Vinohrady's first Czech-British primary school is opening this autumn

In September 2022, Tip Toes will open a new bilingual school, led by a mother-daughter team. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 04.04.2022 17:00:00 (updated on 04.04.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

The demand for bilingual education in Prague has grown dramatically in the last decade, driven by a number of factors. The days of the clear-cut distinction between ‘expats’ and ‘locals’ are long gone, with mixed marriages, settled foreigners, and global locals increasingly common. Various studies put the percentage of the world's population who are bilingual or multilingual at 60-75% and in today’s globalized world, being bilingual is about more than speaking a second language. 

Following a rise in demand and the successful debut of its preschool in 2020, Prague-based Tip Toes Vinohrady has announced that it is opening a new Czech-British primary school that will eventually cover Years 1-5. Beginning this September the school will debut a Year 1 class, with Years 2-5 being rolled out in subsequent years.

The new primary school is located in a beautifully designed and fully renovated four-story villa right next door to the Tip Toes Pre School, meaning this year’s Pre School graduates won’t have far to walk.

According to Tip Toes Vinohrady co-founder Jarmila Baker, bilingual education in the context of a "Czech-British" school involves having a deep understanding of the two national curricula. In terms of content, as you would expect, the two curricula have a lot in common. The main difference lies in the approach to teaching and learning that each system takes. 

Baker remembers explaining to families back in 2009 when she opened the first Czech-British bilingual school in her hometown of Stará Boleslav, how children would benefit from an education in both Czech and English.

“At the time, most parents were driven mainly by the desire to push their child’s English language ability. However, the benefits of a truly bilingual education go well beyond the ability to speak two languages fluently. It opens the mind to the presence of other languages and cultures and encourages an outward-looking approach to life.

While the Tip Toes school may be a relative newcomer to Prague, the school has a rich 13-year history in the Central Bohemian region, in Stará Boleslav as well as Brandýs nad Labem. The school was founded in 2009 by Baker and her mother, Jarmila Dvořáková, an experienced former Czech state school head.

Having worked in an international school and bilingual kindergarten in Prague in the early 2000s, Baker asked herself why such schools seemed to be limited to Prague and other major cities. Her hometown of Brandýs may be commuting distance from Prague for many office workers, but the commute wasn’t ideal for a 4-year-old.

She began exploring the possibility of opening a school and spent more than a year creating her business plan, searching for just the right space, and weaving her way through a labyrinth of bureaucracy.

The idea became reality in April 2009 when the mother-daughter team opened the first Tip Toes bilingual Pre School in Stará Boleslav.

“I remember the first day clearly,” says Baker. “Three children arrived and we already had six members of staff, perhaps that’s where our individual approach to learning comes from,” she laughs.

It didn’t take long, however, before the school was gaining momentum and earning a solid reputation in the region. Every school year saw an extra class being added until the first group of enrolled children were ready to move up to Primary School.

“The parents were telling us every day that they wished there was a Primary School like Tip Toes Pre School," says Baker. The duo began preparation for the next major step in the school’s development, opening a Primary School.

“We managed to find premises in Brandýs and in 2013 our first Primary School was opened. We will have our first Year 9 graduates this June, so there is a nice symmetry with the new Vinohrady Primary School opening its doors this September.''

Tip Toes seems to have a habit of being in the right place at the right time. Back in 2009, they were the only Czech-British bilingual school in the Central Bohemian region. Now with much higher levels of demand, and of course choice, Tip Toes are in a unique position to bring their years of experience to one of Prague’s most cosmopolitan districts.

“Opening the Pre School and now the Primary School in Vinohrady has been very exciting for us,” says Baker. “We started Tip Toes because we believed that our small town deserved a high-quality bilingual school. Now, 13 years later, with all our experience, we are sure that Vinohrady deserves a truly Czech-British school that understands the complexities of bilingual teaching and learning and can deliver an outstanding education with an individual approach.” 

As mother-and-daughter educators, Dvořáková and Baker are unique on the Prague school scene and Tip Toes is very much a family affair. Baker says that even after so many years of working together, running a school with her "mum" is the most rewarding role she can imagine. In fact, bilingualism is an important part of the entire family dynamic.

“I have three bilingual children of my own at home, and for them, it is hard to imagine what it is like to speak, think and listen to only one language,” she says. 

As the school begins its next chapter, Baker reflects on the past. “Over the years we have learned how to deliver the shared content of the curricula using the methods that work best for the children. It’s not something that schools can learn overnight, I would say true bilingual schools don’t just teach every day, but they also learn.”

Tip Toes Primary School will open in September at Říčanská 3, Prague 10, Vinohrady. The building is located immediately next door to the current Tip Toes Pre School, creating a single Pre School and Primary Campus that will cater to children aged 2-11. Teachers at Tip Toes are all experienced and fully qualified, with English lessons being delivered by native English speakers. 

This article was written in cooperation with the Základní škola a Mateřská škola TIP TOES s.r.o. Read more about our sponsored content policy here.

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