How to educate a child in Belgium?

If you move to Flanders, or even quite simply to Belgium, you should know that you are completely free to choose the establishment in which your child will follow his school career. Obviously, your child must be able to meet the admission criteria according to the school you are going to choose. These criteria are not the same from one school to another, some have high standards while others do not even have a selection criteria.

There are private schools, like everywhere, which will of course be chargeable. Many American schools which have great reputations are located in Belgium.

There are also religious schools. As you can see, it is possible to find everything from everything.

For example, you may have a preference for:

  • a nearby school or a school further away
  • an official school or a free school
  • denominational or non-denominational school
  • a “traditional” school or a school with particular teaching methods (Dutch: methodological school).

Even if your child is referred for special education, you have free choice of school. This means that you can decide to enroll your child in a regular school. However, you will only be able to do this after consultation with parents and the Student Orientation Center (CLB).

The mainstream school may, however, decide to terminate the registration if the conditions necessary to allow the pupil to follow the program do not correspond. Parents who choose a school for special education must obtain an enrollment report from the CLB. This should show that the child needs special education and the kind of education that would be appropriate.

If you want to enroll your child in a school that has its own specialization, there must be a place available. Contact the school in good time.

Parents are therefore free to choose a school, but must accept:

  • the educational project of the school (the basic principles of the school)
  • school regulations (the rights and obligations of parents and students and the school board).

School enrollment in Belgium

The different conditions for the education of your child in Belgium

You can find all the educational offer available in Flanders on the Internet. But also the details of all the schools.

What are the school enrollment periods in Belgium?

You must enroll your child in a school:

  • when he goes to school for the first time
  • when he goes from primary to secondary and sometimes from pre-primary to primary
  • when he changes schools.

Registration is done during the previous school year. The start date for registrations may vary. Each school is required to clearly communicate its chosen start date. Ask the school about it.

In some schools or municipalities, you must register yourself before you can register your child. Enrollment means that you tell us in advance which school you want to enroll your child.

After enrollment, you must follow the school enrollment process for your child. After the registration period, you will receive a letter or e-mail to notify you of the allocation of a place for your child. This means that you can register your child. If there is no room for your child at the moment, you will receive an unfavorable ranking notification and an explanation of the steps to take to find a place elsewhere.

What are the priority rules in Belgium?

The priority rules for registration and registration apply in:

  • pre-primary education
  • primary education
  • the first year of secondary education
  • education for special educational needs.

Priority is given to the following groups:

  • Brothers and sisters of students already enrolled in school. This also includes half-brothers and half-sisters, half-brothers and half-sisters and other children living at the same address.
  • Children of school staff (teachers, secretarial staff, etc.).
  • In Brussels, children whose parent speaks Dutch also have priority.

Priority is also given to children in an unfavorable situation. We mean by:

  • children from households who received a school allowance during the current or previous school year
  • children whose mothers do not have a secondary school diploma or a 6th year secondary school certificate.

The disadvantaged pupil ratio is taken into account in order to obtain a social mix in the school.

How are school registrations going during the year in Belgium?

If you want to register a child during the school year, you must ask the school if they still have a place available. Please note that until the fifth day of class in October, a school is required to respect the chronological list of unfulfilled registrations. After this day, all places will go to the first student who presents himself. An exception to this is the registration of preschool children of the youngest year of birth. The school must respect the chronological list throughout the school year in this regard.

What if the school refuses my child?

The school can refuse your child to primary education:

  • your child does not meet the admission, transition or entry criteria;
  • if the school is full. The school will announce in advance the number of places available;
  • if there are indications that your child is alternating between schools.

The school can refuse your child to higher education:

  • if your child does not meet the admission, transition or entry criteria
  • if your child was expelled from this school as a result of disciplinary action during the current school year, the previous school year or the previous year;

The school can refuse your child to secondary education:

  • if your child changes schools due to permanent exclusion from another school. This can only be done in accordance with the criteria agreed beforehand within the school’s local consultation platform.
  • if your child has received an enrollment report for special education and the regular school shows that the necessary adjustments are unreasonable. The school will make this decision after consulting the parents and the class council.

If the school refuses to enroll your child, it must confirm this in writing. This constitutes a refusal document. You can request mediation. Such mediation must take place within 10 days of notification of the unfulfilled registration. Therefore, be sure to request it on time.

If you believe that your child has been wrongly refused, you can lodge a complaint with the Commission for Pupils’ Rights (in Dutch: Commissie inzake Leerlingenrechten). This can be done within 30 days of denial or within 30 days of mediation. The Commission will inform you within 21 days whether or not the school was right to refuse registration.

If the Board finds that the school had the right to refuse your child, you will need to find another suitable school.