The politically responsible bodies in the German-speaking Community consider that the amount of financial resources invested each year by the Community in its school system makes it necessary to guarantee quality in order to correct undesirable developments and remedy shortcomings.
The principle of freedom of education means that schools and their providers themselves bear the primary responsibility for the quality of teaching and education in their establishments. An internal evaluation is therefore indispensable and is made compulsory for mainstream schools in the decree of 31 August 1998 on the mandate to the school authorities and school staff and on the general pedagogical and organisational provisions for mainstream and special schools.
On the other hand, an external evaluation is equally important because society also has a right to know whether the considerable financial resources invested by the public authorities in education are being used for the intended purpose and whether they are being used successfully in the form of optimal education and training for our young people or adult education that meets their needs. This external evaluation therefore concerns both the educational tasks of the school and adult education in schools, as well as certain administrative aspects.
This is why the politicians made these two important evaluation instruments compulsory for all regular primary and secondary schools in the decree of 31 August 1998 on the mandate to school authorities and school staff and on the general pedagogical and organisational provisions for regular and special schools. Both are of great importance in the endeavour to ensure and increase the quality of school work and the school system.
As mentioned above, the evaluation of schools and the education system is addressed in the decree of 31 August 1998 on the mandate to the school authorities and school staff and on the general pedagogical and organisational provisions for regular and special schools in Chapter VII (Evaluation and monitoring of the school).
Approches and methods for quality assurance
The institution entrusted by the Government with the external evaluation under Article 70 of the aforementioned Decree shall be responsible for coordinating the internal evaluation.
At school level, the Pedagogical Council is responsible for the organisation of the internal evaluation.
The aim of the internal evaluation is
- to check whether and to what extent the school structures, methods and results of the school work correspond to the objectives of the school project.
- to provide a scientific basis for the future development of the school.
The internal evaluation of the school is carried out at least every three years and can refer to individual school topics determined by the Pedagogical Council or the school board. The government checks whether this evaluation has taken place.
During the internal evaluation, the views of parents and student representatives are sought.
The Autonomous University in the German-speaking Community is responsible for the external evaluation of the schools.
The aim of external evaluation is
- to verify whether and to what extent the schools comply with the social mission laid down in this decree;
- to submit to the Government every three years a general report on strengths and weaknesses to the school authorities and the departments in charge of education in the Ministry of the German-speaking Community, based on the individual reports of the schools evaluated.
On the basis of an internationally recognised quality framework approved by the government, the external evaluators prepare a report which is submitted to the government, the school authority and the school evaluated.
If the external evaluation reveals that the quality of educational activities in a school is inadequate, the external evaluators determine a timeframe within which the school concerned submits a detailed plan to remedy these quality deficiencies. In the context of a timed ex-post evaluation, the external evaluators will examine the effectiveness of these measures.
The external evaluators then prepare a report on the results of the ex-post evaluation, which is submitted to the government, the school authority and the school evaluated.
The confidentiality of the findings and results is maintained. Each school is externally evaluated at least once every five years.
Since the school inspection in the German-speaking community also plays an important role in the evaluation of schools and the teaching system, the decree of 25 June 2012 on school inspection, school development counselling and school counselling for inclusion and integration must also be mentioned. This decree lists the control tasks that school inspectors perform in all primary and secondary schools and continuing education organised, subsidised and recognised by the German-speaking Community.
Quality assurance in higher education is addressed in Title IV of the Decree of 27 June 2005 creating an Autonomous University. Several modalities of quality control are envisaged for the Autonomous University in the German-speaking Community:
The university undergoes internal and external quality controls:
- The University constantly and responsibly monitors the quality of its educational and research activities, developing, among other things, its own operational culture of evaluation within the framework of management.
- The university involves students and external specialists from the professional world in the process of internal and external quality control.
- At least every five years, the higher education institution evaluates the quality of the training, research and further education activities of the higher education institution, in accordance with the requirements applicable throughout Europe and, if possible, in cooperation with other Belgian or foreign higher education institutions, universities or third parties. It examines the extent to which the higher education structure, methods and results of the training, research and further education activities are in line with the objectives of the educational project, consults with the employers of the graduates and makes proposals for the future development of the higher education institution. The results and proposals of this evaluation are written down in a report and published.
- The higher education institution shall take the results of the evaluation into account in the framework of the higher education policy of the higher education institution.
The government also monitors the quality of the university. For this purpose:
- it regularly reviews the functioning of the internal and external quality control carried out by the institution;
- it shall ensure that the higher education institution implements the results of the quality evaluation within the framework of its educational policy;
- in its annual report, the higher education institution shall report on its quality control and on the measures it has taken to implement the results and proposals identified in the internal and external evaluation;
- may periodically, without prejudice to ideological, scientific, pedagogical and artistic freedom, arrange for the Government to carry out a comparative examination of the quality of educational activities in degree programmes or educational fields of its choice. To this end, the Government shall appoint a commission of independent experts, who shall record their findings in a report which shall be published.
If, in the opinion of the Government, the results of the quality control carried out by this external commission show that the quality of education, research and training activities at the higher education institution is inadequate, the Board of Governors of the higher education institution shall, within six months of receiving the Government's opinion, submit a plan setting out the measures that the higher education institution will take to remedy the shortcomings that have been identified.
Thereafter, the university's governing board shall inform the government annually in a detailed report on the implementation of this plan and on the impact of the measures taken. After a period of four years, the External Commission shall again carry out an external evaluation of the quality of the education, research and training activities concerned. The results shall be recorded in a report and published. If the Commission concludes that the quality remains unsatisfactory, the Government may, in accordance with Article 7.10 § 2 of the Decree of 27 June 2005 establishing an autonomous higher education institution, undertake the reimbursement of functional resources.