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Assessment policy: introduction - Belgium (Flemish speaking community)

The organisation of mainstream primary education has to be based on a pedagogical project in which the school defines an educational and learning environment to provide a continuous learning process for all children. An optimal development for pupils is the central idea of the report. Mainstream primary education is responsible for the education of all children in this age group. Pupils can follow the mainstream primary school for at least 4 years up to a maximum of 8 years, with a maximum age of 15 years. The Year 8 in primary school has to be advised by the Pupil Guidance Centre (CLB) and the ‘class counsel’. Mainstream education has the task to counsel and to provide education for as many pupils as possible. To maintain this goal and to ensure equal opportunities for all pupils, mainstream primary schools receive extra hours during the final years. Teacher training provides courses to educate teachers in ensuring these equal opportunities. VOZO

The special primary education provides adapted education for behavioural, treatment and therapy, based on a specific pedagogical project for pupils who have a temporary or permanent personality disorder. Pupils can follow special education for a maximum of 9 years until the maximum age of 15 years. Pupils are allowed into the type of special education which suits their needs. Special education is provided for the following types:

  • type 1: adapted education for children with a mental retardation
  • type 2: adapted education for children with a mental handicap
  • type 3: adapted education for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • type 4: adapted education for children with physical disabilities
  • type 5: adapted education for children in hospitals or in preventoria for medical problems
  • type 6: adapted education for children with visual disabilities
  • type 7 adapted education for children with hearing disabilities
  • type 8: adapted education for children with learning difficulties

The types 1 and 8 are not recognised or financed in special nursery education.

Integrated primary education is a co-operation between mainstream primary education and special primary education. Pupils with a (mental) handicap, learning and/or behavioural difficulties can temporarily or permanently follow partly or entirely in a mainstream school with specialised help from special education. There is full integration when the pupil follows all the lessons and activities in the mainstream school. With part integration the pupil follows at least two half days a week in a mainstream school. An integration plan is drawn up for every pupil in integrated education. 

The whole idea around assessment occurs just a little in the current Flemish legislation. Schools define assessment procedures in their school work plan, based on their vision of education and based on the attainment targets or developmental goals. Exceptions in these procedures take place within the special needs policy of the school, based on the policy of equal educational opportunities that will ensure the participation of disadvantaged pupils to mainstream primary education. In effect this means that schools have the possibility to offer adapted curricula, work forms, assessment and so on, to pupils who need extra care. The last inspection report tells us that this policy in primary schools is underdeveloped. The screening of these pupils is of low quality and the present infrastructure is ineffective and not used enough. The main problems were found into the adaptation of the curricula: inadequate goals and contents, work and group forms and assessment. The frame of the problem and its policy exists but the adequate and effective action within this frame is missing.

Flanders has a lot of expertise within the field of adaptive education, mostly located within special education. There is now also a policy to transfer and share the expertise from special to mainstream education (e.g how to educate pupils with a specific problem, how to create a individual education plan, etc.)

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