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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in the first stage of secondary education

Belgium - Flemish Community

6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.2Teaching and learning in the first stage of secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Curriculum, courses, number of hours 

Weekly class schedules  

Educational providers are authorized to draw up class schedules. In doing so, they must take into account the following conditions:  

  • the class schedule includes at least 28 weekly class hours; 

  • the timetable is the sum of the weekly class hours devoted to  

  • 1) the basic education: the set of attainment targets that apply, supplemented by philosophical education  

  • 2) the basic option(s) or course of study; 

  • 3) the differentiation or complementary part: remediation or deepening. 

In the first stage, the number of hours to be devoted to the various components is fixed as follows:  

First year A: at least 27 hours of basic formation + at least 5 hours of differentiation 

First year B: at least 27 hours of basic training + at least 5 hours of differentiation 

Second year A: at least 25 hours of basic training + 5 hours of basic option + at least 2 hours of differentiation 

Second year B: at least 20 hours of basic training + 10 hours of basic option + at least 2 hours of differentiation  

Basic education  

Basic education is the set of attainment targets that apply, supplemented by philosophical education. The new attainment targets are formulated in function of key competences (see next section), and no longer in function of courses. Education providers are thus responsible for determining the courses or course clusters (= a group of two or more courses) in which basic education will be taught. 

Basic options and occupational fields 

The basic option basically covers the student's choice of study. Within the basic option, in some cases another more specific choice is possible in the form of a package. In the second year A, the student chooses a maximum of one basic option and/or package. In the second year B the student can choose a maximum of three basic options/packages.  

The basic option has an orientation function and does not determine the pupil's further study choice. In the second grade, the choice for each field of study remains possible. In the second year of first stage, the following basic options and packages are possible. The packages are always indicated in italics under the basic option to which they belong. 

Second year A 

Second year B 

Economics and organization 

Freinet Pedagogy 

Art and creation  

Artistic training 


Creation and design 

Classical languages (Greek and Latin)  



Society and welfare 

Modern languages and sciences 


Rudolf Steiner pedagogy  

Voice techniques  

Agro- and biotechnology 

Construction and wood techniques 

Graphic communication and media 

Maritime techniques 



Voice sciences  

Industrial sciences 

Engineering sciences 

Top sports  

Food and catering  


Economy and organization 

Art and creation  

Society and welfare 

Hair and beauty care 



Advancement option (*) 


Voice techniques 


Wood and construction 

Agriculture and horticulture 


Print media 

Painting and decoration 


Sea fishing and inland navigation   

Food and catering  


Restaurant and kitchen 

(*) The advancement option prepares students for entry into advancement finality or dual finality in second stage. 

Learning outcomes, basic literacy attainment targets and additional targets Dutch 

Learning outcomes are minimum objectives that are deemed necessary and attainable for a particular student population. By minimum objectives is meant a minimum of knowledge, insight, skills and attitudes intended for that pupil population. Each school has the social mission to achieve the attainment targets related to knowledge, insight, skills and certain attitudes in its students. The attainment targets must be achieved at the population level. The attainment targets related to certain other attitudes must be pursued among students. 

In the first stage, there is a set of attainment targets for the A stream and a set of attainment targets for the B stream. Within these sets of attainment targets, certain attainment targets are referred to as basic literacy. The attainment targets for basic literacy must be achieved by each individual student by the end of the first stage. Basic literacy are those attainment targets aimed at being able to participate in society.  

The attainment targets are formulated according to the following 16 key competences: 

1° competencies in physical, mental and emotional awareness and in physical, mental and emotional health; 

2° competences in Dutch; 

3° competences in other languages; 

4° digital competence and media literacy; 

5° social-relational competences; 

6° competences in mathematics, science and technology; 

7° citizenship competences including competences in living together 

8° competences on historical awareness; 

9° competences regarding spatial awareness; 

10° competences regarding sustainability; 

11° economic and financial competences 

12° legal competences; 

13° learning competences including research competences, innovative thinking, creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking, systems thinking, information processing and cooperation; 

14° self-awareness and self-expression, self-direction and agility; 

15° development of initiative, ambition, entrepreneurship and career competencies; 

16° cultural awareness and expression. 

In the first stage, extension targets for Dutch also apply. These are those additional goals on top of the final attainment targets related to competencies in Dutch. They are attainable for a student population determined by the school. The expansion targets Dutch are determined separately for the A stream and for the B stream in the first stage. The Dutch extension objectives for the first year B and second year B stream are the attainment targets related to competences in Dutch for the first year A and second year A stream. 

The attainment targets are maintained at 

Curriculum files  

A curriculum file coherently describes, from an educational perspective, the whole of formation and brings together all the goals. In the first stage there are two curriculum dossiers: one for the A stream and one for the B stream. The attainment targets, basic literacy attainment targets and the extension targets of Dutch must be literally included in the curriculum files.  

The curriculum files are cross-network and are drawn up jointly by Community Education and the associations of school boards of subsidized education and approved by the Flemish Government.  

For quality control, the education inspectorate focuses on the achievement of the goals of the approved curriculum file in school inspections. 

Learning plans  

Following the curriculum files, a school board develops learning plans that are limited in scope and allow sufficient room for input from schools, teachers, teacher teams or students. A learning plan must include the attainment targets verbatim, transparently distinguishing which goals achieve the attainment targets.  

Although each school board is authorized to develop a curriculum, this is usually done as a form of service by the umbrella organization to which the school board is affiliated. This centralized approach leads to more uniformity in curricula. 

Curricula are an additional tool for the education inspectorate to frame a school's quality policy. 

For the curricula, see the Flemish education website

Teaching methods and didactic materials  

School boards freely choose their teaching methods and resources. The term teaching methods includes numerous items, such as: 

  • home tasks 

  • extramural activities (school outings) 

  • teaching methods 

  • teaching materials 

  • evaluation forms 

Regarding the cost of teaching materials, schools are bound by the contribution scheme.  

At the beginning of the school year or upon enrollment, a school is required to provide parents with a contribution plan. This includes all expected costs for the upcoming or current school year. This contribution plan informs the student and parent of school costs. A school must also offer parents and students the option of paying school bills in installments so that not everything must be paid at once.