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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of technical secondary education

Belgium - German-Speaking Community

6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.4Organisation of technical secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Types of institutions

The School Pact obliges communities to guarantee parents the free choice of education for their children. The law distinguishes between denominational, non-denominational and pluralistic schools. The latter have not yet been organised.

In principle, GUW schools must admit all pupils and OSUW schools all pupils of the community concerned and also those of a neighbouring community if the school is the nearest school for the latter pupils; FSUW schools may only refuse to enrol a pupil if his or her legal guardians are not prepared to agree to the school's educational project.

Geographical accessibility

Secondary schools in the German-speaking Community are divided over four of the nine municipalities in the German-speaking Community. Emphasis is placed mainly on the secondary schools in Eupen (3) and in Sank-Vith (4); general secondary schools can be found in Kelmis and in Büllingen. This, therefore, guarantees that every youth in the German-speaking Community attends either a secondary school in their or the neighbouring municipality.

Admission requirements and choice of school

Admission requirements for a field of study in the 2nd level of qualifications education

•    Pupils who have successfully completed the 2nd common year (in the 1st level) (soon to be pupils who have received the first level certificate) can attend not only a 3rd year in the 2nd level in one field of study in transitional education (general education and technical transitional education), but also a 3rd year in a field of study of technical or vocational education (which is always included in qualification education).

•    Pupils who have successfully completed the 2nd B year in the separate 1st level progress to the 2nd level, although in a field of study of vocational education.

•    Pupils can progress if they are already 15 years old and have attended the 2nd year of secondary school (even if they did not successfully complete the year), but under the condition that the Admissions Board have issued a positive report in this regard.

Admission requirements for a field of study in the 3rd level of qualifications education

To be accepted into qualification education in the 3rd level of technical education, a pupil must have already successfully completed the 4th year of this same stream (soon to be: have received the same grade in the 2nd level in the same stream). Changing the field of study within qualification education after the 4th year (i.e. after completing the 2nd level) is very rare, but is still possible under certain conditions. The same applies to attending the 3rd level of vocational education.

Age levels and grouping of pupils

The lower level of all secondary schools (1st level or observation level) builds upon the knowledge and skills learned in the common primary school and provides all pupils with an extended general education. This includes years 7 and 8, i.e. pupils between the ages of 12 and 14. The pupils are taught in year groups by about eight to ten teachers who are responsible for one, two or three subjects depending on their qualification. The teachers also teach the same year group and/or in classes of different years in parallel classes. They often stay with the same classes for a number of years.

The situation is similar in the upper level of the secondary school for pupils between the ages of 14 and 18 years (although there are many students that are older than most of their class mates): despite the level structures and curricula that are formulated depending on the level, teaching is still done in year groups. Assessment is continuous - e.g. two tests per subject per school year - and the decision about progression to the next year is determined by the governing body. Before this, real level pedagogy is not applied very often.

There is no official recommendation or standard regarding class size. The class structure is decided by the head teacher and the Pedagogical Council. It is dependent on the number of lesson (lesson capital) with which the teachers are able to be hired. The lesson capital of a school is dependent on the number of pupils. The school has the right to freely enact lesson capital due to their autonomy. Generally, the number of pupils is between 22 and 30 in the mandatory subjects. In elective subjects, it is normally much lower - especially in the upper level - fewer than 10.

Pupils who have opted for technical education can either start their professional career or start studying at higher education institutions after they have completed their school education. In addition to general subjects, pupils learn theoretical commercial skills and have the opportunity to apply what they have learned in practice. Admission to study at universities and universities of applies science is open.

Organisation of the school year

Same as in previous sections.

Organisation of the School Day and Week

For this section, information is the same as in previous sections. The only difference that we could state is that in the upper secondary level (2nd and 3rd level), the average is 36 lessons in the technical stream