here is some more information concerning the Obchodni Akademie in Mlada Boleslav, the school I visited in the Czech Republic.
It is a state secondary school. It is a business academy with about 500 students and 60 teachers.
I shadowed seven teachers for a total of 19 lessons. Lessons start at 8 am and finish at about 1 pm. Lessons are 45 minutes. Students move from class to class as do teachers. Between lessons there is a 10 minute break. Mid-morning there is a longer break of about 20 minutes. There are afternoon lessons. The school is closed on Saturday.
All classrooms are equipped with PCs and interactive whiteboards and/or overhead projectors.
There is no canteen but there are large halls with tables and chairs where students can have a quick packed lunch or buy a snack from vending machines.
For language lessons classes are split into two. Students always work in groups of no more than 15 people.
Lessons focus on the four skills in equal measure. Group and pair work are often used as well as lectures delivered by teachers depending on the subject-matter and on the age of students. Tests (written and oral) are used to assess progress in all of the four skills.
Secondary school students have three hours of English per week in their First and Second Year. In their Third and Fourth Year the number of lessons increases to 4 hours per week. Two hours of conversation classes with a native speaker teacher are added in Year 3 and 4. Therefore the total is 6 hours of English per week in the two final years of secondary school.
ESP – English for Specific Purposes (Business English) is taught in Year 3 and 4.
Students go through an admission process which takes into account both the final grade from Primary School and the result of the admission test sat by students who wish to study at the school.
Teachers are recruited directly by the Head Teacher. In addition to the management of the school, Head teachers in the Czech Rep. teach classes for about 6 to 10 hours per week. Teachers have a 21 hours / week timetable. Teachers’ salary is considered good.
A psychologist / counsellor visits the school every month to meet students who have requested an appointment.
The school building is very well maintained.
This is very basic information and it does not convey the very positive impression, the energy and warm welcome I got from the school, the staff and the students.
It has been a highly important experience for me, both personally and professionally.
Once more I thank all those who made it possible.
Finally, I would like to express the wish that Europe increases its investment in the training of teachers and educators to build a real sense of European citizenship.