Definition of the target group(s)
Early childhood care
In the case of children's groups (dětské skupiny), the Decree on Implementing Certain Provisions of the Act on Providing Childcare in a Children's Group mentions children with special needs, but these are not further defined.
Early childhood and school education
According to the Education Act, a child, a pupil or a student (hereinafter pupils) with special educational needs is, in the current inclusive term, a person who requires the provision of support measures to cover their educational possibilities or to assert or use their rights on an equal basis with others. Support measures do not result from the definition of a disadvantage but from the pupil's current educational needs. The educational support is ensured to all pupils who need it, regardless of the nature of their disadvantages in both inclusive conditions (to which the law gives preference) and the separate educational ones. In a context of having the possibility of setting up a separate schools and classes, departments in conservatoires (konzervatoře) or study groups in tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) (hereinafter classes) for pupils with certain types of disadvantages, the Education Act in sec. 16, par. 9, defines the category of children, pupils and students with “intellectual, physical, visual, and hearing disabilities, serious developmental disorders of learning or behaviour, serious speech impediments, autism, and concomitant multiple disabilities”. However, support for pupils integrated in these schools or classes is also provided according to the above principles based on their current needs. Separate conservatories and tertiary professional schools for disadvantaged pupils do not exist in fact.
The Act also defines a target group of gifted and/or exceptionally gifted pupils and the conditions of their education. These pupils should also have the opportunity to use support measures. The definition of a gifted or exceptionally gifted pupil is specified in the Decree on Education of Pupils with Special Educational Needs and of Gifted Pupils: A gifted pupil is a pupil who, if appropriately supported, has a high level of cognitive abilities in one or more fields, in motor, manual, artistic or social skills, in comparison with their peers.” An exceptionally gifted pupil is a person whose ability spectrum reaches an extraordinary level, along with high creativity in a broad field of activities and/or in particular intellectual spheres or motor, manual, artistic, or social skills.”
Special support measures
There are no specific support measures for children with special needs in children's groups (dětské skupiny) at central level. However, the plan of education and care developed by the provider should regulate the conditions and methods of providing care if a child with special needs is admitted. This requirement is part of the criteria for assessing the standards for quality of care set out in the 2021 Decree on Implementing Certain Provisions of the Act on Providing Childcare in a Children's Group. Within the project Support for the Implementation of Children's Groups, online courses are offered which also include courses focused on working with children with different needs (e.g., hyperactive, hypersensitive children, but also gifted children) a the Methodology for Children with Special Needs was published.
Special support measures for children, pupils and students in schools are described in the two following sections.
Education of pupils with special education needs
Children, pupils and students (hereinafter pupils) with special educational needs have the right to free support measures provided by school and school facility, guaranteed be the Education Act. The support measures include the necessary modifications of educational and school services with respect to the health condition, cultural environment, or other life conditions of the pupil. The support measures cover a wide range of pedagogical, organisational, and content modifications to education and the provision of school services.
Support measures consist of:
consulting assistance for schools and school counselling facilities;
adjustment of the organisation, content, evaluation, forms and methods of education and school services, including the provision of teaching subjects of special pedagogical care and including the extension of the length of secondary or tertiary professional education by up to two years;
adjustment of conditions for admission to schools and completion of education;
use of compensatory aids, special textbooks and special teaching aids, use of communication systems for the deaf and deafblind, Braille and support or alternative communication systems;
adjustment of expected learning outcomes within the limits set by the framework education programs and accredited educational programs;
education following an individual educational plan;
employment of the teacher's assistant;
employment of another member of education staff, interpreter of Czech sign language, speech transcriber for the deaf or use of the possibility of persons providing support to a pupil during his / her stay in a school or school facility according to special legal regulations;
providing educational and school services in appropriate structurally and technically modified spaces.
The support measures are divided into 5 levels according to the financial and organisational demands involved, specified by the Decree on Education of Pupils with Special Educational Needs and of Gifted Pupils. Support measures of different levels may be combined on the basis of the pupil's needs. A support measure on a higher level can be used if the support measure on a lower level is not sufficient. Details of the selected measures for level 1 and for levels 2 to 5 are given below.
Pupils with special educational needs are taught according to mainstream education programmes, with adjustments being made to educational conditions and support measures being used. Pupils with serious intellectual disabilities follow a separate education programme, which reflects their educational needs.
The support measures of the 1st level can be provided by schools without a recommendation of the school guidance and counselling facility, and the informed consent of the adult pupil/pupil's legal guardian is not required. To support these pupils, a plan of pedagogical support can be established by the school.
A plan of pedagogical support, drawn up following a pedagogical analysis of the educational needs of the pupil, contains (in particular) a description of the pupil's difficulties and special educational needs, first-level support measures, setting support objectives and a way of evaluation of the implementation of the plan. The school must create a plan of pedagogical support for the pupil if within the support of the first level the direct support of the pupil in teaching is not enough and the pupil's difficulties require the cooperation of more education staff. The school can also create a plan of pedagogical support for the pupil in other cases (when the provision of individualised support by the teacher is not enough) - according to the rules set by the school in the school educational program.
Pedagogical intervention serves mainly to support the education of a pupil with special education needs in subjects where it is necessary to strengthen his/her education, to compensate for insufficient home preparation for teaching and to develop the pupil's learning style (and to support a gifted pupil). It represents a specific "set" of support measures at level 1, not only traditional "tutoring". Several pupils use this support if it is possible and convenient. It is provided by the basic school (základní škola), after-school centre (školní družina), school club (školní klub) or upper secondary school (střední škola) as a support measure at level 1 (it is included into this level from 2021).
The support measures from the level of 2 to 5 are recommended by a school guidance and counselling facility – a pedagogical and psychological counselling centre (pedagogicko-psychologická poradna) or special education centre (speciálně pedagogické centrum) – on the basis of professional judgment of the pupil's educational needs. To ensure the requirements of these levels of support measures and their provision, the informed consent of the adult pupil/pupil's legal guardian is necessary. They also have the right to check the recommendations for support measures or conclusions of the examination carried out by a school guidance and counselling facility. A body set up by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is commissioned to check the recommendation. The pupils of age or legal representatives of pupils with granted support measures from the level of 2 to 5, may apply to the school head for the possibility of education according to an individual educational plan. The recommendation of the school guidance and counselling facility must be part of the application.
Individual educational plan is a binding document for ensuring pupil's special educational needs. The school head decides on the pupil's education according to the individual educational plan (if requested by the pupil's parent / guardian or an adult pupil, and if the relevant school counselling facility has issued a recommendation for this at the same time). Based on school education programme, it is a part of pupil's documentation in the Registry of Pupils. It results from the school education programme and is a binding document to safeguard the pupil's special educational needs. It sets educational objectives for the pupil, modifications to the organisation and content of education, timing and distribution of the contents of subjects, way in which tasks are specified, ways of assessment and classification, pedagogical methods, exam and final examinations organisation, etc. It describes the type and scope of special pedagogical and psychological support for the pupil, its organisation, and the way the support and its provider are ensured (not only the institution but also the staff member). It defines compensation and teaching aids, ICT equipment, textbooks, learning texts, etc., fewer pupils in a class, departments in conservatoires (konzervatoře) or study groups in tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) (hereinafter classes), taking on another teacher or a sign language interpreter or an additional worker in the class. In 2022/23, 2 % of pupils of mainstream basic schools and 19 % of special basic schools followed an individual educational plan. (Source: Statistical Yearbook – Education. Performance Statistic Indicators.)
The basic education of pupils with special educational needs can last 10 years. The school head can allow pupils with special educational needs who have not completed basic education after compulsory school attendance to continue basic education for up to 20 years, or 26 years of age. The school head can allow pupils or students with special educational needs to extend their upper secondary and tertiary professional education by a maximum of 2 school years.
At most 3 members of education staff can carry out their educational activity at the same time in classes.
A teacher's assistant (asistent pedagoga) works in classes, where there is (are) a pupil (s) with special educational needs, on the basis of the recommendation of a school guidance and counselling facility. The teacher's assistant must have prescribed qualification. The teacher's assistant is part of the support measures that help in the integration of pupils with special educational needs into the educational process and activities in and outside the classroom. The assistant also works with the other pupils in the class, following the instructions of the teacher. Pupils are eligible to a teacher's assistant from the third level of support measures. The school will receive funding for such teacher's assistant in the form of increase of financial means for direct educational costs. Teacher's assistants also work in classes and schools for pupils with special educational needs, but they are not included in the support measures (they are funded in other ways). A mainstream school may also employ a teaching assistant outside the system of support measures, but without entitlement to standardised funding. In the 2022/23 school year, the support was provided by nearly 5 thousand assistants in nursery schools, over 17 thousand assistants in basic schools and over a thousand of assistants in upper secondary schools (note: the numbers are converted to full-time contracts; source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports).
To facilitate the education of pupils with a hearing disability, who are not able to hear and use spoken language, an interpreter of Czech sign language or a speech transcriber for the deaf is employed.
The interpreter correctly translates communications among involved parties in a clear and understandable way and in a communication system chosen by the pupil. The interpreter can also help in out-of-school activities which relate to education.
A speech transcriber for the deaf is employed as a support measure if a pupil uses for communication a written form of the Czech language that is not the communication system of the other pupils in the class. During education, the transcriber translates the spoken language into a written form in real time.
The school provides pupils taught in Czech sign language with parallel education in the written Czech language; here the same methods are used as in teaching Czech as a foreign language. The outputs of science subjects for pupils studying in Czech sign language are set in this language and in written Czech.
In classes, where there is a pupil with special educational needs, a personal assistant for this pupil (osobní asistent) may be employed with the school head's consent and on the basis of a recommendation by the school guidance and counselling facility. The personal assistant is not an employee of the school. He/she works following the Act on Social Services and provides the pupil with social services, e.g., self-care, transport to school, and the like. The costs associated with the assistant's work do not fall within the competence of the school. However, to help the pupil with self-care and mobility is also among the standard activities of a teacher's assistant in the event that it is covered as a support measure from the state budget free of charge according to the Education Act.
The highest number of pupils in class is reduced by 2 with every pupil having the support measure at level 4 or 5 (or level 3 for pupils with intellectual disability) placed in the mainstream class of nursery school (mateřská škola) or basic school. The highest number is further reduced by 1 with every pupil with the granted support measure 3. This way it is possible to reduce the highest number of pupils at maximum by 5. Thus, for nursery school the maximum number is reduced from 24 to19 and for basic school from 30 to 25. The reduction is not applied if it is in contradiction with the obligation of priority admission of a pupil according to the Education Act or there is a change in granting the level of support measure to a pupil in course of the school year.
Usually up to 5 SEN pupils with granted support measures from the level of 2 to 5 can be educated in class taking into account the structure of the support measures and the nature of pupils' special educational needs. The number of these pupils must not exceed one third of pupils in class. The number of pupils with defined type of disadvantage (a group according to section 16, paragraph 9 of the Education Act) is limited to 4 in a mainstream class. The limits mentioned are not applied if there is an obligation for school to preferentially admit some pupils or if it concerns upper secondary schools, conservatoires and tertiary professional schools.
For students who are educated in the Czech sign language, the school provides simultaneous education in the written Czech language; the methods used in teaching the Czech language as a foreign language are used for instruction. For pupils educated in Czech sign language, the outcomes of scientific subjects are determined in Czech sign language and in written Czech.
Education of pupils in separate classes (departments, study groups) for pupils with special educational needs does not belong among the support measures. In mainstream schools, pupils with special educational needs are regularly educated in classes with their classmates. However, the possibility to establish separate classes (departments, study groups) in mainstream schools or to establish separate schools for pupils with intellectual, physical, visual, or hearing disabilities, with serious developmental learning or behavioural disorders, serious speech impediments, autism or concomitant multiple disabilities is mentioned in section 16, paragraph 9 of the Education Act. Education in schools for pupils with the above disadvantage is included in part Separate Special Education Needs Provision. Most conditions set for these schools is applicable also for education in special classes of the mainstream schools.
According to the Education Act, it is possible to establish preparatory classes (přípravné třídy, ISCED 020) can be established in basic schools (ISCED 100+244). They are dedicated to children in the last year before the compulsory school attendance where there is a presumption that their inclusion into the preparatory class may balance out their development, and preferentially to children with postponement of compulsory school attendance. In preparatory classes, it is possible to fulfil the compulsory pre-primary education. The education in public and state schools is free of charge. Education in the preparatory class is regulated by the Education Act and the Decree on Basic Education.
A preparatory class has a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 children. Lessons are held in the mornings (18 to 22 hours a week), and in the afternoon the children can go to an after-school centre. Children are entitled to school meals and free teaching aids, textbooks, and teaching texts.
The educational programme of the preparatory class is part of the school education programme of the relevant basic school. The content of education is governed by the Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education (the time range of education is determined by the number of teaching hours set by the Framework Education Programme for Basic Education for the first year, see above).
At the end of the second half of the school year, the teacher of the preparatory class should prepare a report on the process of the child's pre-school preparation in the given school year.
In the school year 2022/23, preparatory classes were established in 418 basic schools (i.e., less than 10 %).
Education of gifted pupils
The Education Act obliges schools and school facilities to create conditions for the development of the talents of children, pupils and students (hereinafter pupils). The education of exceptionally gifted pupils is governed by separate chapters within framework education programmes; the school education programmes should be drawn up so as to create conditions for the education of these pupils.
The support measures include particularly:
output enlargement of the school education programme – enlargement or enrichment of educational content, imposing specific tasks, or engagement in special projects
accelerated learning – the school head may shift an exceptionally talented pupil to a higher grade without their completing the previous grade after the pupil has passed an exam before a three-member commission; the pupil is not given the report from the skipped year and the reports for the following years state which years have been skipped
enlarged educational content beyond the scope set by the educational programme concerned/possibility of taking part in education in a higher grade
education by way of scholarships in another school of the same or a different kind
education groups – the school head may make up groups for gifted pupils in which pupils from the same or different grades study some subjects together
individual educational plan – describes modifications of the development and content of education
provision of didactic aids and technical equipment to develop talent
psychological and pedagogical support
The overview of support measures and overview of compensation and didactic aids divided into five levels, which can be granted from the State budget sources, including calculation of per capita amounts, are part (an annex) of the Decree on the Education of Pupils with Special Educational Needs and of Gifted Pupils.
Educational support and evaluation of a pupil's talent and of the educational needs of gifted pupils and working out proposals for support measures are provided by pedagogical and psychological counselling centres intermediated by psychologists who are specialists in care for gifted pupils.
If a child is sufficiently mature in terms of their physical and mental development, the Education Act offers them the opportunity to begin compulsory school attendance earlier.
The educational needs of gifted pupils are also met through establishing classes with extended education in some fields. For classes with a sports specialisation or for pupils performing sports training, the school head may adjust the organisation of education differently.
The National Pedagogical Institute manages the information portaltalentovani.cz. Methodological materials, magazines, publications and other sources can be found here. There is also a directory of regional gifted support networks that offer systematic and high-quality activities and services for pupils, teachers and other stakeholders.
Every year, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports announces a grant programme to support gifted pupils in basic and upper secondary schools. In addition, in the form of various grant programmes, the Ministry financially supports the organisation of competitions, which are a special form of application and development of talent. Competitions are knowledge and skill, artistic, sports or other. They are organised at the regional and national level, organized in cooperation with academic and artistic communities. An overview of the competitions is available on the talentovani.cz website.
One of the ways to show and develop a pupil's talent is a competition – knowledge and skill, art, sports, and other contests – regional, nationwide, organized in cooperation with academic and art communities.