Better social mix in schools helps weaker students, says OECD

Summary

Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits, responding to an OECD report that a greater social mix improves student scores, says the government is taking steps to help academic performance

Students help each other

Ensuring a healthy mix of students from different socio-economic backgrounds can considerably reduce the number of students with poor grades and will not affect the performance of the stronger students, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

OECD experts analysed data from the 2012 Pisa study, a large-scale research project concerning performance results of 15-year-old students in the 64 OECD countries. The study found that 28% of the students did not achieve the required basic level of reading, mathematics or sciences. The OECD has examined the causes of the learning deficits.

“Although the social-economic background of a student has an important influence on the probability of performing inadequately on maths tests, the social-economic profile of the school has an even bigger impact,” stated researchers in the OECD report.

Students not only learn from their teachers but also from fellow students, explained the OECD. If most of the other students perform badly, the entire class has greater learning problems as not all teachers are sufficiently trained to deal with a large concentration of such students.

In a statement, Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits pointed to various measures the government is taking to reduce the number of students who fail subjects. The government is encouraging parents to send their toddlers to school as soon as possible, reforming secondary education, improving teacher education and expanding career opportunities for teachers, she said. 

Photo courtesy onderwijs.vlaanderen.be

Educational system

The Flemish educational system is divided into two levels: primary (age six to 12) and secondary school (12 to 18). Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 18.
Types - There are three educational networks in Flanders: the Flemish Community’s GO! network, and publicly funded education – either publicly or privately run.
Not enough space - In recent years, Flemish schools have been struggling with persistent teacher shortages and a growing lack of school spaces.
No tuition fees - Nursery, primary and secondary school are free in Flanders.
1

million school-going children in 2013

30

million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013

11

percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma