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Belgium-French-Community:Organisation of Vocational Upper 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

For the French Community, it should be emphasised that the section entitled ‘General upper secondary education’ relates to the second and third stages (CITE 3, four years), and not just upper secondary education (three years). However, the third specific differentiation and orientation year (3 S-DO) is mentioned in the section about the first stage: 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.

The sections below present the qualification stream, i.e. vocational education and qualification-stream technical and artistic education, as opposed to transition-stream education.

In addition to full-time education (dispensed entirely within the education institution, apart from some practical training courses), there is also dual vocational education and training. This combines practical training in the workplace with training given by a dual vocational training operator, relating to general and vocational subjects. Dual vocational education and training is organised within the framework of a partnership between a training or education provider, the pupil and a company, in accordance with specific arrangements in terms of length of training, recognition of the training received, certification, supervision, payment and social rights.

Centres for Dual Vocational Education and Training (CEFAS), which form part of the education organised or grant-aided by the French Community, provide two forms of dual education and training in ordinary education: that which leads to the same certificates and qualifications as ordinary full-time qualification-stream education, known as ‘alternance article 49’, and that which aims at lower levels of qualification via specific profiles, known as ‘alternance article 45’. The CEFAs provide training at the second and third stages of vocational education and at the third stage of qualification-stream technical education.

IFAPME (the Walloon Institute of Dual Vocational Education and Training for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) and the SFPME (Small and Mid-Sized Companies Training Service in the Brussels-Capital Region) also organise dual vocational courses known as ‘apprenticeship contracts’ which satisfy the compulsory schooling requirement.

On 8 January 2009, a decree approved a framework agreement entered into between the French Community, the Walloon Region and the French Community Commission (Brussels-Capital Region), defining among other things new arrangements for the steering of dual vocational education and training and the creation of a single status for young people in this programme. This ensures all young people who choose this form of education the same rights and payment mechanisms and access to certification for all. This agreement is being implemented gradually.

A recent report on dual vocational education and training in Brussels can be downloaded from the website of the  Consultative Committee on Training, Employment and Education in Brussels. 
 

Types of Institutions

Full-time Education

Although most full-time secondary education institutions organise all three stages, some only provide the second and third stages. Moreover, the forms and streams offered may vary from one secondary education institution to the next, subject to compliance with the rules for curriculum definition and the creation and maintenance of courses.

Dual Vocational Education and Training

Dual vocational education and training is provided by three types of operator: the CEFAs, IFAPME and the SFPME.

A CEFA (Centre for Dual Vocational Education and Training) is a structure which is common to one or more ordinary full-time secondary education institutions providing qualification-stream vocational or technical education in the second and third stages. Any institution of full-time education organising qualification-stream technical education or vocational education in the second and third stages, any specialised secondary education institution and any institution of social advancement may ask to cooperate with a CEFA of the same character (denominational or non-denominational) in the area where it is based. The CEFA is based in a full-time secondary education school that provides qualification-stream vocational or technical education The other institutions are referred to as ‘cooperating institutions’. These may provide part or all of the instruction (both general and vocational) for a group of pupils.

IFAPME (the Walloon Institute of Dual Vocational Education and Training for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) and the SFPME (Small and Mid-Sized Companies Training Service in the Brussels-Capital Region) and their training centre networks are responsible for providing dual vocational education and training for small and medium-sized companies. They fall within the competence of the Regions, not the French Community.

Social Advancement

Secondary education may also be organised by social advancement institutions.

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.

IFAPME uses a network of eight training centres distributed geographically across 14 sites covering the whole of Wallonia. The training centre of the SFPME (the Training Centre for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises or EFPME) serves the Brussels-Capital Region. Theorical courses are taught at the premises of the SFPME. The companies where practical training takes place are spread throughout the territory, and if a young person is unable to learn the trade in which he or she is interested in a company located in the Brussels-Capital Region, he or she may undergo training in a company located in the Walloon Region under the terms of an agreement entered into between IFAPME and the SFPME.

Admission Requirements and Choice of School

Enrolment in an institution of full-time education 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. In dual vocational education and training, enrolments are accepted throughout the year.

Parents’ Freedom of Choice

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.

No school may 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.

Conditions for Admission to the Third Year of Full-time Vocational Education

Regular pupils who satisfy one of the following conditions may be admitted to the third year of full-time vocational secondary education:

  • to have obtained the certificate for the first stage of secondary education (CE1D);
  • to have been directed by the class council into a third year of secondary education in the forms and streams defined by it, one of which is the vocational form;
  • to be 16 years old, not to satisfy the equivalence provisions for foreign diplomas and certificates of study, and to be the object of a favourable opinion issued by the admissions board.

The admissions board bases its assessments on the information that it is possible to gather about the pupil. Depending on the case, this information may relate to:

  • his or her study record;
  • the results of tests organised by the teachers;
  • information contained in the school record or communicated by the Centre for Psychological, Medical and Social Services;
  • meetings with the pupil and parents.

The decisions are recorded in minutes signed by the head of a school or his representative and by two members of the board.

Conditions for Admission to the Third Year of Full-time Qualification-stream Technical or Artistic Education

Regular pupils who satisfy one of the following conditions may be admitted to the third year of full-time qualification-stream technical or artistic education:

  • to have obtained the certificate for the first stage of secondary education (CE1D);
  • to have been directed by the class council into a third year of secondary education in the forms and streams defined by it;
  • to have successfully completed the third year of full-time vocational secondary education and to be the object of a favourable opinion issued by the admissions board;
  • to have successfully completed the third year of dual vocational secondary education and training and to be the object of a favourable opinion issued by the admissions board.

Conditions for Admission to Dual Vocational Education and Training

Pupils subject to part-time schooling obligation may attend a CEFA from the age of 15 provided that they have regularly attended two years of secondary education. Pupils subject to part-time schooling obligation, from the age of 16 years old, as well as those pupils that turned 18 years old in the calendar year, can attend a CEFA, whatever their school career (sometimes without a CEB).

In addition, youngsters that are more than 18 and less than 21 years old can be enrolled as regular pupils in CEFAs provided they have signed an apprenticeship contract for a profession exercised by salaried workers (industrial apprenticeship), or an employment-training agreement, or any other form of contract or agreement recognised by the labour legislation and falling into the framework of dual education and training that has received the approval of the Government of the French community. Young people that are older than 21 and less than 25 years old that have signed one of the agreements or contracts mentioned above can also enrol in a CEFA provided that they have benefited from dual vocational education and training since October 1 of the year in which they attained the age of 21.

Students of legal age who have not completed either a third qualification-stream year or a sixth transition-stream year and who wish to continue their education but cannot be enrolled in full-time education, may not be refused enrolment in a CEFA and may have priority over other adults in obtaining an employment-training agreement or an industrial apprenticeship contract.

The conditions for access to each of the years of ‘article 49’ dual vocational education and training are the same as for the corresponding full time secondary education. To have access to the upper stage of ‘article 45’ dual vocational education and training, pupils need a lower secondary education certificate, or a qualification certificate (4th year of ordinary or type 4 specialized secondary education, 5th year of type 3 specialized education, 5th perfection or specialization year of technical or vocational education), or a certificate of vocational compétences for the 2nd stage of dual vocational education and training. Pupils that have not obtained any of these certificates can only be enrolled as regular pupils in the 2nd stage.

More generally, under the terms of the decree of 8 January 2009, candidates for dual vocational education and training must, subject to compliance with the law on compulsory schooling, enter into a dual vocational education and training contract and actually undergo training at a company, as well as satisfying one of the following conditions:

  • to have successfully completed the first stage of secondary education or the third year of vocational secondary education, in ordinary education or form 4 specialised education;
  • to have attended the third year of differentiation and orientation within ordinary or form 4 specialised education or the second phase within form 3 specialised education;
  • to have attended the second supplementary year of the first stage;
  • to have attended the second year of the differentiated first stage;
  • to have attended the first stage in 3 years;
  • to have passed an admission test relating to the prerequisites, arrangements for which are determined by the General Educational Inspection Service of the French Community.

If necessary, the young person will undergo a preparatory period with the training provider which is intended to ensure he or she has mastered the necessary prerequisites (see above).

Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils

In full-time education, classes are theoretically organised by age group and subject. Pupils in the second or third stage who have not repeated a year are aged between 14 and 18 years. However, the repetition of years (particularly common in pupils in qualification-stream education), means that classes often include pupils of different ages.

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:

  • in technical education, no class may contain an average of more than 25 (second and third stages) pupils (including when pupils are grouped together with pupils from the third stage of general education); laboratory sessions may not have an average of more than 16 pupils, for vocational practice sessions, the limit is reduced to an average of 16 or 12, depending on the type of course; where safety so requires, the number of pupils may not exceed 10;
  • in vocational education, no class may contain an average of more than 19 (second stage) or 22 pupils (third stage); laboratory sessions may not have an average of more than 16 pupils; for vocational practice sessions, the limit is reduced to an average of 16 or 12, depending on the type of course; where safety so requires, the number of pupils may not exceed 10.

Organisation of the School Year

In Full-time Education

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 27 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.

In Dual vocational Education and Training

Dual vocational education and training is scheduled as 600 x 50-minute periods per year spread over at least twenty weeks in school, and at least 600 hours of training in the workplace.

The training year may be organised in accordance with the school calendar, or according to other arrangements determined by the relevant authorities.

Organisation of the School Day and Week

In Full-time Education

The weekly timetable

In full-time secondary education, in the second (orientation) and third (determination) stages, the number of periods per week varies from 28 to 36, depending on the programme, options chosen, stage and network. Two periods per week of remediation at the most may be added to the authorised maximum.

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

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

The daily timetable

The time when school starts and finishes is decided by the responsible authority in the area of education.

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 break of at least 50 minutes 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 or study.

In Dual Vocational Education and Training

Dual vocational education and training is scheduled as 600 x 50-minute periods per year spread over at least twenty weeks in school, which means, most of the time, 15 50-minute periods per week, and at least 600 hours of training in the workplace.

Dual vocational education and training may be provided outside normal school hours for full-time education. Evening or weekend classes are authorised. It may also be organised in modules.

For example, IFAPME tells those interested in dual vocational education and training that it organises 1 or 2 days per week of theoretical instruction in a training centre and 3 or 4 days per week of learning a trade by means of on-site training at a company.
At a company, the apprentice works a timetable equivalent to that in working life, with a limit of 40 hours per week.