In Cheb, 345 children enrolled in the first grade of primary schools in seven municipal and two private schools. That’s 38 more than last year. But this is not a population fluctuation. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, pedagogical-psychological counseling centers that deal with delays in children did not only work.
“We expect that some of the applicants, after their school maturity will be evaluated, will receive a postponement, and the number of pupils will thus reach the same numbers as last year,” estimates the mayor of Cheb Antonín Jalovec.
It was due to the forced break due to coronavirus that the visits to the pedagogical-psychological counseling centers were delayed. Parents who had to postpone the assessment of school maturity enrolled the child in school, although they already knew in March, for example, that he would receive a postponement.
“It simply came to our notice then. We already have 99 percent of the preschoolers examined and we have made recommendations. Now there are only isolated new cases, but this is the case every year, “says the director of the Pedagogical and Psychological Counseling Center in Karlovy Vary, Jolana Mižikarová, who also includes Cheb.
Even the local primary schools then confirm that the postponements have been processed.
“We have all the delays settled,” says Jaroslava Marková, deputy director of the 4th Cheb primary school.
But that doesn’t mean that everything will go smoothly in the new school year. Due to the fact that the registrations took place only remotely, there will probably be additional delays. The preschooler will start the first class on the first of September, but during the first half of the year he will return to the kindergarten or go to the preparatory class.
“That can happen. But mostly kindergartens help us in the assessment, “adds Marková. Last year, no one at the 4th primary school received an additional postponement.
Michal Černý, President of the Association of Primary School Principals, also confirms that a larger number of additional delays will probably occur.
“During enrollment, the school can still reveal that the child should be given a postponement, if such a recommendation has not already been given, for example, by a kindergarten or a psychologist. So my estimate is that there will be an increase in additional delays. It won’t be crucial, but it will happen, “thinks Černý.
Every year, over six hundred children receive an additional reprieve. In the school year 2018/19, there were 634 first-year pupils. Even these low numbers show that this is a step that is taken exceptionally, because it can have a great impact on the child’s psyche.
“If the legal representative does not ask for an assessment of school maturity and the school does not recommend it due to distance enrollment, it may happen that there will be a larger number of children for whom primary schools will consider additional postponement of school attendance. However, such a procedure must be treated well so that it is not demotivating for the child, even from the point of view of inclusion in the first grade next year, “explains the head of the Kroměříž pedagogical-psychological counseling center, Zbyněk Ořechovský.
While additional exclusion from the first year is exceptional, delays are a common part of school attendance in the Czech Republic. Last year, over 23 percent of students over the age of seven entered school. Back in the 2013/14 school year, it was 19.3 percent. Since then, the share has been steadily increasing.
“The Czech Republic has one of the highest numbers of deferrals. This is due to the start of teaching in the first grade, because the onslaught is relatively large. If we sent all the children to school, as in Italy, for example, many of them would fail. Neighboring Slovakia also has a third share of delays compared to us, “points out the director of the Pedagogical and Psychological Counseling Center in Brno, Libor Mikulášek. Until he says the first-class education system will change, there will still be a large number of delays.
From 2017, enrollments in the first classes do not take place until April. Recommendations on deferral are thus given to parents mainly by kindergartens and psychologists who attend schools. Previously, such an assessment took place when enrolled in primary school in January.
In addition, this year the Ministry of Education has allowed parents who are interested in a postponement for their child to suspend the administrative proceedings for enrollment in primary school until the counseling facility has commented on the postponement. This is precisely because the activities of the counseling centers were temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.