Park Lane International School

Park Lane International School opened its secondary campus this September

Around Malá Strana and the governmental area of Prague, in front of the picturesque hill with the castle on top and behind the Polish embassy that numerous tourists and workers walk past every day stands an elegant, four-storey white building. To the busy office worker it is presumably just another embassy, but to anyone who takes time to look through the fence (or even at the sign on it) they’ll realise this is actually a school in one of the finest locations in Prague.

Park Lane International School’s secondary campus only opened in Prague 1 in September this year, with the primary school located in Prague 6 at Střešovice. Currently there are only two Year 7 classes at the new school, so to make it feel more alive the school administration moved one class from Year 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 over as well. From next year each class will move up a year until eventually it’s only a secondary school with around 200 students in total.

“With moving the junior school pupils over here initially a lot of parents who had their children at Prague 6 were a little at first,” says Principal Paul Ingarfield. “At one point we had several who wanted to stay and a few who wanted to move but in the end the relocation of primary children has worked out very well.”

Overlooked by the castle and with numerous museums and galleries within walking distance, the location appears to have been a big draw for many parents along with excellent transport links as Malostranská metro station is two minutes away, as are a couple of tram stops serviced by many different lines. In the end the school hopes 95 per cent of pupils will arrive by public transport.

“The building’s got a certain ambience and yet the school has a very modern image,” Mr Ingarfield continues. “It’s not the kind of school that’s going to be hunting round for a Latin motto anytime soon, or a tie and a crest as it were. It’s a modern approach. Our teaching and learning methods are very progressive: learner centred and with ICT to the fore but not to the detriment of thinking and practical skills.

“I just think it’s a lovely environment, it’s very peaceful here, we’re in the heart of Prague and I think if you’re an international student here then you really feel you’re in Prague. In certain other schools out in the suburbs you could be anywhere in Europe, but here you get to soak up the atmosphere, the culture.”

Part of the school’s modern image involves using the virtual learning environment Fronter, which pupils and staff can log onto anywhere to see messages from their teachers, the principal, check their homework assignments, extend their learning and access other useful information.

The school follows the English curriculum but plans to use the Cambridge International GCSE (IGCSE) and IB Diploma as its main examination courses for years 10/11 and 12/13 respectively.

The Year 6 class is currently full in Prague 1 and those pupils will automatically move into Year 7 at the end of the year. It was quite a different story last year however, as the Year 6 class was smaller and by the end of the year a few parents moved out of Prague, leaving just six children moving into Year 7 from Park Lane Primary.

“Twenty one new Year 7s joined us, and that was largely because a lot of people liked our location, plans and curriculum ideas,” explains Mr Ingarfield. “We also ran a scholarship scheme back in April and managed to attract 32 children. They came for a selection process which involved English proficiency and logic and reasoning tests. We whittled down the 32 to eight, saw them individually and fired questions at them to see how they could think on their feet. We ended up awarding several full and partial scholarships for academic excellence.”

Park Lane’s grand opening for the Prague 1 branch was held in October, having been delayed due to the floods in May, but that delay enabled the 300 guests to see an operational place of learning.

“The mission for the school is that we want to produce the kind of children who are learning to think for themselves, that are learning to be self starters. You could visit a Year 3 class in Park Lane and hear children asking one another 'so which strategy are we going to use for this?' and I think that's wonderful. There are a lot of extra-curricular activities and we've got a house system established all the way up from pre-nursery to Year 7 that will go all the way up to Year 13.”

On Saturday 14th of December 2013 from 10.00am till 3.00pm there will be Winter Market at Park Lane International School’s Malá Strana site (Valdštejnská 151, Prague 1) with stalls and refreshments and everyone is welcomed to come to do a bit of pre-Christmas shopping or enjoy hot wine with a magnificent  view of Prague Castle.


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