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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Guidance and counselling in early childhood and school education

Belgium - French Community

12.Educational support and guidance

12.4Guidance and counselling in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Academic guidance

The Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services (CPMS) are places of listening, where multidisciplinary teams (educational psychologists, educational psychology auxiliaries, social auxiliaries, paramedical auxiliaries and physicians), acting under professional secrecy, offer free services.

The CPMSs for the three networks (French Community, grant-aided public education, and grant-aided independent education) primarily serve their own schools’ needs. Each centre provides guidance for a series of schools. All the centres are subject to an inspection organised by the French Community.

The CPMSs have three main roles :

  • To promote psychological, educational, medical and social conditions which will give pupils the best chance of developing their personalities harmoniously and of preparing to assume their role as autonomous, responsible citizens and play an active role in social, cultural and economic life ;
  • To contribute to pupils’ educational process throughout their school career, by encouraging the use of means by which they can be led to make constant progress, within an approach of ensuring equal access opportunities to social, civic and personal emancipation. To this end, among other things the centres will mobilise the resources available in the pupil’s family, social and school environment ;
  • With a view to providing orientation for the subsequent course of their life, to support pupils in the positive construction of their personal, educational and work plans and their integration in social and professional life.

Each CPMS’s activities must be set within the context of a core programme which is common to all centres, the specific programme laid down by its controlling authority, which defines the priorities and values underlying the work of the centres which fall within its authority, and the plan of the centre itself.

The centre’s plan, which constitutes a tool to steer the work of its teams, defines the fundamental values underlying its actions (with reference to the controlling authority’s specific programme) and the concrete actions that it intends to implement in order to carry out the basic core programme and the specific programme. It is defined so as to take account of the social, economic, cultural and health characteristics and the needs and resources of the local school population and is also harmonised with the school plan and individual resources of each school within its area. The centre’s plan is submitted to the school authorities and to the members of the participation council.

The CPMSs’ common programme has eight main points :

  • The provision of services to consultants, which involves providing information about the centre’s plan to pupils and their parents, schools and partner institutions, in educational action aimed at the pupils for which the centre is responsible ;
  • A response to the requests of consultants, in which each request from a pupil, his/her parents or guardian, the school or any other service involved in educational work is received and analysed, but not necessarily taken up ;
  • Preventive actions, particularly in synergy with other parties ;
  • The identification of difficulties in order to encourage remedial action at an early stage ;
  • Diagnosis and guidance, based on input from the three disciplines on which each centre’s work is based ;
  • The provision of educational and professional information and guidance, in collaboration with the school management, with a view to a positive lifelong orientation, focusing on personal development and including (but also going beyond) the question of integration into working life ;
  • Support for parenting, centred on the pupil and on optimising his or her schooling ;
  • Health education via actions with the CPMSs’ partners. 

Psychological counselling

The decree of 8 March 2007 created the Service and the Units of Educational Advice and Support. The aim is to reinforce the pedagogical animation specific to each teaching network.

These new structures are composed of educational advisers who have their own status and specific training. Their missions are to support and accompany educational teams and school principals in their efforts to improve the results of their educational activities.

It is for example to accompany them in the realization of teaching methods such as differentiated pedagogy, formative evaluation, remediation.

In addition, they advise teachers, educational teams and schools for which the inspectors have identified weaknesses or shortcomings, possibly on the basis of the information notes that they wrote and transmitted to the Service or the Units of educational advice and support.

The decree of 8 March 2007 also creates the structures that allow the necessary link between the General Inspection Service and the inspection services at two levels :

  • at the central level, through the creation of the College of Inspection, educational advice and support, where the members ensure the coordination between the actions of all stakeholders, inspectors and pedagogical advisers ;
  • at decentralized levels: the people in charge of the services determine, by mutual agreement, the arrangements for consultation and transmission of information between the members of the inspection services and the educational advisers who carry out their missions within the same institution.

Career guidance

The missions of the centers are governed by the Decree of 14 July 2006 relating to the missions, programs and activity reports. In order to guarantee their missions, the PMS centers must satisfy a basic program which is common to all the centers, to a specific program set by the organizing authority and a project of the center.

The basic program is broken down into 8 areas of work, among which the educational and vocational guidance mission, which is part of a lifelong orientation approach in partnership with the various actors of guidance in the school world, but also in employment and training.