ELTE Radnóti Miklós School
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ELTE Radnóti Miklós School
The school was built in 1931 and served as a boys' ands girls' grammar school for the Jewish community in Pest. It is a listed building which was designed by Lajta Béla, the famous architect, very few buildings of whom survived the Second World War. After its renovation and nationalisation, the building housed a number of institutions including a teacher training college, a primary and various grammar schools. In 1959 the school was named after Radnóti Miklós, one of the greatest Hungarian poets of the 20th century. In 1961 other changes followed. Joined with the primary school which was located in one of the wings of the building at the time, the grammar school became the teacher training school of the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest. As a result, apart from the teaching of primary and secondary school pupils from Year 1 to Year 12, the school has also been providing mentoring for university students both from the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Sciences. Today our school is one of the largest and most prestigious state schools in Budapest.
Mentoring services and the fact that the teaching staff are engaged in teacher training entails that the school can consistently meet the high academic and educational standards of our time. A major breakthrough in the history of the school was the unique idea of teaching options. It means that apart from the compulsory subjects, students can choose to study subjects which are useful for their future careers. The introduction of optional subjects was part of the reforms proposed by the then Headteacher, Lukács Sándor. The new system made it possible for students to select two subjects they wished to study in an increased number of lessons from the age of 14. The success of this innovation and the impressive results achieved by the students resulted in an ever increasing number of applicants. In the eighties the huge number of applications made the introduction of entrance exams necessary.
In order to meet the requirements of the twentieth century, the number of foreign language lessons was increased and the teaching of IT began. The students' growing workload and other pedagogic considerations made it clear that changes had to be made if the school wanted to maintain the high standards of education it had achieved. Under the direction of Mrs Réz, the Headteacher, in two years the staff of the school designed the structure and the curriculum of the six- and eight-year secondary grammar school programme and incorporated it within the framework of the school's 12-year system. The two new programmes were gradually introduced from 1990 and 1992. Today, the school provides an initial period of four years of primary education (from age 6 to 10), which is followed by 8 years of secondary education. There also exists a class of students who join the school at the age of 12 and enjoy 6 years of secondary education.
The 6 and 8-year education programmes are based on each other and are closely aligned. The main principle of the school's pedagogic programme applies to both types of secondary education: the objective of the school is to ensure that its students develop balanced, tolerant and creative personalities who have the necessary general, foreign language and IT knowledge and can effectively process new information.
The eight-year secondary education begins with a preparatory period when the foundations are laid in Years 5 and 6. Between Years 7 and 10, for four years, in both types of secondary education, the focus is on general education. It means that the teaching of various subjects is based on the compulsory core curricula whose content can be acquired by any student showing average interest in a subject.
The final two years represent a completely new phase. Apart from preparing students for the school leaving exam, Years 11 and 12 put the emphasis on providing specialist training and the support of gifted students. This is the time when students can choose options which they study in more depth and intensity. The advantages of the introduction of optional subjects are as follows:
- Students make their choices after they have covered most of the curriculum of secondary education.
- At the age of 16 students face the responsibility of choice and decision making. However, the choice is not final and can be altered later.
- The system of options makes it possible for teachers to adopt an individual approach to the teaching of students. In this way, those more able can be stretched so that they fulfil their full potential.
- Since the curriculum is tailored to suit the specific needs of the students, it is the students' interest in a subject and motivation that stimulates their development.
- Teaching options ensures that students are prepared for university entrance exams, the provision of which is one of the main tasks of a grammar school.
- The system makes it possible for students to take the advanced state foreign language exam.
The school places great emphasis on the teaching of foreign languages. The teaching of English begins at the age of 9-10. The first foreign language is taught for eight/six years whereas the teaching of the second foreign language spans four years (with 4 lessons a week). Most students take and pass the intermediate level of the state language exams. Apart from the lessons, conversation classes and after-school clubs are organised in order to prepare students for these exams.
For the six and eight-year secondary schools a set of examinations is organised internally. All students are obliged to take exams either when they have covered a certain area in a subject or when the teaching of a subject has finished. The aim of these written and/or oral examinations is revision, the development of study skills and the practice of presentation.
The staff of the school make every effort to maintain high standards of education. Our students do consistently well at highly competitive university examinations, as well as local, national and international competitions. The average number of foreign language exam passes is 1.5 per school-leaver.
The fact that more than 50 schools have adopted the 6 and 8-year curricula shows the success of the innovation. The popularity of the curricula has been further increased by the fact that the designers have also written the textbooks.
The school offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities for the students. We have an excellent, well-stocked library, and the pupils have access to the computer room all afternoon. There are about 10-15 student groups and clubs which include arts and crafts, IT, competition practice as well as an environmental group. The school's sports clubs invote students to compete in various sports and games.
Every year the Student Union offers a huge variety of leisure activities which serve the students' special interests and strengthen the school community. The teachers of the school also take their share of these activities. Every spring the Radnóti Day is organised where students can listen to talks and lectures given by renowned scholars and scientists. Every summer 20-22 summer camps provide the students of all ages with the opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves. There are camps for bookworms, cyclists, hikers, rowers and athletes etc.
In 1986 a group of students with the help of their teachers contacted Nobel Prize winners and asked them to send articles, signed photos and letters to the school. The collection was then exhibited in the school to commemorate the International Year of Peace. In 1987 the school received the Peace Messenger Prize from the Secretary General of the UN for this exhibition.
For many years a group of enthusiastic teachers has organised a fortnight's holiday for children of Hungarian origin from Ukraine whose programme includes Hungarian language and history lessons, a trip to Lake Balaton and sightseeing in Budapest. Every year the students of the school take an active part in the organisation of this scheme. The cooperation with teachers and children from a different background helps our students to develop a sense of community and also to learn how to help the needy.
These endeavours are in line with the overall aim of the school which is to encourage all pupils to become independent learners and thinkers, to develop their abilities to the full and to enable them to enjoy a successful and happy adult life.