article image

eTwinning in the Czech Republic – an eTwinning school in the Bohemian forest

The area of Bohemia with its majestic forests, unique rock formations, old castles and sublime villages has attracted the interest of painters, writers, and artists. It is also the area where one of the first eTwinning Schools in Czech Republic is located.

Základní škola Přimda (Primary school in Přimda) is a relatively small school located near the Czech-German border, in Bohemia. It has approximately 190 pupils in grades 1-9 (ages 7-15). The pupils come from Přimda and neighbouring villages.

The school has nine classrooms equipped with interactive boards, projectors and screens. Additionally, the school has several specialised rooms for different subjects such as, ICT, art, biology, history, geography, physics, chemistry, languages as well as a school library. Students also use the school facilities for sports: two gyms, a football pitch and a court, and a swimming pool.

Lessons start at 7.45 and last 45 minutes. After the first two lessons, there is a longer break for students to have their snack. While younger students finish their classes between 11.20 and 12.15, older students finish at 12.15 (on Wednesdays and Fridays) and at 13.10 (on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays). Some days older students might finish at 14.45 or 15.15 due to afternoon classes, and after school activities.

In the afternoon pupils can attend learning clubs where they are able to hone their skills in cooking, arts, maths, literature, and foreign languages. During their free time in the afternoon students also work on eTwinning and Erasmus+ projects. The school also provides extra courses to pupils needing extra support on Czech and English Language and Maths.

A Czech teacher and eTwinner, Jana Anděl Valečková, talked to us about the advantages and disadvantages of working in a rural area.

Our school is in a border mountain region between Czech Republic and Germany. Pupils from neighbouring villages can only come to school by bus. Unfortunately, for some areas, the bus connection isn’t an option. As a result, parents sometimes transport their children to and from school by car. There are many villages where the bus goes only twice a day (at 7 in the morning and 15:30 in the afternoon).

There are two schools not far from Přimda – in Rozvadov and Hoštka. Children from these two villages visit their local schools (to the 5th grade in Rozvadov and to the 3rd grade in Hoštka) and then they continue their school attendance in Přimda. That’s why we organise common activities and project days for our neighbouring schools and kindergartens in order to familiarise the children with our school, teachers and their future classmates.

Some pupils in my area come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Due to their difficult experiences because of lack of work or lack of communication skills, these families are unable to show the same enthusiastic interest in their children and their school progress.

The fact that we are a small school contributes to a family-like atmosphere. The relationship between teachers and pupils is very close, as the teachers know their pupils and their family background very well. This is a big advantage – the fact that we know our students so well, helps us understand them, and contributes to building trust with them.

Teaching in a small rural area has a big advantage, which is the close relationship between our school and local community (municipal authority, Headquarters of the Nature conservation area Bohemian Forest, parents etc.). Our regular open-house activities (e.g. Christmas singing) are very popular. We organise many sports, academic and art games and competitions not only for our pupils but for the pupils from neighbouring schools too.

Our school is located very close to the Bohemian Forest which is a conservation area. Nature there is very beautiful. Students have access to nice and deep pine forests, ponds and lakes. Many protected species of plants and animals live there. There isn’t any industry, so the air is clean here.

Primda Castle

eTwinning has helped pupils to understand other cultures and be more tolerant of other people. They have also understood the added value of learning foreign languages. With eTwinning, our students don’t learn for the sake of learning, but they learn for life.

Our school is one of the first schools awarded the eTwinning School Label in Czech Republic. We are doing our best to change our school into a learning organisation. One of our teachers is eTwinning ambassador.

Since 2010, we have been active in many eTwinning projects. Thanks to our involvement in eTwinning projects, our pupils are more motivated to learn foreign languages (English, German) and other subjects too. Pupils develop their language, IT, learning and social skills, they increase their self-confidence, find new friends abroad and learn more about other cultures.

Many of our eTwinning projects have been awarded National Quality Labels, European Quality Labels three of them won National Prizes for eTwinning, and one project was awarded a European Prize. Our Erasmus+ project “Culture and History without Borders: Success in Diversity, Diversity in Success” was recognised by the Prize of Czech National Agency (Cena DZS) as the best project in the Czech Republic in 2017 that combined Erasmus+ and eTwinning.