A guest post by Timo Carlier.
If your child is currently enrolled in Grade 6 in a local primary school – het 6e leerjaar – then it’s time to choose a school for secondary education, or secundair onderwijs. If you have not yet registered your child, you may have received a letter in the mail reminding you that this process should be completed before 5 PM on April 3rd, 2020, which is this Friday.
In the wider Antwerp region, registration is done through a centralised process, via this website: https://meldjeaansecundair.antwerpen.be/
NB: Corona virus regulations have not affected the timeline of the registration process.
Should you miss the 3 April 2020 deadline, you will still be able to register with individual schools from 11 May 2020 onwards, but keep in mind that places will be full in some schools by this point. This late registration process closes 3 June 2020.
Gent and Brussels have their own Meldjeaan sites here: https://www.meldjeaan.be/
The registration process
I found signing up on the website straightforward. You will need your child’s rijksregisternummer (national registration number) which can be found on their ISI+ health insurance card (or on the pink stickers used for doctors), or on the back of their ID card (see pic below).
If your child does not have an ID card yet, it is probably best to contact your local city council, or districtshuis.
Once signed up, you can select the schools you are interested in by typing the names into a search bar and selecting the schools you want. I’ve been recommended to list at least five schools by a representative of Meldjeaan. Then rank your schools by dragging a small arrow next to each selected school’s name up or down. This is an important step; the order counts. You are now ready to complete the process, though you can revisit the site any time and make changes, up until April 3rd.
Note about 1A and 1B streams
Most children who complete primary school will need to sign up for the 1A stream in secondary school. Children who are unable to successfully complete their primary education will most likely need to choose 1B. However, if you are unsure, it is always best to ask your child’s teacher for advice.
If you are unable to access the website or don’t understand a step in the process, you can call the Meldjeaan team or email them for help (see below.
Results and registration
Results will be sent to parents on 6 May 2020, after which you should register your child at the school you have been allocated. This should be done by appointment and by contacting the school directly.
If the allocated school is not your number 1 choice, you will automatically be put on a waiting list for the schools higher up your list.
Waiting list and follow-up process
This is where things may get a little complicated. It is possible to move up your waiting list, even into the start of the academic year. Please keep the following points in mind:
- Always register your child with the highest ranked school on your list you’ve been allocated
- By doing so, the schools lower down on your list automatically fall away; this frees new spaces for other applicants
- You will automatically be put on a waiting list for schools higher up on your list
- If a space higher up is freed up, you will be notified and can now register with that school; the previous registration is annulled
- You cannot register with multiple schools
- It is perfectly acceptable to annul registrations in favour of a school higher up your list, should they become free
- If you want to see high up on the waiting list for a particular school you are after 6 May, log back into the meldjeaan.antwerpen.be website
- Waiting list positions are valid until 7 October 2020 (note: this is after the start of the school year!). After that, it’s best to contact the school in question directly for information.
Overall, this seems like a fair system to me. It certainly beats parents having to camp out in front of schools, which I’ve heard so much about.
I have not included details about special education, or early selection for children who have older siblings already enrolled in a school, or whose parents work in Flemish education. Please contact the organisation for more information on that.
You can find a list of secondary schools in Antwerp here. You can find information about schools and subject choices here. You can find a current list of available places in schools here. From 10 AM 8 May on, the Meldjeaan website will publish a list of remaining free places for those who have missed online registration. You can also contact them by email or phone: 0800 62 185
Disclaimer: I am just a parent who has recently gone through and learned about the school registration process over a period of two years, by asking many people lots of questions (and taking lots of notes). I am not an authority on the subject, but I am sharing what I learned here. It is therefore always best to consult the helpdesk above for information.
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