Information in the menus below was updated in October 2019. To contribute information that may be of interest to others in your country, please contact your country’s hosts: Gil Keppens (gil.keppens@vub.be) or Sarah Neyts (sarah.neyts@ond.vlaanderen.be). As the International Network for School Attendance grows, materials will be added to your country’s webpage. 

People, groups, and organizations

Not for profit

  • SONO (Steunpunt OnderwijsOnderzoek [Support Point for Education Research]) is a consortium of Flemish researchers for policy-oriented educational research. This consortium consists of a research line committed to research on truancy and it aims to contribute to the optimization of preventive measures against truancy at school. For further reading please consider: Steunpunt SONO. Contact: Gil Keppens.
  • “Together against school drop-out” is a project implemented on a regional level, more specifically on the level of the Flemish provinces and the Brussels Capital Region. A coordinator is appointed to each region (one FTE per region, six in total). Each coordinator is in charge of a regional network bringing together local stakeholders within all policy domains involved: work, education, and welfare. The aim of these regional networks is to facilitate cooperation between the different stakeholders and to set up, implement, and evaluate a local action plan. These networks are also a portal for the Flemish government to share and receive information on new (policy) initiatives and difficulties in the field. Each region has its own action plan, and partnership agreements on truancy.
  • The region coordinators of “Together against school drop-out” are brought together in an inter-regional intervision group, which meets six times a year. The main goals are to share, create, and update knowledge, and to discuss and work on common themes. No other partners participate in these meetings, with the exception of the Flemish truancy officer.
  • The guidance committee supervising the project “Together against school drop-out” meets six times a year. In this group the entities of the Ministry of Education cooperate to implement the action plan “Together against school drop-out”. The entities cooperating in this committee are: The Department of Education and Training, the Agency of Education Services, and the Control Service of Education. The guidance committee discusses the implementation of all activities and the members keep each other informed about the own initiatives.
  • “Scared of the schoolgate” (Angst voor de schoolpoort) is a project of HoGent (University College Ghent), Faculty of Education, Health and Social Work. The main purpose of this project is to provide answers to the question of which steps a school (in collaboration with the family) can take in the case of school refusal. This multidisciplinary qualitative research project about school refusal started in 2017 and will end in December 2019. Six researchers are involved from different disciplines, namely social work, education and psychology. The results of this research are based on a literature review and on interviews conducted with twenty school refusal cases between 11-25 years old. In those cases in which the child is still expected to go to primary school or secondary school, the researchers also interviewed other involved parties, such as parents, friends, teachers and doctors.

Current and upcoming activities and achievements

  • Find the upcoming events on web page of the Flemish Ministry of Education.
  • In this last year of the qualitative research ‘Scared of the schoolgate’ the researchers will create tools for schools to help schools, youngsters and parents to handle with school non-attendance, especially school refusal. From September – December 2019 they would like to share their tools and the results of this research. For more information: web page of the project
  • A new learning pathway in secondary education – dual learning – should help students that want to combine learning in school and on the work-floor. This will be implemented as an official learning pathway on September 1 2019.
  • Recently the region coordinators and the Flemish truancy officer launched a working group on the continuity of support and data of pupils in their trajectory from education to a continuum of social integration or durable job career. This working group made guidelines for the schools and all partners supporting youngsters in this trajectory. More information can be found on web page on early school leaving in October 2019
  • The Flemish government developed a data loop application in the private space (that’s the space where only schools can invoke their data). This application is a dynamic environment in which schools can analyze their data and put their data against a benchmark of choice. The application will show the data on truancy and absenteeism (for medical reasons). In September 2019 the Flemish government will start developing a data loop application on early school leaving.

Past activities and achievements

  • Every year the Ministry of Education publishes data reports on truancy and early school leaving. In 2018 the report about early school leaving was upgraded with new information and data. The following data were included:
    • the number of early school leavers that enroll in some form of ‘second change education’ in the years following dropping out;
    • the number of those students that obtain a qualification through this ‘second change education’.
    • Other pupil characteristics (gender, last enrolled educational stream).
  • Since September 1 2018 schools are required to have a pupil guidance and support policy on four topics: (i) learning and studying, (ii) educational career, (iii) preventive health care; and (iv) social and psychological well-being. The measures taken should always be based on an integrated and holistic approach to pupils in these four areas, proceeding from a continuum of care. The continuum of care is a multi-tiered care model in which schools and pupil guidance centers work together and offer pupil guidance, each within their own sphere of responsibility. The school is responsible for broad basic care provisions that enhance all pupils’ development and for extended care to pupils for whom the broad basic care provision does not suffice.
  • In 2018 the Minister of Education proposed a decree that allows for the recognition and validation of competences acquired outside regular educational trajectories. Certifying these competences will help pupils in their search for a job, even when they are early school leavers. The Flemish Government attached a first principal approval, allowing further negotiations.
  • The Ministry of Education and the PES (Public Employment Service) invested in data exchange and better cooperation. The Ministry of Education forwards the ID’s of the early school leavers to the PES. The PES verifies if these are registered as either employees or as job seekers. If not, the PES actively tries to contact these persons and tries to redirect them to some form of second change education or offers them support in finding a job. More information: web page on cooperation between Ministry of Education and the PES
  • Since December 2016 there is an action plan on increase the participation of infants (preschool kids) and enhance the quality of their participation.
  • Since September 1 2016 there are regional networks “Together against drop-out” (see the section ‘People, Groups, and Organizations’).
  • The Flemish government has a partnership with the parent counsel organizations. These parent counsel organizations inform parents about absenteeism and truancy. They organize one or twice a year a debate evening with parents on truancy.
  • Since January 2016 there is a Flemish procedure for the support of pupils who skip classes. The necessary steps and the roles of every stakeholder are written down in this procedure. Since its implementation, the local regions have made arrangements at the local level in line with this procedure. For more information (An actualization will be launched in 2009-2020): web page on school absenteeism
  • The Ministry of Education published a website ‘Together Against School Dropout’:www.samentegenschooluitval.be
  • Since September 1 2016 the student guidance centers are required to offer guidance when a pupil has missed school for 5 half days.
  • In 2018 the Flemish truancy policy maker published a book about the creation of a bonded school climate. Contact Sarah Neyts.
  • The Flemish government has developed a data loop application in the public space. This application is a dynamic environment in which schools and other stakeholders can analyse data. The application shows data on repeating the school year.
  • The Flemish government set up a system of time-out and time-in programmes that are flexible in time and content. They are used for pupils with risk of dropping out because of social, juridical, familial and other reasons.
  • The Flemish government set up a system of educational qualification training for bottleneck occupations. It’s a way the PES helps people to broad the scope of job possibilities.
  • Flanders participated in the Erasmus+ project Guidance and Orientation for Adult Learners.

Helpful links and other resources

  • To contribute information that may be of interest to others in your country, please contact your country’s hosts: Gil Keppens or Sarah Neyts. As the International Network for School Attendance grows, materials will be added to your country’s webpage. Currently, this webpage is updated every three months.  
  • You will find more information about school refusal on Angst voor de Schoolpoort. In September 2019 you will find tools for schools on this website.
  • Find the upcoming events on web page on school absenteeism.
  • Find all information and data about this topic on web page on school absenteeism.

Disclaimer: INSA’s Mission encourages us to disseminate as much readily available information as possible, without judgement. The sharing of this information should not be seen as an endorsement by INSA. People, groups, and organisations are separated into ‘for profit’ (fees are charged for services) and ‘not for profit’ (including charities, who may charge no fees or nominal fees for services). Please access and use this information with proper judgement.

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