Types of institutions
According to the Education Act, a conservatoire (konzervatoř) is an independent type of school. Until 2004, it was defined as a sub type of the secondary technical school. A number of conditions of education in conservatoires are still similar to those in upper secondary schools (střední školy).
Conservatoires provide art education through two types of programmes (particular fields are set by the Government Regulation on the System of Fields of Studies):
six-year programmes focused on music, singing, music and drama for pupils who have completed compulsory schooling; these programmes include upper secondary and tertiary level of education (ISCED 354+554)
eight-year programme specialising in dance for pupils who have completed the 5th year of the basic school; the programme includes lower secondary, upper secondary and tertiary level of education (ISCED 244+354+554)
Graduates of this school acquire tertiary professional education (vyšší odborné vzdělání) at the conservatoire (ISCED 5B) and/or secondary education with the Maturita examination (střední vzdělání s maturitní zkouškou) (ISCED 3A).
It is possible to achieve the tertiary professional education in conservatoires by passing the graduate examination (absolutorium) after completing the whole educational programme.
After successful completion of 4 years on-site education in the six-year educational programme or after 8 years on-site education in the eight-year programme, a pupil may pass the Maturita examination (maturitní zkouška). After such successful completion of the relevant part of the educational programme at a conservatoire, pupil receives upper secondary education with the Maturita examination.
The network of conservatoires (konzervatoř) in Czechia is not very extensive, with only 18 conservatoires recorded during the school year 2022/23. Additionaly, there are regions where no corservatoires are present. The highest number is in Prague (8). For most conservatoires, the region is the founder (12), while private or church founders run 5 conservatories. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is an organising body of only one conservatoire for pupils with special educational needs, which is located in Prague. The average number of pupils per school was 213. (Source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.)
In order to increase the accessibility some conservatoires establish boarding homes for youth (domovy mládeže) are established, which, in addition to accommodation, offer pupils meals and leisure time activities. The amount of fees in public and state boarding homes for youth and boarding houses for children and pupils with disabilities is limited by the Decree on School Educational and Boarding Facilities, and School Purpose Facilities, in public school canteens by the Decree on School Catering.
Admission requirements and choice of school
The school head decides on the admission of applicants for education at a conservatoire (konzervatoř). He/she follows the Education Act and the Decree on Admission Procedure to Secondary Education.
To the six-year programme of a conservatoire, schools may admit the applicants who have completed compulsory school attendance (ISCED 244) or successfully completed basic education (základní vzdělání) prior to finishing their compulsory school attendance.
Schools may admit to the eight-year programme of a conservatoire applicants, who have successfully completed the grade 5 of basic school (základní škola) – ISCED 1.
All applicants must meet all conditions for admission by proving adequate abilities, knowledge, interests and health. The admission procedure starts with submitting an application and ends with a decision regarding the admission/non-admission of an applicant. The admission procedure always includes an aptitude test. Adult applicants or legal guardians of minor applicants (hereafter the applicants) submit the application to the head of conservatoire by 30 November. The head of the conservatoire invites applicants to an examination at least 14 days in advance (for substitute terms and for other rounds 7 days before the date at the latest). The invitation includes information on requirements for the aptitude test, on the expected number of applicants to be admitted and the criteria of the admission procedure. Aptitude tests are held from 15 to 31 January on dates set by the head of the conservatoire. A school head makes the list of admitted applicants available and delivers the decision of non-admittance no later than 15 February.
In this way an applicant who has not been admitted may still submit an application for an upper secondary school (střední škola). The same rules apply for the appeal in case of non-admission to conservatoire as for non-admission to upper secondary schools.
According to the Decree on Education of Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Gifted Pupils and based on the recommendation of the school guidance and counselling facility, the school head adjusts the admission procedure to applicants with special educational needs (incl. those with a mother tongue other than Czech) within the support measures at level 2–5. According to Act No. 67/2022, pupils with temporary protection can replace documents on previous education with a solemn declaration.
Some other conditions are same as for admission procedure in upper secondary education.
Age levels and grouping of pupils/students
Within the education system the six-year programmes at conservatoires (konzervatoře) corresponds to education attained by pupils aged 15–20, and eight-year programmes by pupils aged 11–18. However, as a matter of fact more than 40 % of all pupils are older than twenty and nearly a third of those admitted to six-year programmes are adults (source: Statistical Yearbook – Education. Performance Statistic Indicators). The first four years of an eight-year programme correspond to lower secondary education – the second stage of basic school (základní škola).
Conservatoires are divided into departments, i.e. workplaces where general education, specialised theoretical instruction, or special professional training of pupils takes place with the prospect of preparing them for performance of demanding artistic and artistic-educational activities. According to the Decree on Secondary Education and Education in Conservatoires, departments comprise pedagogical staff and pupils of all grades studying the relevant art field. The number of pupils for each subject is set by the curricular documents. The competence of a department covers the development of a certain aspect of an artistic field, preparation and implementation of parts of the school education programmes, educational, artistic, and further creative activities. The minimum number of pupils in a department is 5 and the maximum is 500. The minimum number of students in a school is 80. Subjects are taught by different teachers.
Education is carried out individually or in groups and general subjects can be taught to larger groups.
Organisation of the school year
The school year at conservatoires (konzervatoře) starts on September 1 of the current year and finishes on August 31 of the following year. It is divided into teaching periods and holiday periods, the latter set by the Decree on Organisation of School Year. The main school holiday is in July and August.
For the conservatoires, the organisation of the school year in compulsory education applies. If, in accordance with the timetable, work or art practice is planned in July and August, the teaching period in the second term is shortened by the number of teaching days corresponding to the length of the practice.
The course of the school year in the final grade is influenced by the dates of examinations.
Organisation of the school day and week
The framework for the school year, holidays and weekly and daily regimes are fixed by the Education Act, the Decree on Organisation of School Year and the Decree on Secondary Education and Education in Conservatoires. The number of teaching hours in a week is set by the framework education programmes. The weekly and daily timetables depend on the form of education. The Amendment to the Education Act of 2020 legislatively enshrines education in the distance way as an equivalent way of education in case of crisis situations. Pupils are obliged to learn in the distance way to the extent appropriate to the circumstances.
In the on-site form of education, the school week is similar to the working week, i.e. five days from Monday to Friday. The weekly number of lessons is given by the curriculum, up to a maximum of 40 lessons for the conservatoire. The organisation of the other forms of study (evening, distance, e-learning or their combination) differs.
One lesson lasts 45 minutes, except for lessons of work practice which last 60 minutes. In justified cases lessons may be split or merged. The educational programme for pupils with special educational needs may specify a different length of school lesson.
Five-day week system (in the form of day attendance)
|Out-of-hours provision (before lessons)||Lessons (morning)||Lunch break||Lessons (afternoon)||Out-of-hours provision (after lessons)|
|Monday||Not set||No earlier than at 7 a.m.||At least 30 minutes||No later than 8 p.m.||Not set|
|Tuesday||Not set||No earlier than at 7 a.m.||At least 30 minutes||No later than 8 p.m.||Not set|
|Wednesday||Not set||No earlier than at 7 a.m.||At least 30 minutes||No later than 8 p.m.||Not set|
|Thursday||Not set||No earlier than at 7 a.m.||At least 30 minutes||No later than 8 p.m.||Not set|
|Friday||Not set||No earlier than at 7 a.m.||At least 30 minutes||No later than 8 p.m.||Not set|
The daily timetable is derived from the total number of lessons at a particular educational level and from regulations dealing with the beginning and the end of the education during a day. The minimum number of lessons per week in a grade is set by the curricular documents; for the maximum number of lessons per week see above.
The beginning and end of theoretical classes in day education is decided by the school head – classes usually start at 8 a.m., at 7 a.m. at the earliest, and finish at the latest by 8 p.m. The maximum number of compulsory lessons in one day, including a lunch break, is 8, exceptionally 9, with a maximum of 7 lessons without a lunch break. There is a 15-20-minute break usually after the first two lessons and a break, usually of 10 minutes, between other lessons.
Art practice is carried out as a part of education in the form of compact time blocs, i.e. is usually counted in whole weeks.
Conservatoires can provide pupils with opportunities for extra-curricular activities during their leisure time, focusing primarily on active relaxation, development of their skills and interests, preparation for lessons, and participation in contests and shows. In out of school hours, pupils can also use guidance services, services of leisure time centres (střediska volného času), school libraries and other school facilities. The fees in public facilities are regulated.