Domestic Report: Czech Republic

By Břetislav Kožušník, May 2017

Waldorf education started soon after 1989. In 1990, the first school started in Písek as well as two kindergartens and soon afterwards 6 schools followed. They started mainly in places with connections to anthroposophy as state schools.

In 1997 waldorf schools formed their own association out of a general Circle for the support of waldorf pedagogy. At the same time the kindergartens established their own association. In 2002, the first upper school started, soon followed by 3 others. The first private waldorf school started in 2008 after a long unsuccessful negotiation with local authorities.

  • Waldorf schools follow the state curriculum – i.e. generally:
  • Kindergarten: 3 to 6 years
  • Basic school 9 classes:  6 – 15
  • Upper school 4 classes: 15 – 19

For basic education, the state curriculum gives a frame programme with obligatory outcomes in classes 5 and 9. This programme must be followed by all the schools including the private ones, but the good thing is that it gives enough space to follow most of the Waldorf curriculum. For quality control reasons the state step by step introduced general examinations. There has been an increase in these examinations, especially in last few years. First it consisted of a final exam for the upper schools, since this year there is also an entering exam for upper schools which provide non-vocational education and at the same time the schools are selectively tested in classes 5, 7, 9 and 12 by the inspection.

There are 8 Kindergartens (578 children), 14 basic schools (2468 pupils), 4 upper schools (400 students) – two are part of the basic school, two are independent – and 1 school for children needing special care – classes 1 – 12 (111 pupils). Waldorf basic schools are spread equally across the country with the exception of Prague, where there is a higher concentration. Waldorf upper schools and kindergartens are mainly situated in Bohemian part, while in Moravia (East) there is only 1 of each institution. There are for the moment 3 initiatives for funding the upper schools, to counter this inequality, but they have big difficulties to start, because the school system in Czech Republic is fixed by the authorities.

Most of the schools are state schools and therefore they are fully supported by the state. The private schools have between 60 to 100% state support for teachers’ salaries. The amount of support depends on the inspection report, but they fully pay the cost for building maintenance. Therefore, they charge a fee, which is usually 40 – 50€ per month.

Asociace waldorfských škol ČR (Association of waldorf schools in Czech Republic – AWŠ ČR) was established in 1997. Since then it assembles all the waldorf schools in the country. It represents the schools outwardly – towards the official authorities, especially the Ministry of Education and towards the public. It takes care of the Waldorf trademark for education and gives permission for its usage especially for new initiatives. It is a platform for the waldorf schools for coordinating their tasks and events (Olympic games, theatre festival), it takes care of teacher training and gives recognition to it. The AWŠ ČR is funded by schools. The fee is 6 € per pupil.

Waldorf teacher training is provided by three independent bodies, which are recognised by the AWŠ ČR. Because in Czech Republic all the teachers must have a state MA qualification, general waldorf education lasts for 3 years and consists usually of weekend courses and summer academy. For the moment, there is no full-time Waldorf teacher training programme.

Relationships with the government are not so active at the moment because the education policy now tends to reunify based on educational standards and assured by cognitive tests and support for vocational education in a way that it is reduced to the training of human resources and to immobilize the school system (there are enough schools so no new schools are needed). At the same time, there is not that much space for any discussion – arguments are not really listened to. Waldorf schools therefore cooperate more with independent educational platforms and experts (university teachers) to be part of more general movement, which is heading towards more freedom in education. This situation is a base for current issues. There are great difficulties to start new schools (not only basic, but the upper schools as well), or to get the possibility to open parallel classes. There are more and more inspections and even if the tests should be selective (1/3 of the schools in a year), most of the Waldorf schools are included each year. Generally speaking, space for education is narrowed in order to achieve better quality.

www.iwaldorf.cz

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