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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures

Belgium - French Community

6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.13Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures

Last update: 10 January 2023


Different pedagogies

Several schools have adopted particular pedagogic methods inspired by the educational principles of pedagogues such as Decroly, Freinet or Steiner, … These institutions are very often named after these pedagogues.


Within the framework of the organization of school time, and with the priority objective of reducing school failure, while maintaining the competence level of the curricula, some schools on projects have been reflecting on the organization of school time. Some then opted for 45-minute learning periods instead of 50-minute periods. This functioning is oriented towards optimizing the students' instruction time. It involves the recovery of time for the organization of permanent workshops within the schedule to respond immediately to the needs of remediation, excelling, research and personal and autonomous development...

High level students athletes

In secondary education, pupils at ISCED 2 or ISCED 34, recognized as high level athletes, promising athletes or training partners by the Minister of Sport, may replace all or part of the periods devoted to complementary activities or basic options with periods of sports training. The timetable for each student who has the status is set at the beginning of the school year.

Throughout secondary education, these pupils can also replace the periods of physical education of the core curriculum with periods of sports training. In addition, their participation in sports preparation activities in the form of training camps or training and competition is permitted for a maximum of 30 half days (unless otherwise specified).

In addition, the mission of the "life project" department of the General Administration of Sport is to support and accompany recognized athletes in both their sporting and study projects and to help them achieve excellence in these two fields.

There are about 1200 high level students athletes attending compulsory education in the French Community.

Young musical talents

At the request of the school head of a secondary school, pupils at ISCED 2 or ISCED 34 who have passed an admission test in a higher school of arts may replace all or part of the periods devoted to complementary activities or basic options with periods of musical instruction. The timetable for the "young talent" student is set at the beginning of the school year.

Arts secondary education

The organization of the "Arts secondary education" is the result of a partnership between 14 full-time secondary schools and 7 academies from part-time secondary arts education (ESAHR = Enseignement Secondaire artistique à horaire réduit). This option is organized at ISCED 34 (grades 3 to 6) (Arts education in the transition stream). Arts lessons are taught by ESAHR teachers, for 8 periods of 50 minutes in the second stage and 11 to 14 periods in the third stage. Successful completion of these studies is confirmed by the issue of the Certificate of Upper Secondary Education (CESS), giving access to higher education.

Arts secondary education is linked to several fields of education: music, speech and theatre arts, dance and transdisciplinary training. In 2018 - 2019, 600 students were enrolled. Even if this figure remains modest, it should be noted that the number of learners has been constantly increasing in recent years.

Social Advancement Education

Social Advancement Secondary Education can be attended on a permanent or occasional basis, during the day or in the evening.

They can be taken independently (language or office automation lessons), but also capitalized in order to obtain secondary school certificates :

  • The Qualification Certificates provide a level of knowledge and skills necessary for the practice of a profession in many sectors. These certificates correspond to those issued in full-time secondary education (they have the same value on the labour market and for access to regulated professions) or are specific to social advancement education ;
  • The Certificate of Primary education (CEB = Certificat d’études de base), the Certificate of Second Stage Studies (CESDD = Certificat d’enseignement Secondaire du deuxième degré) and the Certificate of Upper Secondary Education (CESS = Certificat d’enseignement Secondaire supérieur) are equivalent to those issued in full-time secondary education.

No student may be admitted as a regular student in social advancement education as long as he or she is subject to full-time compulsory schooling. A person wishing to register must therefore be at least 16 years old (or 15 years old and have regularly attended the first two years of secondary education) and have the level determined to follow the chosen training. However, young people who are still subject to compulsory part-time schooling (up to the age of 18) must be enrolled simultaneously in full-time education or in a dual vocational education center (CEFA).

Students must pay a registration fee. Some categories of students benefit from a reduction in tuition fees (fully compensated unemployed, jobseekers who must be registered, beneficiaries of the Integration Income granted by a Public Social Assistance Centre (CPAS)).

Social Advancement Education is organized in a modular way according to a system of teaching units.

The teaching units at ISCED 34 mainly prepare for further study, including higher education, and offer the possibility of access to a level of qualification.

The teaching units at ISCED 35 provide access to an integrated test that provides a level of qualification and also offers the possibility of further studies, including higher education.

A section generally includes internships and a final test called an "integrated test".

When passing each teaching unit, the students are awarded a certificate of success. The student must capitalize on the success certificates of each teaching unit to obtain the diploma of the section.

Because it is essentially aimed at adults with multiple experiences and pathways, Social Advancement Education takes into account the skills acquired in all types of education, in other forms of non-formal and informal training, including skills resulting from professional experience: these are the mechanisms for the valorization of acquired experience (VA = Valorisation des acquis) and the validation of skills (VDC = Validation des compétences).

Content-Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)

Content-Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is currently experiencing an increasing popularity. It is an alternative approach to traditional foreign language learning. This approach involves intensive and long-term exposure to a second language during the student's schooling through the teaching of some subjects in the language of immersion.

The decree of 11 May 2007 on CLIL (Décret relatif à l'enseignement en immersion linguistique) came into force on 1 January 2008. It brings together in a single text all the provisions concerning CLIL, both for primary and secondary education.

The decree lays the following foundations, among others :

  • there is no specific exam to enter CLIL. Students are accepted by the head teacher in the order of enrolment ;
  • CLIL is open to all forms of education: general, technical, artistic and vocational education ;
  • outside the Brussels Capital Region, the language of immersion may be Dutch, English or German. In the Brussels-Capital Region, this language is Dutch, at least until the end of the 1st stage ;
  • CLIL in secondary education begins at grade 1 or 3. The establishment that begins CLIL at 1st grade must continue it at least at 2nd grade. The institution that begins CLIL at grade 9 must continue to do so until the end of the form it offers ;
  • 8 to 13 periods per week can be devoted to CLIL. At the 1st stage, periods devoted to complementary activities may still be added ;
  • examinations for subjects taught in the language of immersion are conducted in that language ;

In 2018-2019, 122 secondary schools organized CLIL: 70 in Dutch, 46 in English and 6 in German.