EXPLAINED: How to apply for primary school in Czechia

The application period for securing your child's spot at a Czech primary school is just around the corner; here's an overview of what you need to know.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 12.03.2024 17:30:00 (updated on 13.03.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

Primary school enrollment in the Czech Republic is just around the corner. Enrolling a child in primary school can pose difficulties not only for internationals in Czechia but also Czechs themselves in light of recent shortages in elementary schools throughout the country.

Registrations always occur between April 1 and April 30, with specific dates determined by the schools. To ensure a smooth application process, here’s what you need to know as an expat parent.

At what age do kids attend first grade in Czechia?

In the Czech Republic, primary school begins at age six and has nine grades, divided into two levels: 1st level (1st to 5th grade) is considered primary education; 2nd level (6th-9th) is known as lower secondary.

Children who turned six before the school year 2024/2025, born between September 1, 2017, and August 31, 2018, must be enrolled. This includes children granted a one-year postponement of school attendance last year.

To determine a child's preparedness and suitability for primary school, the Ministry of Education provides a resource outlining 10 rules that cover the basic skills an incoming first-grade student in Czechia should possess, ranging from motor skills to maturity, speech and communication, logic, and social habits.

Choosing a school

All prospective pupils belong to so-called catchment areas (based on their location of residence) with schools to which they can apply. Parents may apply to schools outside the catchment area, but priority will always be given to people living inside a school’s catchment area.

See a comprehensive guide to Prague primary schools' catchment areas, along with an interactive map, here. You can also view a list of primary schools here.

Schools invite prospective students to attend school open days (Den otevřených dveří) in early spring, where families can meet the teachers and staff and get a feel for the school’s atmosphere and academic offerings to help them decide which schools to apply to. 

Submitting an application

Once you’ve decided on a school(s), monitor the website of the primary school you have chosen for applications, typically available from April 1 on the school’s website. Fill out and print the “application for admission to basic education” (žádost o přijetí dítěte k základnímu vzdělávání) and hand it in personally during the school formal registration day.

You may also send the application electronically to a school’s data box, e-mail it with a recorded electronic signature, or send it via post. If you enroll online, bring a copy of the completed application to the enrollment day.

Enrollment days: What to expect

Enrollment days (called zapis in Czech) usually involve a brief conversation with the teacher and activities to test the child’s school readiness. It’s a good idea to have all of these documents (and to verify what the school requires before enrollment day):

  • Birth certificate
  • IDs of the child and a parent
  • Health insurance card
  • Proof of address of the pupil’s permanent residence if it differs from the legal guardians' permanent residence.

Is it possible to defer enrollment?

Deferring the school year is possible if a doctor or the school deems a child unready for primary education. Parents may also opt for deferral if their child turns six in the summer, limiting developmental time. Parents must register the child for compulsory school attendance to defer, irrespective of the 2024 start.

If granted, the child isn’t automatically enrolled for the next academic year; parents must reapply during enrollment for the child to attend compulsory schooling in 2025 for the 2025/26 school year.

Important information for foreigners

Meta, an advocacy group for migrants in the Czech education system, has compiled a step-by-step enrollment guide. The organization also states that a school cannot refuse a pupil admission solely due to insufficient knowledge of the Czech language.

The only legitimate grounds for rejecting a pupil is if the school has reached its maximum capacity. In such cases, the school can petition its founding authority (typically the municipality) to expand its capacity. If none of the selected schools have vacancies, Meta suggests contacting the relevant Department of Education, which can recommend a school with adequate capacity.

The organization suggests submitting a written admission request (either in person at the school or by registered mail), even if the school initially rejects the child during the first meeting. The school must respond to such a request and provide reasons for its decision. You can keep their response as evidence when dealing with other authorities later.

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