While education is compulsory in Belgium from the start of the school year in which a child turns 5 until the child turns 18, school attendance is not. The Belgian constitution offers ‘free choice’ to parents as to how their children are educated, and homeschooling is possible provided that the teaching fulfils certain requirements.
In this section you can find out about:
- the basic principles of homeschooling in Belgium
- the different rules and regulations you need to follow if your child is domiciled in:
- Brussels – you can choose to report to the ministry of education of either the French-speaking or Flemish community
- where to find local support and advice
Some basic principles about homeschooling in Belgium
What does Belgian law say about homeschooling?
In Belgium, education is compulsory from September 1 of the calendar year in which a child reaches the age of five, until the child turns 18. There is no obligation to attend school, and Article 24 of the Belgian Constitution offers ‘free choice’ to parents as to how their children are educated.
Education is regulated at the level of the three lanaguage communities, i.e. the Flemish community, French-speaking community (formally called the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles) and German-speaking community. Each community has its own specific rules and requirements when it comes to homeschooling.
Broadly speaking though, homeschooling must aim to meet the following minimum requirements:
- Education must focus on the development of your child’s full personality and talents, and on preparing your child for an active adult life.
- Education must show respect for the fundamental rights of people and for the cultural values of your child and of others.
How do I know which rules I need to follow?
If your child is/will be domiciled in:
- Brussels, you can choose to report homeschooling to, and follow the rules of either the French-speaking or the Flemish community;
- Wallonia, you need to report homeschooling to, and follow the rules of the French-speaking community;
- Flanders, you need to report homeschooling to, and follow the rules of the Flemish community;
- German-speaking Belgium, you need to report homeschooling to, and follow the rules of the German-speaking community.
Homeschooling needs to be officially reported at the beginning of EACH school year – dates differ across the three language communities – and inspections are carried out at various points during your child’s homeschooling journey – again, these differ per language community.
If you are reporting to the Flemish community, it may be possible to start homeschooling mid-year, as long as the school’s CLB office (Centrum Voor Leerlingenbegeleiding – student guidance office) does not oppose it.
Can I homeschool my child in any language?
Legally, there is no language obligation for homeschooling in Belgium. This means that in theory, you can homeschool your child in the language of your choice. When reporting your child’s homeschooling each year, make sure to indicate that homeschooling will be done in English (or other language) in order to prepare the student for higher education in that language.
However, be aware that, when it comes to the tests and exams that are required at various points along your child’s homeschooling journey, there seems to be no official stance on submission/acceptance of equivalent tests/exams in another language, so it will be your responsibility to find out if and how you can meet the testing requirements. Read more about this below in ‘Can my child be tested in English, or another non-local language?’
Note also that if your child has at least one Belgian parent, authorities are likely to encourage the child to be tested in one of Belgium’s official languages.
Are there any compulsory courses or curricula that need to be followed?
There are no compulsory courses, books or curricula for homeschooling in Belgium. However, when parents report their intention to homeschool, they must answer a series of questions about how the homeschooling will be carried out, e.g. themes to be studied, resources that will be used etc.
Also, during the course of your child’s homeschooling, your child needs to be assessed at different times – the timing of these tests and exams differs per language community.
Can my child be tested in English, or another non-local language?
While there is no official stance on submitting equivalent foreign-language tests/exams as proof of your child’s educational progress, in practice, many parents have successfully been able to do this – note however that the first-hand experiences we’ve heard relate to submission of English-language tests/exams.
- French-speaking community: For the exams your child needs to take at the ages 8 and 10, it’s possible to request to have the exams translated into the homeschool language. You will probably need to arrange this translation yourself.
- Flemish community: While there are no exams until at the end of primary school, there are home visits/inspections. These can be requested in English.
For the end-of-primary exam, a child following a curriculum in a different language may be able to submit equivalent exams to meet the testing requirement.
- French-speaking and Flemish community: At secondary level, students following a curriculum in English, or another non-local language, may be able to send in equivalent exams to meet the testing requirement.
IMPORTANT: If you want to homeschool your child in a language other than one of Belgium’s three national languages, then it is your responsibility to ensure that you will be able to submit any equivalent tests/exams in that language.
What if we’re homeschooling in one Belgian national language but reporting to another language community?
For the end-of-primary school exam (‘Certificat d’Etudes de Base’ (CEB) / ‘Getuigschrift van Lager Onderwijs’), the lower secondary school exam (‘Certificat d’études du 1er degré’ / ‘Getuigschrift 1ste graad secundair’) and the upper secondary school exam (‘Certificat d’études du 2ème degré’ / ‘Getuigschrift 2de graad secundair’) it’s possible to take exams in the ‘other’ language.
Can we start or stop homeschooling in the middle of a school year?
If you are reporting to the French-speaking community, it’s not possible to start homeschooling in the middle of a school year – once the dealine for reporting homeschooling has passed, it is no longer possible to start homeschooling for that school year.
If you are reporting to the Flemish community, it’s possible to start homeschooling mid-year, as long as the school’s CLB office (Centrum Voor Leerlingenbegeleiding – student guidance office) does not oppose it.
Irrespective of the language community you report to, if for whatever reason you wish to discontinue homeschooling, it’s possible to return to (or start at) a school mid-year, provided the school agrees
Do I receive any financial assistance if I homeschool my child(ren)?
No, any costs related to educating your child(ren) at home are borne by you.
Remember that you are entitled to monthly family allowance payments for any child until at least 31 August of the year in which the child turns 18, and possibly longer if your child continues in higher education.
Homeschooling in the French-speaking community
Within the French-speaking community (formally known as the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles), for school-age children to meet education requirements through homeschooling, a declaration of homeschooling must be submitted at the latest on 5 September of the school year in which the child is to follow homeschooling.
An exception to this is in the case where a family with school-age children moves to Belgium from abroad, and becomes domiciled in the Brussels Capital Region or Wallonia during the school year. In this case, they submit the declaration when they register at their local commune.
A new declaration needs to be submitted each school year, and if you stop homeschooling during the school year, you need to provide proof of enrolment in school to the Compulsory Education Check cell of the Agency for Educational Services (contact details below).
Checks and controls
Homeschooling is further governed by a royal decree from April 25, 2008, which explains when and how students must be examined:
- At the ages of 8 and 10 years of age, the General Inspection service carries out an inspection to ensure that the homeschooling is adequate. For homeschooling in a language other than French, it’s possible to request translation for these exams, though usually the parent has to arrange this.
- At the age of 12, 14 and 16, students need to sit the exams for:
- at 12, the C.E.B. (‘certificat d’études de base de fin de primaire’ – end of primary school certificate)
- at 14, the C.E.1.D. (‘certificat d’études du 1er degré’ – end of second year of secondary school certificate)
- at 16, the C.E.2.D. (‘certificat d’études du 2ème degré’ – end of fourth year of secondary school certificate).
For these exams, students following a curriculum in a language other than French may be able to submit equivalent exams to meet the testing requirement. However, it’s the parent(s)’ responsibility to follow up on this and make sure the testing requirement can be met.
More information and contacts
Service de l’Enseignement à Domicile (Homeschool service)
Rue Adolphe Lavallée 1
Tel: +32 2 690 86 90
Webpage on homeschooling: http://www.enseignement.be/index.php?page=26100
Homeschooling in the Flemish community
In the Flemish community, for school-age children to meet education requirements through homeschooling, parents must notify the Department of Education and Training in writing no later than the third school day of the school year in which the child is to follow homeschooling.
The declaration is valid for one school year, until 31 August. A new declaration needs to be submitted each school year. You can find the form (in Dutch) and details of where and how to send it, here.
It may also be possible to start homeschooling mid-year, as long as the school’s CLB office (Centrum Voor Leerlingenbegeleiding – student guidance office) does not oppose it.
Checks and controls
The Education Inspectorate carries out ‘inspections’ – note that these are friendly and constructive, and can be arranged in English – to check that homeschooling is meeting the minimum requirements. Parents are obliged to allow these inspections.
If the homeschooling setup fails the inspection and it appears that home education is not satisfactory, the child(ren) must be enrolled in school.
Children who are homeschooled in the Flemish community must also participate in external exams for primary education and for secondary education:
- Primary education: A homeschooled child needs to obtain their ‘Getuigschrift van Lager Onderwijs’ – end of primary school certificate – before 1 January of the school year in which they turn 13.
- Secondary education: A homeschooled child needs to obtain their ‘Getuigschrift 1ste graad secundair’ – certificate for the first cycle of secondary education – before 1 January of the school year in which they turn 16.
For these exams, students following a curriculum in a language other than Dutch may be able to submit equivalent exams to meet the testing requirement. However, it’s the parent(s)’ responsibility to follow up on this and make sure the testing requirement can be met.
Any child who is homeschooled (or attends an accredited school) in Flanders must be seen by the CLB (‘Centrum voor Leerlingenbegeleiding’ – student guidance centre) – or have the relevant forms filled out by a family doctor or their choice – for regular medical and social checks at the age of:
- 6 years or in first primary
- 9 years or in fourth primary
- 11 years or in sixth primary
- 14 years or in the third year of secondary education – presence of the parents at this appointment is discouraged so that the young person can speak freely.
At the appointment, the child’s general health is checked, including weight, height, hearing and sight, and, depending on the age of the child, questions may also be asked about the family situation, living habits and well-being.
More information and contacts
Agentschap voor Onderwijsdiensten
Scholen basisonderwijs, dko en clb
Koning Albert II-laan 15
Tel: +32 2 553 04 04
Agentschap voor Onderwijsdiensten
Scholen secundair onderwijs
Koning Albert II-laan 15
Tel: +32 2 553 20 44
Webpage on homeschooling https://onderwijs.vlaanderen.be/nl/huisonderwijs-en-de-examencommissie
Homeschooling in the German-speaking community
Within the German-speaking community, for school-age children to meet education requirements through homeschooling, homeschooled students must be registered with the ministry of education at the latest three working days before the start of the school year in which the child is to follow homeschooling.
The declaration is valid for one school year, and a new form must be submitted again before the start of each school year..
Checks and controls
The Education Inspectorate checks whether homeschooling meetings the minimum requirements and parents are obliged to allow these inspections.
Students who are homeschooled also need to take external exams to obtain certificates from primary school, and from lower and upper secondary school.
For more information: https://www.ostbelgienbildung.be/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-5175/9008_read-49553/
Where to turn for support and advice
There are two English-language Facebook groups dedicated to homeschooling. Both are private groups, but anyone can request to join:
- Homeschoolers Home Educators for English Speakers in Belgium –https://www.facebook.com/groups/195108691198671
- Homeschooling in Brussels –https://www.facebook.com/groups/278306866640831/