1 My child has to go to school. What do I have to do? Guide to education for new migrants in Belgium.
2 Dear parents Did you recently arrive in Belgium? You need to learn about life in Belgium. School for instance is very important here. This booklet gives you more information about education in our country. Do you have children over 2½ years old? In Belgium first go to school when they are 2½ years old. Attendance becomes compulsory in the school year you re child turns six years of age. All children have to go to school until they turn 18 years of age. As the parent you are responsible for ensuring this. Read this booklet Then you ll know exactly what you have to do. You ll find the answers to different questions, such as: - How do I enrol my child in school? - How is a typical school day organised? - How can I follow my child s progress at school every day? - What about holidays? - What happens if my child is absent without permission? - What happens if my child has problems at school? - Can I get involved in any way as a parent? - How is education organised in Belgium? This booklet is available in ten languages If your Dutch is still a little limited, this booklet is also available in Spanish, French, English, Polish, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Arabic, Turkish, Russian and Portuguese. Do you still have questions? You can contact: - Your child s teacher - The school s headteacher - CLB - Pina-18
3 What is CLB? CLB is the student guidance centre What does CLB do? Children have to feel comfortable and happy at school if they are to learn properly. CLB helps create the right conditions for this. CLB listens, discusses, informs and advises. If there is a problem, CLB helps find the solution. The issues addressed include choice of study, behaviour at school, bunking off, concentration, reports, making agreements, learning to choose, selfconfidence, having a say, opportunities and a lot more. Who works at CLB? Educators, psychologists, psychological assistants, social workers, doctors and nurses. There may also be a speech therapist or a physiotherapist. All these people work with each child to provide the best possible support. Who can contact CLB? All students, parents, teachers and heads can contact CLB with their questions. Everything revolves around the student. Everything is handled confidentially, with respect for privacy.
4 How do I enrol my child at school? Every child is entitled to go to school when they are 2½ years old. Going to school becomes obligatory from 1 September of the school year in which the child turns 6 years of age. This obligation lasts until the child turns 18. That is the law. Children that have recently arrived in Belgium and that don t speak Dutch have to go to school too. Girls and boys go to the same school. That is the law too. When you enrol your child at a school you have to agree to observe that school s rules. Ask for a copy of these rules and read them. You have to sign a copy of the rules and write the words voor akkoord, which means agreed. By placing your signature you agree to abide by the rules. Even children that don t speak Dutch have to go to school. You can only enrol at a school that has a free place. You can enrol throughout the year. Take these documents with you when you enrol your child: Your child s passport or identity card Your child s SIS card Latest school report If you don t have these documents you will still be able to enrol your child. Even children without the proper documents have to go to school.
5 How much does school cost? School is free in Belgium. You don t have to pay anything to enrol you child. There are some expenses involved however, including: - Food and drink, - Afternoon care - Before and after school care - Trips - Swimming You do have to pay for these things. to pay every year. Ask for the list when you enrol your child! You receive a bill for these costs every month, which means you have to pay a monthly instalment. These extra costs vary from school to school. Bear that in mind when you re choosing a school. The school draws up a list of these costs in advance, so you know how much you ll have When does my child have to go to school? Your child has to go to school between 1 September and 30 June. Your child must go to school - All day on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays - On Wednesday mornings [Schoolkids in Antwerp] Your child must get to school on time every day. Latecomers miss part of the lesson and disrupt the other children. Your child need not go to school - On Wednesday afternoons, Saturdays or Sundays - During the holidays - On pedagogical study days
6 When are the holidays? No school? No one has to go to school during the holidays. This is a table of all the holidays from now to Is there child care before and after school? There is usually some form of before and after school care. Many schools offer this service - In the mornings before classes - In the evenings after classes - On Wednesday afternoons - During the holiday (e.g. between 8 am and 5 pm). At these times there is always someone present who knows the children. expense is tax-deductible. The school will give you the document you need for your tax declaration. This service is not free. You will have to pay for it. Ask the school how much it costs. This
7 Can my child have lunch at school? Yes, your child can stay at school for meals. - They have to bring their own food. - They have to eat in the refectory. - They have to stay on the school grounds. Only children that go home for meals are allowed off the school premises and parents have to give their permission. - The children are supervised before, during and after meals. You have to pay for this supervision at most schools.
8 How is a typical school day organised? This is an example of the way a school day is organised. The schedule is different at every school. Ask about this when you enrol your child.
9 How can I follow my child s daily progress at school? Diary All children are given a diary from year 1 (= from 6 years old). They take this diary home with them. The diary is for noting the following things: - Messages to parents - Lessons your child has to learn on a given day - Homework your child has to do on a given day Always check your child s diary and sign it so the teacher knows you ve read everything. Always check to see whether you child has homework or has to prepare for a lesson! That way you ll see whether he or she is finished with their homework. If you want to send a message to the teacher, write it in the diary! know that you ve read it. You should then return the report to school. Take good care of the end-of-year report! Parents meeting Parents and teachers can get together for a talk during the school year. You can discuss how your child is getting on. You can always talk with the head or the teacher about anything that s on your mind. Do make an appointment first! -If the teacher wants to speak with you about anything, you ll receive a written invitation by letter or the teacher will write it in your child s diary. The parents meeting is an opportunity to: - Discuss your child s report - Find out more about how your child is fairing at school - Ask the teacher any questions Always go to the parents meeting. You can find out a lot of useful information there. And it shows your interest in your child and the school. If you are unable to attend, notify the teacher in advance. Report Your child is given a report four times a year, just before the holidays (autumn, Christmas, Easter and summer). The report states your child s results. You can see whether your child has worked well or needs to work harder in class. Sign the report. That way the teacher will
10 What should I do if my child is unable to go to school? Children in the infants (=2½ to 5 years old) don t need to go to school every day. It is still a good idea for your child to go to school to avoid missing too much and not making friends. If your infant cannot attend school, always notify the teacher. All children aged six and older have to go to school. Five-year-olds in year 1 also have to go to school. If your child cannot attend school, you must notify the school stating the reason. Your child must go to school until the age of 18! [The doctor]
11 When should my child not go to school? The law states four reasons why your child should not go to school. If your child is ill Any doctor s or dentist s check-ups have to be scheduled after school. You child must attend school on the day of the check-up. Your child may stay at home if he or she is ill. The following rules apply in the case of illness. If your child is ill for one day, or two or three consecutive days: - Notify the school as soon as possible (e.g. by phone). - Write a note stating that your child is ill and take it to the school as soon as possible. - You can write his note yourself up to four times a year. After that you ll need a doctor s note. If your child is ill for more than three days: - Notify the school as soon as possible (e.g. by phone). - Ask for a doctor s note (= medical certificate) and take it to the school as soon as possible. If your child has a chronic illness (e.g. asthma, migraine): - Make an appointment with CLB. They will ask for a medical certificate. After that, your child will be allowed to stay at home when necessary (e.g. an attack). - Notify the school as soon as possible (e.g. by phone). Write a note and take it to the school as soon as possible. If your child is absent with permission There are a number of days every year when the school closes. These days are official holidays. Official holidays New Year s Day 1 January Easter Monday 1st Monday after Easter May Day 1 May Ascension Thursday, 40 days after Easter Whitsun Monday movable Monday All Saints Day 1 November Armistice 11 November Christmas Day 25 december Your child does not have to go to school on religious holidays either. Catholic, Protestant and Anglican holidays are recognised as official holidays. Children of other religions should not come on those days either. Those children are also allowed to stay at home to celebrate heir own religious holidays. Notify the school in advance of the religious holidays your child will not be attending school on. [Chinese Newyear]
12 Some special occasions entitle your child to stay off school. The list is laid down in a law. You should notify the school in advance.
13 If the head gives permission The head may give your child permission to be off school: - If your child needs more than one day to get over a funeral - If your child has to attend a funeral in a foreign country - If your child participates in a major sporting contest (e.g. championship) (maximum ten half days in a given school year) - If your child participates in a cultural activity (e.g. play) (maximum ten half days in a given school year) - For personal reasons. You must talk with the head first (maximum four half days in a given school year) The head may ask for supporting documents. What happens if my child is absent without permission? If your child misses classes without a valid reason there will be a problem. The first thing the school will do is to arrange a meeting with you. The head cannot give your child permission to be off school: - To train with a sports club - To rehearse for a cultural activity - To go on a family trip You cannot expect to get these days off. They are not a right. Your child must always attend school. Only the head has the authority to grant these days off. If the child has to travel around with the family Traveller children that live in a caravan, a barge or are part of a circus or carnival family also have to go to school every day. Sometimes these families may need to travel long distances and the children will have to go too. Notify the school in advance so that you can agree something together. You will have to keep your promises. Otherwise, you child is not allowed to miss classes. Stay in contact with the school as you are travelling and help your child with schoolwork.
14 What if my child is severly ill? Your child may be tutored at home. There are a number of conditions. - Your child must be in primary education (younger than 12 years of age). - Your child must be ill or recovering from an accident. - Your child must be off school for 21 days or more. - You must live no more than 10 kilometres from the school. Write a letter to the school head, enclosing a doctor s certificate. It should state that your child can take classes but cannot go to school. If the head agrees, your child can be tutored at home. What if my child has problems at school? Some children have problems at school. They don t feel comfortable in the class, they don t understand the course material, they are bullied or they are bullies themselves. If your child has a problem, the school will look for a solution. They will discuss the problem with: - You - CLB - The teachers. They discuss student results and behaviour in the class conference. Various solutions are possible and they are always discussed with you. [Extra attention in the classroom]
15 Does my child have to see the school doctor? Yes, all children at school have to visit the doctor a few times a year. - The doctor gives your child a general checkup. - The doctor gives your child injections. You do have to give your permission. - The doctor gives your child a report they should pass on to you containing the results of the check-up. The doctor may recommend you take your child to see another doctor if necessary. Children aged 14 or older are no longer required to go to the school doctor. You do need to make this official. For more information, contact CLB. Can I get involved in school life? Yes, most schools are delighted for parents to do something for the school, like: - Arranging a party - Reading for the children - Baking cakes for the school party - Going along on school trips Every school has its own parent council. That is a meeting of parents that support the school and help shape its policy. If you would like to invest some time in the school contact the head. [Boy playing on globe]
16 How is education organised in Belgium? What child gets what education? - 2 ½ to 5 years optional infant education. - 6 to 11 years: compulsory primary education to 18 years old: compulsory secondary education. The end of compulsory education. There are exceptions: - Children that find regular classes too difficult are placed in special needs education, which is open to all children aged 2½ to Not all children automatically go to the next class every year. They may change course or have to redo the year. That means they will usually be older than the other children in their class.
17 The table below shows the various study options your child has at different times.
18 What wil my child learn at school? The children play a lot in the infants. They learn to make things, colour things in, paint, sing, listen to stories and talk. They also do gym, dance and play together. At primary school the children learn to read, write and count, they learn about history and geography and have their first French lessons. They learn to live together, and they learn how to learn. Secondary school is split into three grades. In Grade 3 (12-13 years) the children follow general courses. Subjects include language, maths, geography and history. In Grade 2 (14-15 years) the children must choose one of four options: The children that pass Grade 3 of ASO, KSO or TSO or Grade 4 of BSO are awarded a certificate of secondary education. This gives them access to higher education. Education is no longer compulsory as soon as you turn 18 years of age. Some children do not want to wait until they are 18 before they start work. Those children that do not wish to do Grade 3 can enter parttime education. Children aged 16 (or 15 if they have Grade 2 diploma) can work while they go to school. They can follow programmes in car mechanics, metalwork, sales, hospitality etc. ASO (general secondary education) is a general programme that prepares students for higher education. Subjects include Dutch, French, English, IT, maths, geography and history. KSO (art-based secondary education) is a general programme plus artistic subjects like ballet, theatre and sculpture. TSO (technical secondary education) is a general programme plus technical subjects like photography, building, care, car mechanics, tourism and shipping. BSO (vocational secondary education) is a general programme plus vocation-related subjects like woodwork, care, car mechanics and landscape gardening. BSO is highly practical. In every programme some subjects are compulsory and some are elective, which means the children can choose them themselves. There are lots of options. In Grade 3 (16-17 years) the children enter ASO, KSO, TSO or BSO. Some subjects are compulsory and some are elective. They prepare students for further education or a vocation. BSO has a seventh year (Grade 4). [Computer class]
19 What if my child has special needs? Some children will be unable to enter regular education due to: - A disability - Behavioural or emotional problems - Learning difficulties These children get special help. CLB will tell you about all the options. - Your child may stay in regular school with extra guidance from special needs education teachers. - Your child may be transferred to the special needs education system. They are eight types of special needs primary school, each tailored to a specific group of children. Primary education lasts seven years. Secondary education (BUSO) lasts five years. What if your child has a foreign diploma or certificate? - If the document is not in Dutch, English, French or German, you ll need to have it translated by a sworn translator. - Hand in the diploma or certificate to your child s school. - The school will start the process of getting an equivalency certificate. - Once the process is completed, the school will decide which year your child should start in.
20 Colofon This brochure is made by the city of Antwerp. Composition: Samenleven in diversiteit Onthaalbureau Inburgering Antwerpen Textediting: Wablieft tekstadvies Design: Birgit Vanden Bempt Legal depot: D/2007/0306/227 V.U. Marjan Knockaert, Van Immerseelstraat 11 23, 2018 Antwerpen.