2.9.1. Organisation of Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services (PMS).

Student guidance was established in Belgium in 1936. Independent of the school institutions themselves, the law provides for Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services (PMS) whose aim is to provide guidance for students.

The Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services in all three types of schools (schools maintained by the Community, public grant aided and private grant aided schools) give priority to providing a service for their own type of school.

Each centre provides guidance for a number of school establishments with a minimum total of 5,000 students (pre-primary, primary and secondary education). Specialised Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services deal with guidance for students in special education. Schools are provided with this service free of charge. Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services are attached to grant aided schools, which they serve under 6 year contracts. The organising bodies of the Centres must draw up an annual programme of work specifying their activities. All centres are subject to an inspection conducted by the Community. A comprehensive plan to restructure the operation, structure and tasks of Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services is currently being drawn up. The focus will be on referral and guidance.

2.9.2. Operation of the Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services (PMS).

The task of the Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services is, inter alia, to give students guidance. Employees sometimes act as information officers and sometimes provide support for students facing choices, giving psychological, medical and social guidance.

Guidance varies depending on factors such as whether the young person concerned is in fondamental , secondary, ordinary or special, full-time or part-time, general, technical or vocational education. A PMS officer participates on the conseil de classe .

2.9.3. Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services (PMS) and the Relationship between Training and Employment

It is the duty of the Centre for Psychological, Medical and Social Services to help young people to acquire sufficient information on contemporary and future professions, not simply on the training courses that lead to them. Certain associations of Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services have set up careers libraries with information on courses of study and careers in Belgium. With this purpose in mind, the Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services maintain links with educational establishments at all levels, with businesses and national or regional organisations and services which can supply them with information and reference material. Links are maintained with various social structures such as: sub-regional employment committees and their employment-training units, professional associations, regional employment offices (FOREM) and other career organisations.

2.9.4. Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services and Guidance towards Special Education

The Act of 1970 introduced legislation on entry requirements for special education. Admission is, broadly speaking, available on the same basis as in ordinary education with regard to the intake age in pre-primary, primary and secondary education. However, an inter-disciplinary examination must be taken and a report produced, specifying the type of education appropriate for the handicap and needs of each child, before admission can take place. The Centre for Psychological, Medical and Social Services, a guidance office or an organisation approved and recognised by the State, conducts the inter-disciplinary examination so as to advise the parents on their decision. For types 5, 6 and 7 (cf. [10.3.] ), the examination is conducted by a specialist.