English-Speaking Schools

Which school to choose? A guide to Prague schools

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 18.12.2004 00:17:00 (updated on 18.12.2004) Reading time: 3 minutes

Written by Peter de Voil
The English College in Prague

There are a number of reputable independent English-speaking schools in Prague. There are nursery or pre-schools, junior schools and secondary schools. They cater for children aged 3 to 19 and accept both Czech citizens and international students. Some have a British ethos and some an American ethos.

Find out what schools are available for your child, what the school fees are and what these fees include (will there be any extra costs?) Telephone for a prospectus about the school and look at the school´s website. Consider the school´s location and ease of access by public transport from where you live.

When you have selected the schools you like the look of, arrange to visit them. What sort of welcome are you given? Ask to meet the head teacher. Expect to be shown round by students, or at least to meet some. Ask one or two searching questions. Look at notices on notice boards and art or other work on display. Are you impressed?

Prospective parents need to discover what the admission criteria are: is the school academically selective and what is the nature of the entrance examination? What level of English proficiency is expected or needed, and how much support is provided at the school for those whose first language is not English?

Is teaching provided in the child´s native language or mother tongue? What other modern and foreign languages are offered? Is Czech compulsory?

The next question will concern the nature of the curriculum. If your child is a teenager, does the school offer British examinations, such as the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) or the International GCSE (IGCSE) at 16, and the Advanced Level GCE, or the International Baccalaureate Diploma or Certificate at 18 or 19, or its own diploma? Are any of these qualifications the equivalent of the Czech Maturita? Do they qualify a student for admission to universities in the Czech Republic and abroad?

Potential customers may wish to know what percentage of the school´s leavers in the last two or three years have gone on to universities in the Czech Republic, the UK, the USA or elsewhere, and which universities these were.

The quality of teaching may be difficult to assess. Ask to see recent academic results. Does the school have any means of evaluating or comparing its results? Are all the teachers qualified to teach and do they hold university degrees? What are the class sizes? Will the school allow you to attend classes to judge for yourself?

What is the pastoral care like? Does each student have a personal tutor who monitors performance and progress? How does the school communicate with parents? How many reports does it send home each year? How frequently are parent-teacher meetings held? Are parents involved in any other ways?

Other questions may relate to extra-curricular activities: does the school offer a broad range of activities? If your child is an accomplished musician or actor or a talented sportsman or woman, what are the school´s facilities like and what opportunities are available to encourage and develop this talent?

The schools themselves will obviously tell you that they offer an excellent education, that they value each child, that they expect high standards, etc. Try to verify these claims independently. One way is to ask parents who have children at a school; they will usually give you a balanced assessment and will probably tell you what they like about the school and if there is anything they don´t like – although is it advisable not to rely on the comments of only one family.

Finally, ask your child what he or she thinks. They often know whether it is the right school for them. Once you have done your research, trust your own instincts and those of your child.

Written by Peter de Voil
Headmaster
The English College in Prague
office@englishcollege.cz

For more information about the English College in Prague, please visit : www.englishcollege.cz

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