Types of institutions
Under the Education Act, the upper secondary school is a type of school with three basic sub-types:
secondary general school (gymnázium)
secondary technical school (střední odborná škola)
secondary vocational school (střední odborné učiliště)
These sub-types are not defined by the law, but schools can (but do not have to) choose to use them in their names. The sub-types derive from the former strictly differentiated subdivision of upper secondary schools used until 2004.
Actually, the provision of education is linked more to the level of education, i.e., upper secondary education with Maturita examination (střední vzdělání s maturitní zkouškou), upper secondary education with a VET certificate (střední vzdělání s výučním listem), and (upper) secondary education (střední vzdělání). Offering any of the three levels of secondary education is not firmly connected with the sub-type of upper secondary school. Each upper secondary school can offer various levels, fields, or possibly forms of secondary education (if the school fulfils teaching requirements and has the levels, fields and forms of education registered in the Register of Schools and School Facilities).
Some upper secondary schools also provide the programme of multi-year secondary general school (víceleté gymnázium), usually together with four-year general programme (therefore, multi-year secondary general school is not considered to be a separate type of upper secondary school). The eight-year programme corresponds to the last four years of basic education and, in the case of the six-year programme to the last two years of basic education. The upper level corresponds to a four-year secondary general school.
The Decree on Secondary Education and Education in Conservatoires also mentions other sub-types of upper secondary schools (e.g. střední průmyslová škola, střední pedagogická škola, odborné učiliště, praktická škola and others) which are nevertheless also not bound to concrete fields of education, such as in the area of industry, pedagogy, etc. However, the name of such school may indicate its specialisation. The name should not be misleading.
A conservatoire is a separate type of school.
Legally defined school facilities and other institutes can also take part in the education of pupils of an upper secondary school. They participate mostly in practical education in the workplace of a private individual or legal entity or in a school special purpose facility (středisko praktického vyučování), possibly on school farms. Other school facilities provide meals, leisure time activities or accommodation.
Before 1989, residential developments always included the building of schools, so schools were very evenly distributed.
After 1989, when the central management of the branch structure of education disappeared, supply started to be governed by the rapidly changing demand, which shifted its focus from vocational training to schools leading to a Maturita examination (maturitní zkouška) and from technical subjects to economic, business and service ones. Many new schools have been established, in spite of a decline in the population and consequently the number of pupils in schools has decreased. Their geographic accessibility has improved due to the changes in the formerly rigid monotype field structure: vocational and technical schools have introduced diverse types of courses to satisfy new demands.
In 1997, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, which at that time was the founder of most of upper secondary schools (střední školy) and tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy), adapted the network of these schools to the demographic development. This led to a decrease in the number of schools although ensuring that education was still accessible to all.
Since 2001, the regions, which became the founders of most of upper secondary schools and tertiary professional schools in 2000, have played a decisive role in the optimisation process. According to the Education Act they should ensure conditions for the provision of upper secondary education and education at tertiary professional schools. At the same time, they open or close down public upper secondary schools and tertiary professional schools. Within the optimisation process schools continued to be closed or more often merged, but this process has slowed down. At present, the total number of schools is stable. In 2022/23, the total number of upper secondary schools was 1 294. They were attended by 438 thousand pupils, of which 98.5 % were in the day form of education (without follow-up and shortened study). (Source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.)
In order to increase the accessibility of the upper secondary schools, boarding homes for youth (domovy mládeže) are established in some of them; in addition to accommodation and meals they offer pupils leisure time activities. The level of fees for accommodation in public and state boarding homes for youth is limited by the Decree on School Educational and Boarding Facilities, and School Purpose Facilities.
Admission requirements and choice of school
The school head of the relevant upper secondary school (střední škola) issues a decision on the admission of applicants for education at an upper secondary school. He/she follows the Education Act and the Decree on Admission Procedure to Secondary Education.
Some aspects of the admission procedure in upper secondary schools are similar to those in conservatoires. Following subsection describes them together. Specific conditions for conservatoires are described separately.
Schools may admit to an upper secondary course on the basis of the admission procedure applicants who have completed compulsory school attendance or successfully completed the level of basic education (základní vzdělání) prior to finishing compulsory school attendance and who in the course of admission procedure have met all the conditions on which they may be admitted by proving adequate abilities, knowledge, interests and health.
Similar rules are set for multi-year secondary general schools (víceletá gymnázia). The applicants who successfully complete the seventh/fifth grade of a basic school (základní škola) in the given school year may, on the basis of an admission procedure, be admitted the first grade of the lower level of six-year/eight-year secondary general school.
The admission procedure starts with the submission of an application and ends with a decision as to the admission/non-admission of an applicant. According to the Education Act the school head evaluates an applicant based on the:
school reports from previous education;
results achieved within the standardised admission examination in Czech language and literature and in Mathematics (if this is a part of the admission procedure);
results achieved within a school admission examination (if set by the school head);
results achieved within an aptitude test (fields of education requiring an aptitude test/conservatoires);
other facts proving adequate abilities, knowledge and interests of the applicant.
Admission procedure – Dates
|ENROLMENT PROCEEDINGS - DATES||FIRST ROUND||SUBSEQUENT ROUNDS|
|education fields without an aptitude test (all forms of education)||educational fields requiring an aptitude test and conservatoires (all forms of education)|
|Announcement of the first round||31 January||31 October||set by the schools head|
|Number of application forms||max 2||max 2||not limited|
|Submission of the application form||1 March||30 November||set by the schools head|
Invitation to an examination
|14 days before||14 days before||7 days before|
Admission examination and
|from 12 to 28 April (study fields with a Maturita examination), from 22. to 30 April (other study fields)||from 2 to 15 January|
(upper secondary schools), from 2 January to 15 February (Sports training secondary general schools), from 15 to 31 January (conservatoires)
|14 days after announcing the given round|
|Result of the enrolment proceeding||within 2 working days after publishing the results of the standardised admission examination (study fields with a Maturita examination), after the date set for holding the examination (other study fields), from 22 to 30 April (if the examination was not set)||from 5 to 15 February (upper secondary schools and conservatoires), within 2 working days after publishing the results of the standardised admission examination (Sports training secondary general schools)||3 working days following the last date set for holding the examination (without undue delay if the examination was not set)|
|Submission of the enrolment card||within 10 days from publishing the decision (on-site study)*|
|Appeal||within 3 working days from receipt of the decision|
* The enrolment card (zápisový lístek) is submitted only by applicant to an on-site form of education (not the other forms). Applicants to follow-up study (nástavbové studium) and shortened study (zkrácené studium) do not submit the enrolment card at all.
Number of rounds
The admission procedure for the first grade may be organised in number of rounds and a school head is obliged to announce at least one round of enrolment. Number of other rounds is not limited.
In the first round of admission procedure, the adult applicant or legal guardian of a minor applicant (hereafter the applicant) may submit 2 application forms. The applicant submits the application form to the school head of the relevant upper secondary school by 1 March (by 30 November in the case of an application form to education fields requiring an aptitude test).
In subsequent rounds the number of applications is not limited and the applicant submits the application form to the school head of the chosen upper secondary school by deadline set by the school.
Admission examination and aptitude tests
Standardised admission examination
Since 2017, the obligatory standardised admission examination has taken place in most study fields of secondary education with a Maturita examination (maturitní zkouška). The standardised admission examination is not held in case of admission procedure into the study fields with an aptitude test (excluding Sports training secondary general schools) and in case of admission procedure into the shortened study courses to obtain secondary education with the Maturita examination.
The Centre ought to make exam results available for the respective secondary school to 28 April at the latest. The applicant takes the standardised admission examinations within the first round of the admission procedure in the term, which is set until 30 September of the previous calendar year by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in the interval from 12 to 28 April. Each applicant can hold the written test in Czech language and literature and in Mathematics twice: in the first set term, at their first choice school and in the second set term, at the second choice school. In other rounds of the admission procedure, the standardised admission examination is not held.
The standardised admission examination consists of a written standardised test in Czech language and literature and a written standardised test in Mathematics and its applications. Upon request, it is possible to waive examination in the subject Czech language and literature if a person received his/her prior education in a school outside Czechia. The knowledge of Czech during the admission procedure is assessed by an interview. Preparation of these tests as well as their distribution, results processing and evaluation is guaranteed by the Centre for Evaluation of Educational Achievements. The result in the standardised admission examination represents at least 60 % of the overall assessment of fulfilment of the admission procedure criteria (at least 40 % in the case of Sports training secondary general schools).
School admission examination
The school head decides if the school admission examination will be held. Should he/she so decide, he/she is obligated to set at least two terms for the first round of the admission procedure. He/she invites applicants to an examination at the latest 14 days before the date (for substitute terms and for other rounds 7 days before the date at the latest). The invitation includes information on requirements for the admission examination or aptitude test, on the expected number of applicants to be admitted and the criteria of admission procedure.
In study fields with Maturita examination, the school admission examinations within the first round are held on working days in the period from 12 to 28 April. The terms of the school admission examination are set by the school head so that they do not coincide with the terms of the standardised admission examination. In the case of other study fields (providing secondary education with a VET certificate or secondary education), the school admission examinations are held from 22 April to 30 April. In subsequent rounds, the school admission examinations are held on dates set by the school head, but no earlier than 14 days after announcing the given round of the admission procedure.
The aptitude test is held in those study fields of upper secondary schools for which it set in the framework education programmes, i.e. group of study fields Art and applied field and the field sports training secondary general school, and in study fields of conservatoires. Within the first round, the test are held from 2 to 15 January in most study fields of upper secondary schools (from 2 January to 15 February in the field sports training secondary general school) and from 15 to 31 January in study fields of conservatoires. In other fields, in terms set by the school head, but not sooner than 14 days after the announcement of relevant round of the admission procedure.
According to the Decree on Admission Procedure to Secondary Education, the school guidance and counselling facility may recommend to applicants with special educational needs (incl. those with a mother tongue other than Czech) an adaptation of the conditions of the admission examinations.
If foreigners have acquired a previous level of education abroad, they can be, based on the Education Act and upon a request, exempted from an admission examination in the Czech language, if it is a part of the admission procedures. A working knowledge of Czech, sufficient for education in the field of study, is examined by interview.
According to Act No. 67/2022, pupils with temporary protection can replace documents on previous education with a solemn declaration. In addition, the Ministry of Education established specific conditions for the admission procedure for the 2023/24 school year for these pupils through a binding general measure.
Results of the admission procedure
The school head ought to finish the assessment process within 2 working days
after the publishing the results of the standardised tests by the Centre – in case of study fields providing secondary education with a Maturita examination;
after the day of holding the admission examination – in case of other study fields;
and ought to publish a ranking of applicants based on their performance.
The school head should also send the results of the admission procedure to the unsuccessful applicants or to their legal guardians. If neither the standardised admission examination nor the school admission examination are held within the first round of the admission procedure the school head evaluates the admission procedure and publishes the results and the list of admitted applicants, in the first round from 22 to 30 April, and in further rounds without undue delay.
An applicant who has been accepted by an upper secondary school in one of the rounds confirms his/her intent to be educated at the given upper secondary school by submitting an enrolment card (zápisový lístek) to the school head, no later than within 10 working days from the date when the list of applicants was published. Should the applicant fail to do it, he/she thereby waives the right to be accepted as a pupil of the given upper secondary school and another applicant may be admitted instead. The applicant may apply the enrolment card only once. With the exception that he/she prefers the school, to which he/she has been admitted on appeal. In such case, the applicant submits the enrolment card twice. Since the school year 2015/16, the applicant may also take the enrolment card back when he/she has been admitted to the field of education requiring an aptitude test or to conservatoire, where he/she has submitted the enrolment card, and wants to apply the enrolment card at the school where he/she has been admitted in the field of education without aptitude test.
The number of free places for the needs of an appeal depends on the school head's decision. Applicants' appeal against the decision of the school head on the result of admission can be submitted within 3 working days from receipt of the decision. The appeal is submitted to the school head. The school head either accepts an appeal, or forward it within 30 days to the competent regional office (i.e. to the superior administrative body of the school heads and school facilities) along with his/her opinion as well as the criteria for admission. The final decision in the appeal process is made by the region, which must do so within 30 days.
For more details and application forms see on the web site of the Ministerstvo školství, mládeže a tělovýchovy (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports). Information of the standardised admission examination are available on the web site of the Centrum pro zjišťování výsledků vzdělávání (The Centre for Evaluation of Educational Achievements). Admission criteria for specific courses and schools are provided by Informační systém ISA+ (Information system ISA+).
Age levels and grouping of pupils/students
Typically, a pupil attending day courses of secondary schools at upper secondary level is between 15 and 18 years old. However, more than half of those entering the upper secondary school (střední škola) are 16 or older. A very small number of pupils begin their compulsory schooling before the age of 6 and thus enter upper secondary level before reaching 15. Other than the on-site forms of education are almost exclusively attended by pupils older than 18, more than half of whom are older than 30. (Source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports)
Lower grades of multi-year secondary general schools (víceletá gymnázia) and lower grades of conservatoires offer lower secondary (compulsory) education (intended for 11 to 15 years old pupils).
Classes are co-educational (usually with the exception of physical education) and pupils are grouped according to their age. Subjects are taught by differentteachers, with individual subjects usually being taught by one teacher for several years. Every class has its own class teacher who is usually in charge of the class throughout its time in the school.
Minimum and maximum number of pupils is set by the Decree on Secondary Education and Education in Conservatoires. A school teaching all grades must have a minimum of 60 pupils, with an average of at least 17 pupils per class. (In schools providing education in courses to which pupils are admitted on the basis of an aptitude test, the minimum number of pupils in the school is 30, and there is no minimum number of pupils in a class.) The maximum number of pupils in a class is 30. The average number of pupils in a class in the school year 2021/22 was 22.6 pupils (source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports).
The school head can divide classes into groups for subjects, and merge or create groups of pupils from one or more grades. When deciding the size of a group, the following must be taken into account:
requirements concerning the safety of the pupils and protection of their health;
the demands of the subject in terms of teaching and methodology;
the situation of pupils with special educational needs and of gifted pupils;
the nature of the knowledge and skills to be acquired;
the demands of the educational process in terms of space and material, as stipulated in the curricular documents;
the efficacy of the educational process both within the framework of the pre-defined objectives and in economic terms.
Foreign languages are always taught in groups of pupils between 9 and 23 and pupils from several classes in the same grade can be taught together.
The pupil/teacher ratio in groups for practical training in the school (or school facility) is from 6 to 17 depending on the course. If it is carried out at a workplace of a physical or legal entity, the pupil/teacher (instructor) ratio is a maximum of 6.
Organisation of the school year
In upper secondary schools (střední školy) and conservatoires (konzervatoře), the same organisation of the school year as in basic schools (základní školy) applies. It is stipulated by the Education Act and the Decree on Organisation of School Year.
If, in accordance with the framework curriculum timetable, work or artistic practice or sports training is planned in July and August, second term teaching finishes prior to the general date by the number of teaching days corresponding to the length of the practice. The last grade of school is influenced by the dates of examinations. School heads are responsible for ensuring the necessary school operation during school holidays (e.g., office hours, repetition of examinations, school maintenance, preparing schools for the next school year, etc.).
Organisation of the school day and week
The school year, holidays and weekly and daily regime is set down by the Education Act, the Decree on Secondary Education and Education in Conservatoires and the Decree on Organisation of School Year. The framework education programmes fix the number of teaching hours in a week.
The weekly and daily timetable depends on the form of education. 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 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.
Five-day week system (in the form of day attendance – theoretical education)
|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|
Weekly number of lessons
The weekly number of lessons is a maximum of 35 lessons per week. In case of practical training and work practice within the practical education it is up to the maximum of 40 compulsory lessons per week. The maximum weekly number of lessons is 40 lessons for courses where an aptitude test is a part of the admission examination. The maximum is 46 lessons for a sports training secondary general school (sportovní gymnázium). The number of lessons in other forms of education (evening, distance, e-learning, and combined forms) differs.
Organisation of the school day
One lesson lasts 45 minutes, except for lessons of practical training and 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.
The beginning and end of theoretical classes in day education is decided by the school head – classes usually start at 8 a.m., 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. The duration of the lunch break should be at least 30 minutes.
Practical training is included in courses with the VET certificate and in some courses with the Maturita examination. Its inclusion in instruction is set by the school education programme. Traditionally, the teaching is organised in the way of weekly rotation of theoretical teaching and practical training. For day education, practical training is in units of one day. Morning lessons start no earlier than at 7 a.m., except in justified cases, when they may start at 6 a.m. for pupils of the 2nd–4th grade. Afternoon lessons end no later than at 8 p.m., or in justified cases at 10 p.m. for pupils of the third and fourth grade. However, pupils must have a break of at least 12 hours between the end of one day and the beginning of lessons on the following day. Practical training of pupils in the first grade can be a maximum of 6 (60-minute) lessons per day. There is a break of 15–20 minutes, usually after the second lesson of practical training in the school or in a school facility. Students carrying out their practical training in companies have the same breaks as employees (in accordance with the relevant provision of the Labour Code). The time of breaks is not included in the total length of the teaching day.
VET practice is carried out regularly as a part of education, work and art practice is in the form of compact blocs, usually during whole weeks.
Sports training consists of training units of 45 minutes, with a maximum of 6 training units in one day. Morning lessons start at 7 a.m. at the earliest, or at 6 a.m. in justified cases, and afternoon lessons end no later than at 8 p.m., in justified cases at 10 p.m. However, pupils must have a break of at least 12 hours between the end of one day and the beginning of the following day on when lessons take place.
Upper secondary schools can provide pupils with opportunities for extra-curricular activities for 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), or school club (školní klub) for pupils at the lower secondary level, school libraries and other school facilities. The fees in public school facilities are regulated by the legislation.