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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Guidance and counselling in early childhood and school education

Belgium - Flemish Community

12.Educational support and guidance

12.4Guidance and counselling in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Pupil guidance

The minimum expectations concerning pupil guidance are laid down in the decree concerning pupil guidance in nursery and primary education, secondary education and pupil guidance centres. This decree (Dutch only) was ratified by the Flemish Government on 17 April 2018.

The decree clarifies the roles and tasks of all players in the guidance landscape. The school is the first player within the pupil guidance. Each school develops a policy on pupil counselling, deploying it in the four areas of counselling:

  • educational career,
  • teaching & studying
  • preventative healthcare
  • psychosocial functioning.

In the policy on pupil guidance, the school works out a broad basic care for all pupils and provides increased care for those pupils for whom the basic care is insufficient. Each school also appoints a pupil counsellor. For the elaboration of its tasks, the school is supported by school external bodies. For example, the school cooperates with a Centre for Pupil Guidance.

There are a total of 72 centres for pupil guidance in Flanders. Every school works with a Centre for Pupil Guidance. The Centre for Pupil Guidance supports the school in developing its policy on pupil guidance.

Pupils and parents can contact the Centre for Pupil Guidance with any questions they may have: 

  • Learning and studying: problems with reading, writing, calculating, learning, etc.
  • Educational career: questions concerning the choice of studies, fields of study, certificates and diplomas, etc.
  • Psychological and social functioning: depressive feelings, stress, fear of failure, bullying, transgressive behaviour, difficult home situation ...
  • Preventive health care: health problems, vaccinations, growth disorders, drug use, obesity, etc.

The Centre for Pupil Guidance carries out its task via its core business:

  • Signalling function: the centre signals to the school that there are problems or irregularities in the policy on pupil guidance or within the school population. The school sets to work on this and adjusts its policy on pupil guidance so that it can also be used for preventive purposes.
  • Consultative pupil guidance: the centre supports teachers, carers and management in analysing and addressing problems to a specific pupil or group of pupils. By means of consultative pupil guidance, the Centre for Pupil Guidance strengthens the teaching team in the implementation and implementation of increased care.
  • Reception: the first contact with the pupil, parents, school and others and listening to the sign up signal. If necessary, the centre will provide a connection with clarification of questions or other forms of assistance, whether or not this is provided by the centre itself.
  • Question clarification: together with the pupil, the parents/school or a network partner, identify the problems, systematically map them out and unravel them. Solution alternatives are explored and checked against a possible offer.
  • Action-oriented diagnostics: a cyclical search and decision process in which information about the individual and his environment is collected, interpreted and weighed up with the aim of objectifying, analysing and explaining problems, educational needs or requests for help.
  • Action-oriented advice: With this key action, the centre provides advice to pupils, parents or the teaching team on options and behavioural alternatives and possibly certain help.
  • Guidance: strengthen the pupil and parents in dealing with a problematic situation by working with them to find answers and solutions to the problematic situation.
  • Turntable function: in the case of individual pupil guidance, the centre is responsible for guiding pupils to the appropriate school external offer. The centre takes care of the coordination between the school, the school external offer and the centre itself for the further education of the pupil. Schools do not have an assignment to lead pupils to school external offers. By means of the turntable function, the Centre for Pupil Guidance is instructed, on the basis of an indication, to provide guidance where necessary and only with the permission of the pupil and/or the parents.

Parents, pupils, teachers and school management can contact a team of doctors, nurses, psychologists, pedagogues and social workers free of charge.

The Centre for Pupil Guidance works in a demand-driven way: at the request of the pupil, parents or school.

As a pupil or parent, you can always ask for guidance yourself. If the school considers it necessary to refer a pupil to the Centre for Pupil Guidance, it will first discuss this with the pupil and his parents.

As a pupil or parent, you cannot refuse to supervise a centre in two situations:

  • In the event of problematic absences
  • Participation in a systematic contact (Dutch only)

When developing, implementing and evaluating its policy on pupil guidance, the school makes use of the school advisory service (SAS) or another external professionalization service. The input from the school and the centre will be used in the development of the guidance process. In other words, the SAS is based on the needs identified by the school and the Centre for Pupil Guidance in day-to-day practice. The SAS, the school in carrying out its assignment within the continuum of care. In addition, it can also offer training courses on specific topics itself or provide a tailor-made offer for schools or Centres for Pupil Guidance that require it. In all of this, the SAS has an intermediary function.

Academic guidance

The Centre for Pupil Guidance provides study guidance. In addition, there are various projects that provide forms of study guidance.

The Networks Together against Early School Leaving provide a guide and supporting materials to conduct a counselling interview with young people who are at risk of dropping out of education. This conversation can be recorded by a teacher, pupil guide, Centre for Pupil Guidance employee or employee of Learning Shop/De Stap. The networks Together against Early School Leaving bring together players in education, welfare and work so that the service and assistance are better attuned to each other. In this way, transitions become more caring and easier for the pupil.

For young people who leave compulsory education without qualifications, there are several ways (Dutch only) to obtain a qualification.

The Flemish Euroguidance centre for study and career guidance (Dutch only) promotes mobility and the European dimension in study and career guidance by sharing quality information and good practices.

Transbaso (Dutch only) was an inter-university SBO research project (2014-2018). The aim of the research project was to investigate processes of school and study choice in the transition from nursery and primary education to secondary education in the cities of Antwerp and Ghent. In addition, practical tools were developed, the effectiveness of which was established.

Psychological Counselling

Bullying, extortion and other forms of transgressive behaviour at school

Educational institutions themselves are responsible for the development of an integrated prevention and response policy in which attention is paid to quality promotion, awareness-raising and prevention. This includes protection of integrity in all its forms, including bullying. Any form of violence against children and young people is a serious violation of their rights. The pursuit of welfare and well-being is a matter for the whole educational institution together and for each individual staff member.

Within compulsory education, the foundations for such an integrated integrity policy are on the one hand contained in the attainment targets and on the other hand in the policy on pupil guidance.

Points of departure can be found both in the subject-specific (or learning area-specific) and in the final attainment targets and developmental objectives that transcend the subject-specific (or learning area-specific). It is important that children and young people are resilient, learn to deal with feelings of sadness, mourning, etc., learn to express criticism and accept criticism, have respect for each other... It is not enough to pay attention to these things only in some lessons. The school environment must be designed in such a way that children and young people feel that work is being done about this.

Through pupil guidance (see 12.4.1), pupils can also count on support and guidance as a contribution to their well-being, including in the area of psychological and social functioning. With the decree on pupil guidance, this is further strengthened by focusing on an integrated policy on pupil guidance. The school will be responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of this policy, which will also become a condition for recognition. In addition, the school will have more responsibilities with regard to the provision of broad basic care and increased care. In addition, a pupil counsellor or care coordinator should be present in each school. This will be monitored by the Education Inspectorate. In the new frame of reference for quality in education, the Education Inspectorate sets out the minimum common expectations for quality education (Dutch only). This also includes policy on physical and mental health.

Educational institutions are supported by the Government of Flanders in the development of their integral integrity policy (all links Dutch only):

In addition, there are numerous organizations that offer teaching materials, tools and training to schools to deal with (cyber) bullying and other forms of violence or transgressive behaviour. Schools are free to choose which approaches or methods to use. Schools can also call on the school advisory services of the educational umbrella organizations and GO! for policy support or additional training on (cyber) bullying or other forms of violence or transgressive behaviour and for assistance in implementing or adjusting the methodologies used.

Unqualified outflow

The Flemish guidelines for tackling the problem of truancy clarify the role and tasks of each player when a pupil is problematically absent. The public prosecutors and network coordinators Samen tegen Schooluitval have translated these guidelines into local action plans and service level agreements.

The school advisory service offers (further) training on these themes and supervises the school on location in order to implement these principles. The Department of Education and Training funds the SONO Research Unit which supports the work field with scientific information on these themes.

Young people who leave education unqualified and who are not registered as job seekers or workers in Flanders will be followed up by the VDAB. The education authorities pass on the names of the early school leavers for each school year so that the VDAB can approach these young people via outreach work and location-focused work. Once registered with the VDAB, the young person is guided as determined under the Youth Guarantee Plan, to a course of study or work. The young person is guided to a training programme, work (programme) or other.

Seamless flexible tracks

The flexible system of “seamless flexible tracks of educational well-being” provides grants to organizations that offer seamless flexible tracks of education – well-being. These tracks can be used either preventively or curatively in function of pupils at risk of dropping out and/or unqualified out of school for pedagogical, legal, social or personal reasons. A seamlessly flexible track can be followed by one or more pupils together or by one or more educational institutions together.  The programmes can be offered within the educational institution or at another location. In terms of duration, methodology and interpretation, a programme should be tailored to the needs and age of the individual pupil, pupil group or educational institution.

Care farmers

Secondary school pupils who are temporarily excluded from school or who need guidance to remedy problematic absences are given the opportunity to take up useful work under the supervision and guidance of a farmer or horticulturist. Since 2005, they can be subsidized for this purpose on condition that they conclude a care farm agreement (including action plan) with a Centre for Pupil Guidance.

Safety policy

A covenant on Prevention and Protection in Flemish Education was signed by the government (Education and Training policy area and the Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue (FPS WASO) and education providers)

The objectives of the covenant are:

  • a fully-fledged integration of the welfare policy, on the one hand, for school boards in their capacity as employers and on the other hand, in the field, in the training they provide
  • solid cooperation and interaction between the representatives of the education sector and the FPS WASO in order to ensure that schools and centres receive comprehensive support in the application of the regulations in question
  • a structured consultation between the parties involved on the application in education of the regulations for which the FPS WASO is competent, with the exception of the regulations in draft form which are the subject of consultation within the High Council for Prevention and Protection at Work/Committee A, to which experts from education will be invited.

The supervisory committee for Prevention and Protection in Flemish Education is the executive body of this covenant (link in Dutch only).

Career Guidance

Study choice & occupational guidance

Onderwijskiezer (Education chooser)

Education Chooser (Dutch only) is a government-funded initiative of all Flemish Centres for Pupil Guidance provides information about this:

  •  all fields of study and training in Flanders,
  • all levels, forms and types of education, including descriptions, conditions of admission, possibilities of transition, further training, etc.
  • schools, university colleges and universities, boarding schools, Medical-Pedagogical Institutes (MPIs) and Pupil Guidance Centres (CLBs),
  • 600 professions (including information on possible training courses, job vacancies, sector)

Education Chooser offers online interest tests on the basis of which it is possible to further explore the range of training on offer. The website publishes current figures on higher education attainment and the obtaining of a bachelor’s degree.

The website is intended for anyone who is looking for objective, independent and high-quality information about the entire educational landscape in Flanders and Brussels

In 2016, a first version of Columbus (Dutch only) was added to the Education Chooser. Columbus is a Flanders-wide exploration instrument in development phase for pupils in 3rd grade secondary education, currently with a focus on pupils who are considering taking the step to higher education.


Every year, the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training organizes cross-network provincial study information days(SID-in) to introduce final-year secondary school pupils to the study opportunities after secondary education by offering as complete a range of higher education and further education as possible, as well as a limited presence of professional sectors.

The Ghent House of Technical Professions (Het Beroepenhuis Gent)

This Professions House (Dutch only) introduces young people aged 11 to 14 to mainly technical and practical professions in the executive sector. In addition to a website, Ghent also has an interactive exhibition for pupils from the 3rd grade of nursery and primary education and the 1st grade of secondary education. It is subsidized on an annual basis according to a framework agreement.


A portfolio is a (digital) folder in which a learning, working or job-seeking person keeps track of evidence or self-assessments of his or her competences and/or experiences. A talent development portfolio enables young people to identify, evaluate and develop their talents. This gives them a better view of their talents and the extent to which they match the required competencies in further education and/or on the labour market. My digital me junior is an online portfolio to support nursery and primary and 1st grade secondary school pupils in their learning and study choice process.

My Career (Dutch only) is an online platform of VDAB on which every citizen can manage his or her work situation. My Career also offers many advantages for pupils: they can already register as job seekers, they receive tailor-made vacancies, they can publish their CVs, etc. Educational professionals are supported through training to teach their pupils to use My Career as a dynamic tool to shape their careers.

Educational and training databases

Young people have an overview of the education on offer in Flanders. Education Chooser (see provides very complete information about the entire educational landscape.

The Star Point, including entrepreneurs, together with its members – the Workplace Architects – wish to activate job seekers and workers for sustainable employment, especially those who need additional support.

Work placement, practical lessons on location and observation activities 

A distinction is made (circulars SO/2015/01 and SO/2016/01, Dutch only) between three types of work:

  • Observation activities: pupils, whether in a group or not, follow company events without participating effectively in the company activities;
  • practical lessons in another training institution: In this form of work, schools use the premises and possibly the instructors of another training institution to provide practical lessons. One known form is, for example, the 72-hour measure at the VDAB.
  • Pupil work placements: pupils (whether in a group or not and whether or not under the supervision of the teacher) within the framework of a learning programme organized by an educational institution actually perform work for an employer in similar circumstances as employees employed by the employer with a view to acquiring professional experience.

These work placements can be organized in the form of alternating work placements as well as block work placements.

Sector covenants

Sector covenants (Dutch only) are protocols for cooperation between the various industrial sectors (sectoral social partners) and the Government of Flanders on current themes such as:

  • link between education with the labour market,
  • competence development and competence policy,
  • diversity and proportional participation in the labour market.

Sector covenants are monitored and evaluated annually by the Government of Flanders. After the end of a working year and at the end of the covenant, the sector must submit a progress report or final evaluation report to the Government of Flanders.

Stimulating entrepreneurship

The Action Plan Entrepreneurial Education 2015-2019 (Dutch only) aims to inspire, support educational institutions, offer providers a policy framework and combine the actions of the Government of Flanders. The focus is on the one hand on teaching, students and pupils an entrepreneurial attitude and on the other hand, on teaching students and pupils the necessary competences for entrepreneurship and stimulating them to make the choice for entrepreneurship.

The alternance training system

See secondary education 6.4 organisation of the alternance training system.

Partnerships between education and the labour market

Regional Technological Centres (RTCs)

Regional Technology Centres (RTCs) (Dutch only) were set up in 2000 as cross-network partnerships between education and industry, which take action at the provincial level in the field of connection to the education labour market.

The RTC should take concrete initiatives on:

  • the coordination between educational institutions and companies in terms of the supply and demand of infrastructure, equipment and equipment for technical and vocational training, which can play a pedagogical-didactical role, in particular by developing or supporting infrastructural embedding(s);
  • the coordination between educational institutions and companies with regard to the supply and demand of workplace clothing;
  • in addition to in-service training in schools, facilitating or coordinating in-service training in new technologies;
  • the creation of a platform for the exchange of knowledge and experience between educational institutions and companies.

Each RTC will conclude a five-year management agreement with the Government of Flanders (currently 01/09/2015-31/08/2020), including a strategic plan and an annual action plan. This entitles the holder to an annual operating envelope. RTC projects aimed at competence acquisition of pupils and teachers should generate co-financing e.g. from industry.

The current management agreements are based on the following principles:

  • upgrading of the platform function of the RTCs,
  • operation for the defined target group 3rd degree secondary education with a view to realizing the professional qualifications,
  • focus on actions aimed at infrastructure and equipment sharing,
  • more cooperation between the RTCs and a deeper embedding of the RTC activities in the work field.