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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 (Dekret über das Zentrum für Förderpädagogik, zur Verbesserung der sonderpädagogischen Förderung in den Regel- und Förderschulen sowie zur Unterstützung der Förderung von Schülern mit Beeinträchtigung, Anpassungs- oder Lernschwierigkeiten in den Regel- und Förderschulen) 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 German-speaking Community 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.
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.
Every child of foreign origin (allochthonous child) is entitled to education, both the child refugee, the child of the asylum seeker, the child that is illegally in the country and the child of foreign origin whose parents or grandparents have settled in the country. Among these children considered as immigrants, in the German-speaking Community of Belgium only the newly arriving children benefit from special measures in the educational area. Considered as newly arriving children are pupils who meet all the following conditions (that were laid down in the decree of 17 December 2001 on the school admission of newly arriving children):
- They have been registered in a school in the German-speaking Community since 1 February of the previous school year. This limited period was increased from 2009 by an additional year.
- They are between 3 and 18 years old and do not speak the language of instruction.
- They fall into one of the following cases:
- they have applied for recognition of refugee status or are recognised as refugees under the provisions of the Act of 15 December 1980 on access to the territory, residence, establishment and deportation of non-nationals or they are accompanying a person who falls into this case;
- they have applied for recognition of the status as stateless or are recognised as such;
- they come from a developing country as stated in Article 2 (3) of the Act of 25 May 1999 on international Belgian cooperation, or from an emerging country that is officially supported by the OECD Development Assistance Committee; the government can add further countries if they are experiencing particular times of crisis.
Towards the end of the nineties the number of refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons and people from Africa, Asia and primarily from Eastern Europe in the country illegally increased significantly; however this number never made up more than 1% of the total population in the German-speaking Community of Belgium. In summer 2001 the number of immigrants with children increased significantly so it seemed appropriate to give the remedial measures a more solid legal basis; this was done by the decree of 17 December 2001.
Specific support measures
To enable the schools to care for the newly arriving pupils more individually on their reception, the decree of 17 December 2001 lays down specific support in the form of additional staff, whose primary task is to teach them basic skills in German but also to offer practical assistance with everyday problems.
Creating transition classes
In primary schooling a transition class for newly arriving pupils is subsidised in the municipal school of Manderfeld (OSUW) where the Belgian Red Cross has had a reception centre since October 2001. To be paid for out of the community budget, the municipality can appoint two additional teachers: one with a full timetable for the transition class and the second with an incomplete timetable who is used either full or part-time in this transition class or in the nursery class.
In the secondary school system two further transition classes have been set up, one in the Technical Institute in Sankt Vith (FSUW) and one in the Technical Robert Schuman Institute in Eupen (GUW). The support measure consists in additional funding for 30 lessons being granted to the two schools for this transition class. With this lesson funding, staff can be appointed for the transition class (1½ posts).
In the pre- and primary and secondary schools that organise a transition class, a support council is formed that is intended to provide the best possible school integration of the newly arriving pupils.
But also for the schools with newly arriving pupils who are not allowed to organise a separate transition class, the decree lays down support in the form of funding for additional lessons (in the secondary school or funding for additional posts (in the pre- and primary schools):
If in a pre- and primary school 4 to 6 newly arriving pupils attend the nursery school or 3 to 5 the primary school, the school receives an extra quarter post for a pre-school teacher or a primary school teacher and one further quarter post per additional group of three pupils.
The secondary schools receive funding for 3.5 lessons for each newly arriving pupil who does not attend a transition class. With the funding for additional lessons arising in this way, the newly arriving pupils who are otherwise integrated into their normal year group classes can be taken individually or together out of their classes and for example be given intensive German teaching (German as a foreign language) or support lessons in other subjects. This is in fact considered as a deciding factor in the efforts for faster integration into our mainstream school system.