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Initial identification of special educational needs - Belgium (Flemish speaking community)

The task of school guidance is in the hands of the Pupil Guidance Centre (CLB). Since September 2000 these centres replace in an inclusive way the Psycho-Medical-Social centres (PMS centres) and the Health Supervision in Schools (MSTs). This change implied the end of the exclusive medical approach, and the guidance of pupils nowadays involves an integrated multidisciplinary approach, reflected in the basic staff formation: one physician, one director, two social workers, two paramedical workers, two psycho-pedagogical consultants and one administrative worker or co-worker.

The CLBs are concerned about the well-being of the pupils and operate therefore on 4 areas: learning and studying, the educational career, preventive health care and psychological and social functioning. The groups dealing with the CLBs are the pupils, as well as their parents, teachers and schools as a whole and including both primary and secondary education.

The transfer towards special education is enabled by the CLBs (regulated within the legal framework of the Decree from the Flemish government of 16 september 1978). A child can be enrolled in special education at any time as long as the CLB provides him with a report that specifies his educational needs in the form of a ‘type of education’. This report consists of two parts. The first part of the certificate provides information about the type of education that the child should follow in collaboration with the family. This certificate informs the special school by confirming the examination (second part). The second part of the report contains the results of the multidisciplinary examination.

Two main problems within this system can be identified:

  • Mainstream schools often discover the problems of the child too late, so that transfer to special education seems inevitable.
  • Too much attention during the examination goes to the child factor; too little attention is paid to the context factors.

In the context of these problems the decree is being reviewed (See as well ‘challenges and tendencies’)

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