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Education and Schools

Czech Republic - Education and Schools

Under the Czech Republic’s constitution, every child in the country is entitled to receive free education at primary and secondary school. Furthermore, those who successfully gain at place at a public university do not pay tuition fees.

The education of young children in the Czech Republic has been legally compulsory since 1774. Today all children must receive an education from the age of 6 until they are 15. In reality, many children start nursery at the age of three and few will leave before the age of 18. Academic high achievers and those training for skilled vocational careers will continue their education into early adulthood.

Education in the Czech republic is delivered through co-educational classes. The school year starts on the 1st September each year, and children join the school year appropriate to their age. Some children may have to repeat a school year if they don’t make sufficient progress.

The strategic direction of the education system in the Czech Republic is driven by the ministry of education, youth and sports. However, it is the 14 regional municipalities across the country who deliver the educational services through nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and the higher vocational schools. Both the ministry of education and the regional municipalities are responsible for funding educational institutions and services. The exception is universities, which are solely funded by the ministry of education.

Since the 1990s, private schools have in operation in the Czech Republic. They receive a state contribution towards their running costs, and receive the rest of their funding from fees paid by the pupils’ parents.

The standard of education in each educational establishment is monitored by the Czech school inspectorate. They examine the quality of management, the efficient use of funds, the educational achievements and exam results of students in each establishment, and adherence to educational regulations. This includes delivery of the national curriculum as set out by the national teaching standards authority.

Teaching methods and textbooks used in classrooms must be chosen from the ministry of education’s approved list.

Teachers will continually assess the progress of their pupils. Reports and parents’ evenings are used to communicate that progress with families. Feedback to families is important in a selective education system where tests determine the direction of a child’s educational opportunities.

Children with special needs in the Czech Republic have a legal right to be educated in a mainstream school. Parents of these children can also ask for their offspring be placed in a special unit of a mainstream school if an appropriate one exists, or to attend a specialist school for their needs. The circumstances will all depend on the child’s needs, their parents’ wishes and the facilities available in the area.

Nursery schools welcome children between the ages of three and six. Places are free, although some contribution towards additional costs may be requested. Whilst nursery attendance is not compulsory, most Czech children will attend them at some point of their early childhood.

Your local primary school will sit in a catchment area, but available spaces may be taken up by pupils from other areas. Years one to five will be delivered here. At this stage, all subjects will be delivered by one class teacher.

Access to year 6, the next stage of education, will usually be determined by an entrance exam, the content of which has been approved by the school’s head teacher. Some head teachers use alternative means of selection, but this is the exception.

Children will either gain places at:
• the gymnazium, which is the local secondary school;
• the střední odborná škola – or SOŠ – which delivers secondary technical education;
• or the střední odborné učiliště – SOU – which is the secondary vocational school.

Teachers at these schools deliver the one or two subjects in which they have specialist knowledge.

Gymnazium students receive a general academic programme of education leading to their final exams, known as the maturita. Whilst less than one in five pupils attend a gymnazium, almost one in five gymnazium schools is run privately.

Secondary technical schools lead to either the maturita exams, or vocational technical preparation for number of career specialisms. Laboratories and workshops provide practical learning opportunities. Almost a quarter of these schools are run privately.

Just under half of the secondary school population attends a secondary vocational school, although that percentage is decreasing over time. The courses which last up to three years, and lead to a final exam and certification, whilst the four year courses end with the maturita exams. About 50 percent of the course will deliver practical training. Roughly one in six secondary vocational schools are run privately.

Higher professional schools deliver training for higher level technical professions where a university degree is not required. After successfully completing the course, which lasts between two years and three and a half years, the student can use the title DiS. This stands for specialist with a diploma. About one in three higher professional schools are private schools.

Higher education in the Czech Republic is delivered free of charge to the students attending a state institution, although there are many private higher education institutions available too. All applicants must have passed the maturita, entrance exam and any other admissions criteria an institution imposes. Competition for places is strong, so only about half of all applicants will receive a higher education place.

It is possible to obtain a bachelor’s degree from a higher education institution which is not a university, whereas universities offer a variety of degrees, from bachelor level to PhDs.

Parents looking for an international school in the Czech Republic have a decent selection to choose from. Most are based in Prague, but others are based in Brno, Ostrava, Karlovy Vary, Olomouc and Ceske Budejovice. Boarding schools, a Montessori school and a Lycee Francais are well-established here, but the sector is dominated by coeducational day schools delivering their educational programme in English.

The council of international schools, the New England association of schools and colleges, the council of British international schools and the agency for French education abroad are the accrediting bodies which have approved international schools in the Czech Republic. When viewing international schools, they will inform you which body has accredited their particular school.

Nine English speaking IB world schools operate in the Czech Republic, leading to the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Amongst these is Prague’s International School, which also delivers a curriculum leading to a US high school diploma, and the Riverside School, which delivers educational programmes to meet US, UK and IB exam requirements. The Carlsbad International School in Karlovy Vary offers a boarding option for students wishing to obtain an IB qualification.

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