Please note that this article is obsolete because we have now opened our Czech School in Exeter! You can find all information at www.czech-school-exeter.co.uk
For quite some time now myself and a couple of Czech friends, who live in Exeter and Exmouth respectively, have been toying with the idea of starting a Czech school in Devon. So far, though, we have not been able to make this reality. We have a vision and every now and then we have the enthusiasm to do it. The latter comes and goes, probably depending on where the moon is in relation to the sun at the time, or something like that :-) We think we have a good core for the team: myself, a translator with two bilingual children; Eva, a former Czech language and history teacher; Šárka who owns a pre-school and is keen to provide premises should the idea ever materialize. The main problem is that we are not sure if a Czech school down here in the Westcountry is viable. We have no real idea how many Czech people live in Devon and the surrounding counties. And even if there were lots, how keen would they be for their children to attend? We have done some research but it looks like most Czechs congregate around the big cities, London, Manchester, Birmingham etc.
Czech Schools in the UK
We know there are a couple of Czech schools in the UK, in London and in Manchester. The original one, in London, was founded in October 2007 just as a small arts club for Czech-speaking pre-school children. It is a voluntary organization aiming to develop and promote Czech language abilities and the awareness of Czech culture among Czech-speaking children living in the UK, and other language communities in the UK. The school meets at a couple of locations, on Saturdays and Wednesdays, and offers the 0, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th year of Czech primary school, with teachers guiding the children in reading, writing and counting in Czech. For 2 – 5 year olds there is the Kids’ Art Club on Saturday mornings where they learn Czech rhymes, songs, games etc. Czech school in Manchester exists since 2011 and is a voluntary organisation providing Czech language lessons to children of Czech origins. The school caters for children aged from 12 months to 11 years.
Czech School Without Borders
Czech school London is one of the few official “Czech Schools Without Borders“, an initiative started by Lucie Slavíková-Boucher in Paris in 2003. There are several Czech schools without borders scattered around Europe now and even more Czech groups and “unofficial” schools all around the world. They all share a common purpose, to promote Czech language and culture amongst the children of Czech emigrants. The link below will take you to the Czech TV website, more precisely to a page which contains a video of an excellent program about the Czech School Without Borders.
Czech School for Czech Kids in Devon
We would love to be able to get enough Czech people together to open a Czech school in Devon. It wouldn’t have to be anything official to start with. Maybe just an informal weekly gathering of Czechs and their children and a morning filled with Czech chat and activities. And then if there was enough interest to “do things properly”, we could easily expand and start with a more focused approach to learning. Our aim is simple, to keep our Czech heritage alive and to pass it onto our children. If you are a Czech living in Devon, Cornwall or Somerset (or even further afield) and are reading this thinking “I love the sound of that”, do leave a comment or send me an email. We would love to hear from you
Our next Czech-Slovak meeting is taking place at St. Thomas church hall, Cowick Street, Exeter, Sunday 16th June 2-4pm. Parking round the back from Church Rd. We will look forward to seeing you there.