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Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

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Overview Belgium (French Community)

Contents

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

Belgium-French-Community:Historical Development

Belgium-French-Community:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

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

Belgium-French-Community:Political and Economic Situation

Belgium-French-Community:Organisation and Governance

Belgium-French-Community:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Belgium-French-Community:Lifelong Learning Strategy

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

Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of Private Education

Belgium-French-Community:National Qualifications Framework

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

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

Belgium-French-Community:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Belgium-French-Community:Funding in Education

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

Belgium-French-Community:Higher Education Funding

Belgium-French-Community:Adult Education and Training Funding

Belgium-French-Community:Early Childhood Education and Care

Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Belgium-French-Community:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Belgium-French-Community:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Belgium-French-Community:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Belgium-French-Community:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

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

Belgium-French-Community:Primary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of Primary Education

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

Belgium-French-Community:Assessment in Primary Education

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

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

Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Belgium-French-Community:Higher Education

Belgium-French-Community:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Belgium-French-Community:First Cycle Programmes

Belgium-French-Community:Bachelor

Belgium-French-Community:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Belgium-French-Community:Second Cycle Programmes

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

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

Belgium-French-Community:Adult Education and Training

Belgium-French-Community:Distribution of Responsibilities

Belgium-French-Community:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Belgium-French-Community:Main Providers

Belgium-French-Community:Main Types of Provision

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

Belgium-French-Community:Teachers and Education Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belgium-French-Community:Management and Other Education Staff

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

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

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

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

Belgium-French-Community:Management Staff for Higher Education

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

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

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

Belgium-French-Community:Quality Assurance

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

Belgium-French-Community:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

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

Belgium-French-Community:Educational Support and Guidance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belgium-French-Community:Mobility and Internationalisation

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

Belgium-French-Community:Mobility in Higher Education

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

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

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

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

Belgium-French-Community:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Belgium-French-Community:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

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

Belgium-French-Community:National Reforms in School Education

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

Belgium-French-Community:National Reforms in Higher Education

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

Belgium-French-Community:European Perspective

Belgium-French-Community:Legislation

Belgium-French-Community:Glossary

Introduction

With regard to the French Community, it should be emphasised that this section relates to the first stage (CITE 2, two years), and not the whole of lower secondary education (three years).

However, the third specific differentiation and orientation year (3 S-DO) will be mentioned in this section: although 3 S-DO is part of the second stage, it belongs neither to general education nor to qualification education, and therefore cannot be described in the pages distinguishing the education streams in the second part of the description of secondary education. Whenever 3 S-DO is mentioned, it will be pointed out that it is part of the second stage.

Types of Institutions

Although most secondary education institutions organise all three stages, some only provide the first stage. In particular, there are schools which provide either the first or the first and second stages, and DOAs (autonomous observation stages);  in the case of the latter, the controlling authority may organise another institution bearing the same name which provides the second and third stages.

Geographical Accessibility

Given the high population density in Belgium, the geographical accessibility of schools during compulsory education poses little problem.
However, a school transportation department, run by the Walloon and Brussels Regions since 1991, is responsible for picking up pupils once a day going to and from the school of their choice – for all educational networks – that is closest to their home. Fares are calculated based on public transport fares. Families with three or more children benefit from a 50% reduction.

Admission Requirements and Choice of School

Enrolment in a school must take place no later than the first working day in September. For pupils who are the subject of deliberation in September, enrolment takes place on 15 September at the latest.

The Choice of a Secondary Education Institution

The Schools Accord (law of 29 May 1959) imposes obligations on the linguistic Communities in order to guarantee the parents’ free choice as to the type of education they would like their children to receive. Any controlling authority of a grant-aided education institution and any head of an education institution organised by the French Community is required to enrol any pupil who is a minor and whose parents so request in the institution of their choice, provided they agree to subscribe to the educational and pedagogical plans and the pupil satisfies all the conditions for being a regular pupil. If a school that corresponds to the parents’ choice does not exist within a reasonable distance, one must be created or transport provided.

Grant-aided pre-secondary and secondary schools may not refuse to enrol a pupil on the basis of social, sexual or racial discrimination, if the pupil agrees to subscribe to their educational plan. The schools of the French Community are required to enrol any pupil who so requests by 30 September of the school year, provided he or she satisfies all the conditions for being a regular pupil. If a French Community school has to restrict the number of pupils it takes because its premises are not large enough, the head of school must immediately inform the Administration.

If unable to enrol a pupil who has so requested, the head of school issues him or her with an attestation that an enrolment request was made. This attestation includes the grounds for refusal and an indication from the administration’s services as to where the pupil and his parents can obtain assistance with enrolling the pupil in another institution.

A scheme for the regulation of enrolments in the first secondary year has recently been introduced. In particular, it has the following three aims, as part of an overall plan for the democratisation of school in the French Community:

  • to organise the enrolment process in a practical and transparent fashion, so as to limit tensions between the places available at certain schools and the number of applications for them;
  • to ensure all families equal access to all institutions and equal treatment in the enrolment process;
  • to promote the struggle against failure at school, dropping out and relegation by sustaining the social, cultural and academic mix.

The scheme in force consists of the following steps:

  • The parents complete a single pre-printed form which is given to them by the primary school attended by the child, on which they indicate among other things (with the help of their preferred secondary school) their situation with respect to the various priorities stipulated by the decree (see below) and any other choices of school (up to a total of ten), in order of preference. They hand in this form at their preferred school during the three-week period stipulated by the legislation.
  • Each school examines the applications received. If their number does not exceed the number of places available, all enrolment applications are accepted. If there are more applications than places available, the school ranks the applications on the basis of objective, weighted criteria, and awards 80% of the places in accordance with the ranking, while ensuring that 20.4% of the places are awarded to pupils from primary schools with a low socio-economic index.
  • An Inter-Network Enrolment Commission (CIRI) manages the cases of those pupils who could not be enrolled in their first-choice school, on the basis of the places available in the schools where there are still places left, and of the 22% of places reserved in the ‘full’ schools (20% reserved and 2% additional margin).

The priorities are based on geographical criteria (proximity of home to primary school attended, proximity of home to chosen secondary school, proximity of chosen secondary school to primary school attended, schools available in the municipality of the primary school of origin) and educational criteria (continuation of immersion learning started at primary level, educational partnership between the two schools, preferences). Each child’s situation with regard to each of these criteria in practice is scored with a coefficient. The coefficients are then multiplied together to produce a composite index figure on which the pupil’s ranking is based.

Moreover, after the period put aside for enrolments and their management by the schools and CIRI, enrolments may be resumed on a first come, first served basis (after enrolments have been processed in accordance with the procedure described).

The Common First Stage and Differentiated First Stage

The pupil who is admitted to secondary education is enrolled in either the common first stage or the differentiated first stage.The admissions board of secondary education institutions is made up of all the administrative and teaching staff members who, for each year in question, are tasked by the head of school with evaluating the possibility of admitting pupils into a form of education, a stream or course. This board is assisted by the Centre for Psychological, Medical and Social Services (CPMS).

The common first stage is organised for pupils holding the certificate of primary education (CEB). A differentiated first stage, the main purpose of which is to enable pupils not holding the CEB to obtain it, 
is only accessible to pupils who do not hold the certificate of primary education and who have taken the sixth year of primary education, or who are at least 12 years old by 31 December of the following school year without having attended the sixth year of primary education.

Pupils who have not obtained the CEB may also enrol in the common first year, provided four conditions are met (they must be 12 years old; they must have attended the sixth year of primary education; their parents must agree; the admissions board must agree).

Once the CEB has been obtained, the pupil may be directed either into the common first stage or into a complementary year.

Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils

Classes are theoretically organised by age group and subject. However, the repetition of years means that classes often include pupils of different ages.

Pupils that are attending the common first stage and have not repeated a year are aged between 12 and 14 years old.
Pupils who attend the differentiated first stage are generally older than their common first stage -classmates, because they have repeated a year more often during their primary education.

Different teachers are responsible for different subjects. Pupils tend to change teachers every 50 minutes. Pupils tend to belong to different groups depending on the form of education and the options chosen. In most schools, pupils change room several times each day.

The number of pupils in a class varies according to the grouping of pupils and the options they are offered, but certain maximums have been defined:

  • classes in the common first stage may not contain more than 24 pupils;
  • the size of classes in the differentiated first stage is reduced to 15 in the first year and 18 in the second year.

Organisation of the School Year

The French Community decides when the school year starts and finishes, and which statutory holidays are taken.

The school year generally begins on 1 September and ends on 30 June of the following year. In addition to the two-month summer holidays, students have one week of autumn holidays (early November), two weeks of winter holidays (Christmas), one week of Carnival holidays (February), and two weeks of spring holidays (Easter). Unless otherwise specified for the current year, the spring holidays (often called ‘Easter holidays’) are the first two full weeks of April, regardless of the date of Easter. In addition, a certain number of days off are granted during the school year: Ascension Thursday, Whit Monday, French Community Day (27 September), 11 November, and 1 May.

In the current school curriculum, a school year consists of 182 days of classes spread over 37 weeks. The government may define the number of class days between 181 and 183. Over the school year, pupils attend a minimum of 971 (or 965 or 976) hours of lessons (weekly timetable of 32 periods of 50 minutes each), depending on the number of class days in the year.

Classes may be suspended in order to organise summary assessment tests, deliberations of the class councils and meetings with parents for up to 18 days in the year. On these days, pupils (both those of legal age and those who are still minors) whose parents so wish may attend the institution and receive educational supervision there.

Classes may also be suspended for up to six half-days to enable staff members to attend training. 

Organisation of the School Day and Week

The Weekly Timetable

In the first stage of secondary education, pupils attend school for at least 32 periods of 50 minutes per week (a total of 1600 minutes per week). At all levels and in all streams, 2 periods per week of remediation, at the most, can be added to the authorised maximums.

In practice, the weekly lesson periods are spread over nine half-days from Monday morning to Friday afternoon.

Any controlling authority may authorise pre-secondary or secondary schools to adapt the weekly timetable, in line with their plan, in order to implement activities that enable them to attain their general objectives.

The Daily Timetable

The time when school begins and ends is determined by the responsible education authority.

Generally, the mornings consist of four or five 50-minute periods, and the afternoons of three (except for Wednesday afternoon, when there are no classes.). Each full day includes a morning break and a lunch break of between morning classes and afternoon classes.

The time at which classes start varies, but is usually between 8 and 8.30 am; classes finish at around 4 pm. Before and after classes, most schools organise out-of-hours ‘study’ sessions during which pupils can complete their homework.