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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of single-structure education


5.Single-structure primary and lower secondary education

5.1Organisation of single-structure education

Last update: 5 April 2024

Geographical accessibility

A municipality is obliged to provide conditions for the compulsory school attendance of children with permanent residence in its territory and children placed in its territory in school facilities for institutional or preventative care. For such purposes a municipality establishes and closes a basic school (základní škola) or ensures compulsory school attendance to be satisfied at a basic school established by another municipality or union of municipality.

Catchment areas of local schools are defined in the territory of a municipality, a part of a municipality, or in the territory of several municipalities. If there is only one basic school in an area, the local school catchment area is the territory of the municipality. If a municipality does not define a local school catchment area and the compulsory school attendance of pupils is endangered, the relevant Regional Authority decides on the local school catchment area. A local school catchment area need not be defined for a school providing education for disabled pupils and for schools established by other than a municipality or union of municipalities.

A region is obliged to ensure transport to the local school catchment area within the basic public transport service if the distance from a pupil's place of permanent residence exceeds four kilometres.

There has always been an even, dense distribution of basic schools. There were 4 261 basic schools recorded in the register of school and school institutions in the 2022/23 school year. There were more than 1 007 thousand of pupils, which represents approximately 236 pupils per school. There is a great number of small municipalities in Czechia meaning also a large number of small schools (24.9 % of basic schools have less than 50 pupils). The Education Act enables to establish schools which do not have all years, e.g. schools with separate first stage, and to taught pupils from several successive years at the first stage (schools with mixed classes). This can increase geographic accessibility of the basic schools and ensure the operation of schools in small municipalities.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in the Decree on Basic Education stipulates the minimum number of pupils for individual types of schools, and the minimum and maximum numbers of pupils in a class.

Admission requirements and choice of school

The Education Act stipulates that the compulsory school attendance starts at the beginning of the school year following the child's sixth birthday, unless he/she is granted a postponement. Exceptionally, also a child younger than six years of age may be admitted to compulsory school attendance. On the contrary, a high number of parents is choosing to postpone the beginning of school attendance for their children. A pupil satisfies their compulsory school attendance at the basic school (základní škola) established by a municipality or a union of municipalities located in the school catchment area where the pupil has permanent residence (local school) unless the legal guardian selects for the pupil a school other than the local school. (For more, including Satisfying Compulsory School Attendance Abroad or in a Foreign School in Czechia, see Compulsory school attendance in Chapter 2.)

The legal guardian of a child is obliged to register the child for compulsory school attendance between 1st and 30th April of the calendar year during which the child should begin compulsory school attendance. The enrolment process is described by the Decree on Basic Education. The enrolment for compulsory school attendance has a formal part, during which the child's legal guardian asks for the enrolment of a child for compulsory school attendance. If a child is also present while being registered and the child's legal guardian agrees, an interview and possibly other activities with the child are also part of the enrolment. The child's legal guardian may be present for all parts of the enrolment.

In public and state schools, following rules apply: Teacher's interview with a child lasts for a maximum of 20 minutes. It focuses on motivating the child for school attendance and an indicative assessment of his/her school readiness. If the school prepares other activities related to the indicative assessment of the child's school readiness in the form of a game or other appropriate form, the duration is up to 60 minutes. The child's readiness for school is assessed in relation to the expected outcomes of the education areas of the Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education. From January 2023, the private and denominational schools do not have to follow these rules and they can also set the child's presence at enrolment as on of the criteria for acceptance.

For the conditions of the enrolment process for 2023/24 school year for children coming from Ukraine see Education of the Ukrainian pupils – news from January 2023 in Chapter 14.

Pupils move from one year to the next automatically. The prerequisite for acceptance at a multi-year general secondary school (gymnázium) or eight-year dance conservatoire (konzervatoř) is successfully meeting the entrance requirements, which in the case of multi-year general school include a standardised admission examination, in case of conservatoire the enrolment proceeding has a form of an aptitude examination.

Age levels and grouping of pupils

Basic education is mostly realized in the basic school (základní škola), which comprises 9 years and is divided into the first stage (years 1–5, primary education) and the second stage (years 6-9, lower secondary education). It is still, however, possible for a school to comprise fewer than all (9) years; schools with separate first stage are usual.

Pupils are usual grouped into classes by age. In the first stage of education, one class can comprise pupils from more than one year of the first stage – schools with mixed classes (so-called málotřídní škola).

An exceptionally talented pupil can be transferred to a higher year without completing the previous year, although such cases are exceptional. A failing pupil can repeat a year, but no more than once in a stage. (For more on grade skipping and repeating a year see Progression of pupils.)

Compulsory education can also be fulfilled in lower classes of multi-year general secondary school (víceleté gymnázium) and conservatoire (konzervatoř). The lower level of the eight-year multi-year general secondary school and lower classes of eight-year dance conservatoire correspond to the second stage of basic school and is open to pupils who have successfully completed the fifth year of basic school, i.e. at the age of eleven/twelve. The lower level of the six-year general secondary school corresponds to the last two years of basic school and is open to pupils who have successfully completed the seventh year of basic school, i.e. at the age of thirteen/fourteen years.

One class can have a maximum of 30 pupils. The minimum average number of pupils is 17. A school with only the first stage has an average of 10–15 pupils in one class according to the number of classes.

The organising body of the school may permit exceptions from the stipulated number of pupils:

  • the minimum number of pupils stipulated by the Education Act and Decree on Basic Education, provided the school covers the increased costs of educational activities above the amount fixed by regional per capita amount;
  • the maximum number of pupils stipulated by the Decree, provided that an increased number of pupils is not detrimental to the quality of education offered by the school, and that health and safety conditions are satisfied.

In the school year 2022/23, the average number of children was 18.3 per class at the first stage and 19.8 per class at the second stage (source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports).

In general, classes at the first stage have only one class generalist teacher, with some subjects possibly taught by another teacher. At the second stage, teaching by specialised subject teachers is the rule. In classes where a pupil with special educational needs is educated, a post of teacher's assistant (asistent pedagoga) may be established.

In accordance with the school education programme, classes can be divided into groups for instruction in certain subjects, and groups can be formed of pupils from one or more years. Classes can also be merged. The number of groups and numbers of pupils in the groups is determined with regard to the spatial, personal, and financial potential of the school, to the nature of activity performed by pupils, in accordance with health and safety requirements, and with respect to the demands of the subject in terms of didactics and methodology. In foreign language lessons, the highest number of pupils in one group is 24. In general, physical education at the first stage is coeducational, at the second stage the class is usually divided into two groups – the girls' and the boys' ones. The concrete organisation of physical education is decided by the school head with respect to the conditions and needs of a school and its pupils.

If in a municipality a Committee for National Minorities was established, a class or school offering education in the language of the relevant minority must be set up. A class must have at least 10 pupils on an average, and a school must have an average of 12 pupils in one class.

At selected schools, language training groups are established by the regional authority for pupils performing compulsory education in the territory of Czechia, whose parents are not citizens of Czechia and who are staying in the territory of Czechia on a long-term basis. Such classes must have a maximum of 10 pupils.

Organisation of the school year

School year

The Education Act stipulates that the school year in all types of schools runs from September 1 to August 31 of the following year. It is divided into teaching periods and holiday periods. The teaching period of a school year starts on September 1 and ends on June 30 of the following calendar year and is divided into two terms. School holidays include autumn holidays, Christmas holidays, a mid-school-year holiday, spring holidays, Easter holidays and summer holidays. The holiday periods are specified by the Decree on Organisation of School Year. Details on organisation of the given school year are set by the Ministry of Education every year. The Ministry of Education may, in individual cases, permit variations from the usual organisation of the school year. A school head can agree a maximum of five days off during one school year for serious organisational and technical reasons. School meals are provided for pupils while they are at school, and possibly also during holidays. Special interest education takes place on school days and on holidays in the after-school club (školní družina), on school days, and if needed also in the school club (školní klub) and throughout the school year in the leisure time centre (středisko volného času).

SCHOOL YEAR Details School year 2023/24
school year The school year in all types of schools runs from 1 September to 31 August of the following year. It is divided into teaching periods and holiday periods. from 4 September 2023 to 31 August 2024
TEACHING PERIOD The teaching period of a school year starts on 1 September and ends on 30 June of the following calendar year and is divided into two terms. from 4 September 2023 to 28 June 2024
first term The first term runs from 1 September to 31 January of the following calendar year. If the first term starts on a Friday, teaching begins the following Monday. from 4 September 2023 to 31 January 2024 (teaching begins on Monday, 4 September 2023, the school reports are handed over on Wednesday, 31 January 2024)
second term The second term runs from 1 February to 30 June. If the second term is to end on a Monday, teaching ends the previous Friday. from 1 February to 28 June 2024 (teaching continues from Thursday, 1 February 2024, and ends on Friday, 28 June 2024)
autumn holidays Autumn holidays consist of two days and are linked up with the public holiday 28 October. Thursday 26 and Friday 27 October 2023
Christmas holidays Christmas holidays run from 23 December to 2 January. from Saturday, 23 December 2023, to Tuesday, 2 January 2024
mid-school-year holiday The mid-school-year holiday is one day and is held on a Friday in the period 29 January – 4 February. Friday, 2 February 2024
spring holidays Spring holidays last one week and their timing vary according to the location of the school within the period from the first complete week of February to the last complete week of March, so that it does not overlap with Easter holidays. see the detailed list
Easter holidays Easter holidays run is Thursday before Good Friday. Thursday 28 March 2024
summer holidays The main summer holidays last from the end of the second term to the beginning of the first term, in principle from 1 July 1 to 31 August. from Saturday, 29 June 2024, to Sunday, 1 September 2024

Organisation of the school day and week

The organisation of school time is set down by the legislation (the Education Act, the Decree on Basic Education and the Decree on Organisation of School Year), that fix the organisation of a school year and weekly and daily regime, and by educational programmes. The school week, like the working week, comprises five days, from Monday to Friday. The school head decides on the actual organisation of the daily timetable, within the framework of general rules set up by legislative and curricular documents.

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.

Number of hours per week

The maximum number of hours per week is set by the Education Act, the minimum number of hours per week is set by the framework curriculum timetable of the Framework Education Programme for Basic Education (FEP BE). The number of hours per week per given years is as follows:

Year  1. 2. 3.  4.  5.  6. 7. 8. 9.
Interval 18-22  18-22  22-26  22-26  22-26  28-30  28-30  30-32  30-32

The minimum number of hours per educational area or educational field is set in the FEP BE by framework curriculum timetable for the period of the 1st (1st-5th year) and 2nd (6th-9th year) stage. The concrete timetable is defined in school education programme, issued by the school head.

5-day week system

  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 50 minutes No later than 5 p.m. Not set
Tuesday Not set No earlier than at 7 a.m. At least 50 minutes No later than 5 p.m. Not set
Wednesday Not set No earlier than at 7 a.m. At least 50 minutes No later than 5 p.m. Not set
Thursday Not set No earlier than at 7 a.m. At least 50 minutes No later than 5 p.m. Not set
Friday Not set No earlier than at 7 a.m. At least 50 minutes No later than 5 p.m. Not set

Organisation of the school day

Classes usually start at 8 a.m., but a school head can move the starting time as long as it is not earlier than 7 a.m. The last lessons must finish by 5 p.m. at the latest. The school head must allow pupils to enter the premises of the school at least 20 minutes before the commencement of lessons, and during the break between morning and afternoon lessons.

One lesson lasts 45 minutes. In justified cases school lessons may be split up or joined together. Pupils can have a maximum of 6 lessons in the morning and 6 lessons in the afternoon. The concrete number of lessons is set by the school with regard to the nature of the activities and to the basic physiological needs of pupils.

There are 10-minute breaks and at least one 15-minute break, usually after the first two lessons. The break between the morning and afternoon classes is at least 50 minutes. In special cases, with regard to the basic physiological needs of pupils, some 10-minute breaks can be shortened to 5 minutes at minimum, and the break between morning and afternoon lessons to 30 minutes at minimum. When instruction is not organised in traditional lessons the distribution of breaks and their length is determined with regard to the nature of the activities and to the basic physiological needs of pupils.

Extracurricular activities and services

For pupils at basic schools, the organising bodies of the schools are obliged to assure subsidised school catering. It takes place preferably in school canteens, according to the Decree on School Catering

Time for out-of-hours provision is not stipulated. Nevertheless, the school building can be open outside teaching hours for use in extracurricular and leisure time activities. 

The pupils can attend the school facilities for developing personal interests, which are regulated by the Decree on Special Interest Education. At the basic schools, the after-school centres (školní družiny) for pupils at primary level often operate, before and after teaching hours. At some basic schools, the school clubs (školní kluby) are established mainly for pupils at lower secondary level. The leisure time centres (střediska volného času) provide special interest education at some schools or separately. The fees in public facilities are regulated by the legislation.

Schools themselves can offer various courses and clubs or rent school premises to private subjects that provide leisure activities.

The basic art education is provided at basic art schools, which are most commonly established separately.

In out of school hours, pupils can also use guidance services, school libraries or other school facilities.