The Czech Schools Inspectorate found that many schools may be failing the most gifted pupils. Credit: Freepik.

School Inspectorate Warns That Czech Schools Are Not Developing Talented Students

Elementary and secondary schools in the Czech Republic are still incapable of sufficiently developing talented students, the Czech School Inspectorate told media today, adding that schools have registered some 42,000 talented and 1,000 extraordinarily talented students, while that there are in fact around 180,000.

Teachers are often incapable of recognizing gifted children and do not know how to support them, the inspectors found after touring 1,000 schools and conducting a survey involving 3,300 elementary and 1,020 secondary schools.

Enhancing support for talented children was one of the aims of the inclusion reforms in education that started six years ago, providing funding for the integration of handicapped students in mainstream schools.

The number of handicapped students at mainstream schools has risen from 80,000 to 112,000 since then, but the number of registered gifted students has fallen from 1,000 to 770.

Schools have focused on supporting the handicapped students more than the talented students, the inspectors said.

According to experts, the population includes some 3 percent of gifted students and 20 percent of talented students. Teachers must identify these children themselves, and the children’s extraordinary talent is confirmed by a pedagogical-psychological counselling centre.

Some 150,000 talented and 30,000 extraordinarily talented students are thought to attend Czech elementary and secondary schools.

According to the inspectors, school lessons are often dominated by teachers, meaning there is no space for students’ talent to come to the surface.

Chief school inspector Tomas Zatloukal said three quarters of schools mention the development of talent in their teaching plans, but most of them do so only formally, and an overwhelming majority of schools do not put the relevant measures in practice.

Undeveloped talent can cause problems, as students get frustrated, and can end up in a pedagogical-psychological centre not as a talented student but as a student with behavioural disorders, said Zatloukal.

The inspectors said support for talented students may be effective, for example, if lessons for class groups are adapted according to their interests and level of advancement. On the other hand, the development of talent is suppressed if the teachers strictly follow an outlined teaching plan and work with all students identically, without taking differences into account.

Schools often view the pupils with the best marks as talented, but in fact talent can bear symptoms such as cheekiness, frequent asking of questions or hyperactivity, the inspectors said.