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Belgium has established a national target of decreasing the rate of early leavers to 9.5 % by 2020. No specific regional target has been defined for the German-speaking Community of Belgium to tackle early leaving.
REK II : Personalised pupils support
In this legislative period the education system in the German-speaking Community is committing itself more strongly to personalised pupils support.
In 2009 the Decree on the Centre for Remedial Teaching (ZFP) on the improvement of special educational support in mainstream and special schools as well as assisting the support of pupils with impairments, adaptive or learning difficulties in mainstream and special schools (Document no. 148 (2008-2009) no. 1, www.dgparlament.be > Dokumente > Datenbank) was passed unanimously. The basic principle of this decree is that every school is a remedial school, every lesson a remedial lesson and every pupil is entitled to support that is as personalised and differentiated as possible.
Against this background, the DG considers educational equality and increasing the educational quality as an important and permanent educational policy task. For this, skills-oriented standards are being developed and implemented. It is also important to carry out a regular internal and external evaluation of these standards and measures for reinforcing the schools' own responsibility. A central task here is to continue implementing and developing the "education policy overall concept".
So that children and young people can reach the stated competence expectations, specific learning provision is needed that corresponds to both the strengths and talents but also the weaknesses of individual pupils. Over and above that, the socio-economic, language and cultural environment must be taken into consideration. This means that the individual support of all pupils is at the focus of the school and curriculum development.
To meet these challenges, it needs above all an agreed procedure by all school actors in the DG. As already in many German-speaking countries, the DG too should continue to promote this networking.
As part of the first implementation phase of the Regional Development Concept (REK I) the foundation has been laid for the support of all pupils, irrespective of their social, cultural and language origin. In this connection for example, the campus with the ZPF, the Autonomous University (AHS) and the Unterstadt pre- and primary school (SGU) and the campus with the Robert Schumann Institute and Centre for SME education and training (ZAWM) in Eupen have also been created. This grouping of education and training establishments is intended to ensure both the heterogeneity and differentiation of all pupils and promote cooperation and create synergies.
At overall systemic level, an agreed framework records the basics among other things for individual support, compensating disadvantage, protecting grades and the accompanying performance assessment and evaluation, for standardised diagnostic procedures, for promoting school success and reducing dropping out of school but also for recognition of the integration projects, the support of sick students and the optimisation of homework practice. In the process the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is continued in the DG and the path to the inclusive school further levelled.
At school level, the expansion of school promotion concepts is to be aimed at. These cover both individual counselling of pupils and parents, support with homework and the individual support of pupils in the low or high threshold area. For differentiating these supports transparent, school-internal and further DG criteria are needed.
At teaching level, individual learning requirements of the pupils should be better recorded so that differentiation and practical support measures in everyday school life can succeed. This also includes recording the educational language level of pupils at decisive interfaces in the education process. Thus the number of children and young people in the DG whose first language is not German has consistently risen in the last few years. There is hardly a school left that does not have to tackle integrating pupils with a migration background (second or third generation) or initially arriving pupils. These pupils too and their parents must participate in the school development process. This development must be taken into account.
In view of these new challenges, teachers need instruments and methodological teaching aids so that skills-oriented diagnostics, assistance and learning support for all pupils in everyday school life can succeed. One of the essential conditions for this is an individual training and development concept for teachers adapted for the DG but also for school heads and non-teaching staff.
To promote school success and reduce the number of pupils dropping out early, the projects "personalised pupil support" and "enhancing technical vocational training" have been developed as part of the Regional Development Concept (REK I).
The Regional Development Concept Ostbelgien Leben 2025 is being implemented since 2011. It integrates some of the following specific policies and measures related to early school-leaving among others:
- increasing the flexibility and permeability of educational pathways by setting up incentives during the transition from general education to vocational training and establishing measures to recognise the academic and vocational skills gained both in trainings and in professional experience;
- offering support for apprenticeship beginners with learning disabilities through differentiated modular teaching. This has been more systematised in the school year 2013/14 by setting up clear admission criteria to the modules;
- hiring specialised staff to support teachers with the aim to improve the quality of education. Technical advisory groups have been set up on the different taught subjects. A school development consultancy has also been implemented that aims at developing a school's learning culture, setting up systematic forms of reflection, quality assurance measures and feedback;
- Time-out' projects, designed as a full-time school for students excluded from their usual learning environment or in cases of drop-out. They aim at reducing early leaving by facilitating the reintegration to the education system of students at risk of early leaving. Specific targeted measures for groups at risk are focused on students with migrant background.
Education and career guidance is explicitly considered as a prevention, intervention and compensation measure to tackle early leaving. Guidance is embedded in the primary and secondary education curricula as a compulsory cross-curricular topic.
The German-speaking Community of Belgium has adopted in 2011 a 'Skill Guide to Career Choice Preparation and Career Guidance' (Rahmenplan Schulisch Berufswahlvorbereitung und -orientierung), which is aimed at preparing career choices and career guidance for primary and secondary education. According to the guide, schools are required to inform and advise students and their guardians about studies, training and career possibilities. Career guidance is part of school education and a crucial link between school and the world of work. The professionals involved at school are teachers with no specific training in early leaving or in dealing with groups at risk. Students may also directly contact a PMS to receive advice about education and career guidance.
As a compensation measure, the Employment Office of the German-speaking Community of Belgium acts as the body responsible for adolescents and adults education and career guidance.
The validation of non-formally and informally acquired skills is intended to contribute to achieving the aims of the Europe 2020 Strategy by 2020. One of the aims is to reduce the school drop-out rate to below 10%.
Youth work takes place out of school and during particular leisure activities and is based on the processes of non-formal and informal learning and voluntary participation.
By providing appropriate opportunities, youth work promotes the individual, social and cultural development of young people, while taking account of their interests and needs.
Long-time cooperation exists between policy areas of employment, youth, social affairs and family.
Multi-agency partnerships at local/institutional level exist within projects (for instance in the 'Time-out' project, the case management team is comprised of the school leader, the psychomedico-social centre (Psycho-medizinischsoziale Zentrum – PMS), the project coordinator, and other institutions. Teachers may also be involved in the cooperation.