Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting
Basic conditions for the admission to the pre-primary education are regulated by the Education Act.
The enrolment procedure to nursery schools (mateřské školy) takes place between 2 and 16 May. It is up to the school head whether he/she admits the child to the school. Children are admitted on the basis of written application by the legal guardian, which is submitted to the school head together with reference to the health state of a child and confirmation about proper vaccination by a general practitioner for children and the youth (for children being registered to compulsory education the confirmation is not required). A child attends a catchment nursery school or the parent (guardian) choose another school for the child. In the second case, the school head of the chosen school informs the school head of the catchment school about it immediately or as soon as possible. If a parent (guardian) choose the individual education (home schooling) for his/her child, he/she announces this fact to the school head after admission to the nursery school.
The school head of a nursery school established by a municipality or a union of municipalities admits preferentially children who reach at least 3 years before the beginning of the school year (by 31 August) if they are residing in the school district where the child has permanent residence, or in the case of a foreigner their place of residence, up to the school capacity stated in the School Register.
For other children, he/she may specify certain criteria which must not be in contradiction to generally binding regulations, must not be discriminatory and must not violate children's rights. For example, the criterion disadvantaging children whose parents are on maternity (parental) leave with a younger sibling is regarded discriminatory. Blanket refusal to accept disabled children to a nursery school is also regarded as direct discrimination. The decision not to accept the child must be properly and thoroughly justified.
In nursery schools established by the employers for children of employees, the priority admission of children over 3 does not apply and the admission can be limited only to the children of the organising body’s employees.
Group size and child/staff ratios
In a nursery school (mateřská škola), children can be placed into classes according to their age, or it is possible to have a class composed of children of different age and thus to have mixed classes with children of various age groups.
The maximum number of children per class as well as the maximum number of children per teacher is 24. The minimum level of qualification of pre-primary teachers is ISCED 354. The organising body may allow an exception of up to 4 children above the permitted limit (up to 28 children in a mainstream class). The school head is obliged to ensure that the number of children who are educated at the same time does not exceed the highest permitted limit (e.g. in the case of admission of children from other nursery schools in July and August). The maximum number is lower in some cases:
In every class of a nursery school the overlapping of direct educational activity of teachers must be ensured for two and a half hours minimum every day. At this time, the maximum number of children per staff member (teacher) is 12.
During stays outside the area of a nursery school, there must be no more than 20 children per pre-primary teacher. In case of a class where children with granted support measures of 2nd to 5th level or children under 3 years of age are included, the maximum is 12 children.
The maximum number of children in a class decreases by 2 children for every child younger than 3 years of age placed in such class. The overall decrease can be of up to 6 children.
If children with special education needs with granted support measures of the 3rd to the 5th level are included in the class. The maximum number of children in a class decreases to a maximum of 5 children.
Non-education workers with prescribed professional qualification may perform the work in addition to the pre-primary teacher in case that there are more than 8 children present in a class of forest nursery school.
In the school year 2022/23, the average number of registered children was 21.6 per class and 10.6 per teacher. The average school had 64 children, nearly 35 % of schools had only 1 class. (Source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.)
Annual, weekly and daily organisation
Organisation of a year
The school year in nursery schools (mateřská škola), starts on the 1st of September of the current year and finishes on the 31st of August of the following year. Nursery schools provide education during the whole school year, the decree on the school year does not apply to them. It means the school holidays do not apply to them. However, children are not obligated to attend the compulsory years of pre-primary education during the holidays set for the basic and upper secondary schools.
The nursery schools may close or operate on limited hours in July or August in response to local conditions, or in both months if necessary. The school head, after consultation with the organising body, decides how long the school operation will be reduced or halted for and announces this to children's parents no less than two months in advance. During July and August, it is possible to accept children from a different nursery school, but only for a maximum of up to the period for which the other nursery school has its operation interrupted. However, the number of children educated at the same time must not exceed the permitted limit.
Weekly and daily timetable
Hours of operation and a daily schedule are the responsibility of the management of each nursery school. Some conditions are regulated by Education Act, Decree on Pre-primary Education and the Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education.
A school week in a standard nursery school lasts five days. A nursery school:
operating on a half-day basis provides education for children for no more than 6.5 hours a day;
operating on a whole-day basis provides education more than 6.5 but less than 12 (in case of the forest nursery school less than 9) hours a day (the most frequent form);
operating on a residential basis provides whole day education and night care (in case of the forest nursery schools the residential operation is not possible).
When a child is admitted to a nursery school, the school head decides, after a discussion with the legal guardian of the child, on which days the child shall attend the nursery school and the duration of time he/she should spend there on those days.
The compulsory last year of pre-primary education takes place every working day in the extent of 4 hours without interruption; the beginning is set by the school head in the school code ranging between 7 and 9 am. Children can stay in a nursery school during the whole time of operation. 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. Children in the compulsory lats year are obliged to learn in the distance way to the extent appropriate to the circumstances.
The regime of the day in a nursery school includes meals (provided by school canteens, which are usually integrated into a nursery school), rest (sleep) and outdoor activities. The states that Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education:
A regular rhythm of daily activities is guaranteed; however, it should also be flexible enough to adjust the organisation of activities to any needs that arise throughout the day; the daily programme takes the children's individual needs for activity, sleep, and rest into consideration.
Children must spend sufficient time outdoors every day and the daily programme includes directed health preventive movement activities (the daily stay outdoors is generally 2 hours in the morning (with some exceptions), in the afternoon it depends on the duration of stay in the facility). Children have enough time to move freely not only in the garden but also in a school interior.
The proportion of spontaneous and directed activities in the daily programme is balanced in such a way that children have enough time and space for spontaneous play and can either finish it or continue with it later.
A nursery school can also organise recovery stays, school trips and other activities connected to the educational activities of the school. Schools often offer after-school activities such as music or visual art studios, pre-swimming education or foreign language education.