How a Prague international school nurtures high achievers in its close-knit community

Riverside School develops student potential, focusing on the whole child and fostering shared values.

William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 19.06.2023 17:00:00 (updated on 19.06.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

Parents in Prague seeking an international education for their children have many options. The city has various international schools, but it can be hard to tell which will provide the happy, welcoming environment young people need to grow and learn.

At any school, a strong sense of community is the magic ingredient that feeds into all other aspects of life. Whether it’s individual achievement, friendships, relationships with teachers, or hobbies and interests, community is the basis for successful education and growth.

Riverside School prides itself on the strong community spirit that binds together its students and staff. Common values, exciting opportunities to pursue personal interests and a focus on shared success are priorities for this not-for-profit school. spoke with students past and present about how Riverside creates a positive learning experience for all.

Community is the key to success

Riverside commits to challenging and caring for students, helping them thrive at school and elsewhere. This culture is reflected in “Outstanding” ratings across all areas of evaluation by British Schools Overseas; BSO said, “the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students at Riverside is outstanding and one of the school's key strengths.”

This development is the result of a caring community encompassing students and staff, with a Christian ethos and a focus on student mental health and wellbeing.

According to Adriana Midkiff, who graduated from Riverside in 2022 and now studies History and Politics at Cambridge University, “the key benefit was the sense of community Riverside provided. Teachers and students engaged with each other in a manner that fostered a comforting environment for learning and growth. This sense of trust and community made it easier for me to express concerns and ask for help regarding any points of weakness I felt needed addressing.”

Isabel Simmons, a current student who will attend the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. this autumn, says Riverside teachers “truly care about providing every student with the necessary resources for success. Class sizes are relatively small, which facilitates open discussion and individual support.” Having attended multiple international schools, Isabel says “Riverside’s tight-knit community and atmosphere of encouragement is unmatched.”

When it comes to academic attainment, BSO praises Riverside’s “exceptional, world-class standards.” The school community underpins students’ individual achievements.

Riverside is a “family-like, intimate environment,” according to Ieuan Bevan, a former student who is now studying History at Oxford University.

There is “a strong connection among students, teachers, and parents, fostered by the number of extracurricular activities that take place, by the number of trips that students are able to go on, by the number of events that bring together all four sites (Early Years, Primary School, Junior High, and Senior High), and by the fact that students have real opportunities to make a difference in the student community.”

Beyond academic achievement

A real sense of community doesn’t come from nowhere. To build connections between students and staff while boosting individual confidence, Riverside puts on a wide variety of extracurricular activities including exciting foreign trips, theater productions, community outreach programs, and much more.

“I got involved in a number of extracurricular activities,” says Ieuan. “The Skills for Life program was crucial; I helped write the senior high school newspaper, and I was involved in plays in primary school, junior high and senior high. I learnt to play the clarinet and I played football.”

“Riverside is unique in that it has the community and personal benefits of a small school, but the opportunities and resources of a large school

- Ieuan Bevan, Riverside graduate

Extracurricular activities can set students on a path toward pursuing their passions. Isabel’s interest in global affairs was kindled by participating in the Model United Nations, while she also became Head Girl on the Student Council.

Foreign school trips encourage bravery and risk-taking, with students taken to distant destinations such as Cambodia and Tanzania while also getting the chance to participate in adventurous outdoor activities.

This year students set out on a number of adventure-education trips, among them Slovenia (kayaking), Spain (diving and also a language exchange trip), Austria (skiing), England (tall ships adventure), Croatia (rock climbing), Germany (culture, history, and language), Portugal (adventure and culture trip), Norway (trekking, canoeing, whitewater rafting), Cambodia (service-learning trip), Slovakia (primary activity week).

Parents are also included in the rich extracurricular program. They get involved each year with Burns Night celebrations, Easter Egg Hunts, the Summer Fayre, Welcome Picnics and the Riverside Run. 

Students can also give back to the local community through opportunities for charitable and responsible activities.

“I was a member of Riverside’s eco council and gardening club, a society that cultivated an organic farm in Stromovka Park,” says Adriana. “Through this society, I became aware of the importance of localizing environmental issues. I later used this knowledge when speaking directly to members of the Czech branch of the United Nations International Year of Plant Health committee regarding steps that schools should take to minimize their carbon footprint.”

Community helps dreams come true

Activities promoting togetherness help Riverside students excel academically. The school’s strong community provides a collaborative working environment, while class sizes are small enough for each student to get the individual attention they need. 

Riverside teaches a British curriculum leading up to the International Baccalaureate (IB), the gold standard in international education for those hoping to go on and study at the world’s leading universities.

Isabel says the foundations for her forthcoming studies in the U.S. were laid at Riverside.

My interest in pursuing studies in international affairs developed throughout my time at Riverside, as the variety of students from different backgrounds broadened my perspective on global issues and approaches to international communication.

-Riverside student Isabel Simmons, graduating this year

Now studying at Cambridge and Oxford, Adriana and Ieuan are proof of Riverside’s ability to prepare students to meet tough entry criteria at famously selective universities.

“Every student was given access to a counselor informed in the complexities of each system and able to work with us to ensure we tailored our applications to appeal to universities in the best possible way,” explains Adriana. “I was encouraged to ‘aim high’ by applying to Cambridge, and the school advised me how to make my application stand out.”

Ieuan describes how teachers led study sessions during the Easter holidays before final exams and provided support in university applications. “This included the Careers and University counselor offering advice on the Oxbridge interview process, and my history teacher giving me a wealth of support and advice by scrutinizing my personal statement and conducting a mock interview.”

These individual success stories are built on the support of Riverside’s wider community. Students support each other and are supported in turn by the school’s expert staff. A true community spirit helps all children, whatever their interests, develop to become the best versions of themselves.

This article was written in cooperation with Riverside International School in Prague. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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