Different schools in Belgium

In Belgium, schools are divided per age group.

  • Pre-primary education: from 2.5 to 5 years
  • Primary education: from 6 to 11 years
  • Secondary education: from 12 to 18 years

Pre-primary education (2.5 to 5 years)

Children under the age of 5 are not obliged to go to kindergarten. Most children go to kindergarten anyway because they learn to speak the language there. They also learn to craft, draw, play together ...

The school is the best place for your child to learn the language. 

On the 1st of September of the year that your child turns 5, your child must go to kindergarten. If your child attends a Dutch-speaking school and does not speak Dutch well at the age of 6, the school may decide to send your child to kindergarten for an additional year (instead of primary school)

Primary education (6 to 11 years)

You must register your child when he or she first attends primary school or changes schools. You can choose which school your child goes to.

Primary education includes 6 years. Your child has to achieve learning goals every year in order to go to the next year.

The subjects in primary education are:

  • Mathematics
  • Reading and writing
  • Social orientation (geography, biology, traffic science...)
  • Physical education, including swimming

Secondary education (12 to 18 years)

After primary education, your child goes to secondary school. You have to re-register your child because this is a new school. You can choose which secondary school your child goes to.

Secondary education includes 6 years as well. In secondary school, young people are being prepared to continue their studies (higher education) or to learn a profession.

There are different types of secondary education (see infographic):

  • General secondary education (aso): prepares young people for higher education
  • Art-secondary education (kso): prepares young people for a profession in the art world (dance, theatre, painting, music, etc.).
  • Technical secondary education (tso): prepares young people for higher education in technical or economic fields or for employment in the electricity, wood or the tourist sector.
  • Vocational secondary education (bso): teaches young people a profession in view of employment.

Special education

Some children can't go to a regular school

  • They have trouble learning
  • They have trouble behaving
  • They have a disability (visual, motor, mental, hearing)

These children can go to a school that is specially adapted to their needs. In order to enrol a child in a special education school, a permit is required from: