Country information for Belgium (French community) - Teacher education for inclusive education
Initial teacher education
Initial teacher education is currently short in Belgium, consisting of three years of higher education. Student teachers are required to develop 13 major skills during their training.
Article 9 of the 2000 decree states that pedagogical knowledge is acquired through various learning activities (courses), including:
evaluation of learning;
critical study of major educational trends;
psychology of learning;
differentiation and detection of learning difficulties and their remediation.
Managing learners’ individual and specific needs is therefore important in initial teacher education.
Article 13 of the decree states that in mainstream pre-primary teacher training, an optional, 15-hour special education information module is available. It consists of information about the organisation and functioning of special education and educational concepts tailored to learners with special needs. Student teachers in mainstream pre‑primary and primary settings use this knowledge in their special education placements.
Collaboration with families is at the heart of the second ‘high competence’ skill defined by the decree. Article 4 states that training includes 120 hours of socio-affective and relational knowledge. Educational activities in this training area enable students to use necessary skills to implement a positive educational community around the learner (for example, psychology of relationships and communication, approach theory and the practice of cultural diversity) (Source: IECE – Belgium (French speaking community) Country Survey Questionnaire, pp. 10–12).
The initial teacher education curriculum
The content of initial teacher education courses is determined by individual teacher education schools. No content yet focuses on inclusive education or collaboration. Table 1 shows the content of the primary teacher education course.
The primary teacher education course includes the following content:
- Socio-cultural knowledge: Theoretical and practical cultural and gender diversity approach; Initiation in the arts and culture; Philosophy and religious history; Sociology and education policy;
- Socio-affective knowledge: Psychology of relationships and communication; Developmental psychology; Groups and oral expression management techniques;
- Disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge: Computer use and contribution of media and information and communication technologies to education; Oral and written French masters;
- Pedagogical knowledge: Critical major pedagogical patterns; Assessment of learning; Differentiation of learning, basics of special education, special educational needs detection and remediation; General pedagogy; Psychology of learning;
- Scientific approach: Introduction to research, notions of epistemology disciplines, final year project preparation; Graduation work;
- Knowledge: Vocational training workshops; Pedagogical internships (2, 4, 10 weeks), including specialised teaching and/or social promotion and/or a dual vocational education and training centre (CEFA);
- Interdisciplinary activities of professional identity construction: Development of professional project; Neutrality training; Teacher identity, ethics and the teacher folder; Opening of the school on the outside;
- Speciality course – Disciplinary knowledge and educational disciplines: Mathematics, French, scientific learning, historical training, geographical training, psycho-motor, aquatic activities (including rescue), musical education, art education, Walloon pedagogy;
- Course option: morality.
Students can do one week’s training in a special school, but it is not compulsory. If the special school organises inclusion with a mainstream school, the student will have some information of this practice.
There are few training courses for teacher educators and very little relating to inclusion. Most available information is on the internet or in literature (e.g. the Agency or services like Inclusion International, etc.).
Initial teacher education reform
As part of the Declaration of Community Policy 2009–2014, the government committed to undertake a reform of initial teacher education, based on opinions and needs expressed by stakeholders.
As of 2020, the reform is postponed with no plans for the programme content yet. However, it would be desirable for future teachers to learn about the management of learning disorders.
The Decree of 30 January 2014 on inclusive higher education made the training of teachers with disabilities possible (Source: CPRA – Belgium (French speaking community) Country Report).
Since 2011, in-service training (not mandatory) has been organised by the Institut de la Formation en Cours de Carrière (Institute for In-Service Training). It has two courses for teaching in inclusive settings provided by the ULB (Free University of Brussels).
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