Country information for Belgium (French community) - Assessment within inclusive education systems
The legal system for assessment
Each school allows each pupil to progress at their own pace, using formative assessment and differentiated pedagogy.
In mainstream education, pupils who take five years instead of four to complete the second step of compulsory education can take the complementary year, which is adapted to their needs, in the same school. The school ensures this additional year is not a year of repetition.
In special education, pupils progress with learning at their own pace, taking their level of maturity into consideration, and in agreement with the class council.
The government has created basic competences in the Decree on the organisation of mainstream nursery and primary education and amending the regulation of education. Work groups, which include experts, will draw up the basic competences, which were devised by the inspectors and representatives of elementary and secondary education.
The basic competences prioritise not only reading, writing, oral communication and maths, but also the development of all sensory abilities. They define communicative competences in languages other than French, which are taken at the end of the first cycle. Educational activities in common compulsory training are also geared towards the general aims of compulsory education: psycho-motor function and physical education, history and geography, art, technology, science, environmental studies, media, social abilities and social studies.
The new unit of school time is no longer one year, but one step. The basic competences have to be achieved by the end of a step and it is only at the end of a step that assessment is carried out.
The curriculum commission examines whether study programmes can be used in connection with the basic competences and special education and whether they allow pupils with special educational needs to progress optimally. The commission does not study the pedagogical methods (Decree of 23 June 2004 relating to the organisation and functioning of the Commission for Specialised Secondary Education Programmes).
The government has also created a commission for assessment tools related to the basic competences according to the method decided by the government. This commission develops tests for standardised assessment.
Project of educational establishment
The ‘project of educational establishment’ defines the pedagogical choices and concrete activities that the school teaching team employs for use in collaboration with all partners and to realise the government’s educational and pedagogical plan. These choices are defined according to:
- which school the learners apply to, their cultural and social characteristics, special educational needs and their ability to learn;
- pupils’ and parents’ educational and vocational ambitions;
- the natural environment of the district, city or village where the school is located.
In mainstream schools, the ‘project of educational establishment’ decides the pedagogical choices and actions required in promoting the inclusion of pupils from special schools. Each school must have a protocol that describes which tools are used to enable pupils to reach the general and particular aims of the decree regarding basic competences. In elementary schools, the ‘project of educational establishment’ advises how to promote communication between pupils, parents and members of the school team.
Each school must revise the project every three years in co-operation with the participation council. The participation council is composed of social, cultural and economic representatives, elected members of the school team, parents, and representatives of the school administrative staff. The participation council is created in every school to:
- discuss and complete the school’s work in agreement with the Minister;
- regularly assess the application and propose adaptation;
- give an opinion about the activities report;
- reflect on requests for funding during the school year, especially those concerning cultural and sport activities stated in the project;
- analyse and propose a system of solidarity between pupils to pay costs.
Since 2017, a series of actions specific to each establishment is developed from a diagnosis made by the educational team, and possibly with the advice of parents and/or learners. This is known as the Pilotage Plan.
The school head teacher submits an activities report to the participation council each year. The government decides on the model for the activities report. The activities report reviews:
- the actions taken to reach the general aims of the government’s pedagogical framework;
- pedagogical innovations;
- support provided for pupils with difficulties;
- the success rate and the repeat year rate;
- continuing teacher training;
- exchanges organised with external partners, especially artistic and cultural activities;
- cultural experiences, social studies, media, health and environmental education;
- the promotion of sports activities, especially in collaboration with the sports associations located in the area;
- the promotion of pupil orientation;
- the promotion of inclusion in mainstream schools for pupils from special schools;
- appeals against class council decisions and their results;
- the number of enrolment rejections and the reasons for them;
- the actions taken to organise the three years of the first degree of secondary education;
- working at home in the second step of the pedagogical continuum;
- reflections on informing the control commission about adapting the set of actions.
Before a pupil is enrolled in a school, parents or guardians must accept:
- the government’s educational and pedagogical project;
- the school’s project;
- the regulations for studying;
- the school’s internal regulations, including disciplinary measures and procedures connected to these measures.
General study regulations
For each education level, the government has created general study regulations. They define:
- the criteria for the quality of school work;
- procedures for assessment, class council decisions and their communication.
The required quality of school work is described in as much detail as possible, so that the pupils’ tasks are within the framework of the general and particular aim of the Decree on books 1 and 2 of the Education Code basic and secondary education, and setting up the common core.
According to the education level, the study regulations include individual and group work, research, group lessons, homework and time for formal assessment.
The requirements are:
- a sense of responsibility which will be visible by expression, initiatives, careful work and paying attention;
- the progressive acquisition of a personal and efficient method of work;
- the ability to work in teams to achieve a task;
- respecting the rules;
- taking care with presentation of work;
- respecting deadlines.
Homework is possible in each education level, except during the first step of elementary school. During this step, working at home is not considered appropriate for activities such as reading, writing and oral presentations, which need to be done in school.
Homework must be adapted to the applicable education level and must always be done without adult help. Schools ensure access to public libraries or information technology tools which are freely available if pupils need information.
During the second step of the pedagogical continuum:
- homework is based on previous achievements in school;
- content is individualised, taking into consideration the pupil’s current level and pace;
- homework is limited to 20 minutes a day in the first cycle of the second step and 30 minutes a day during the second cycle of the second step;
- homework assessment is exclusively formative and never summative (or grading-based);
- pupils are given reasonable deadlines to help them to organise their schedule.
The class council decides on graduation from one class, cycle or phase to another and presents diplomas, certifications or statements of success at school. Head teachers preside over the graduation and all members of the teaching team who work with the pupils are present. Representatives from the psycho-medical-social centres attend graduations as consultants.
In special education, when the class council confirms that the competences set by the decree are achieved, the pupil is awarded the certificate of basic studies. This is the same as in mainstream schools.
If pupils fail or receive poor results, parents can ask the head teacher to clarify this. Both parents and pupils can consult the teacher responsible for the assessment. Test results are confidential.
An internal procedure deals with objections about decisions and promotes reconciliation in potential disagreements. This procedure must be finished by 30 June each year and final results available by 5 September.
The government has created an appeal council which includes the inspector and the members delegated by the Minister. Decisions must have a two-thirds majority. Members are in office for two years and are allowed to stand again. The council is voluntary and only travel and accommodation costs are covered. If the appeal concerns a pupil from special education, two members from the General Council of Consultation for Basic and Secondary Education attend the meeting.
Parents have ten days to appeal if their child fails the test. The appeal must be justified and contain the information necessary to enlighten the council. It cannot include details about another pupil.
Appeal council decisions are based on the pupil’s achievements to date and their expected achievements, taking into consideration the general assessment level applied in the pupil’s evaluation. If competences are not defined or the assessment test is not created, the appeal council can make a decision based on the curriculum.
If a pupil does not achieve the basic competences
Before the new decree, if a pupil did not achieve the basic competences, they would repeat the year. However, this was not efficient and created a feeling of failure. Therefore, the new Decree on books 1 and 2 of the Education Code basic and secondary education, and setting up the common core (3 May 2019) created a complementary year, with an individual programme based on the pupil’s failures and successes.
The certificate of basic competences is determined by:
- the primary or secondary school education body in mainstream or special education;
- the school district’s annual examining body for pupils enrolled in the sixth year of primary school or each 11-year-old pupil (whose date of birth is before 31 December);
- the examining body for people who have left compulsory education and who do not have the certificate of basic competences.
The government creates the certificate model.
More information on the legislation regarding inclusive education in Belgium (French community) is available on the Ministry of Education website under the legislation texts resources section and the section of updated decrees.
Last updated 27/04/2021