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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Administration and governance at local and/or institutional level

Belgium - French Community

2.Organisation and governance

2.7Administration and governance at local and/or institutional level

Last update: 27 November 2023

The education networks

In the French Community, the education system is made up of three major categories of educational institution, called ‘education networks’ (as well as a number of private schools):

  • the public education institutions, organised and managed by the French Community and completely funded from its budget;
  • the public education institutions grant-aided by the French Community and managed by the provincial or municipal authorities;
  • the denominational or non-denominational independent education institutions, grant-aided by the French Community and managed by natural persons or legal entities.

Each educational network consists of one or more controlling authorities, each of which runs one or more schools. The network of public grant-aided educational institutions has developed two coordinatory bodies for its schools: the Council for Municipal and Provincial Education (CECP) and the Council of Controlling Authorities for Public Grant-Aided Neutral Schools (CPEONS). The institutions of independent grant-aided education are members of the General Secretariat of Catholic Education (SEGEC) and the Federation of Private Grant-Aided Independent Schools (FELSI).

The education institutions

A local consultation committee (CoCoBa) is set up in each school organised by the French Community. It is composed of staff members and trade union representatives. Its principal mission is to provide consultation on teaching staff working conditions. It verifies that the school plan  conforms to the educational plan set by the controlling authority.

Local Joint Committees (CoPaLoc) for grant-aided schools have been established for institutions of pre-secondary, secondary and higher education. The representatives of the controlling authorities and trade unions that sit on these Committees define staff working conditions and intervene, in particular, in cases of temporary appointments of teachers, redeployments and assignment changes, when a school is taken over by another controlling authority; or to administer the use of the ‘period endowment’ (the teaching staff allocated on the basis of the number of pupils enrolled – in pre-secondary education) and the NTPP (the total number of teacher-periods allocated on the basis of the number of regular pupils in secondary education). They set school opening and closing hours. They verify that the school plan conforms to the educational plan set by the controlling authority. They are also consulted on other questions. In grant-aided independent education, a similar role is played by the works council, a local consultation body or the trade union delegation.

Following the Decree on the Missions (24 July 1997) of School, participation councils were created in each pre-secondary and secondary school in the different networks. The participation council is made up of the institution’s director and representatives of the controlling authority, of the staff, of the parents, of the social, cultural and economic worlds and of the pupils (except in pre-secondary education). The councils are responsible among other things for debating, amending and supplementing the school plan, proposing it for approval by the Minister or the controlling authority, periodically evaluating its implementation, proposing adaptations and issuing an opinion on the activity report.

A number of councils exercise various responsibilities in higher education institutions.

Authorities per geographical area

In order to ensure closer consultation between education institutions, geographical areas have been defined for each school level, each consisting of two councils: one for non-denominational education and one for denominational education. These councils ensure the use of teacher-periods which are shared by institutions in the area, as well as the harmonisation of educational provision in secondary education. Proposals are submitted to a consultation committee, which is responsible for approving them and thus making them definitive. These consultation committees and the area councils are composed of representatives of the controlling authorities concerned, including the Minister as controlling authority of Community education.

Tendencies towards the centralisation, concentration or regulation of the education and training system

Since the transfer of powers with regard to education to the Communities, a twofold shift has been taking place. On the one hand, an increasing degree of management autonomy is being granted to institutions, in addition to the high degree of freedom which was already theirs in terms of educational methods; on the other hand, this increasing autonomy has been accompanied by the introduction of new regulatory mechanisms to ensure the development of fairly run schools that perform to a high standard.

The Decree on the Missions (24 July 1997) of Schools, adopted in 1997, might be described as the fundamental charter for compulsory education and its preparatory pre-school stage: it defines the objectives that schools must pursue and introduces procedures which will enable them to achieve those objectives. This fundamental decree focuses on two elements: convergence between all institutions in the realisation of common objectives and autonomy in both the definition of educational plans and the responsible management of resources. The underlying approach is that autonomy must be accompanied by responsibility, participation and solidarity.

The Decree enables each pre-secondary and secondary school to adapt its teaching and modify the organisation of courses. Every ordinary or specialised pre-secondary or secondary school organised or subsidised by the French Community must have a school plan. This defines the range of educational choices and specific concrete actions that the school's teaching team intends to implement – in co-operation with all players and partners – to achieve the aims of the educational plan and pedagogical plan set by the controlling authority.

Alongside measures aimed at increasing the autonomy of schools and/or controlling authorities, there has been an observable trend in recent years towards making the education system more coherent, and of ensuring greater fairness in it, by adding steering mechanisms and defining new rules (in consultation with the various controlling authorities) : this has included the definition of general objectives to be pursued at the different levels of the education system and sets of competency guidelines which now serve as a form of reference during the curricula reviews, the creation of a Steering Committee, the gradual introduction of external certificative examinations, the reinforcement of the external non-certificative assessment scheme, and the adoption of a regulatory mechanism for enrolments in the first year of secondary education.