Introduction to Schools and Prague Education
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First Things First
If this is a stay of a couple of months and you’ve got money for international schools then language will not be an issue. If it’s long-stay or relocation and you are looking at either private or state school options then get your kids learning Czech asap using phone apps etc and before you get here look at what Meta Ops may be able to help you with (especially the kids).
If you are going to stay in Prague for a longer period of time with your family, then you will undoubtedly face the really difficult question of choosing a school for your child. Compulsory education has been in this country since 1774. I have three kids at various school levels, so I know what I’m talking about.
Schools categories in Czech
Schools in the Czech Republic are divided into several categories, depending on stages, the age of the children and by founder. Note that whatever school you eventually get a place for, you will need to do the official sign-up which in Prague means you physically go to the school on a specified day. We call this the “Zapis”. By stages the school are divided into:
Kindergarden (Materska skola): Pre-school education. State intake from age 3-6 years but private will take them a year earlier i.e. 2-6 years.
Elementary/Primary schools (Zakladni skola): Primary education (age 6-15 years but note that this starting age can be delayed to age 7 based on the school’s recommendation). There follows nine years which is the compulsory schooling duration in the Czech Republic. Those nine years are divided into two specific parts:
The Elementary stage covers up to the fifth year in the school at which point you’ll get the first option for moving to a Grammar.
The Primary (high school) stage covers the sixth to the ninth year at which point there is another Grammar split or the option for continued vocational education (secondary).
Grammar school (Gymnazium): Education finishes at 19. You have the option for periods of eight years (11-19 years), six years (13-19) and four years (15-19 years).
Secondary school (Stredni skola): (age 15-19 years) builds on the Primary stage and it is usually of three or four years, but there are also one-year and two-year courses possible.
Colleges and universities (Vysoke skoly, Univerzity): tertiary education (age 19 and over), possible after graduation of four years of a secondary school or grammar.
There are more on the basic art school (Zakladni umelecka skola): for children aged 6-15 – music, art and drama voluntary education generally in the afternoon after the compulsory school.