Education staff responsible for guidance in schools
Generally, the following functions are established at all basic schools (základní škola), secondary schools (střední škola) and tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborná škola):
At some schools, there are also:
Within the support measures for children, pupils or students with special educational needs, the teacher's assistants (asistenti pedagoga) work at schools.
All the mentioned professions are considered as members of education staff according to the Act on Education Staff. They are obliged to participate in continuing professional development. The conditions of service are the same as for (other) teachers. In public schools, they are remunerated according to the uniform salary scale system.
Generally, the function of a school counsellor is established at all basic schools, secondary schools and tertiary professional schools, and there can be more than one school counsellor at a school. The school counsellor is a teacher appointed to the function by the school head.
Standard activities of the school counsellor include (among other things):
career guidance and counselling on pupils' further educational and career paths;
- search and study of pupils whose development and education require special attention, and preparation of proposals for further care of these pupils, including collaboration on the preparation, checking and recording plans of their educational support;
providing or arranging (entrance and continuous) diagnostics of special educational needs and interventional activities for pupils with special educational needs;
creating conditions for the integration of pupils with disabilities into a school; coordination of counselling services provided to the pupils by a school and school guidance establishments, and coordination of educational measures for the pupils;
passing on professional information from the area of career guidance and care for pupils with special educational needs to school education staff.
Professional teaching qualifications for the relevant type or stage of school and completion is a prerequisite for performing the function of the school counsellor. The prerequisites for performing the specialised methodical activity and more complicated counselling activities of a school counsellor is a study programme for a school counsellor according to the Decree on In-Service Training of Education Staff. This is organised by the higher education institutions (vysoké školy) part of his/her lifelong learning programme. It lasts at least 250 (45-minute) lessons and is finished with a defence of a thesis and final examination in front of the examining board.
The school counsellors, in the case where they provide counselling service that require above the mentioned study programme for school counsellors, are placed into the 13th pay category which is one level higher than teachers at primary and secondary level of education can be placed in.
As stated in the Government Regulation on Determination of Direct Educational, Special Needs, and Educational and Psychological Activities of Education Staff, the extent of a school counsellor's direct teaching activity is reduced by 1 to 5 lessons a week according to the size of the school.
Direct teaching activity of a school counsellor decreases as follows:
at a basic school and an upper secondary school with
at special schools with
up to 150 pupils
up to 250 pupils
up to 550 pupils
up to 800 pupils
over 800 pupils
up to 7 classes
up to 12 classes
over 12 classes
1 hour weekly
2 hours weekly
3 hours weekly
4 hours weekly
5 hours weekly
1 hour weekly
2 hours weekly
3 hours weekly
School prevention specialist
There have been school prevention specialists at schools since 1996, originally as school coordinators of prevention. A prevention specialist is usually a teacher with the minimum of 2 years of previous teaching experience. In agreement with the law, these specialists generally operate at all basic, upper secondary and tertiary professional schools.
Standard activities of the prevention specialist at school include above all:
coordination of creation and control of the implementation of the school preventive programme
coordination and participation in school activities aimed at the prevention of truancy, addiction, violence, vandalism, molestation, sect abuse, pre-criminal and criminal behaviour, manifestation of self-destruction and other socio-pathological phenomena, or risky behaviour
methodical supervision of the activities of school education staff in the area of the prevention of risky behaviour (identifying risky behaviour, preventive work with classes, etc.)
coordination of the education of school education staff in the area of the prevention of risky behaviour.
The decree on in-service training of education staff states that prevention of socially pathological phenomena is one of the specialised activities for which education staff have to obtain further qualifications (study programme of 250 lessons – the content of which is strictly set).
Educational staff is entitled to receive an allowance for specialised activities.
School psychologist, school special educational needs specialist
There are school psychologists and school SEN specialists working at some schools. Their activities are specified in the Decree on Providing Guidance in Schools and School Guidance Facilities. The decision on whether the psychologist or SEN specialist will work at school is up to a school head. The number of school psychologists is increasing, also thanks to the support from the European Social Fund. The plans for guidance services provided at schools aim to gradually introduce these workers mainly to schools with 500 and more pupils.
The activities of these specialists should not be less than 0.5 of the normal workload. Based on the Act on Education Staff, psychologists and SEN specialists working at schools and school facilities are included within the education staff.
Education staff at school counselling facilities
Pedagogical and psychological counselling centre (pedagogicko-psychologická poradna) and special education centre (speciálně pedagogické centrum) are school facilities that provide special guidance services. Other facilities, centres for educational care (střediska výchovné péče), also help to provide guidance services; these centres are established according to the Act on Institutional Education and Protective Care in School Facilities and on Preventive Educational Care in School Facilities.
Specialist teams of school guidance and counselling facilities and school provisions for preventive education care consist of:
SEN specialists (speciální pedagog)
prevention specialists in pedagogical and psychological counselling centres (metodik prevence v pedagogicko-psychologické poradně)
social workers (sociální pracovník)
school speech therapist
in the case of the centres for educational care, also of educational childcare staff (vychovatel)
Within these institutions, psychologists are considered as education staff performing a direct pedagogical-psychological activity according to the Act on Education Staff. SEN specialists are included among education staff performing direct special educational needs activity and the educational childcare staff are included among education staff performing direct educational activity. Social workers have generally not yet been included in the category of education staff.
The education staff members are obliged to participate in continuing professional development. The conditions of service are the same as for teachers. In public schools, the employers are remunerated according to the uniform salary scale system. The conditions of service of non-education staff are mentioned in section directly dealing with this staff.
According to the Act on Education Staff, a SEN specialist must have completed a Master's study programme in the field of pedagogical sciences focused on special needs pedagogy. From the 1st of September 2012, also persons who completed their Master's study programme in pedagogical sciences focused on pre-primary pedagogy or teacher training for primary schools or teacher training of general subjects at secondary schools or educator training or who completed their Master's study programme in the field of pedagogy could become special needs teachers. However, these persons also had to complete a supplementary study for broadening their qualification carried out by a higher education institution in the framework of lifelong learning education. Based on the amendment to the Act on Education Staff effective from September 2023, there are new opportunities for graduates of Master's degree programmes in educational sciences focused on special education and the initial education of teachers of basic school or general education subjects of secondary school to competently perform the activity of a SEN specialist.
Educational childcare staff of the centres for educational care are required to have completed a higher education course focused on special needs pedagogy for educators, or to have extended the secondary or tertiary professional education prescribed for other educators by completing a Bachelor's degree or in a lifelong learning programme with the focus on special needs pedagogy.
Based on the amendment to the Act on Education Staff, a new category of education staff has been introduced - the school speech therapist. They will be employed mainly in school guidance and counselling centres and special schools of the relevant specialisation.
The prerequisite for the performance of a school speech therapist's activity is a professional qualification obtained by Master's studies in the field of educational sciences focused on speech therapy completed with a state final examination in speech therapy and surdopedics or on special education completed with a state final examination in speech therapy and surdopedics. In both cases, a qualification course for the training of school speech therapists is also required.