'Here to stay': Flanders launches framework for free summer schools

'Here to stay': Flanders launches framework for free summer schools
Credit: Belga

The Flemish government confirmed on Wednesday that the free summer schools, initiated to compensate for learning time lost during the coronavirus pandemic, will once again be organised this year.

Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts and Minister of Home Affairs Bart Somers announced a total of €10 million will be allocated for the organisation of summer schools, which combine a tailor-made offer of lessons with play, culture and sports, in July and August.

"This school year is, fortunately, less marked by the coronavirus crisis, but the summer schools are here to stay," Weyts and Somers said in a statement. "Especially for the most vulnerable children and youngsters summer schools offer many opportunities."

From this year onwards, the summer schools will be anchored by a sustainable and clear framework, setting out all the conditions, as well as the support children will receive there for a minimum of ten days as part of a tailor-made teaching programme to prevent or remedy learning disadvantages.

Continuing purpose

In the summer of 2020, in light of the school closures due to the pandemic and the negative effect this had on many pupils and their learning achievements, as many as 138 summer schools were organised across Flanders.

This increased to 190 summer schools last year. The Flemish Government decided to structurally include summer schools in the educational offer, after determining that the system is also valuable outside the pandemic context, especially for the most vulnerable pupils.

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"We are also going to get good things out of the coronavirus crisis," Weyts said. "Summer schools are valuable every year, pandemic or no pandemic. They can prevent the most vulnerable children from starting the new school year with a backlog in September."

As of this year, the decree will allow a local authority to better organise such schools in advance and can count on receiving a minimum of €45 per pupil per day in funding.

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