Curriculum, subjects and number of hours
In primary education there are two different types of attainment targets.
- Attainment targets related to a subject area and which regarding pupils' knowledge, insight and skills, must be achieved by every school in all pupils. Attainment targets related to a subject area and which regard pupils' attitudes must be pursued by every school with all pupils.
- Cross-curricular attainment targets are minimum targets which do not specifically appertain to one subject area but which can be aimed at by several subject areas or educational projects.
A well-argued derogation from the attainment targets in function of a specific pedagogical project can only be granted after a complex procedure has been completed and decretal ratification has been granted. Only the Steiner schools have proposed and been granted (limited) derogations.
The common core curriculum comprises subject areas and cross-curricular themes.
- Subject areas:
- physical education: motor skills, healthy and safe lifestyle, self-awareness and social fuctioning
- arts education: visual arts, music, drama, dance, media and attitudes
- Dutch: listening, speaking, reading, writing, strategies, linguistics, (inter)cultural focus
- French: reading, speaking, oral interaction, writing
- Science and techniques: nature, technique, time and space, use of resources
- Human and society: humankind, society
- mathematics: numbers, measuring, geometry, strategies and problem-solving skills, attitudes.
- Cross-curricular themes:
- learning to learn
- social skills
The same division into subject areas is maintained throughout pre-primary and primary education, except for 'French' which is not taught in pre-primary education and 'mathematics', which is called 'mathematical initiation' in pre-primary education. This increases transparency and underlines the developmental line throughout elementary education. The division into subject areas is not in any way meant to give a certain structure to the educational offer in class or at school. The latter remains autonomous in that regard. For instance, schools can decide themselves whether they offer certain contents of learning in an either more or less cohesive approach. Please note, the decree concerned (decree on primary education https://data-onderwijs.vlaanderen.be/edulex/document.aspx?docid=12254) does give preference to looking at them in conjunction.
The Government does not stipulate how many hours must be spent on each subject, excepting religion/ethics in official education (two teaching periods per week).
Cross-curricular final examinations in ICT for normal primary education and development objectives for special educational needs relate, among other things, to communication, information acquisition and processing, safe ICT use and creativity. Special policy measures have been taken to support schools in integrating ICT.
Foreign language teaching
French is compulsory in the 5th and 6th year of primary education. French, English and German may be offered from the 3rd year of primary school, on the condition that pupils have a sufficient command of the instruction language (Dutch). In the Brussels-Capital Region, French may be offered from the first year of primary school. Initiation in foreign languages (French, English and German) may be offered from the first year of pre-primary education.
The school boards (in practice often the educational umbrella organisations) draw up curricula containing the attainment targets, which are approved by the government on the advice of the Education Inspectorate.
Teaching methods and materials
Pursuant to the principle of educational freedom, decisions regarding teaching methods and teaching aids appertain to the freedom of the school board. Hence, there are no official guidelines. A precondition for recognition however is the presence of sufficient teaching aids.