In all advanced societies the family and the school are two important social institutions that are in principle hostile to each other. The family stabilises society by acting as the mechanism for the transmission of social status from generation to generation and doing everything to give its own children advantages over the children of other parents. The school strives to offers cultural capital to everyone equally, and give each a chance regardless of his or her origin and family background. It therefore undermines the efforts of the family to advantage its children vis-a-vis the others. In the most recent literature, sociology has shown that in this competition the family has the stronger influence and continues to be the most important factor resisting tenden cies built into modem educational systems. In the last decade the Czech family has undergone very fundamental changes in its reproductive strategy. The nineties saw a steep decline in birth rates in the Czech Republic. Young women started to put off reproduction, so that the age at which women have their first child has been rising sharply since the change in the economic, social and political system. Many of these delayed births are never going to happen at all, since the proportion of lifelong childless women in rising and what is known as the single lifestyle is becoming more popular. More than a quarter of children are now bom to unmarried women, and in the lower social strata more than a half. It is not just first children that are being bom out of wedlock - today almost a fifth of children born to unmarried mothers are their mother’s third or even fourth child. Birth rates are strongly conditioned by education - the more educated women have fewer children. Divorce rates are also continuing to rise, as is the proportion of incomplete families. Within complete families an increasing proportion has one child only. Under these circumstances the situation of the school as one of the main institutional instruments of the egalitarian principles of democratic society is both easier and more difficult than before. The instability of the family strengthens the relative position of the school as rival to family selfishness. Consciousness of the lack of stability, however, makes families more anxious and sometimes more aggressive as well. Education is becoming an ever more important item of property, and choice of school is acquiring more importance. The proportion of children whose parents are finding placers for them in private schools is rising. This is a global trend, hitherto only marginal in this country, but potentially significant.