600 more freshmen will be able to enter Prague secondary schools in September than last year

Approximately 600 more first-year pupils than last year will be able to enroll in secondary schools offering matriculation education, established by Prague City Hall, in September. For the new school year 2023-2024, the capital wants to increase the capacity of its high schools to 12,680 places for first-year students. According to data from the municipality, this is more than the number of pupils attending Grade 9 in the capital’s primary schools in the current school year.

Central Bohemians are also heading to Prague’s secondary schools in large numbers, said Vít Hofman, a spokesman for the municipality. According to the spokesman, the city is increasing the number of places in the first year of general and vocational school-leaving courses.

“Maintaining the diversity of the educational offer is especially important for pupils, as it is the only way for applicants to find a suitable field and school for themselves, prepare for their future educational career, and find employment on the labor market,” Hofman said.

Lack of teachers

Prague plans to open 64 classes for first-year students at four-year grammar schools in September. Last September, there were 56 schools with a total capacity of about 1,680 students. At the same time, more pupils can study at business academies, economic lyceums, and other fields of study that culminate in the final exam.

While 420 classes were prepared for first-year students at secondary vocational schools last year, there should be 12 more this year. According to the spokesman, the municipality is opening new classes in schools with enough space and material provision for this.

However, he stated that a lack of teachers is a barrier to developing new skills.

Gymnasium classes at secondary schools

The Prague administration has previously announced that it intends to change the structure of secondary schools in favor of high school diploma courses. Education Councillor Vít Šimral (Piráti) said last year that the capacity of existing grammar schools would be increased and that grammar school classes would be added to existing secondary schools.

Representatives of Prague and the Central Bohemian Region agreed last year with Education Minister Vladimír Balas (STAN) that the structure of education in the capital should be different from that in other regions.

Starting in the 2021-2022 school year, those interested in four-year grammar school studies can apply to eight schools that, until then, have provided only vocational education for their students. For example, the Radlická Hotel School or the Secondary Industrial School of Surveying have now become grammar schools.

According to Hofman, the municipality is waiting to see whether the Education Ministry will approve the opening of grammar school classes at the Bubeneč Business Academy and two other secondary schools. If the grammar school classes at these schools can open in September, there will be about 400 places for first-year students who want a four-year grammar school education at these 11 schools.

“Since 2019, we have systematically increased places in general education and vocational school-leaving courses, which are in the highest demand. We were the first region to develop our concept for grammar school education, which we are implementing. After the regional elections in 2020, we convinced the Central Bohemia Region to cooperate in this area,” Šimral said.

Thus, Prague is cooperating with the Central Bohemia Region to increase the capacity of in-demand fields of study. According to Hofman, students residing in the Central Bohemian Region make up about 35 percent of students in Prague schools. However, the spokesman reported that Central Bohemia is also increasing the number of places at its schools and is trying to motivate its residents to study there.

Applicants for secondary school studies have started to increase in recent years, and last year many—especially in Prague—complained about a lack of places in matriculation courses. According to municipal data, there were 9691 students in the ninth grade of primary schools in Prague last year and 11 651 this year.

This year, children born in 2008 will apply to secondary schools. According to the Czech Statistical Office, about 119,000 children were born then. According to the office’s estimates, the number of pupils in the Czech Republic will not fall until 2030. According to education experts, an oversupply of applicants can be expected by 2030, especially in grammar schools.

The Ministry of Education now plans to support the increase in school capacity by 2027 by not preventing regional authorities from increasing secondary education capacity – except for multi-year grammar schools and conservatories.

According to the education ministry, there are enough places in secondary schools, and there are problems with overcrowding only in some regions and fields of study. Overall, secondary schools offered 687,512 places in January, the most in three years. According to MOEYS data, approximately 200 000 positions were vacant.

A high number of applicants for secondary school studies can generally be expected, especially in Prague, Central Bohemia, and South Moravia.