How has private school education changed and what does the future hold? Distance learning, virtual open houses — many of which will be taking place this month — and even the rise of online international schooling are trends that have emerged from the crisis.
We’ve put together a guide to choosing the right international schools in Prague and the Czech Republic that includes a variety of options for educating children K-12 in Prague, while navigating the accreditation lingo.
What is an international school?
International schools cater mainly to students who are not nationals of the host country, though local Czech students also attend these schools to learn the language of the international school and obtain qualifications for higher education in a foreign country.
International schools may be chosen for teaching style or the language of instruction; in the Czech Republic, international schools are typically classified as British or American simply by such criteria as curriculum (British National or American textbook), uniforms or informal dress, and parent involvement or lack thereof.
International school curricula are can be categorized as such: exportation in which national programs are offered abroad, an adaptation which national programs are slightly tweaked in order to offer an environment similar to the home country, integration in which the best practices from a number of different educational strategies are drawn upon, and creation in which a new curriculum is developed from scratch.
International vs. Czech State School
International school advantages include smaller class sizes and instruction in the mother tongue. International schools may also appeal more to non-Czech-speaking parents who wish to take a more active role in the school community. Proponents would also say that international schools are staffed with better paid and happier teachers. However, the downside is to private school is that third culture families with kids in an international school can miss out on assimilation into the local culture and language.
These are some things to keep in mind when searching for an international school in Prague and the Czech Republic; it’s also helpful to speak with parents, take a student-guided tour and get a sense of the culture of the school by attending its events and activities.
- Fees: The average private school tuition can range from 6,000-20,000 EUR; some schools offer scholarships based on need.
- Accreditation: An accredited school will have a curriculum matched to specific standards. The Council of International Schools (CIS) or New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC) are two of the most well-known accreditation organizations.
- Organizations: In Europe, a good International school will be affiliated with the European Council of International Schools (ECIS). In order to be a part of these councils, the school must comply with certain standards.
- Teacher and administrator turnover: The international school community can be a transient one with staff and students regularly moving. However, high turnover is rarely a good sign.
- Languages: Does the school value languages? Will students learn Czech, for instance?
- Technology: Do students have access to computer labs? Is there a library with a librarian? These are the different kinds of international schooling available in Prague and the Czech Republic:
Typically an international curriculum supports PSAT, US SATs, AP (Advanced Placement), IB (International Baccalaureate) ERB (Educational Records Bureau) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education. It allows teaching to be localized and takes into consideration English may not be the first language of all candidates. Some Prague international schools offer instruction in multiple languages including French German Spanish or Czech.
Though less common in the Czech Republic, there are some schools that support an American curriculum based on the American school systems which allow students to choose the subjects they want to study and identify the fields they want to focus on later in life and may also focus on AP courses.
Some American-style schools in Prague include The American Academy, and Christian International School (International with American curriculum), and Hill Castle International School (American curriculum accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges).
The prevalent curriculum among international schools is British. In fact, nearly half (45 percent) of all international schools that teach the English language offer a British-based curriculum, according to figures from ISC Research. The British curriculum is exam-bound and characterized by end-of-school assessments comparable to the British GCSEs.
International schools that follow a British curriculum in Prague are Riverside School, Prague British International School (Multiple locations), The English College, Park Lane, Sunny Canadian, and Meridian School.
German schools are focused on German history, culture, and language. They are taught in the German language and offer German school certificates. Likewise, French schools are an agency of foreign education abroad focusing on the French approach. Examples of language-based schools in Prague include German School in Prague (Deutsche Schule Prag), Kids Company (a bilingual Czech-German school), and Lycée Français de Prague.
Residential schools, most of them offering a combination of day and boarding options are another kind of international school offering instruction in the English-language for students 14 and up. In the Czech Republic, Carlsbad International School and Townsend International, both located outside of Prague, are top boarding schools.
Online Schools Based in the Czech Republic
Previously considered an alternative style of education, the current pandemic has rapidly made online learning the norm throughout the world. One pioneer of the online schooling trend in the Czech Republic is Hill Castle International School an American-style school offering an international curriculum for grades KG through Grade 12 entirely online.
Though the school is based in the Czech Republic, students can learn anytime from anywhere via a high-tech digital platform that provides individualized learning and teacher support. While other schools are slowly beginning to develop similar models, including The American Academy, Hill Castle is a frontrunner in distance learning.