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Poland:Early Childhood Education and Care

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Overview Poland

Contents

Poland:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Poland:Historical Development

Poland:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Poland:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Poland:Political and Economic Situation

Poland:Organisation and Governance

Poland:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Poland:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Poland:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Poland:Organisation of Private Education

Poland:National Qualifications Framework

Poland:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Poland:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Poland:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Poland:Funding in Education

Poland:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Poland:Higher Education Funding

Poland:Adult Education and Training Funding

Poland:Early Childhood Education and Care

Poland:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Poland:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Poland:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Poland:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Poland:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Poland:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Poland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Poland:Primary Education

Poland:Organisation of Primary Education

Poland:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Poland:Assessment in Primary Education

Poland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Poland:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Poland:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Poland:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Poland:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Poland:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Poland:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Poland:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Poland:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Poland:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Poland:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Poland:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Poland:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Poland:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Poland:Higher Education

Poland:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Poland:First Cycle Programmes

Poland:Bachelor

Poland:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Poland:Second Cycle Programmes

Poland:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Poland:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Poland:Adult Education and Training

Poland:Distribution of Responsibilities

Poland:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Poland:Main Providers

Poland:Main Types of Provision

Poland:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Poland:Teachers and Education Staff

Poland:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Poland:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Poland:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Poland:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Poland:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Poland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Poland:Management and Other Education Staff

Poland:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Poland:Management Staff for Higher Education

Poland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Poland:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Poland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Poland:Quality Assurance

Poland:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Poland:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Poland:Educational Support and Guidance

Poland:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Poland:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Poland:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Poland:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Poland:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Poland:Mobility and Internationalisation

Poland:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Mobility in Higher Education

Poland:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Poland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Poland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Poland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Poland:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Poland:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Poland:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Poland:National Reforms in School Education

Poland:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Poland:National Reforms in Higher Education

Poland:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Poland:European Perspective

Poland:Legislation

Poland:Institutions

Poland:Glossary

Structure and organization

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Poland is divided into two stages:

  1. for children aged 0-3 years in crèches (żłobki) and, as from 2011, kids clubs (kluby dziecięce), or settings where care is provided by day child minders and nannies;
  2. for children aged 3-5 years in nursery schools (przedszkole), pre-school classes in primary schools (oddziały przedszkolne) and other pre-school education settings, including pre-school education units and centres.

Before 2011, crèches (żłobki) were the only institutions or settings providing care to children aged up to 3 years. They operated within the healthcare system, and thus were regarded as institutions providing healthcare services, including prevention and care, for children aged 3 and below during their parents' or guardians' working hours. At present, childcare institutions for children aged 3 and below are supervised by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy.

Crèches (żłobki) and day-care providers / child minders and nannies provide care to children aged at least 20 weeks, and kids clubs (kluby dziecięce) to children aged 1 year and above. Care can be provided until the end of the school year in which the child reaches the age of 3 or up to the age of 4 in cases where it is impossible or difficult for the child to participate in pre-school education. In the case of children who have reached the age of 3 and attend a crèche or kids club, or are supervised by a day-care provider / child minder, their parents are obliged to provide the childcare institution concerned with a statement explaining reasons for which their children are unable to participate in pre-school education. In accordance with the School Education Act of 1991, pre-school education is considered the first level of school education. Pre-school education institutions in Poland are attended by children from the age of 3 years up to the start of primary school. It is also worth mentioning that the term "pre-school education” is increasingly often used in Poland as interchangeable with the previously most popular term "pre-school care and upbringing” (wychowanie przedszkolne).

Pursuant to the School Education Act, since 1 September 2004 all 6-year old children have been required to complete one pre-school preparatory year. As from 1 September 2009, 5-year olds had a statutory right to complete one pre-school preparatory year in a nursery school (przedszkole), pre-school classes (oddziały przedszkolne) in a primary school or other pre-school settings (inne formy wychowania przedszkolnego, pre-school education units or centres – zespoły wychowania przedszkolnego, punkty przedszkolne). However, as from 1 September 2011, this right has been replaced by an obligation to complete one preparatory year in one of the pre-school settings mentioned above. As from 1 September 2015, 4-year old children have a statutory right to pre-school education. As from 1 September 2017, this right will be extended to cover also 3-year olds.

Pursuant to an amendment to the 1991 School Education Act which came into force on 1 September 2009, the age of entry into primary education was to be gradually lowered from 7 to 6 years. During the following school years, 2009/10, 2010/11 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 decisions to enrol 6-year old children in the primary school were taken by parents and school heads. Six-year olds could be admitted to the primary school on the condition that the school offered suitable facilities and the child had completed one year of pre-school education or that his/her school readiness had been confirmed by a counselling and guidance centre.

As from 1 September 2014, some 6-year old children, i.e. those born between 1 January and 30 June 2008, started compulsory education in primary schools. Children born in the second half of the year were allowed either to continue pre-primary education or to start education in the first grade of the primary school.

In the school year 2015/2016, education in the primary school was compulsory for those 7-year old children born between 1 July and 31 December 2008 who had not started formal schooling the year before, and for all children born in 2009 (6-year olds). That was the school year in which the process of gradual lowering of the age of entry into compulsory education from seven to six years was to be completed.

5-year old children were still required to complete one pre-school preparatory year. Children aged 3 and 4 participated in preschool education on a voluntary basis, with a decision taken by their parents.

Following the 2015 election, the new Government decided to revert to the previous arrangements in response to parents’ protests against the lowering of the age of entry into primary education to 6 years.

As from 1 September 2016, the obligation to start education in the first grade of the primary school has been re-introduced for 7-year olds. Children aged 6 are required to complete one pre-school preparatory year in a nursery school or another pre-school education setting, or – as from 31 August 2019 – as part of preschool classes in a primary school. Places are provided for all 4- and 5-year olds whose parents wish their children to participate in preschool education. As from 1 September 2017, places will also be provided to all 3-year old children who wish to enrol. At the parents’ request, children who reach the age of 6 in a given calendar year may also start primary education if they:

  1. participated in preschool education in the school year preceding the school year of entry into primary education or
  2. have a certificate confirming that they can start primary education, issued by a counselling and guidance centre.

Thus, parents may choose when their children start primary education (6 or 7 years).

As explained above, preschool education covers children from the beginning of the school year in the calendar year when the child reaches the age of 3 till the end of the school year in the calendar year when the child reaches the age of 7. In particularly justified cases, a child who has reached the age of 2.5 may participate in preschool education as well.

Aims

The changes introduced in 2011 to the ECEC system for children aged 3 and below are designed to extend the range of services provided by introducing a wider variety of care settings and to enable parents or guardians to choose the most suitable setting. The arrangements proposed should also help parents or guardians to take up employment. The services provided by crèches include the following elements based on the norms set for children of this age: meals, care and nursing, sleep and rest hygiene, indoor and outdoor educational activities, activities aimed at preventing diseases and promoting health, corrective activities, and the provision of ad-hoc medical care.

Pre-school education covers activities designed to support the development and education of children at the age of 3 up to the beginning of primary education. The main aims of pre-school education are defined by the national core curriculum for pre-school education in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 27 August 2012 (further amended in 2014 and 2016) on the core curricula for pre-school and general education in individual types of schools.

Pre-school education aims to:

  • support children in the development of their talents and the development of intellectual skills which are necessary in everyday life and further education;
  • build a system of values which, among other things, enables children to see the difference between what is right and wrong;
  • develop emotional resilience necessary to deal in a rational way with new and difficult situations, including coping adequately with stress and failure;
  • develop social skills;
  • create conditions for children of different levels of physical and intellectual abilities to play and learn together in a harmonious way;
  • take care of children's health and physical development;
  • build children's knowledge about the world and develop skills for presenting their own reflections in a way which is understandable to others;
  • introduce children into the world of aesthetic values and develop their self-expression skills through music, drama and visual arts;
  • develop children's sense of patriotism and of belonging to a community: their family, peer group and national community;
  • ensure better educational opportunities for children by supporting the development of their curiosity, activity and independence and the knowledge and skills which are relevant in school education.

In 2014 the core curriculum was supplemented with:

  • activities preparing children to learn a modern foreign language, especially developing their linguistic awareness and cultural sensitivity, stimulating motivation to learn foreign languages at further stages of education;

and

  • in nursery schools for children from national and ethnic minority groups, and those speaking regional languages: activities which aim at maintaining and developing a sense of national, ethnic and linguistic identity; this involves supporting children in the process of learning their national or ethnic minority or regional language through the development of their national, ethnic and linguistic awareness and motivation necessary at further stages of education.

In 2016, the core curriculum was extended to include:

  • activities developing children’s reading skills and preparing them to acquire writing skills.

The above-mentioned aims are pursued in 17 areas of pre-school education:

  1. Development of social skills: communication with adults and other children. Positive functioning during play and task related situations.
  2. Development of self- service skills, hygienic and cultural habits.
  3. Support to the development of speech and other communication skills.
  4. Support to the development of intellectual skills related to exploration and understanding of oneself and environment.
  5. Health education and development of physical agility.
  6. Teaching children about their own safety and that of the others.
  7. Education through art: child as a spectator and actor.
  8. Education through art: music, dancing, singing.
  9. Education through art: various forms of fine art.
  10. Support to children’ s intellectual development through constructing and technical tasks.
  11. Support to understanding of weather and avoiding of danger.
  12. Education developing respect for plants and animals.
  13. Support to children’ s intellectual development through mathematical education.
  14. Providing conditions for language and communication experiences focusing on the representational and communicative functions of the language (with special regard to reading skills).
  15. Family, civic and patriotic education.
  16. Preparing children to speak a modern foreign language.
  17. Preparing children from national and ethnic minority groups and communities speaking regional languages to speak a national or ethnic minority language, or a regional language, while taking into consideration the needs of deaf children using the sign language.

Within each area, the core curriculum describes in detail skills which children should have acquired by the end of pre-school education. The core curriculum is accompanied by detailed organizational and methodological guidelines, including the timetable for pre-school institutions.

Legislation

Before 2011, pursuant to the Act on Health Care, crèches were considered to be public or non-public healthcare institutions. They were established by the Minister of Health, regional authorities or other local government units, or medical higher education institutions. Non-public institutions could be administered by legal entities or natural persons. At present, the Act of 4 February 2011 on Care for Children up to the age of 3 is the main legislative act concerning various forms of care for children aged 3 and below. Care for children aged up to 3 currently falls within the remit of the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy (the Minister of Labour and Social Policy between 2011 and 2016).

Crèches and kids clubs can be administered by communes, natural persons, legal entities or other institutions.

The Minister of Labour and Social Policy has adopted regulations which include detailed provisions concerning:

  • infrastructure and sanitation requirements for facilities to be used by a crèche and kids club (2014);
  • the scope of training programmes for child minders working in crèches and kids clubs, volunteers and day-care providers (2011);
  • specimens for electronic documents for entering a provider, changing an entry and striking a provider from the register of crèches and kids clubs (2014).

The School Education Act of 7 September 1991 (amended many times between 1996 and 2015) and the Teachers’ Charter of 1982 (amended several times since 1996), which defines teachers' rights and duties, are the main legislative framework for pre-school education.

The School Education Act has introduced the concepts of public and non-public education and laid down their operational principles. Furthermore, the 1990 Act on Local Government (as amended subsequently) has had considerable impact on the functioning of nursery schools. This Act and the School Education Act led to the delegation of responsibilities for the administration of public pre-school education institutions to communes (gmina) as from 1 January 1992.

The administration of public pre-school education institutions, including one-year pre-school preparatory education, is one of the statutory tasks of the commune which establishes, administers, restructures and closes down these institutions. As the managing body, the commune is responsible for providing conditions for activities of nursery schools (including repairs and investment projects, administrative and financial support, teaching resources and equipment necessary for teaching), for the appointment and dismissal of nursery school heads (on the basis of a competition), and for approving annual organisational plans of nursery schools.

Pedagogical supervision over pre-school education institutions is exercised by the head of the regional education authorities (REA) (kurator oświaty). Both the nursery school managing body and the head of the REA may interfere with pre-school activities only insofar as it is provided for in the legislation. Thus, nursery school heads and teachers are free to take decisions on various important matters such as curricula or organisational arrangements.

The Minister of National Education has adopted detailed regulations concerning various issues, including:

In the school year 2015/2016, 84.1% of the 3- to 5-year-olds population participated in pre-school education. The proportion of children attending pre-school education institutions is still larger in urban areas (90.6%) than in rural areas (75%). Five-year olds represented the overwhelming majority of children attending pre-school institutions (97.2%) as they were required to complete one pre-school preparatory year. Those participating in preschool education represented 83.8% of 4-year-olds and 70.5% of 3-year-olds.