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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: 9 June 2022

Curriculum, subjects, number of hours

Weekly timetables

The timetable in the first stage of secondary education comprises the subjects of the basic curriculum with in addition:

  • in the first school year possibly an optional component;
  • in the second school year subjects specific to the basic optional subjects and possibly complementary subjects;
  • in the pre-vocational year subjects specific to the occupational field or the combination of two occupational fields and possible complementary subjects.

The complementary subjects belong to the autonomy of the school board.

Basic curriculum

The basic curriculum contains subjects which are determined by the Flemish government (Education and Training). Deviation is not possible.

First grade AFirst Grade BSecond gradePre-vocational year
philosophy of lifephilosophy of lifephilosophy of lifephilosophy of life
English (not obligatory) English 
natural sciencesnatural sciencesnatural sciencesnatural sciences
historysocial training or history and geographyhistorysocial training or history and geography
geography geography 
arts education and/or musical educationarts education and/or musical educationarts education and/or musical educationarts education and/or musical education
physical educationphysical educationphysical educationphysical education
technical educationtechnical educationtechnical education 
min. 27h/weekmin. 27h/weekmin. 24h/week

min. 16h/week













Basic optional subjects and occupational fields

A basic optional subject is a specific subject or specific group of subjects which allow(s) for a broader observation of the pupil. The pupil chooses for one (group of) basic optional subject(s).

An occupational field is a specific combination of technical disciplines. A pupil chooses either for one occupational field of at least 14 hours a week, or for a combination of two occupational fields of each at least 7 hours a week.

Second grade APre-vocational year
Basic optional subject(s)Occupational fields
agricultural techniques and bionicsconstruction (7)
arts educationdecoration (7)
balletelectircty (7)
construction and wood techniqueshair care (7)
creation and designhotel-baking-butcher (14)
graphical communication and mediawoodwork (7)
Greek-Latinoffice and sales (7)
commerceagriculture and horticulture (14)
hotel-nutritionmaritime programmes (14)
industrial sciencesmetals (7)
Latinfashion (7)
maritime techniquesindustry (14)
mechanics-electricityRhine and inland navigation (7)
modern sciencestextiles (7)
Rudolf Steiner pedagogicscare-nutrition (7)
social and technical training 
top sport 

Attainment targets and developmental objectives

The government monitors the quality of education by laying down for the first stage attainment targets for the A-stream and developmental objectives for the B-stream. This applies only to the subjects of the basic curriculum, with the exception of the philosophy of life courses.

Attainment targets contain the obligation to reach a certain result: they must be met by the entire pupil population. For developmental objectives and attitudinal attainment targets the obligation to perform to the best of one’s ability applies (and they must thus not be met by all pupils in the same way). Both attainment targets as well as developmental objectives are minimum targets in the field of knowledge, insight, skills and attitudes. For mainstream secondary education they are laid down by stage and by type of secondary education.

In addition to subject-related attainment goals, cross-curricular attainment targets and developmental objectives also exist. These can be obtained throughout all secondary education years and grades (and are thus not linked to a specific grade). These are minimum targets linked to various subjects or educational projects.

For the reception year for non-Dutch speaking newcomers developmental objectives ‘Dutch for non-Dutch speaking newcomers’ have been laid down (see

The attainment targets are listed on the website of the Flemish Government.

The attainment targets are adapted to a changing society. Currently a debate on attainment targets (see 14.2) has been ongoing as part of a process of updating the existing attainment targets.

Teaching plan

A teaching plan is a document on which a teacher in the classroom practice must base the content of its courses. It contains organizational, pedagogical and didactical plans. The teaching plans must prior to their implementation be approved by the government. They are not applicable to the complementary subjects of a timetable.

Although every school governing board is entitled to develop a teaching plan this usually takes place as a form of service by the umbrella organisation with which a school board is affiliated. This centralized approach results in more uniformity in the teaching plans. The teaching plans must contain in an identifiable way the subject-related attainment targets and developmental objectives.

More information on the teaching plans is available on the Flemish education website.

Teaching methods and material

School governing boards can choose freely their teaching methods and materials. The concept of teaching methods contains various items, such as:

  • home work
  • extra muros activities (school excursions)
  • extracurricular activities
  • instructional methods
  • teaching materials
  • ...

For what concerns teaching materials schools are bound by the maximum charge.