Modernisation of secondary education
As mentioned in the general context section, Flemish pupils score generally high in international comparative research, but Flemish education also scores low on social inclusion and social mobility in education: The waterfall system, high school dropout, too many repeaters, inequality in educational opportunities...
At the end of May 2016 the Flemish Government approved two concept notes containing the key ideas for the modernization of Flemish secondary education. A first concept note comprises measures for primary education and the first stage (year 1 and 2) of secondary education, while a second one addresses the second and third stage of secondary education (year 3 to 6/7). In the first stage of secondary education general education is strengthened. In addition to the general education there will be an optional component to explore new subjects or to deepen others. In the second and third stages eight study areas will be offered instead of the current 29 areas. Both concept notes concretise the Master Plan on Secondary Education. That master plan includes 71 measures for strengthening education. Many of these measures have already been implemented in the meantime (STEM action plan, including education for children with special learning needs, an action plan for school dropout,...).
On March 28, 2018, the Flemish Parliament plenary adopted the draft decree that establishes the modernization of the organization and the structure of secondary education (Decreet tot wijziging van de Codex Secundair Onderwijs van 17 december 2010, wat betreft de modernisering van de structuur en de organisatie van het secundair onderwijs).
This modernization will gradually be implemented in the Flemish schools. In the first grade (first two years) of secondary education, modernization will start on 1 September 2019. In the first grade of secondary education, basic education will be strengthened and all pupils have to reach a pre-determined level. In addition to basic education, there will be an optional component to enable better orientation for students. Where necessary, a compulsory remedy is provided to strengthen pupils.