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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Management staff for early childhood and school education

Belgium - French Community

10.Management and other education staff

10.1Management staff for early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023


Non-school childcare facilities

In collective childcare facilities, a director is responsible for day-to-day management. The management team is responsible in particular for ensuring the smooth running of the facility, and for developing and implementing a childcare plan. It must also ensure that the running of the facility includes the provision of psycho-social and medical services.

Pre-primary, primary and secondary education

The decree of 2 February 2007 adds important details regarding the general framework of the duties of school heads. That framework must be adjusted in line with the specific characteristics of the institution (and of its controlling authority in the case of subsidised education) in a ‘mission letter’. The mission letter is drawn up by the government (in the case of education organised by the French Community) or by the controlling authority (in the case of subsidised education), after consultation with the specific legal authorities; the draft mission letter must be submitted to the prospective school head. The mission letter has a period of validity of six years, but may be modified if necessary after two years at the earliest, subject to compliance with the stipulated procedure.

The school head firstly has a general duty relating to the educational policies and organisation of the institution where he/she works. He/she is the representative of the controlling authority in dealings with the Ministry of the French Community and the Inspectorate.

He also has a number of specific duties :

  • Managing internal communication and the coordination of the teaching staff; managing relations with pupils, parents and third parties; managing the institution’s external relations. The school head establishes contacts with parents and the local community and consults with the business, social and cultural sectors ;
  • Managing the institution’s material and financial resources, organising timetables, managing pupil records, etc ;
  • Ensuring the educational and pedagogical management of the institution (implementing the school plan, ensuring that what is learnt corresponds to the official achievement targets stipulated by legislation). The school head consults the teaching staff on the development, implementation and evaluation of the school plan. When needed, he/she will support specific members of staff in their teaching work. The school head acts as an educational adviser, and is responsible for the harmonisation of methodologies in his/her institution and the distribution of pupils into classes. He/she is also responsible for the evaluation of pupils’ knowledge. The primary education certificate, the second stage secondary education certificate and the upper secondary education certificate are issued under the school head’s responsibility.

In the institutions administered by the French Community, the school heads decide on the assignment of teachers. They are authorised to visit classes and evaluate their teaching colleagues’ performance. For each member of the teaching and administrative staff, they must prepare annual review reports that will govern their careers.

Requirements for appointment

Non-school childcare facilities

For non-school childcare facilities, the decree of the Government of the French Community of 27 February 2003 requires the directors and supervisory psychological, medical and social staff in nurseries, parental nurseries, day care nurseries and municipal childcare centres to hold one of the following diplomas: bachelor’s degree in nursing, bachelor’s degree in social nursing, bachelor’s degree in nursing with specialisation in community health, a social worker’s diploma; or one of the following titles in educational psychology: specialised educator, nursery school teacher, bachelor of speech therapy; assistant in psychology (options: clinical psychology, educational psychology and psychomotility, occupational psychology and vocational guidance); bachelor’s or master’s degree in psychology, educational science, or psychology and educational science; master’s degree in speech therapy.

Directors of children’s homes must hold one of the qualifications listed above, or the ‘company manager – director of children’s home’ diploma issued by the IFPME or by the EFPME, or an equivalent diploma awarded in social advancement education.

Directors must be at least 21 and no more than 65 years old. They may not carry on an activity which is incompatible with childcare, or which would prevent them from supervising the children during working hours.

Ordinary or specialised pre-secondary and secondary education

The conditions for carrying on or receiving a formal appointment to the promotion-grade function of school head vary depending on the controlling authority. The requirements relate to seniority, to being a holder of or definite appointee to a position fillable by recruitment, promotion or specific selection and to holding the relevant qualification, to having responded to the call for candidates and to having passed the tests set at the end of the initial training for school heads (see below). In grant-aided education, it is also stipulated that the controlling authority should submit the profile of the function which needs to be filled to committees consisting of representatives of the trade unions and should receive from staff members any information that these latter regard as relevant with a view to admission to the internship.

The decree of 2 February 2007 sets out measures intended to improve the preparation of school heads and defines support programmes. In their initial training, school heads receive instruction relating to the relational, administrative and educational aspects of their role. This training is organised in two sections :

  • A section common to all networks. This section, lasting a total of 60 hours, groups together the training aimed at imparting the totality of relational skills and most of the administrative, equipment-related and financial skills, as well as the teaching and educational skills common to all networks. This section is organised and certified by universities, higher education institutions and social advancement education institutions. Their specifications are determined by the government on the proposal of the Institute of In-Service Training (IFC). In this context, future school heads are in particular given instruction in developing summative and formative evaluation in their institution and drawing lessons from the data derived from external evaluations ;
  • A section specific to each network or controlling authority. This section, lasting a total of 60 hours, relates to the remainder of the administrative, equipment-related and financial skills and the other educational and teaching skills, thus complementing the first section. The aim is for school heads to learn about the specific characteristics (especially those relating to employment status) of the staff that they will be managing within their network. In a manner which upholds freedom of educational methods, this section is therefore organised and certified by the training operators.

In order to ensure the necessary balance between the amount of educational training in the common section on the one hand and the section specific to each network on the other hand, a time-range of between 30 and 40 hours has been set for educational training in each section.

Each training module closes with a test for which a pass certificate is awarded. The set of skills previously acquired by the candidate for a school head position is taken into account. Under certain conditions, the universities, higher education institutions and social advancement schools (in the case of the common section) and the training operators (in the case of the network-specific section) may take account of skills previously acquired by the candidate school head so that he/she can devote him/herself to learning other aspects of the profession.

An internship mechanism prior to formal appointment or recruitment as school head has also been introduced. The internship in principle lasts two years. This period provides the school head with an opportunity to understand the demands of the new position, through practical experience and continuing training specifically for the function of school head. This gives him/her the time to assess whether a job as a school head is right for him/her. At the end of the first year of internship, the School Head Assessment Committee or the controlling authority undertakes an evaluation of the trainee. This is based on the execution of the mission letter and the implementation of the skills acquired during the training. An evaluation is also performed at the end of the internship. If both evaluations are unfavourable, the internship is terminated.

Conditions of service

Non-school childcare facilities

The management is responsible for ensuring the coherence of and compliance with the regulations, and for the implementation and harmonisation of the services provided to the children. This role includes the compilation, implementation and monitoring of the childcare plan (consultation with parents, compliance with the institution’s rules, arrangement of premises in line with the childcare plan, etc.), as well as human resources management, logistics and administrative tasks (see the government decree of 27 February 2003).

Pre-secondary and secondary education

The room for manoeuvre of the school head depends on the network and, in subsidised education, the controlling authority. Increasingly, school heads, being responsible for administration and administrative management, act as much as autonomous agents of change as in the capacity of persons responsible for the application of the legal texts and regulations. However, the decree of 2 February 2007 has reformed and brought uniformity to certain aspects of the employment conditions of school heads.

In pre-secondary education, the school head may also teach if he/she occupies the position on a part-time basis or if a teacher is absent and no replacement has been arranged (although he/she is under no obligation to do so if he/she holds the position of school head full-time).

School heads are present during the school day. They participate in and chair the consultation meetings. School heads that do not give lessons are present at least 20 minutes before lessons start and 30 minutes after they have ended.

In the Community’s network, there are two types of school head :

  • in pre-secondary schools (pre-primary and primary) linked to secondary institutions, management is the task of the school head, under the responsibility of the head of the secondary institution who is his/her hierarchical superior ;
  • in autonomous pre-secondary schools and in secondary education, the school head assumes the management of all of his/her school.

The function of school heads had changed considerably in recent years, mainly due to the increase in the number of tasks – primarily administrative – which they were required to carry out. The decree of 2 February 2007 supports school heads in order to restore to them their primary role of steering the unit on which the system is based – the educational team – through the progressive allocation of additional resources to pre-secondary schools under a multiple-year plan. Such assistance may be increased through the solidarity scheme initiated via the management centres. It is the subject of a budgetary commitment over several years. The specific assistance which is granted may cover any form of support implemented in connection with the management of an educational institution, apart from teaching duties.

The decree of 2 February 2007 provides for a mechanism for the periodic evaluation of school heads who have been formally appointed or recruited, as well as of those who have been recruited or designated on a temporary basis for a period of at least one year. This evaluation, which takes place every five years, relates to the fulfilment of the school head’s duties and the implementation of the mission letter. The interview between the school head and an evaluation committee (in the case of education organised by the French Community) or the controlling authority (accompanied by experts if necessary) in subsidised education, may lead to the formulation of suggestions, in particular regarding participation in training which focuses on problems encountered, or to the modification of the mission letter.

Continuing training is arranged for school heads: it is largely organised by the educational networks. Some sessions are organised on an inter-network basis, and may relate to the evaluation of schools.

A mechanism of gateways between the function of school head and other functions has been set up. During his/her career, a school head may wish to return to a teaching position, for example. He/she will be able to do so without having to start the entire recruitment process all over again.