that the school’s infrastructure is adequate and that the legal requirements are adhered to closely. Legislative framework: Flemish government decree of 1 October 2010 WeTwijs - inspectorate

Procedure

Institutions which are due for a full inspection receive ample notice in writing in which they are invited to meet for an information session, are sent an information file which probes for any information that does not feature in any of the authorities' databases.

Full inspections consist of three stages:

  1. a preliminary investigation
  2. full inspection visit
  3. a report.

At every stage, the team of inspectors always follow four identical steps:

  1. a source analysis
  2. checking the information from these sources
  3. interpreting the information
  4. deliberation.

(1) When an inspection team is about to conduct a full inspection of a school, centre or academy, it first draws up a school profile: it tries to get a picture of the quality of the institution. This forms part of the preliminary investigation, consisting of:

  • a source analysis:
    • a first source are the figures featuring in the government's operational databases. These are basically the data the educational institutions forward to Brussels.
    • a second source are the data the inspectorate collects from the institutions via the information file. This information file basically consists of a short, written questionnaire. 
    • a third source is all information from previous assessments: assessment and follow-up reports, equal educational opportunities policy reports, and so on. In addition to the specific institutional profile, the educational inspectorate also has a reference profile for similar institutions. This enables the inspectorate team to compare the individual results of the institution concerned with a reference group.
  • fine-tuning in situ through observation, meetings and an analysis of the documents. A team composed of two inspectors pays the school, centre or academy a one-day visit.

Finally, through interpretation and deliberation the inspectors arrive at an assessment focus: which learning area, course of study or other aspect will they examine closely during the assessment visit? The inspectors decide on the focus in direct proportion to the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the school. The inspectorate team announces the entire assessment focus at the end of the preliminary investigation. (2) During the assessment visit phase, the inspectors come to take a look at the school, centre or academy for a few days. They conduct interviews, study documents and observe. This phase takes two to six days, depending on the size of the institution, the scope of the assessment focus, and the composition of the assessment team. For some aspects, such as the cross-curricular final objectives in SE and the language policy in SE and elementary education, the inspectorate uses specific tools. These are made available to schools on the inspectorate’s website. After the assessment visit, each inspector selects and classifies the information gathered on the basis of the analytical framework in order to arrive at as objective an overall picture of the institution as possible. At the end of the processing period, the inspector/reporter organises a meeting of all team members. The meeting is for deliberation purposes, and leads to the eventual report and formal opinion.

Full-inspection reports

Within 60 days of the full inspection, the inspectorate will have a verification talk with the management and board of the institution to inform them about its findings. At the latest 30 days after this meeting, the inspectorate will forward its report to the school board. The report must be put on the agenda of a staff meeting within thirty days of the School Head having received it. It must be discussed in its entirety. The process will not be finalized until such time as the report has been returned to the inspectorate, duly signed (by the board and the organising body) and if no appeal proceedings are pending. Only then the report is published.

In its report, the inspectorate will list a number of recommendations to stimulate the internal quality-assurance process within the institution. However, the institution is free to decide how it will act on these recommendations.

Where applicable, the inspectorate will also point out any shortcomings it has discovered. Contrary to the inspectorate's recommendations, schools must always act on any shortcomings the inspectorate highlights. Schools may use a number of aids to redress the shortcomings by the preset deadline: they may draft a concrete step-by-step programme, seek the help and support from a counselling service or draft an in-service training plan focussing on these shortcomings. Once again, this decision appertains to the school.

Every report culminates in an advice to the minister. There are 3 possibilities:

|-Judgement</u</u> | <u>Recognition</u | <u>Follow-up</u |- | bgcolor="#cccccc" colspan="3" | <u>Favourable opinion on all structural elements</u |- | <u>The institution is operating to a sufficiently high quality standard and is strong enough to monitor and improve its quality itself. | All structural elements are still recognised. | Er is geen opvolgingscontrole. De onderwijsinspectie gaat pas opnieuw naar de instelling bij een volgende doorlichting. |- | bgcolor="#cccccc" colspan="3" | Beperkt gunstig advies voor afzonderlijke of voor alle structuuronderdelen</u |- | <u>De instelling moet binnen een opgelegde termijn bepaalde tekorten wegwerken. | Alle of afzonderlijke structuuronderdelen blijven voorlopig erkend. | Tijdens de opvolgingscontrole gaat de onderwijsinspectie na of de tekorten zijn weggewerkt.

Afhankelijk hiervan krijgen afzonderlijke of alle structuuronderdelen een gunstig of ongunstig advies.

|- | bgcolor="#cccccc" colspan="3" | Ongunstig advies voor afzonderlijke of voor alle structuuronderdelen</u |- | bgcolor="#ffffff" | <u>De instelling moet belangrijke tekorten wegwerken.

De onderwijsinspectie spreekt zich uit over de vraag of de instelling dit zelfstandig kan of externe begeleiding nodig heeft.

| De procedure tot intrekking van de erkenning voor alle afzonderlijke structuuronderdelen wordt opgestart.

Die procedure wordt voor één tot drie schooljaren opgeschort, als de instelling een verbeteringsplan indiende en de inspectie dit goedkeurde.

De instelling krijgt twee maanden de tijd om een verbeteringsplan in te dienen.

| => Als de instelling geen verbeteringsplan indiende, volgt er binnen drie maanden na het verstrijken van de termijn om een verbeteringsplan in te dienen, een nieuwe doorlichting door een paritair samengesteld inspectieteam.

=> Als de instelling een verbeteringsplan indiende, maar het wordt niet goedgekeurd, volgt er binnen drie maanden na die afwijzing een nieuwe doorlichting door een paritair samengesteld inspectieteam.

=> Als de instelling een verbeteringsplan indiende en dat wordt goedgekeurd, volgt tijdens de laatste drie maanden van de opschortingsperiode (minimum één en maximum drie schooljaren) een nieuwe doorlichting door een paritair samengesteld inspectieteam.

|}

The full-inspection reports of any institutions inspected after 1 January 2007 can at the earliest be consulted on the website of the Department for Education and Training 3 months after their full inspection. The inspection reports issued prior to 2007 can be requested by e-mail. http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/doorlichtingsverslagen/

The 'Onderwijsspiegel' (Education Mirror) : the annual report from the inspectorate

Based on their findings during the evaluation of educational institutions (see 9.4.2.) the inspectorate writes a yearly report on the state of education. This annual report of the inspectorate (the so-called Onderwijsspiegel (Mirror of Education)) describes the state of education during the previous school year and puts forward a number of policy recommendations, both at general policy level and at school level. This is also published and downloadable as the Onderwijsspiegel.

The Onderwijsspiegel 2009-2010 consists of an overview of the assessments and formal opinions, the results of the five-yearly inspection of the boarding schools and the results of two language surveys (language policy in obligatory education & the European Framework of Reference and modern languages programmes in adult education).

Full inspections of CPGs

The decree of 8 May 2009 on the quality of education now also regulates the assessment of the CPGs.

The inspectorate checks that the CPG is complying with CPG regulations and that it systematically examines and monitors its own quality. In doing so, the inspectorate also looks at any roles that the CPG has assigned to the schools community, schools group or consortium to which it belongs.

If the inspectorate discovers shortcomings during an assessment, it considers whether the CPG is able to rectify these shortcomings on its own and without external support.

Periodical surveys on the final development objectives

Since 2002, the Flemish government has organised periodical surveys in order to gain insight into the quality of the Flemish education system on the basis of reliable and objective pupil performance data. Surveys look at the extent to which pupils at the end of a particular educational level have actually achieved a number of final objectives or development objectives defined by decree. A survey is a large-scale set of valid and reliable tests administered to a representative sample of schools and pupils.

The survey system provides a great deal of policy-relevant information to both the government and schools. Surveys provide an answer to the following questions:

  • To what extent have pupils in Flemish education (and Dutch-language education in Brussels) achieved the final objectives or development objectives at the end of a particular educational level? Which final objectives/development objectives are being successfully achieved? Which minimum goals are presenting difficulties?
  • Are there systematic differences between schools in the percentage of pupils achieving the final objectives/development objectives? Do these differences remain when the pupil population is taken into account?
  • To what extent are performance differences associated with certain pupil, class or school characteristics?
  • In the case of a repeat survey, have pupils performed better or worse than they did previously?

Since 2005 the system of periodic surveys has been further extended.

  • Two surveys per year are organised in compulsory education (elementary education and the different stages of secondary education).
  • Some surveys are repeated in order to identify changes over time.
  • A choice has been made in favour of testing a rich diversity of learning areas or subjects, themes that cut across individual learning areas or cover the entire curriculum and general skills.
  • If necessary, as well as written tests, practical tests can also be organised among a sample of pupils to gain a picture of the mastery of less easily measurable skills.
  • In addition to pupil testing, questionnaires are used to gather information from pupils, parents, teachers and management teams about pupil, class and school characteristics that may be associated with differences in pupil performance. This makes it possible to refine analyses and explain the results better. Anonymity is guaranteed for the participating schools, classes and pupils. If the researchers can find characteristics that are associated with better or poorer pupil performance, the government and the schools will then know which factors they need to work on in order to ensure that more pupils achieve the minimum goals in the future. Via such an informative account the survey offers the government and the schools learning opportunities.
  • Schools that have been involved in the survey receive a school feedback report. This report contains information about the extent to which the school is succeeding in achieving the tested final objectives/development objectives among its pupils, and compares the school average with the Flemish average and with the performance of (anonymous) schools with a comparable set of pupils. Schools may be able to use the report in connection with their internal quality assurance.
  • Schools that are not part of the sample also have the chance to take a look at themselves by means of scientifically based tests. At the same time as the survey tests, parallel versions are also developed that measure exactly the same things as the survey tests, but by means of other – similar – exercises. The first parallel tests were made available to schools on a non-compulsory basis in May 2009 via the secure website Toetsen voor scholen [see 11.1.2.2]. Schools that administer these tests can request a feedback report that offers comparable information to that in the feedback report that schools receive that have participated in the survey.
  • Extensive communication about the survey results takes place via a colloquium, a brochure and a website. The survey results form an objective basis for an informed discussion with all education partners about the quality of education. For this reason, since 2007 it has been the practice to initiate a follow-up process after the survey results have been released, with consultation of all education partners and an open conference being organised. In this way, a quality debate is initiated after each survey, in which an attempt is made with the various actors to find explanations for the survey results and agree on possible actions that can be taken to conserve the good points in our education system and improve the less good ones. After the conference a brochure is distributed which reports on the conference but also contains recommendations on improvement actions that may relate to various fields of action: teaching methods, final objectives, curricula, teaching equipment, guidance, teacher training, in-service training, school policy, support for particular pupil groups, etc. The idea is that the various actors should convert the recommendations into concrete improvement actions. Thus the government has updated or revised certain final objective packages in the light of the survey results.

The periodic survey evaluations have now gained a firm place in the Flemish quality assurance system. They complement other forms of external quality monitoring and can also support schools in their internal quality assurance.

From 2006 to 2012, the survey research is being conducted by the research group of the Centre for Educational Effectiveness and Evaluation (CO&E) at K.U.Leuven. The establishment of a Support Centre for Test Development and Surveys is planned for the period 2013 – 2017.

More information about the surveys can be found on the surveys website of the government and of the research group. Brochures about survey results, conference papers and brochures with recommendations on improvement actions can also be found on these websites.

Participation in international comparative studies

Flanders very regularly participates in international comparative studies. On the basis of an international comparison of various characteristics of the Flemish education system, information is gained which allows the performance of the education system to be evaluated. Here, output & outcome information plays an important role but it is systematically supplemented with context, input and process information. We list the most important international comparative studies on education in which Flanders recently took part.

Earlier Flanders participated in:

  • PIRLS, Progress in International Reading Literacy Study / IEA, 2006
  • ICALT, International Comparative Analysis of Learning & Teaching, 2007

'PISA' (Programme for International Student Assessment / OECD), 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012

The emphasis in PISA 2000 was on reading skills. PISA 2003 emphasised mathematical literacy and problem-solving. PISA 2006 tested scientific literacy among 15-year-olds.

In the PISA 2009 survey the emphasis, as in 2000, was on reading skills, with a limited assessment for mathematics and science. Flanders also took up the option of testing reading skills via the computer (digital literacy) with ERA (electronic reading assessment). For reading skills, Flanders gained a score of 519 points; the average of all pupils participating worldwide was 500, and that of pupils in the OECD countries was 493. The Flemish score for scientific literacy was 526; the average of all pupils was 500 and the OECD average was 501. The spread between the 5% of highest-performing pupils and the 5% of lowest-performing pupils was, with regard to reading skills, comparable with that in the other OECD countries. With regard to mathematics and science, the spread was somewhat greater than in an average OECD country. The reason for this relatively greater spread was that the weakest group performed at a very low level. The publication may be obtained and downloaded from the Ministry of Education and Training Education Publications - PISA 2009.

The Flemish section of the survey was conducted by the Department of Educational Studies of the University of Ghent, which will also oversee the conduct of the new PISA 2012 survey.

PIAAC, Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies / OECD, 2011

PIAAC is an OECD survey in 27 countries. In Flanders it is conducted by the University of Ghent and funded and controlled by the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Employment and Social Economy. PIAAC investigates literacy, numeracy, reading components and problem-solving in technology-rich environments. Although broader in its conception, this survey complements the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), in which Flanders participated in 1997. The results of the two surveys will also be compared. The preliminary survey took place in 2010. The main survey followed in 2011 and the results will be available in spring 2013. See also OBPWO - PIAAC.

ESLC, European Survey on Language Competences, 2011

The ESLC is an initiative of the European Education Ministers, who agreed to monitor proficiency in two foreign languages by pupils in compulsory education. In Flanders, the centre for Educational Effectiveness and Evaluation at K.U.Leuven administered language tests in French and English in the 2nd and 4th grade of SE respectively (80 schools per language, 40 pupils per school) in spring 2011. The results will be related to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRA). The survey results will be released in the first half of 2012.

ICCS, International Civic and Citizenship Education Study / IEA, 2009

ICCS is an international research programme of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The survey is designed to show how well prepared young people are to take up their role as citizens in the 21st century. On the basis of a representative sample of pupils from the second grade of the first stage of SE in 151 schools in the Flemish Community, the project aims to provide insight into the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are connected with democratic citizenship and the school-based and other factors that influence these things.

More than 140,000 pupils, 60,000 teachers and 5,100 school principals from more than 5,300 schools took part in the survey in 38 countries or regions. In Flanders, the survey was extended with a Flemish module for the sake of comparison with earlier surveys, and pupils from the 4th grade of SE were also surveyed. The Flemish section of ICCS was conducted by researchers from VUB and UA.

TALIS (Teaching and Learning International Survey / OECD), 2007-2008

This particular OECD study, conducted during 2007/8, surveyed teachers teaching in the 1st stage of secondary education and their boards on themes such as school climate, teaching practice, professional development, the evaluation and appreciation of teachers, school leadership. 23 countries participated in this particular survey. In Flanders, 203 schools took part; the survey was conducted by the research group EduBRON (UA) which was also in charge of transmitting the results. The report on this survey was published in 2009. http://www.oecd.org/edu/talis & http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/obpwo/Talis/

Flanders will again participate in the 2013 survey TALIS 2013 - Flanders, Commencement of TALIS 2013 in Flanders. The goal of the project OECD TALIS 2013 - Teaching And Learning International Survey is to generate policy-relevant data and indicators about teachers and teaching. To this end, teachers and management teams will be surveyed in questionnaires on an internationally comparative basis. The teachers who teach in the first stage of secondary education (international ISCED level 2) are central to the survey. As an optional additional target group, teachers and management teams from primary education will also be surveyed in Flanders. TALIS 2013 OECD

TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study / IEA), 2003, 2011

TIMSS (from the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement) charts pupils' performance in mathematics and science in the 4th grade of primary education and in the 2nd grade of secondary education internationally. Flemish primary schools participated in this test for the first time in 2003. However, Flanders did not take part in TIMSS 2007 and will not take part in TIMMS 2011 either. http://timss.bc.edu/

Scientific Research Oriented Towards Education Policy and Practice (OBPWO)

Every year the Flemish Minister of Education and Training devotes part of the budget to 'Scientific Research Oriented Towards Education Policy and Practice' (OBPWO).

The programming of the research closely reflects the strategic and operational goals as formulated in the minister's white paper and policy letters. The annual procedure is as follows.

  1. A number of research themes are proposed by the ad hoc policy committee for scientific research oriented towards education policy and practice, which is constituted by the secretary-general of the department of education and training and consists firstly of officials active within the policy domain of education and training, and secondly of the inspectorate, represented by a maximum of two inspectors appointed by the inspector-general.
  2. VLOR gives advice on possible research themes for OBPWO (theme definition). The ad hoc policy committee draws on this advice and other sources to decide on the priority research themes.
  3. The minister determines the priority research themes in the light of the proposal of the ad hoc policy committee (see point 1).
  4. These are communicated to the universities by means of an open call for proposals. The call for proposals is also communicated for information purposes to the university colleges.
  5. The submitted research proposals are assessed on the basis of two types of criteria:
    1. policy relevance, i.e. the extent to which the project ties in with the priority themes. This is assessed by the ad hoc committee referred to above (see point 1);
    2. scientific value, i.e. the scientific quality and reliability of the research team and the quality of the proposed project, including the theoretical underpinning of the question, the precision of the research method, and the feasibility of the proposed activities. This is assessed by an international, interdisciplinary scientific panel, constituted by the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO).
  6. The proposals are thus subjected to a double ranking by two separate panels which operate independently of each other: on the basis of their policy relevance and on the basis of their scientific quality.
  7. On the basis of the double ranking, the minister determines the overall ranking of the submitted research proposals and decides which projects will be subsidised. He/she may only choose projects that have been favourably assessed on the grounds of both policy relevance and scientific value.
  8. The selected projects are presented to the Flemish government for approval, after being agreed to by the Minister for the Budget.
  9. During the term (average two years), each research project is monitored by a steering group with respect to both scientific quality and policy relevance. Each steering group includes both policy makers and scientific experts. The researchers undertake to formulate a series of policy recommendations on the basis of their findings.
  10. In consultation with the steering group, a suitable initiative for promotion and publication is also developed for each research project (e.g. a study day, a seminar, the publication of a brochure for schools).

Projects approved in 2010

Integrated education and inclusive education in 2010

Grade repetition: a useful practice? A study on alternatives to grade repetition in Flanders from an international perspective.


Centres for policy-relevant research of interest to education

The SLL, 'Study and School Careers' Centre' is a Flemish multidisciplinary inter-university centre of excellence which collects data and carries out research on the path youngsters follow throughout their initial education, including their transition from education to the labour market. http://www.steunpuntloopbanen.be

Decision of the Flemish Government of 15 September 2006 concerning centres for policy-relevant research.

Decision of the Flemish Government of 7 September 1994 to regulate the procedures regarding education policy and practical scientific research projects.


University research groups

Finally, there are a number of Flemish university research groups involved in fundamental and practical scientific research on the performance of (aspects of) the Flemish education system.

EduBROn- University of Antwerp http://www.edubron.be/

REPRO, Research into Education and Professional Development - University of Antwerp

The Centre for Educational Effectiveness and Evaluation K.U.Leuven http://ppw.kuleuven.be/coe/

The Centre for Educational Policy and Innovation K.U.Leuven http://ppw.kuleuven.be/cobv/

Higher Institute for Labour Studies (HIVA) - K.U.Leuven http://www.hiva.be/nl/

The Department of Pedagogics of the Ghent University http://www.onderwijskunde.ugent.be/

The VUB Research Group TOR http://www.vub.ac.be/TOR/intro/intro.phtml

The Department of Pedagogics of the VUB http://www.vub.ac.be/ONKU/

ICOR, Interuniversity Centre for Education Law http://www.onderwijsrecht.be/

The Fund for Scientific Research, FWO, furthers fundamental scientific research in all scientific disciplines offered by the Flemish universities, including joint ventures between universities and other research institutions, more specifically by providing financial support to researchers and research projects based on scientific competition and with due regard for international quality standards. It was recognised as a private-law external autonomous agency in 2009 (see 1.2.2.). (http://www.fwo.be/ ).

VFO, the Flemish Educational Research Forum has also profiled itself as an interest group for Flemish education researchers (http://www.vfo.be)