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Learning and teaching - Czech Republic

Basic School Dr. Jana Malíka v Chrudimi, Czech Republic 

As an example of good practice we present a school, which is in the small town of Chrudim. It is the philosophy of this school, of which there is ample evidence, that assessment is used to meet the pupils learning needs and to promote their abilities for life.

This school started in 1991, in the period of new social-cultural-historical consequences in Czech society. The shift towards new democratic attitudes within the school environment was significant at that time.  A New school, new staff and a new social-political situation in the society, created a challenging school environment. Implementation of progressive methods in education, concentrated on the formative influence of teaching and learning is in our opinion the fundament of this school development process. Assessment as a formative process makes itself felt during the whole school period. Nevertheless we will try to underline the main aspects of assessing in this school which is clearly manifested in the:

  • school policy
  • school curriculum
  • school opening    

School policy

Strong and confident leadership with a democratic open leading system could be seen as a main aspect for creating good conditions for the teachers´ work. Freedom to work, trusting staff and sharing responsibility is, amongst other conditions, a way of building a clear-shared vision. The whole school approach towards assessment makes itself felt in the assessing system, which focuses on teachers as well as on pupils. Within the school policy the school has developed criteria for assessing teachers as well as pupils. These criteria are the results of teachers’ team work. Both of these groups have the same aim: to encourage competent, self-confident and responsible teachers and pupils.

The following describes the basic areas of a pupil’s assessment:

  • Descriptive assessment – assessment should describe the level of pupil’s achievement within primary education, verbal and not numeric assessment should be used. Within secondary education pupils receive a numeric subject’s assessment for their certificate.
  • Feedback function of assessment - assessment is seen as having a ‘feedback role’ in the teaching and learning process. It should serve pupils as well as their teachers and parents’ feedback about the effectiveness of learning strategies and teaching methods. 
  • Encouragement of the self-assessment process – this idea aims to provide pupils with the ability to do self–assessment and to judge the results of their work and its influence.
  • Reflective assessment – assessment should be reflective within the learning process, pupils should learn to reflect upon which competences and abilities they have reached through this process. 
  • Partnership – conditions for assessment is based on common discussion among teachers and pupils.   

These basic areas are the framework for assessing a pupils school performance, it is compulsory for all teachers in all classes to use this framework. 

School Curriculum

A school implements the General Curriculum as a curricular framework for The school curriculum. (At present this General Curriculum is at the stage of preliminary procedure and it is used as an experiment.)  It is based on respect for the learning needs of each pupil.

Success

The main philosophy is to create conditions for fulfilling pupils’ social and professional perspectives, which is seen as influencing the aims of education and as building strategies and motivation for their attainment. Within this philosophy school should be a place where pupils feel safe, experience success, build up their own learning strategies and improve competencies needed for life.

Responsibility of choice

The organisation of education works for the pupils’ right and at the same time the responsibility of choice. Pupils are managers of their own learning process. Basic attainments of the subjects are the same and compulsory for all pupils on the same level in each year. Pupils should choose for themselves, in accordance with their interests, aspirations and school offers, subjects which are differentiated by the demand and quantity factor. This kind of differentiation gives pupils the chance to learn about their own abilities and needs, and at the same time encourages them to achieve more.

Planning

The one week planning process is a platform for self-assessment by pupils and for getting feedback from teachers. It is a platform for informing parents of their children’s achievements. Each week, in accordance to curriculum plans, each pupil has to assign subjects focused on his/her own assessment and feelings of achievement. He/she can use four levels of assessment: I know, I know partly, I know with help, I do not know. Also teachers give their own assessment in these subjects and offer pupils the possibility to compare and think about the differences between these two assessments.  

Learn to learn - L2L

Assessment is used as a process for teaching the pupils to assess their own work as well as to support schoolmates in reaching their achievements. Group teamwork is used as the main method of learning. Groups of pupils work on a common task and have the responsibility of not just solving the task and reaching the goal, but also to evaluate their own learning strategies. The group is responsible for its all members.   

School opening

The term ‘open school’ within this context can be understood as staff being prepared to listen to pupils, parents etc and then work with the received information. This interaction is practiced mainly on a personal or on an electronic level. Parents and teachers are using e-mail for questions concerned their children or vice-versa. Teachers are sending curriculum plans and other materials to parents and pupils; the school has opened a flow of information. A public on-view web site offers basic information concerning school philosophy, programme, organisation etc. The parent’s web path is an e-bridge between the pupils´ parents and school’s teachers (staff). A school is open for parental influence and participation.

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