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Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of Primary 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


Geographical Accessibility

Given the high population density in Belgium, geographical accessibility of schools during compulsory education poses little problem.

A school transportation service, controlled by the Walloon and Brussels Regions since 1991, is responsible for picking up pupils once per day going to and from the school of their choice – for all networks – that is closest to their residence. Transportation charges are calculated based on the fares in effect for public transportation services. Children less than six years old and those enrolled in specialised education are exempt from transportation fees. Families with three or more children benefit from a 50% reduction.

Admission Requirements and Choice of School

Admission to Primary Education


A child is admitted to primary education after the summer holidays of the calendar year in which he or she reaches age 6. This date marks the beginning of compulsory education.

However, if the child’s parents or guardians have a certificate issued by the school’s headmaster and the Centre for Psychological, Medical and Social Services, they may opt to have the child attend the first year of primary education once he or she has turned five, or postpone entry to primary school by one year whilst continuing to send the child to a nursery school.

Registration is taken no later than the first working day of September, but the headmaster must accept registrations until 30 September if the delay is due to exceptional circumstances.

Parents’ Freedom of Choice


Parents’ free choice of the type of education they wish to their children receive is upheld by the Schools Accord (‘Pacte scolaire, law of 29 May 1959’). From this standpoint, the law distinguishes between denominational, non-denominational, and pluralist schools. If there is no school that matches the parents’ choice within a reasonable distance, one must be set up or transport must be provided.

Grant-aided pre-secondary education and secondary education schools cannot refuse to enrol a student based on social, sexual, or racial discrimination, as long as the student agrees to subscribe to their educational plan.
French Community schools are required to enrol all pupils who apply no later than 30 September of the school year in progress, provided they meet the conditions required to be a regular pupil. When a school organised by the French Community must limit the number of pupils it accommodates due to lack of available space, the school’s headmaster immediately informs the Administration.

Pre-secondary education schools organised by towns and municipalities are required to enrol all pupils residing in the municipality’s territory, provided they meet the conditions required to be regular pupils.

A school headmaster who is unable to register a pupil who applied must issue the pupil with an enrolment application attestation. This attestation includes the reasons for refusal, and indicates the administration agency where the pupil and his or her parents can obtain assistance in enrolling in another school.

Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils

Cycles


Education is subdivided into cycles: the cycle is regarded as the basic teaching unit, and ensures continuity of learning and the practice of differentiated teaching methods. Although the use of cycles is compulsory, the way pupils are grouped together is specific to each school and is a matter of the structural organisation defined by the school in order to achieve these objectives.

Groupings of Pupils


Various forms of organisation may be observed:

  • children of the same age accompanied by a class teacher for more than one year;
  • children of different ages looked after by one or more teachers either simultaneously or in an alternating pattern;
  • children of the same age looked after by a different class teacher every year, in which case close consultation between the teachers concerned is required in order to ensure continuity;
  • and so on.

The third of the above arrangements is the one most commonly adopted: primary education is usually structured in six classes (or grades). Children of different ages may be grouped together in the same class, especially in rural areas, where small schools lack sufficient numbers of pupils to form six groups. Thus schools may have classes combining two, three or even all the years of primary education.

Teachers’ Characteristics


Generally, the same teacher is responsible for all subjects, with the exception of special courses (philosophy courses, physical education, and modern language). However, it can happen (very rarely) that some teachers specialise and share subjects (relaxation of tenure). When this particular organisation is adopted, it is usually at the end of primary education.

Within the framework of the organisation in cycles, the teacher sometimes follows his or her group/class for the duration of the cycle. Directives recommend that teaching teams be set up to co-manage lessons, work under co-responsibility for children in the same cycle, and draw up a consistent pedagogical plan within each cycle (shared tenure).

Number of Pupils per Class


The number of teachers subsidised in each school is defined on the basis of the number of pupils registered on 15th January of the previous year. Since the decree of 3 may 2012 the average number of pupils per class is regulated as follows:

  • in the first two grades of primary school, the average number of pupils is 20
  • from the third to the sixth grade, the average number of pupils is 24.

Organisation of the School Year

The French Community establishes the start and end of the school year, as well as statutory holidays.

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 at regular intervals during the school year: 1st May, Ascension Thursday, Whit Monday, French Community Day (27th September), and 11th November.

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.

To organise assessment tests, classes may be suspended for a maximum of 10 days per year in the 5th and 6th primary years; and for a maximum of 5 days per year in the 2nd and 4th primary years. On these days, pupils are expected to attend school normally. Classes can be suspended for a maximum of 6 half-days in pre-secondary education to enable teaching staff members to attend training days.

Organisation of the School Day and Week 

The Weekly Timetable


In primary education, pupils attend school for 28 periods of 50 minutes per week (1,400 minutes per week). The weekly timetable can include a maximum of 31 periods, in particular when the course schedule includes the study of a modern language for more than three periods per week.

In practice, the 28 weekly class periods are spread over nine half-days from Monday morning to Friday afternoon.

As part of their plan, any controlling authority (‘pouvoir organisateur’) may authorise pre-secondary education schools or secondary schools to adapt the weekly timetable in order to implement activities that enable them to attain their general objectives.

The Daily Timetable


Each full day includes a break of at least 15 minutes in the morning and a break of at least one hour between morning classes and afternoon classes. Break-time is not part of the 28 periods referred to above. The schedule must be continuous.

The time when school begins and ends is determined by the responsible education authority. Generally, education takes place from 8.30 a.m. to 12 a.m. in the morning and from 1.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. in the afternoon, with 8.30 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. representing the school day’s earliest starting and latest ending times.

An Example of a Timetable (Probably the Most Common)

Example of a weekly timetable
 
Out-of-school care - before classes
Morning classes
Lunch break
Afternoon classes
Out of school care - after classes
Monday
7.30-8.30
8.30-12.00
12.00-13.30
13.30-15.30
15.30-18.00
Tuesday
7.30-8.30
8.30-12.00
12.00-13.30
13.30-15.30
15.30-18.00
Wednesday
7.30-8.30
8.30-12.00
-
-
-
Thursday
7.30-8.30
8.30-12.00
12.00-13.30
13.30-15.30
15.30-18.00
Friday
7.30-8.30
8.30-12.00
12.00-13.30
13.30-15.00
15.00-18.00
Saturday
-
-
-
-
-

Out-of-school Care


Pupils spend on average 5 hours per day in school on learning activities, but some are present for close to 9 hours. In many schools, childminding is provided from 7 a.m. until classes start and from the end of classes until 6 p.m. In cities, most pupils remain in school during the lunch break, under the supervision of teaching staff or other persons subsidised by the French Community for one hour of midday break monitoring.

The coordination of care during pupils’ free time (Wednesday afternoons, weekends, and school holidays) and support of out-of-school care (before and after classes, but not during the lunch break) have been put in place. The interventions target specific geographical areas, based on appraisals of the situation of childcare drawn up at the initiative of municipalities. They relate to children of nursery school age, those attending primary education or those up to the age of 12. The childminding offer is presented in a programme called CLE – Coordination Locale pour l’Enfance (Local Coordination for Children), presented as a childminding programme coordinated and agreed by the concerned parties and applicable in a given territory. The consultation of local players allows structuring of the childcare provision. It favours the pooling of resources and creation of synergies aiming at greater efficiency. Under certain conditions, operators can benefit from support. Three general aims are pursued: the global development of children, social cohesion through intermingling, facilitation and consolidation of family life.