Country information for Belgium (Flemish community) - Assessment within inclusive education systems

Primary and secondary education are based on a pedagogical project. In it, schools define educational and learning environments that provide a continuous learning process for all learners. The central idea is optimal development for learners.

Learners in primary education follow 28 to 29 teaching periods of 50 minutes each per school week. The school board has full autonomy when it comes to organising the education it offers, which it sets out in a school development plan. The school board is also autonomous in drafting timetables, dividing learners into groups and determining the number of learners per class. The year group system is not compulsory, but most schools have adopted it. Various forms of internal and external class differentiation are used, but school external support (e.g. therapists) is growing. In primary education, the authorities do not impose minimum or maximum class sizes.

In primary education, the teacher tests subject matter units very regularly to assess how far learners have attained the pre-set objectives and to evaluate the efficiency of teaching. Regular, individual school reports provide learners and parents with information about the learner’s results, progress, learning behaviour and personal development. The school decides which pupils have successfully completed a particular grade and can progress to the next grade. There is increasing expertise in working with tools like learner monitoring systems to observe and monitor learner development. At the end of primary education, the class council decides whether learners receive a certificate of primary education.

Mainstream education counsels and provides education to as many learners as possible. To maintain this goal and to ensure equal opportunities for all learners, mainstream primary schools receive additional resources. A lump-sum system allows for the appointment of a special needs co-ordinator in mainstream primary education. The special needs co-ordinator co-ordinates the school’s special needs provision, supports learners and offers guidance to learners and teachers. They can also form the link between the learner, school, parents, Pupil Guidance Centre (CLB), therapist and all other bodies that provide enhanced support.

Since the 2012/2013 school year, the basic funding of primary schools (teaching hours and budget) has been differentiated according to the learners’ socio-economic status. This allows schools to develop an equal education policy and practice. Teacher training provides courses to educate teachers in ensuring these equal opportunities.

In secondary education, schools have a support policy and practice for learners with special educational needs.

Each school has a co-operation agreement with a CLB. The CLB assesses learners with participation problems in education, with a focus on categorisation and action. The CLB can be driven both by demand (i.e. at the request of parents or teachers) and by supply (i.e. following a compulsory medical examination or multi-disciplinary consultation).

If necessary, the CLB draws up a statement of special educational needs, which gives access to a special school or inclusive education (individual adapted curriculum). The legal definition of special education is:

… education, based on a pedagogical project, that provides adapted schooling, care and therapy for learners whose general personal development cannot be or can insufficiently be guaranteed, temporarily or permanently, in a mainstream school (Decree on Basic Education, 1997).

This means that a learner’s disability or personal problem is no longer the main reason for referral to special education. The decree primarily refers to the mainstream school’s difficulties/incapacity to provide optimum personal and social development for all learners. Thus, the nature or the degree of an impairment or a disability does not justify referral to special education, but rather the balance between the possibilities of a mainstream school and the needs of an individual learner. The decree clearly states that every mainstream school must provide for the optimal education and development of every learner within the mainstream provision.

To be enrolled in a special school, the CLB provides a statement with two documents:

  • an attestation which states that the learner clearly demonstrates ‘a need for special education and may usefully attend a special school organising teaching of type X at level Y’. This formal statement does not mean that the pupil must go to a special school, but rather that they have the right to attend a special school or to receive special support in a mainstream school on the basis of an individual adapted curriculum (IAC);
  • a document which justifies this attestation and contains a synthesis of the psychological, pedagogical, social and medical data from the examination.

The CLB only has an advisory role and cannot force parents to enrol their child in a special school. In the event of litigation between parents, CLB and school about the statement, an appeal can be addressed to the Flemish mediation committee.

Admission to support in inclusive education also requires a certificate: a motivated report saying that the school can work with the learner within the framework of the common curriculum, with reasonable accommodations and external support from special education. Mainstream schools with pupils that have a statement for an IAC can also get support from special schools.


Last updated 13/04/2021

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