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

 

Non-School Childcare Facilities

Responsible Bodies

The decree of 17 July 2002 and various decrees of the Government of the French Community (27 February 2003, 5 May 2004) define the role of the Office for Birth and Childhood (ONE) and its responsibilities regarding the evaluation of the quality of collective and family-based childcare facilities. ONE has appointed:

  • childcare coordinators and advisers who analyse and evaluate the appropriateness and feasibility of plans for new childcare facilities;
  • subregional committees, which have the power to grant, refuse, withdraw and if necessary suspend a childcare facility’s authorisation;
  • educational advisers who work to improve the quality of childcare and support the professionals.

Approaches and methods for Quality Assurance

The Office for Birth and Childhood (ONE) issues a quality attestation to institutions and services which comply with the childcare quality code and submit to the Office’s monitoring (decree of 17 July 2002). This quality code is defined in the decree of the Government of the French Community of 17 December 2003. It sets out the goals to be achieved and stipulates that each childcare facility must draw up a plan in conjunction with the childcare workers. The plan must also be the object of a consultation exercise in which parents and guardians who use the service are invited to participate. The plan must provide at least the following information:

  • the type of care provided;
  • the internal regulations;
  • the institutional context in which the facility operates;
  • the method for determining the financial contribution of parents and guardians;
  • staffing levels;
  • the qualifications of the staff;
  • a description of the methodological choices and the concrete actions performed with a view to achieving the goals of the quality code defined by the government.

The childcare facility plan is the subject of regular evaluations and is updated at least every three years. Any facility which applies for it and undergoes the monitoring of ONE receives a quality attestation following an evaluation of its childcare facility plan in the light of the quality code defined by the decree, and an evaluation of whether the facility is has genuine plans to improve the quality of care in line with one or more of the goals defined by the quality code. The appropriateness of the means employed in order to achieve this is also evaluated. The quality attestation granted by ONE has a three-year period of validity and is renewed if the plan defined by the facility has actually been implemented. If the quality attestation is refused, ONE informs the facility, explaining its decision. A period of 75 days (which may be extended in certain cases) is allowed to remedy the points mentioned in the refusal letter. Every year, ONE publishes the list of childcare facilities that hold the quality attestation. Moreover, ONE is required to submit an annual activity report to the government (decree of 17 July 2002). In particular, this report enables ONE to give an update on its achievements and its work, to raise their profile and to discuss them with policymakers and civil society.

Pre-Secondary and Secondary Education

General Context

Article 24 of the Belgian Constitution (1831) provides for freedom of education. In 1959, a fundamental law called the Schools Pact (law of 29 May 1959) organised and normalised relations between the networks and safeguarded the genuine exercise of families’ freedom of choice. Since then, any provisions which have been likely to reduce the autonomy of the controlling authorities have been the subject of negotiations, and are predicated on the preservation of a balance between the various parties’ rights and obligations. Although they existed previously, quality evaluation schemes have been the subject of legislative measures in recent years that have reinforced their role by defining their missions and specifying some of the ways in which they work. The starting-point for this development was the adoption of the Decree on the Missions of Schools (24 July 1997). This defines the goals that all pupils in compulsory education are supposed to attain, makes provision for the preparation of skills guidelines and creates an initial steering scheme. In 2002, the education system’s steering mechanism was reinforced (decree of 27 March 2002). The aim of this mechanism is to increase the coherence of education in the French Community and improve the quality of the education system, in particular by the establishment of a Steering Committee. A public-interest body with a legal personality, the ‘Public Enterprise for New Information and Communication Technologies’ (ETNIC), was created (decree of 27 March 2002). This body is responsible among other things for establishing and updating a database and for introducing a research and statistical service. Teachers’ in-service training was regulated, and an Institute for In-Career Training (IFC) was set up: the IFC now organises inter-network in-service training, in particular for inspectors and school heads (decrees of 11 July 2002). In 2006, the scheme for external non-certificative assessments was reinforced and reorganised. The award of the certificate of primary education (CEB) was regulated: the role of an external assessment test in the award of this certificate was defined. A framework was provided for the organisation of a common external test at the end of the first stage of secondary education. A scheme was introduced to provide guidance to schools in the certificative assessment process at the end of secondary education, known as the ‘upper secondary education test’ or TESS (decree of 2 June 2006). Finally, in 2007, the function of head of institution was reshaped (access to the function, nature of the role, etc.) (decree of 2 February 2007), and the inspection system was completely reformed (decree of 8 March 2007). Thus three main schemes are employed at different levels of the system, from the micro-systemic (pupils) to the macro-systemic (the whole of the education system):

  • The work of the inspection services, whose evaluation function is developing while its checking function diminishes, gives rise to reports about institutions and in certain cases about teachers, as well as about the system as a whole; unless there is a specific assignment, these are primarily qualitative analyses.
  • External assessments, both certificative and non-certificative, inform teachers about individual pupils’ skills, and inform each institution about the level achieved by its pupils. Moreover, these assessments provide general input for processes of reflection at the different levels of the education system.
  • Educational indicators, published every year, relate to the system as a whole; a recent plan makes provision for certain indicators to be gradually implemented at the level of each institution in the TABOR scheme.

One of the system’s characteristics is the separation between the points observed and the assistance which is granted: thus, since the adoption of the decree of 8 March 2007, the evaluation of institutions has fallen within the competence of inspection services which are completely independent of the schools and controlling authorities, but where difficulties are encountered, it is separate services, overseen by the controlling authorities, which are called upon to intervene in the schools and classes to support and assist the people concerned to resolve the problems that have been encountered (by means of visits by educational advisers). This evaluation system is a dynamic one: its systematic character is a relatively recent feature, and it is evolving, adapting, and gradually becoming more comprehensive as it acquires more experience, on the basis of the strengths and weaknesses that are observed.

Responsible Bodies

At the System Level

The Education System Steering Committee is a consultative body which aims to respond to the need to evaluate the functioning of the education system and to identify approaches to improving the quality of education. The Steering Committee relies on the work of the General Service for the Steering of the Education System, which is part of the General Administration for Education and Scientific Research. This general service consists of three departments (the Department for External Assessments, the PROF Magazine Department – PROF being a professional journal aimed at all teachers, and the Support Services Department) and four services (the Cyberschool Service, the Educational Research Service, the Educational Indicators Service, and the School Textbooks and Software Service).

The General Department of Inspection also plays an important role in the steering of the education system. Not only is the inspectorate represented on the Steering Committee, but it compiles a report every year on the state of the education system which is addressed to the Government and passed on for information purposes to the Steering Committee and the Committee for Educational Inspection, Advice and Support.

Other boards and advisory bodies also contribute to the steering of the education system: for example, a permanent mission to evaluate integration actions was entrusted to the General Consultation Board for Specialised Education by the decree of 5 February 2009.

At Institutional Level

The inspection services have been entrusted with control and evaluation tasks relating to educational aspects connected with the level of studies. School life in the widest sense is also considered. Administrative control tasks are entrusted to other services. The specific focus of the inspectorate is on appraising how each educational team that is visited translates into its everyday work the requirements set out in the decrees and regulations. The inspection services refrain from giving any instructions on educational methods, and respect the controlling authority’s freedom to manage its timetables within the framework of the legal and regulatory provisions.

The head of institution has a general mission relating to the educational policy and organisation of the institution in which he or she works. He/she is the representative of the controlling authority in dealings with the Ministry of the French Community and the inspection services. The controlling authorities (in grant-aided education) or the head of institution (in education organised by the French Community) are required to formulate proposals on adapting the school plan which is defined in each school. They are also required to draw up an annual activity report and submit it for the appraisal of the institution’s participation council. The council’s views and proposals are then submitted together with the report to the controlling authority, which keeps it for the department of inspection to scrutinise. Moreover, the controlling authority is required to follow up (or explain its refusal to take action) when comments are made by the inspectorate about shortcomings observed in the institution.

A participation council is created within each institution. It consists of the head of the institution, delegates from the controlling authority, and representatives of the staff, of the social, cultural and economic sectors, of the parents, and, finally, of the pupils (apart from in institutions which only provide pre-secondary education). It is required to discuss the school plan, amend or add to it, put it forward for the approval of the minister (in the education organised by the French Community) or of the controlling authority (in grant-aided education), evaluate its implementation periodically, propose adaptations and issue an opinion on the annual activity report.

At the Level of the Teachers

The inspection services use the data derived from their classroom observations in an overall perspective in order to make a qualitative contribution to the evaluation of the system. However, if during a visit an inspector identifies serious shortcomings in a teacher, he/she must report this to the head of institution in the education organised by the French Community or to the controlling authority in grant-aided education. These latter must then take action or explain why they do not intend to do so. Should the controlling authority or head of institution request a visit in connection with a teacher, the inspectors must take facts into consideration which cover a sufficiently wide range of aspects of the teacher’s professional teaching skills.

The school heads are required to lead the educational team and ensure a close match between what pupils learn, the core skills, the final attainment targets, training and qualification profiles and curricula or educational dossiers. Their functions are specified in a mission letter.

At Pupil Level

The quality of education is analysed on the basis of the pupils’ results in various external tests: the certificate of primary education (CEB), various external certificative examinations, which are common to all schools and are currently under development with respect to the certificates and diplomas associated with secondary education, and external non-certificative assessments.

External non-certificative assessments measure the pupils’ skills in the light of the expected attainment at the end of the cycle, to enable teachers to identify the level that their pupils have reached, estimate how much ground remains to be covered during the current year and adapt their teaching in the light of this information. A formative diagnostic test is used, based on the core skills and final attainment targets. These tests are devised by working groups consisting of people with complementary areas of expertise and from the different networks: inspectors, educational advisers, school heads, coordinators of continuing training, the coordinators of the General Steering Service and researchers.

Participation in various international assessments provides yet another perspective on what pupils learn in the French Community: for example, PISA (the Programme for International Student Assessment – 15-year-olds), PIRLS (the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study – pupils from the fifth primary year) and ESLC (the European Survey on Language Competences – pupils from the fourth secondary year).

In addition to these external assessments, internal appraisals take place within classes. At this level, the assessment of pupils falls within the competence of various bodies: some such assessments are specific to the school itself or to the controlling authority (which, subject to compliance with the laws and decrees, may define the methods and frequency of these assessments, the grading system, etc.); other pupil assessments are arranged by individual teachers; others again are the responsibility of the Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services (CPMS).

Approaches and Methods for Quality Assurance

The Education System Steering Committee

The steering of education represents an anticipatory, forward-looking methodology, the aim of which is to prepare for future directions and decisions and acquire the means of improving the organisation, content and coherence of education. In order to do this, the Steering Committee relies on the systematic collection of information about pupils’ progression through the system, about the system’s functioning and results, and about the work of reflection and making proposals. With a view to boosting the coherence and effectiveness of educational action, it makes reforms an inherent part of the everyday reality of schools, by establishing relations between practitioners and researchers, by recommending suitable educational tools (learning and assessment tools), and by structuring continuing training at different levels. The Steering Committee is also tasked with coming up with measures and recommendations with a view to ensuring the quality and equivalence of the education that is provided.

Focused both on democratic pluralism and on a necessary pragmatism, the Steering Committee brings together the protagonists in the education system: as well as the General Administrator of Education and Scientific Research, three general inspectors, eight representatives of the controlling authorities and the head of the General Service for the Education Organised by the French Community, it also includes seven educational experts drawn from the universities and hautes écoles, three representatives of the teachers’ trade unions and two representatives of the parents’ associations. Mandates are allocated for a four-year term. The committee may only deliberate validly if an absolute majority of its members are present. It takes its decisions by consensus or, failing this, by a two-thirds majority of those members who are present. Other senior officials from the administration also attend the meetings: the civil servant who directs the Institute for In-Career Training (IFC), the General Director of Compulsory Education, the Assistant General Director of the General Service for the Steering of the Education System, a member of the Directorate for Equal Opportunities and the head of the Observatory of Higher Education. The Steering Committee serves as a kind of interface between information about pupils and schools on the one hand and the government and administration on the other: on the basis of the raw information, syntheses, analyses and even recommendations which it receives, it draws up proposals and recommendations for the authorities. The Committee for the Steering of the Education System meets around once a month. Its proposals and opinions provide a dashboard for policymakers, enabling decisions to be taken in a justified, responsible fashion in the field of education.

The Steering Committee has the following roles, which it exercises in a manner compatible with the controlling authorities’ freedom to choose their own educational methods:

  • supporting educational reforms and working to ensure their implementation;
  • providing the education system with a coherent system of indicators;
  • promoting coherence between the content of curricula, the core skills, the final attainment targets and training profiles, as well as compatibility between the networks’ curricula and educational levels;
  • defining every year areas of focus and priority themes for inter-network in-career training for staff members in ordinary and specialised pre-secondary and secondary education and the centres for psychological, medical and social services, and presenting to the government a justified proposal regarding the choice of operators to implement such training;
  • coordinating and circulating the educational and assessment tools stipulated by the Decree on the Missions of Schools (24 July 1997);
  • coordinating the research and development work of universities and hautes écoles in the area of education, and ensuring that schools benefit from the results;  defining multiple-year research plans setting priorities and goals to be achieved, and submitting them to the government;
  • ensuring the statistical monitoring of pupils with a view to understanding the phenomenon of dropping-out, the problems that are encountered and successive reorientations, including coordination with other training providers;
  • providing explanations, either on request or on its own initiative, to the government and the parliament of the French Community, in particular about the state of and changes in its education system, the problems that it has encountered or which can be foreseen, and any divergences from plans or forecasts;
  • submitting an annual report to the government which includes a summary of its activities, an activity programme for the coming period, and any proposals the Committee may have regarding amendments to regulations or decrees that will enable the education system in the French Community to be run more effectively;
  • observing the process of enrolment in the first stage of ordinary secondary education, and submitting an evaluation report every two years to the government on the impact of the modifications made to the Decree on the Missions of Schools (24 July 1997) with a view to regulating enrolments and changes of school in compulsory education;
  • stating its opinion on draft curricula in accordance with the prescriptions of the Decree on the Missions of Schools (24 July 1997);
  • granting recognition of conformity to school textbooks and textbook collections which are submitted to it;
  • granting recognition of conformity to educational software and other tools which are submitted to it;
  • observing, monitoring and evaluating the differentiated staffing mechanism established by the decree of 30 April 2009 in order to ensure each pupil equal opportunities of social emancipation in a quality educational environment.

In addition (under the terms of the decree of 2 June 2006), the Steering Committee has various roles relating to external assessments. It is required to submit a report to the government if it discovers certain problems in individual institutions (Article 7).

The Inspection Services

The various inspection services are staffed with experienced former teachers who only inspect the subjects that they have taught, and at the educational level at which they used to work as teachers. These inspectors are appointed on the basis of a certificate issued following a training course which covers the relational, administrative and educational aspects of their role. Various titles and positions may be assigned: mandated inspector, inspector-general, coordinating inspector-general, and inspector in a given field or at a given level. The inspection services play an important role in the steering of the education system. Their work schedule, which leads them to visit every school, focusing on one or more disciplines each time, during a three-year cycle, aims in particular to ‘collect the most significant and reliable data possible so as to report meaningfully to the Authority on how teachers and other personnel incorporate the requirements set out in decrees and regulations into their professional actions’ (Inspectorate’s 2009-2010 Report, p. 2). Not only is the inspectorate represented on the Steering Committee, but it compiles a report every year on the state of the education system which is addressed to the Government and passed on for information purposes to the Steering Committee and the Committee for Educational Inspection, Advice and Support. All inspectors subsequently receive it. Moreover, it is not uncommon for the minister who is responsible to decide to circulate this report more widely (for example by presenting it to Parliament or to the press). In the classroom, the inspectorate’s evaluation is mainly based on data gathered

  • by direct observation of activities (methodology, sequencing of teaching, working conditions and class management);
  • by examining documents (preparations, pupils’ class diaries and work);
  • by analysing pupils’ results in tests and external assessments and by analysing failures, repeated years and changes of orientation;
  • from information coming from meetings of the participation council or meetings with  parents;
  • from interviews with teachers.

Generally speaking, a single inspector visits the classes which concern him/her. The inspection service may be organised by zone, by level, by sector or by discipline, depending on the situation. The inspector contacts the head of institution at least a week in advance, indicating the date and objectives of his/her visit and the nature of the investigations he/she wishes to conduct. The institution’s management is invited to communicate this information to the staff members whose activities will be the subject of inspection. In this context, the General Department of Inspection (2009-2010 Report) stresses the importance of developing a relationship of partnership and trust with each actor in the field. Should the controlling authority or head of institution request a visit in connection with a teacher, the inspectors must take facts into consideration which cover a sufficiently wide range of aspects of the teacher’s professional teaching skills, i.e.:

  • competence with regard to the learning content: compliance with competency guidelines and curricula, level of expectations, progression, etc.;
  • competence with regard to the discipline(s) taught; command of the content, knowledge of the competency guidelines, interest in the development of the discipline(s) concerned, closeness of fit between teaching content and competency guidelines, etc.;
  • competence with regard to the organisation and management of learning: planning of learning over a long period, planning and structuring of a learning sequence, taking account of the differences between pupils and especially the difficulties that they encounter, evaluation of what pupils have learnt, etc.;
  • relational and group management skills: creation of working atmosphere that encourages learning, demonstration of respect to pupils through behaviour and language, development of pupils’ self-confidence, rapid and effective resolution of any discipline problems, ability to cooperate with colleagues and other parties;
  • professional skills of a general nature: desire to progress and to engage in a process of continuing training, quality of oral and written expression, organisation of work, and in particular the maintenance of preparatory documentation and adherence to the timetable, etc.

School Heads

School heads must in particular:

  • ensure the management and coordination of the teaching staff, of relations with pupils, parents and third parties, and of external relations, and ensure the running of the participation council;
  • manage the institution’s material and financial resources, organise timetables, manage pupil records, etc;
  • ensure the educational and pedagogical management of the institution (implementing the school plan, ensuring that what is learnt corresponds to the guidelines stipulated by legislation);
  • ensure that certificative assessments and external assessments within the school are organised properly;
  • coordinate and circulate information (results of external assessments, inspection reports, opinions given by Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services, etc.) and ensure that the data gathered at the school is collated and passed on to the authorities (annual report, notification of specific problems, etc.).

The decree stipulates that the general framework of the school head’s duties should be adjusted in line with the specific characteristics of the institution (and of its controlling authority in the case of grant-aided education) in a ‘mission letter’. The mission letter is drawn up by the government (in the case of education organised by the French Community) or by the controlling authority (in the case of subsidised education), after consultation with the specific legal authorities; the draft mission letter must be submitted to the prospective school head. The mission letter has a period of validity of six years, but may be modified if necessary after two years at the earliest, subject to compliance with the stipulated procedure. The decree supports school heads in order to restore to them their primary role of steering the unit on which the system is based – the educational team – through the award of specific assistance for administrative management purposes. Responsibility for making arrangements for the evaluation of teachers by school heads lies with the controlling authorities, and such arrangements tend to vary greatly from one institution to another.

The Participation Council

The Decree on the Missions of Schools (24 July 1997) requires each institution providing ordinary or special pre-secondary or secondary education, whether directly administered by the French Community or grant-aided, to have a school plan. The school plan defines the basic educational choices and the specific concrete action plan that the school’s teaching staff intends to implement – in co-operation with all participants and partners – in order to fulfil the educational and pedagogical objectives set by the controlling authority. A participation council is established in each school, and is charged with periodically assessing the implementation of the school plan, suggesting modifications, and providing an opinion on the school’s activity report. For each school it administers, the controlling authority must submit an annual activity report covering the previous school year to the Steering Committee by 31 December. The annual report is prepared by the head of school in schools administered by the French Community, or by the controlling authority or its representative in grant-aided schools and is submitted to the participation council. The annual activity report includes:</div>

  • an assessment of the measures implemented to achieve the general objectives set for schools by the Decree on the Missions of Schools (24 July 1997) within the context of the pedagogical plan of the controlling authority and of the school. In addition to any matters that the participation council wishes to be included, the report must present information about the following: pass and failure rates, appeals against decisions taken by the class councils and the results of such procedures:
  • the number of and reasons for registration refusals;
  • continuing training for teachers at the school.

A more comprehensive report must be compiled every three years. This must include a survey of information about the following issues:

  • educational innovations introduced;
  • approaches used to organise support for pupils experiencing difficulties;
  • approaches used to provide guidance to pupils;
  • practices used with regard to homework from the third to sixth primary years;
  • initiatives taken in collaboration with external partners with regard to art, culture and sport;
  • initiatives taken with regard to media, health and environmental education;
  • initiatives taken to integrate pupils with a background in specialised education in the school;
  • resources used to organise the three-year version of the first stage of secondary education.

Educational Teams and Class Councils

The Decree on the Missions of Schools (24 July 1997) stipulates that decisions about pupils’ progression to the next grade or cycle and the issuance of diplomas, achievement certificates and attestations within a school are the responsibility of the educational team (at primary level) or of the class council (at secondary level), with the exception of the certificate of primary education (CEB). In the everyday classroom context, each teacher assesses his or her own pupils in light of his or her objectives and teaching. Assessment is usually carried out after one or several learning sequences. At primary school, school year success is determined by the teacher responsible for the class, often in consultation with the head of school, and sometimes with other members of the teaching staff, who appraise the work done during the year (observations and marks of formative assessment tests) and the results of the end-of-year examinations (where these are organised). The pupil’s analytical abilities and powers of synthesis, and his or her capacity for independent thought, cooperativeness, and readiness to make an effort and produce good work must be taken into account. In secondary education, the class council plays an important role in assessment. It is chaired by the head of institution, and consists of all management and teaching staff members responsible for educating a defined group of pupils. There are thus several class councils in an institution. The parents and pupils are not represented within the council. It bases its opinions on factors such as the pupil’s previous school record, intermediate period results, reports and exam results, information received from the Centre for Psychological, Medical and Social Services, and in some cases meetings with the pupil and his or her parents. It takes the necessary decisions at the end of the year regarding promotion to the next grade (with or without restrictions), deferment (with the obligation of taking final exams in September), denying promotion and certification. Appeals may be made on behalf of pupils.

The Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services (CPMS)

The Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services (CPMS) are facilities which receive and listen to young people, and where multidisciplinary teams operate: educational psychologists, assistant educational psychologists, assistant social workers, assistant paramedics and doctors. They are subject to professional confidentiality requirements, and the services they provide are free of charge. Each school is served by a CPMS. These centres do not play a role in educational assessment in the strict sense, but may provide specific input when pupils are in difficulty, and thus contribute to the quality of the response in such cases. The CPMSs have three main missions:

  • to promote the psychological, educational, medical and social conditions which will give pupils the best chance of developing their personalities harmoniously and of preparing to assume their role as autonomous, responsible citizens and play an active role in social, cultural and economic life;
  • to contribute to pupils’ educational process throughout their school career, by encouraging the use of means by which they can be led to make constant progress, within an approach of ensuring equal access opportunities to social, civic and personal emancipation. To this end, among other things the centres will mobilise the resources available in the pupil’s family, social and school environment;
  • with a view to providing orientation for the subsequent course of their life, to support pupils in the development of their personal, educational and work plans and their integration in social and professional life.

Each centre’s activities must be set within the context of a programme which is common to all the CPMSs, the specific programme laid down by the controlling authority (in line with its priorities and values) and the centre’s individual plan (drawn up by all personnel and based on the centre’s specific situation).