Compulsory school attendance refers to citizens of the Czech Republic, citizens of member states of the European Union, other foreigners who have permanent residence or permission to stay long-term in the Czech Republic and asylums seekers or persons who enjoy additional protection and participants of procedure for awarding international protection on the territory of the Czech Republic.
The length of compulsory education is set by the Education Act and is for nine years starting at the beginning of the school year following the day on which the child reaches six years of age. Compulsory education takes place at a základní škola. Children who transfer to a multi-year gymnázium or to a multi-year conservatoire in the course of their compulsory education complete their compulsory education at these schools.
A child, who turns six in the period between the beginning of the school year and the end of the calendar year, can be enrolled on the request of the legal guardian if the child is sufficiently physically and mentally mature.
If on reaching the age of six, the child is not physically or mentally ready and if its legal guardian so requests, the school head may postpone the start of compulsory schooling by one year. The readiness of a child for school is judged on the basis of an examination by the educational and psychological service or a speciálně pedagogické centrum. Starting school can be postponed only twice, at most to the year when the child turns eight. A decision can also be made in the course of the school year after discussion with the child's legal guardian. Together with the decision on postponement the school head can recommend that a child be included in the preparatory class of a základní škola or in the last year of a mateřská škola.
A pupil completes their compulsory education after nine years of schooling. This also applies when the pupil does not complete the ninth year (e.g. may have repeated a year) and thus does not complete their basic education. Compulsory school attendance ends at the age of 17, but basic education may be completed either by remaining at school on the request of the legal guardian at most to the end of the school year when the pupil turns 18 or, later on, by attending special courses for this purpose.
Regulations on the základní škola also allow for special forms of compulsory education for pupils living abroad and attending a local school there, mostly in a form of individual (home) schooling. In this case the pupil is considered to be a pupil of the school in the catchment area or of another chosen school with an individual study programme and an obligation to needs to pass yearly an exam from the Czech language plus in the 4th, 5th and 6th year from vlastivěda, in the 6th – 9th year from geography and history.
Parents or legal guardians are obliged to register their children and to ensure their regular and punctual attendance at school. Failure to do so is considered a misdemeanour, which is punishable by a fine of up to CZK 3000. More serious neglect of education may be classified as a criminal act of endangering the moral education of children and young people. The legal guardian is obliged to enrol a child for compulsory school attendance between 15 January and 15 February of the calendar year when the child has to start school. As municipalities are obliged to ensure that compulsory schooling takes place, children who are about to enter basic education in a certain year are entered in the relevant register in the municipal offices. Provisions of the Offences Act and even the Criminal Act can be used if parents do not fulfil their duty.