The education and schools sector in the Czech Republic is in a healthy state. Even better news for expat parents is that their children can attend public school at no cost, provided that they are EU nationals or legal residents. This is the case from pre-primary school up to and including university. But, seeing as the language of instruction in public schools is Czech, most expat parents choose to enrol their children in private or international schools.
Schooling is compulsory from the age of six to 15. The school year runs from early September to late June.
Public schools in Czech Republic
Teaching in the Czech Republic's public schools is conducted entirely in the Czech language, with either English or German taught as a second language. Some expat parents are discouraged by this but there are advantages to expat children being taught in Czech, the biggest of which is that it's a good way for them to learn the language and subsequently assimilate into the culture more easily. This is especially important for expats planning a long stay in the country. Some schools take difficulties with the language into account when assessing students in subjects such as Czech language and literature.
It's always a good idea for parents to visit schools of interest before enrolling their children. This can be done at official open days or may be arranged by request. Conditions in public schools may vary widely, and some are more amenable to and equipped for having foreign students than others.
Private schools in Czech Republic
Private schools in the Czech Republic are partly funded by the state and partly funded by tuition. Some of these schools are bilingual, teaching in both Czech and English, or sometimes Czech and German. Expat parents who can't quite fit international school fees into their budget but are still concerned about their children having difficulties with the Czech language may find these schools to be an ideal solution.
International schools in Czech Republic
Most international schools teach in English and are perhaps most useful for expats planning to reside in the country for a relatively short period of time, as the continuity in curriculum minimises disruption in the child's education. Common curricula offered by international schools include the International Baccalaureate (IB), the American curriculum, or the British curriculum. Prague in particular has a high concentration of international schools.
International schools can be expensive, so if moving to the Czech Republic as part of an international relocation package, it is worth negotiating for school fees as part of the relocation contract.
International schools can vary widely in ethos, curriculum, quality and size. Although there are a number of schools to choose from, space may be limited and parents are advised to start the application process as soon as possible.
Special-needs education in Czech Republic
The Czech government implemented a system of inclusion for children with special needs. This means that all children can be educated in mainstream schools, no matter their level of difficulties, unless a parent specifically wants their child to be educated at a special-needs school. In some mainstream schools there are also classes for special needs children if they would like to be taught separately.
All schools have the necessary facilities, staff and support provisions available to assist children with disabilities, and a counselling system has been developed to help the integration process into mainstream schools. The different needs of all children have also been regarded and individualised forms of education have been developed to meet these needs.
Tutors in Prague
Tutors are extremely helpful in assisting expat children to adjust to their new school and curriculum, as well as language of instruction, if different from home. Both Czech and English tutors are widely available, as well as those for other subjects, such as maths, and can provide school support where needed.
There are websites and tutor companies that advertise at home, or online private tutoring services, which include websites such as Apprentus and Tutoroo. Expats in Prague can also benefit from the many language schools in the city. These can assist expats and expat children to learn Czech.