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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Special education needs provision within mainstream education

Belgium - Flemish Community

12.Educational support and guidance

12.1Special education needs provision within mainstream education

Last update: 9 June 2022

Definition of the target group(s)

Care in mainstream education is aimed at all pupils who need extra attention because of developmental and learning disadvantages, social-emotional problems or socio-economic status.

In addition, there are also pupils with a disability who can receive extra support in mainstream education.

Students with disabilities are classified into eight types based on the nature of the (main) disability. This typology is used as a basis for the organization of special educational needs education as well as for the use of targeted support from special educational needs education in ordinary schools.

  • Type of basic provision: for children/young people for whom the educational needs are such that it can be demonstrated during normal pre-school, primary or secondary education that the adjustments, including remedial, differentiating, compensatory or dispensing measures are either disproportionate or insufficient to enable the pupil to continue to be enrolled in a mainstream school within the common curriculum;

As of 1/9/2015, the type of basic offer has also replaced the former types 1 (slight mental handicap) and 8 (serious learning disorders) that are in the process of being phased out.

  • Type 2: for children/young people with a mental handicap;
  • Type 3: for children/young people with an emotional or behavioural disorder who do not have a mental handicap;
  • Type 4: for children/young people with a motor disability;
  • Type 5: for children/young people who have been admitted to hospital, a residential setting or who are staying in a preventorium; 
  • Type 6: for visually impaired children/young people;
  • Type 7: for children/young people with hearing impairments or speech or language impairments;
  • Type 9: for children/young people with autism spectrum disorder and who have no mental disability.

Pupils can be the object of a “substantiated report” (see in which their educational and support needs are identified. The pupil follows the common curriculum with a substantiated report, provided that reasonable adjustments are made in a school for ordinary education and that support from special educational needs education can be used.

The substantiated report will identify the type of special educational needs education from which expertise is needed for the mainstream school.

Pupils can be the object of a “report on access to special educational needs education or an individualized curriculum in mainstream education” if the common curriculum is not feasible with reasonable adjustments and support. Pupils with such a report can follow an individually adapted curriculum in a school for mainstream education where they can also receive support from special educational needs education or they can choose to enrol in a school for special educational needs education.

The report mentions the type (in secondary education, the type and kind of training) for which there is access to special educational needs education or from which expertise can be drawn in the ordinary school.

Developments in mainstream education

Schools develop their care policy on the basis of a continuum of care:

  1. In the broad basic care phase, the school provides a strong learning environment for all pupils, paying attention to the needs of each pupil
  2. In the phase of increased care, the school provides extra care for those who require care in the form of remedial, differentiating, compensatory or dispensing measures.
  3. In the phase of care expansion, the Centre for Pupil Guidance starts the process of action-oriented diagnostics (AOD) for a pupil, in order to determine educational and support needs. The school continues the measures of basic care and increased care unabated during the AOD trajectory. The outcome of the AOD trajectory may be to continue or extend the phase 0 and 1 measures or the AO trajectory may result in a “substantiated report” for the learner identifying educational and support needs, including support from special educational needs education for the school for mainstream education.
  4. If the measures taken in the phase of care expansion and the support provided by special educational needs education are not sufficient for a pupil to be able to follow the common curriculum in the school for ordinary education, an individually adapted curriculum may be introduced. The Centre for Pupil Guidance will then draw up a “report for access to special educational needs education or an individually adapted curriculum in ordinary education”.

To develop a quality care policy for all pupils, the school uses its regular resources and the resources it receives within the framework of the care and equal opportunities policy. The school can also be supported by pedagogical support (school support) and the Centre for Pupil Guidance (e.g. within the framework of consultative pupil guidance). In phases 2 and 3 of the continuum of care, for the guidance of pupils with a motivated report, a school for ordinary education can request support from special educational needs education (see Support model).

The cross-network project “Recording Diagnostics in Education” (Prodia) of the umbrella organizations for education and the Centres for Pupil Guidance offers an online general framework for action-oriented diagnostics in education with a fully elaborated General Diagnostic Protocol as well as specific diagnostic protocols on reading and games, mathematics, weakness and intellectual disability, giftedness, motor skills, speech and language and behaviour and emotion.

Specific support measures

Support model

For pupils with a substantiated report, an ordinary school may request support from a special needs school(Circular NO/2017/02, Dutch only). The school for ordinary education determines the support needs in consultation with the parents and the Centre for Pupil Guidance and then formulates its support request. Support can be used in a team-oriented, teacher-oriented or pupil-oriented way. The school grant is there for pupils in pre-school, primary and secondary education. All support questions about pupils based on a substantiated report must be included.

For type 2, type 4, type 6 and type 7 (hearing impairment), support is organized through bilateral cooperation between the mainstream and the special educational needs schools.

For types of basic provision, type 3, type 7 (speech or language disorder) and type 9, support is organized through the support network to which the school is connected for ordinary education. Support networks are networks in which schools for ordinary and special educational needs education unite to organize support.

To organize the support, funds are allocated to schools for special educational needs education, appointing support staff to support ordinary schools.

Higher education has developed its own support model, which organizes support for students with a disability(Circular NO/2017/02, Dutch only).

Special teaching learning resources

Special educational needs education resources may be made available to pupils, students or trainees with a visual, hearing or physical disability who are simply in pre-school, primary, secondary, higher or adult education. This target group does not include people with learning disabilities. Resources include technical equipment, paper or digital conversions or adjustments to teaching materials, sign language interpreters and copies of notes from fellow students.

The Special Teaching-Learning Resources Unit of the Agency for Educational Services (AgODi) finances the special teaching-learning resources.

Pupils in mainstream and special nursery and secondary education with dyslexia or dyspraxia or other pupils with a substantiated report who benefit from the use of reading software are eligible for free reading software. Pupils who do not have a substantiated report but need reading software can obtain an “adibib certificate” via the Centre for Pupil Guidance, which gives them free access to the software.

Pupils/students in mainstream nursery and primary, secondary and higher education and students in adult education with a hearing disability have access to interpreting support. (Circular NO/2009/02 and VWO/2009/01, Dutch only).

Support from the Flemish Agency for Persons with Disabilities (VAPH)

Children and young people with disabilities in mainstream education can also receive support through a personal assistance budget (PAB) provided by the Flemish Agency for Persons with Disabilities (VAPH, Dutch only).