The Flemish Community of Belgium has been implementing dual education to develop greater flexibility in the education system. It piloted a new model of dual vocational education (Schoolbank op de werkplek) from 2016-19. Since 2019, all secondary schools in the Flemish Community can offer dual education, subject to an approved programme application. The number of dual courses has been increasing from the start, with well over 100 courses that can now be organised in dual-learning format. The Flemish government supports schools and companies in this, and most participating students spend at least 20 hours per week in the workplace. An evaluation of the pilot highlighted the key role of programme counsellors and mentors in ensuring the quality of training, and found that students’ participation improved their connections to the world of work (Flemish Department of Education and Training, n.d.[6]). Subsquent studies have focused on the costs and benefits of dual training for different stakeholders, the reasons learners choose – or may not choose – dual learning, and how to best encourage participation.

Like all strands of vocational education and training (VET), dual education was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. During 2020/21 the Flemish Parliament adopted several “Special Decrees on Emergency Measures for Education in response to Covid-19”, including specific measures for dual learning, where work-based training modules were replaced by school-based provision. The Flemish Agency for Professional Training developed guidelines to enable training providers to adapt their offer in case of further lockdowns, and launched online tutorials, webinars and a virtual information fair for institutions wishing to provide dual training during 2020/21.

Further reading: Flanders Department of Work and Social Economy (2019[7]), Proefproject duaal leren: Schoolbank op de Werkplek – Evolutie in cijfers [Pilot project dual learning: School desk at the workplace - Evolution in numbers], (accessed 25 February 2021).

To remediate learning gaps that opened up during the Great Lockdown of 2020, the French Community of Belgium granted extra teaching periods to the system’s most disadvantaged primary and secondary schools. The strategy also aimed to prevent future interruptions to learning in the event of further lockdowns. By request, schools could receive extra teaching periods based on the number of students enrolled in January 2020 and could use the time to create additional teaching, leadership, and student support roles during 2020/21. Regulations specified that the extra teaching time could only be used for differentiated learning and remediation, giving priority to students experiencing learning difficulties. This could include psychological or social support for students, or support with digital learning. Within these constraints, schools benefited from the autonomy to develop a strategy suited to their context.

The government held schools accountable for their use of extra periods, and a support unit for personalised learning provided support for individual teachers. The schools’ inspectorate became charged with evaluating the implementation of the strategy to inform future practice. The approach aims to provide short-term responses to learning gaps while paving the way for long-term strategic improvement.

Further reading: Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (2020[8]), Circulaire 7705, (accessed 1 February 2021).


Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (2020), Circulaire 7705, (accessed on 1 February 2021). [8]

Flanders Department of Work and Social Economy (2019), Proefproject duaal leren: Schoolbank op de Werkplek – Evolutie in cijfers [Pilot project dual learning: School desk at the workplace - Evolution in numbers], (accessed on 25 February 2021). [7]

Flemish Department of Education and Training (n.d.), Evaluatie proefprojecten duaal leren [Evaluation of pilot projects for dual learning], (accessed on 1 February 2021). [6]

OECD (2020), Learning remotely when schools close: How well are students and schools prepared? Insights from PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, [2]

OECD (2020), TALIS 2018 Results (Volume II): Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris, [1]

OECD (2019), PISA 2018 Results (Volume II): Where All Students Can Succeed, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, [4]

OECD (2019), PISA 2018 Results (Volume III): What School Life Means for Students’ Lives, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, [5]

OECD (2019), TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris, [3]

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