Belgium (Flemish Community) - Country Background Information

Describing the forms of education in the country

The EASIE data collection covers all recognised forms of education at ISCED levels 02, 1, 2 and 3.

This means any type of education organised by or approved by any recognised educational provider in the public or private sector: municipality, local or regional educational provider from the public or private sector, working with/for ministries responsible for education and areas such as health, social, welfare, labour, justice, etc.

What is the compulsory education age range in the country?


ISCED levels 1–3 (ages 6–18) are compulsory. ISCED 02 is not compulsory, but children can start from 2.5 years old.

What are the typical age ranges for the ISCED levels?

2.5–6 6–12 12–14 14–18
Is private sector education covered by the data provided for the country?


Private sector education is defined according to international definitions, i.e. government-dependent private education and independent private education. Government-dependent private education covers the schools organised by a private person of private organisation (gesubsidieerd vrij onderwijs). The governing body is often a non-profit-making organisation (‘vzw’). Independent private education covers schools which are not financed nor subsidised by the Flemish government. This type of education covers, for example, the European schools.

The data for government-dependent private education is taken into account in all the tables. The data for these schools is available from the Ministry. The data for independent private education is not included.

Is recognised public or private education organised by sectors other than education (i.e. health, social, welfare, labour, justice, etc.) in the data provided for the country?

For example, SYNTRA training courses (SYNTRA is a major training organisation).

Are there recognised forms of alternative education covered by the data provided for the country?
Are there recognised forms of home schooling covered by the data provided for the country?

Home schooling (huisonderwijs): Pupils enrolled in home education are defined as out of formal education (home education is classified as non-formal education).

Identifying an ‘inclusive setting’ in the country

In the EASIE data collection, an inclusive setting is operationally defined as:

A recognised form of education where the child/learner follows education in mainstream classes alongside their peers for the largest part – 80% or more – of the school week.

The 80% time placement benchmark clearly indicates that a child/learner is educated in a mainstream class for the majority of their school week. At the same time, it acknowledges possibilities for small group or one-to-one withdrawal for limited periods of time (i.e. 20% or one day a week).

Very few participating countries can provide exact data on children/learners spending 80% of their time in a mainstream group/class. However, all countries can apply one of three agreed proxies that provide an approximation to this benchmark:

  • Placement in a mainstream class implies over 80% or more
  • Data is available on the number of hours of support allocated to a child/learner
  • Placement in a mainstream class implies over 50% or more.
Are you able to provide actual data to verify the 80% placement benchmark?
If no, which proxy are you using
Placement in a mainstream class implies 80% or more
What an ‘official decision of SEN’ means in the country

In the EASIE data collection, the agreed operational definition is:

An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.

Countries may have different types of official decision, but for all official decisions:

  • There has been some form of educational assessment procedure involving different people. This procedure may involve the child/learner, parents, school-based team members, as well as professionals from multi-disciplinary teams from outside the child’s/learner’s (pre-)school.
  • There is some form of legal document (plan/programme, etc.) that describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive, which is used as the basis for decision-making.
  • There is some form of regular review process of the child/learner’s needs, progress and support.
Please describe what an ‘official decision’ is in the country.

Pupils with an official decision of SEN are entitled to follow the common curriculum in mainstream schools or an individual adapted curriculum in mainstream or special schools (buitengewoon onderwijs).

Decree on primary education of 25 February 1997 and the Codex Secondary Education of 17 December 2010.

What educational assessment procedures are carried out and who is involved?

The Flemish Parliament Decree of 21 March 2014 regarding measures for pupils with special educational needs (the M-Decree) contains a number of provisions that support the transition from the medical to a social model of disability:

  1. The inclusion of a definition of ‘pupils with special educational needs’ which is based on the social model and the framework of the ICF. Pupils with special educational needs are pupils with long-term and impo­rtant participation problems owing to the combination of one or more functional impairments at the mental, psychological, physical or sensory level, restrictions in the performance of activities, and personal and external factors.
  2. The identification of these pupils will not just devote attention to the pupil’s limitations, but will rather focus on an analysis of the educational and support requirements of the pupils and of the effectiveness of the measures already taken in the mainstream school. It concerns the following elements:
    1. whether the different stages of the care continuum for the pupil concerned were completed;
    2. that, after a process of action-oriented co-operation involving the pupil and their parents, it is concluded that the accommodation, including­ remediation, differentiation, compensation and dispensation measures required to keep the pupil within the common curriculum­, is either disproportionate or insufficient;
    3. that the pupil’s educational needs were described in application of a classification system which is scientifically underpinned and based on an inter­actional vision and a social model of disability (i.e. ICF);
    4. that the educational needs cannot just be attributed to the socio-economic characteristic of the pupil;
    5. which type applies to the pupil. For a number of types of special education this is still based on medical criteria, among other things depending on a differentiated support system and financing mechanisms.
What formal, regular review processes of a child/learner’s needs, progress and support are linked to an official decision?

For the type ‘basic support’ (replaces type 1 for pupils with learning difficulties and type 8 for pupils with learning disabilities) an evaluation every two years is required.

Review is also required in case of change of level of education, changes in type of special education.

What ‘out-of-education’ means in the country

Within the EASIE data collection, specific questions examine children/learners who are out of education. This means children/learners who should, by law, be in some form of recognised education, but who are out of any form of recognised education. A recognised form of education is any type of education organised by or approved by any recognised educational provider in the public or private sector.

Is there a formal definition of ‘out-of-education’ in the country?
Please describe which learners are considered ‘out-of-education’ in the country

Pupils enrolled in home education are defined as out of formal education (home education is classified as non-formal education).

Please describe any specific country issues you think are relevant for understanding the data you have provided

Data concerning secondary adult education has not been incorporated into this data collection (it is included in the various UOE data collections).