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Poland:National Reforms in School Education

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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

2017

The amendment to the Act on Education Information System (SIO)

Reform status: approved on 21 April 2017

The Education Information System (System Informacji Oświatowej, SIO) is an electronic system of data bases. It collects statistical data and individual data on schools, educational institutions, teachers and pupils which are necessary for policy making, improving quality of education, improving access to learning and regulating the effectiveness of financial support of educational tasks. Every school sends data to SIO e.g. on the number of pupils/ teachers, school capital and expenses.

The approved amendment is mainly concentrated on the technical issues and concerns the structure of the system, improves communication between users and modifies the procedure for data transmission. Simplification of data collection is also envisaged. The system will be consolidated. Thanks to this the data will be kept in the central SIO data base only and it will be input via an internet application and not through local data bases. The current structure of SIO (central data base administered by the Ministry of National Education + local data bases administered by schools) poses technical problems and requires application of new solutions. According to the adopted amendments the SIO will include one central data base administered by the Ministry. The data will be uploaded via an internet application. According to the amended act the SIO will not collect individual data on psychological, pedagogical and social support, only aggregated data will be available. The majority of regulations regarding SIO will come into force on the 24 July 2017. This will allow for an upload of important data on schools and educational institutions into the system before the new school year begins


New core curriculum for primary schools

Reform status: approved February 2017


On the 14 of February 2017 the Minister of National Education signed a new regulation on core curriculum for preschool and general education in primary schools.

The regulation includes core curricula for the following types of education:  

• pre-school education;

• general education in primary schools;

• general education in primary schools for pupils with moderate and severe mental disability;

• general education in stage I of trade schools;

• general education in special schools preparing for employment;

• general education in post-secondary schools.

Starting on the 1 September 2017 the new core curriculum will be implemented in grades 1, 4 and 7 of primary school. The new curriculum will be implemented in:

• nursery schools, pre-school classes in primary schools and other forms of pre-school education,

• primary schools ‒  for pupils with moderate and severe mental disability,

• trade schools, stage 1,

• special schools preparing for employment,

• first semesters of post-secondary school.

The other pupils in primary schools, lower secondary schools and post-gymnasium schools will follow the previous core curriculum and existing textbooks based on it.

 New textbooks based on the new core curriculum will be available by June 2017.  Primary and lower secondary school pupils will receive their textbooks, educational materials and exercise books free of charge. The new core curriculum will be gradually introduced in all grades of primary school in the coming years.

 The core curriculum contains all the necessary content for education of pupils in grades 7 and 8 and it will become basis for a new 8th grade’s leaver’s examination.The new core curriculm follows on the curriculum implemented in the grades 4-6 of primary school and will prepare pupils for further education in a post-primary school of their choice (starting in the school year 2019/20).  

Training of teachers

All primary school teachers will have an opportunity to take part in training on the implementation of the new core curriculum. Subject teachers will receive information kits on the new core curriculum which will be ready and dispatched to schools in March 2017.



The structural reform of the education system approved for implementation

Reform status: approved for implementation in January 2017

The reform will be implemented between 1 September 2017 and the school year 2022/23. On the 1 September 2017 pupils graduating from year 6 of the primary school will become pupils of grade 7. At the same time gymnasia will be gradually phased out. In the school year 2018/19 gymnasia will cease to operate as the last cohort of pupils will graduate.

The new structure includes:

  • 8-year primary school
  • 4-year general upper secondary school
  • 5-year technical upper secondary school 3-year trade school (stage I)
  • 3-year special school preparing for employment
  • 2-year trade school (stage II)
  • Post-secondary school.

The restructuring will take place on the basis of an Act of 14 December 2016 “Law on School Education” and an Act “Legislation introducing the Act – Law on School Education” (for additional information see below) .

2016

Reform of the education system – internet service

Reform status: launched

A special internet service on the reform of the education system has been launched by the Ministry of National Education.

The service entitled ‘Good School’ provides most important information on the reform of the education system from the point of view of the parents, students, teachers and the school running bodies (local authorities). The service includes information on the restructuring of the school system, new solutions in the vocational education sector, protection of teachers’ employment, special education and external examinations.

Parents can check which school they children will attend starting in September 2017 and consult the time table for the implementation of the changes.


New Act „Law on School Education”

Reform status: proposal

The new structure of school education as proposed in the act „Law on School Education” includes:

  • 8-year primary school
  • 4-year general secondary school (liceum ogólnokształcące)
  • 5-year technical secondary school (technikum)
  • 3-year trade school (1st cycle)
  • 2-year trade school (2nd cycle)
  • 3-year special school preparing for employment
  • Post-secondary school.

The changes will be introduced starting in the school year 2017/2018. Pupils of grade 6 of primary school will become pupils of grade 7 of primary school. This will commence the gradual phasing out of the lower secondary school (gimnazjum) – no new pupils will be admitted.

In the school year 2018/2019 the last cohort of gymnasium pupils will complete education in grade 3. As follows starting on the 1st September 2019 lower secondary schools will no longer exist.

Introduction of trade school replacing the basic vocational school is planned starting 1st September 2017. Introduction of a 2-year trade school (2nd cycle) for graduates of trade school of the first cycle will commence in the school year  2020/2021.

The 8-grader’s examination

In the school year 2018/2019 a new compulsory examination for pupils in grade 8 of primary school will be launched. This compulsory external examination for pupils in the last grade of primary education will be based on requirements defined in the core curriculum for general education. It will include two parts - a test and a descriptive part. In the years 2018/2019, 2019/2020, 2020/2021 the examination will include the following subjects: Polish language, mathematics and a modern foreign language. In the school year 2021/2022 one of the following subjects will be added to the list of subjects as a compulsory option: biology, chemistry, physics, geography or history. The examination results will constitute one of the criteria for the pupils’ access to a secondary school.

Voluntary work at school

The new law has envisaged an obligation for schools to define measures for implementation of tasks related to voluntary work. Student self-government will have additional rights to organize activities in this respect in consultation with the school authorities.

Preparatory class

A new organisational form of class is envisaged for pupils and students who return from abroad – both Polish citizens and foreign nationals. The class is intended to help children from migrant families with integration problems and to support them in learning of the Polish language.


Portal on coding at school has been launched

Reform status: implemented

The portal on coding www.programowanie.men.gov.pl has been launched. The portal will offer information and educational materials on coding.

The new portal will facilitate sharing of experience and teaching materials based on free open sources. It also includes a forum for teachers involved in the pilot phase of coding at school.  

School heads and teachers in public settings are invited to participate in a pilot phase of coding in formal education based on teaching innovations.  The pilot phase will be launched on the 1 September 2016. Non-public schools are invited to provide information on the individual teaching programmes involving elements of coding.  Interested schools are to contact the regional educational superintendent offices (kuratorium) by the end of August.


Restructuring of the school education system

Reform status: proposal

On the 27 of June 2016 the Minister of National Education has announced the results of the debate and the proposal of profound restructuring of the system based on this debate.

The new structure of the education system will include:

  • The 8-year basic school (szkoła powszechna) including two stages of education:
  1. Grades 1-4 – primary level
  2. Grades 5-8 – lower secondary level

And three types of upper secondary schools:

  • 4-year general upper secondary school (liceum ogólnokształcące)
  • 5-year technical upper secondary school (technikum)
  • Two-stage 5-year trade school (szkoła branżowa) – stage I – 3-years, stage II – 2 years.

8-year basic school will include two levels of 4 years duration each. The first level will cover primary education and the second level – lower secondary education. The educational process will by definition take place in 8 grades in one building. In justified cases (especially in rural areas) the primary level can be separated from the main building of the basic school which will include all 8 grades or in very exceptional cases just the lower secondary level. Still, it will be one basic school. An option of separating two level of basic education cannot justify any interruptions to the integrity of the school community.   

Changes will be introduced starting in the school year 2017/2018. Pupils graduating from the grade 6 of primary school will be enrolled in grade 7 of the basic school. In the same year the basic vocational school will be converted to a trade school.

The new structure will be fully implemented in the school year 2023/24.

The proposals of new legislation will be announced for consultations and corrections in September and October 2016.

Other important changes in school education announced on the 27 June 2016

Reform status: proposal

With regard to pupils:

  • Coding at school starting in the early years
  • Broad band in schools (270 million PLN earmarked from the EU funds for internet infrasructure in schools and 120 million PLN for teacher training)
  • „Interactive board” programme (Interactive boards to be standard equipment in every classrooom)
  • Visits to places of historical and clutural heritage importance (starting September 2016)
  • Vocational guidance
  1. Introduction of core curriculum for vocational guidance
  2. Introduction of this topic at every stage of education
  3. Obligation to check the students’ professional predispositions before the choice of educational path
  • Establishing a link between financing of trade schools and the labour market needs
  • Introduction of dual system in vocational education
  • Practical training centres in every district (powiat)
  • Regional labour offices to express their opinion on vocational training in particular vocations
  • Establishment of Specialists Corps
  • Establishment of Vocational Education Development Fund (Fundusz Rozwoju Edukacji Zawodowej, FREZ).

Please refer also to the section on national Reforms in VET and Adult Education.

With regard to parents:

  • Introduction of functional diagnosis as a basis for child’s support  (with the use of international classification (ICF)
  • Establishment of leading regional psychological and pedagogical support centres
  • Change of terminology in special education from „special setting” to the „specialist setting”
  • Support to the Polish schools abroad („Rodzina polonijna”)
  • Establishment of the programme for cooperation between the Ministry of National education and NGOs
  • Support to the concept of voluntary work at school (examples of good practice, cooperation with NGOs)
  • Combination of care and prevention programmes into one document including both kinds of measurements.

With regard to the teaching profession:

  • Development of the new scale for the teachers’ assessment (additional levels)
  • Introduction of obligatory teachers’ assessment
  • Introduction of a new step on the professional advancement scale
  • Prolongation of induction phase from 9 months to 1 year and 9 months
  • Individualization of duration of the professional advancement path depending on the teacher’s work performance
  • Involvement of methodological advisors in the professional advancement procedures
  • Definition of status for teachers working in Polish schools abroad.
  • Preparation of CPD programmes e.g. for foreign pupil’s assistants in the framework of National Programme for CPD for Teachers
  • Increase in the additional allowance for home room teachers
  • Increased support to small schools and their role as cultural and educational centres
  • Increased funding for 6-year olds remaining in pre-school education (from 1338 PLN per child to 4300 PLN).
  • Removal of the obligation to calculate the average remuneration of teachers at every stage of professional advancement.

Detailed information in Polish is available at the Ministry's of National Education website.

Priorities for the school year 2016/17

Reform status: announced on the 7 July 2016

The following priority areas for state educational policy have been defined for the school year 2016/17:

  1. Promotion of reading, development of reading competences among children and young people.
  2. Development of ICT competences of children and young people in schools and educational settings.
  3. Shaping of attitudes.  Education towards values.
  4. Improvement of quality of vocational education in upper secondary schools through involvement of employers in the process of adjusting vocational education to the needs of the labour market.  

Coding in every school

Reform status: Project

The Ministry is planning an introduction of coding as a part of school curriculum at every educational stage. The pilot project is planned for 2016, and in 2017 all schools will offer coding within their curricula.
Preparation of the teachers of coding will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Digitalization and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
The project will be initiated with a screening  of schools in terms of access to computer equipment and Internet. Provision of broadband to all schools is the Ministry’s immediate plan. The project will be supported with the funds from the Digital Poland programme.


Pupil – Parent – Teacher. Good change

Reform status: debate

National debate on the education system has been open. It will involve 1840 experts in 16 thematic groups, 16 regional debates with the involvement of parents, pupils and representatives of local authorities.   

The experts will work in the following thematic groups: 

  • general and vocational education
  • organisation of pedagogical supervision
  • professional advancement of teachers
  • external examination system 
  • CPD
  • financing of educational tasks by local authorities  
  • core curriculum for general education 
  • early school education
  •  pre-school education
  • organisation of psychological and pedagogical support 
  • pupils with SEN 
  • teaching of History as a school subject  
  • Physical Education
  • parents at school
  • formative role of school
  • cooperation with NGOs.

Regional educational debates will be held in parallel to the work of the expert groups.

The regional debates will be organised around the four main topics: special education, vocational education, financing of schools, and safety. Discussion will take place in the 1x4 formula (four regions hold discussions on one of the four proposed topics). The Ministry invites all stakeholders to take part in the debate – not only the representatives of local authorities and teachers but also pupils, parents and all interested parties.


Planned large scale reform of the education system

Reform status: changes planned to be implemented in 2016 (among others, resulting from meeting the obligations undertaken by the Prime Minister in the expose presented on 18 November 2015):

Changes to The Teachers’ Charter

On 8 January 2016, the bill was sent for inter-ministerial and public consultations. The planned date for the adoption of the bill by the Council of Ministers is 16 February 2016.

These changes include:

a)    since 1 September 2016, the abolishment of the obligation to provide care in day care units in schools or as part of hours earmarked in framework curricula at the disposal of the school head in the existing formula. As part of a 40-hour work week, teachers  will conduct classes with  pupils in accordance with their needs and interests and in line with arrangements made in a given school. In relation with the removal of the obligation to conduct these classes in the existing formula, the number of such hours will not be registered, which will cut the red tape in the work of teachers.
b)    disciplinary procedures for teachers, including improvement thereof and the introduction of a central register of disciplinary rulings. The register will feature data of teachers validly punished with dismissal from the teaching profession or laid-off with a suspension from employment in the teaching profession for a period of three years. The register will be an efficient tool preventing teachers punished as above from being employed in preschools, schools or other institutions. The act will also stipulate the rules for remunerating members of disciplinary committees,  ethics commissioners and their deputies (at present, there are no regulations to that end). Disciplinary liability will apply to all the teachers; 
c)    method of funding one-off financial gratification of teachers awarded by the minister competent for education with an honourable title of professor of education;
d)    covering all the teachers the requirement concerning lack of convictions for intentional offences and lack of criminal or disciplinary proceedings or proceedings leading to incapacitation. Prior to employment, teachers will be obliged to submit to their school heads information from the National Criminal Register.

Changes to the School Education Act

The planned date for submitting the bill for inter-ministerial and public consultations was 16 February 2016. The amendments were approved in June 2016.

In particular, the changes apply to:
a)    the abolishment of the test, which is obligatory for pupils attending grade six of primary schools. Starting from the school year 2017/18, the Central Examination Board in cooperation with regional examination boards will provide to lower secondary schools diagnostic tools, which can be used to make an initial assessment of knowledge and skills of students starting the third stage of education (lower secondary school). This will also allow the schools, which use the diagnostic tools to measure the effectiveness of teaching thanks to EVA analyses.
b)     Verification of the written part of matriculation examination and the written part of the examination confirming professional qualifications as determined by the director of a regional examination board. Starting from the school year 2017/18, the exam takers will have the right to appeal against the results of the above mentioned examinations to a special committee operating at the Central Examination Board and composed of external experts;
c)    procedures for the purchase of textbooks or educational materials for learning modern languages other than these bought in the previous years with the use of a purpose grant and forming a part of school library collection. A body managing a primary or lower secondary school, taking into consideration proficiency levels of pupils (starting from grade four of primary school and grade one of lower secondary school in the school year 2016/2017) will be able to buy missing textbooks or educational materials to allow the teaching of curriculum. The cost of the purchase of such textbooks or educational materials will be refunded under a purpose grant for the following school year.

Analysis of core curriculum for preschool and general education

Preparation for starting education in grade one of primary school is of great importance for school career of any pupil. Therefore the core curriculum for preschool education for six-year olds was changed. The new regulation was signed by the Minister in June 2016. 6-year olds will acquire reading skills in pre-school education.

In February, an extensive analysis of core curricula for general education commences. The analysis is conducted by nearly 1100 experts and will be completed in June 2016.
It is planned that a draft regulation on comprehensive change of core curriculum for general education will be submitted for inter-ministerial and public consultations in the third quarter of 2016.

Debate on the system of education (February - June 2016) 

the debate on the system of education will focus on:
1)    the school system,
2)    funding of education,
3)    solutions concerning pupils/students with special educational needs,
4)    the role of teachers,
5) the role of local authorities in the system of education.


Changes to the age of commencing compulsory education in primary school

Reform status: changes implemented in December 2015

   Act of 29 December 2015 amending the School Education Act and some other acts, in particular provides for:

a)    compulsory schooling from the age of seven;
b)    parental right to decide whether children start primary school at the age of six;
c)    compulsory one year pre-primary education by six-year olds;
d)    abolishment of compulsory one year pre-primary education by five-year olds;
e)    extending the operation of preschool classes at primary schools until 1 September 2019;
f)    strengthening the role of school superintendents in the development of preschool networks and in planning school networks, including reinstating of the obligation to obtain a positive opinion from a pedagogical supervision body when closing a school or institution managed by a local authority;
g)    authorising the minister competent for education to appoint and dismiss school superintendents and their deputies. 

2015

Educational reforms as presented by the new government for the perspective of 4 years

Reform status: proposal

  • Introduction of parental right to decide when their children should start primary education. All children aged 7 will start compulsory education in the first grade of primary school. Children aged 6 (born before 31 August) may start education in primary school at their parents’ discretion if they completed one year of pre-primary education or their parents have obtained a positive statement from the counselling and support centre. All 6-year olds are obliged to undertake one year of pre-primary education. A detailed proposal of an amendment to the School Education Act is already available on the Ministry’s website.
  • Rebuilding of vocational education and adjusting it to the needs of the labour market.
  • Gradual reconstruction of the system leading to the introduction of single structure education (8-year primary school covering both ISCED levels 1 and 2) followed by a 4-year upper secondary school.
  • Development of ECEC services for children aged 3 and above including striving towards free provision.
  • Revision of core curricula regarding history teaching and the canon of obligatory readings.
  • School as a place where national identity and patriotic attitudes are developed.
  • Reduction of workload of school teachers (corrections to the number of teaching hours).
  • Reduction of administrative workload for schools and teachers.
  • Introduction of medical and dental care provision in school settings.


Requirements for school settings – new legislation

Reform status: approved for implementation

The Minister of National Education has approved a new regulation on requirements for schools and school settings stipulating optimum conditions for teaching and learning as well as for care and implementation of other statutory tasks.

The requirements  in particular apply to:

  • Learning and care outcomes, as well as implementation of other statutory tasks;
  • Organization of education and care;
  • Stimulation of development and activity of pupils;
  • Cooperation with parents and local community;
  • School management.

The detailed requirements set a desired model of the education system showing its key aims and tasks.

Implementation of these requirements is the school’s obligation. However, the means of its implementation are left to the school’s discretion.

The regulation comes into force on the 1 September 2015.


Education for children with disabilities – a new regulation approved

Reform status: approved, to be implemented

A new regulation has been approved by the Minister of National Education on the conditions for organising education and care for children and young people with disabilities, socially maladjusted and in danger of social maladjusting.

The regulation applies also to pre-school education and its other forms.

It includes among others the following measures:

  • A requirement to employ additional teachers qualified for work with disabled pupils and students, specialists and assistants (in grades I to III of primary school) or supporting teachers in pre-school settings and mainstream schools where pupils with SEN statement are enrolled, in particular those with autism, Asperger syndrome or multiple disabilities.
  • A possibility of reducing the number of children in an integration group or class in a pre-school or school in comparison with the limits stipulated for such groups/classes in the School Education Act.
  • A detailed definition of rehabilitation activities which are to be included in individual educational and therapeutic programmes prepared for pupils with such disabilities as blindness, hearing and speech impediments as well as those with autism including the Asperger syndrome.

The new regulation will come into force on the 1st September 2015 (the point on employment of additional teaching staff on the 1st January 2016).


Educational policy for the school year 2015/16 – key areas

Reform status: definition of priorities

The Minister of National Education has declared the school year 2015/16 as the Year of the Open School.

Open school is understood as open to culture, art, sport and local community. It knows how to benefit from its environment.

The following key areas for educational policy have been also defined by the Minister for the coming school year:

  1. Improving the safety of children and young people with particular emphasis on those with special educational needs in care centres, socio-therapy centres, special school and care centres and compensation and care centres for young people.
  2. Improving the quality of teaching in upper secondary schools through the engagement of social partners’ representatives in adjusting vocational education to the labour market needs.
  3. Development of reading competences and promotion of reading among children and young people.
  4. Mathematics and science in general education.


Improving assessment and external exam systems

Reform status: implemented

The Law on School Education has been amended on 16 March 2015. The most important among the vast scope of changes concern:

  • general conditions and methods of assessment, qualification and promotion of students in public schools;
  • general conditions of carrying out external examinations: 6th-grader test, lower secondary school exam, matriculation exam and exam confirming qualifications in a profession.

Compared to the current situation, the procedures will be subject to change for the exam paper annulment by the head of a regional examination commission and for the verification of the total number of points achieved by the student at the exam.

The amendment refers also to the following issues:

  • duties and organizational structure of the Central Examination Board and a regional examination board (effective from 1 Jan 2016),
  • improvement of pedagogical supervision,
  • teaching in vocational schools,
  • financial support of teacher training within projects and programmes covered partially by the EU funds,
  • increase in ministerial restricted subsidy for textbooks as well as educational and training materials for students with disabilities,
  • increase in the number of students over 25 in grades 1-3 of primary school (by max. 2) provided that an assistant teacher is employed,
  • shorter procedure for recognition of school certificates issued abroad.

Changes will come into force on 1st September 2015. Additional information (in Polish) is available on the Ministry's of National Education website.


New form of the 6th-grader test and the matriculation examination

Reform status: implemented

In the first half of 2015 the curriculum reform implementation period in primary school (since 2009) and general upper secondary school (since 2012) has been completed. Accordingly, the 6th-grader test (taken at the end of primary school) and the matriculation examination which are organized, respectively, in April and May 2015 were implemented according to the new rules.   

The 6th-grader test covers knowledge and skills within three key areas: the Polish language, maths and a foreign language (to be selected from the following list: English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, or Italian).

The matriculation examination is now focused even more on testing skills required from every HE student and every employee, such as processing multi-source information, including content analysis and juxtaposition, reasoning, generating and testing hypotheses and recognition and explanation of cause and effect. These universal, cross-subject skills are tested within tasks requiring substantial knowledge in particular subjects defined in the core curriculum.       

Changes in the tests and exams are included in a wider reform referred to in the section on adjusting external exams to the reformed core curriculum.

More information in Polish on the websites of the Ministry of Education and the Central Examination Board.   

 

Completion of lowering primary school starting age

Reform status: introduced, under implementation

The process of lowering the compulsory education starting age to 6 is to be completed in September 2015. In the school year 2014/15, 7-year-olds born in the second half of 2008 and all 6-year-olds (born in 2009) started education in primary school.

More information available in the section on that topic (2014:Changes in the reform of lowering the age of starting school education) and on the special ministerial website (in Polish).


Governmental programme „Safe and friendly school”

Reform status: implemented

The new edition of the programme which aims to create safe and friendly environment in Polish schools by increasing effectiveness of upbringing process, strengthening cooperation between students, parents and teachers, creating supportive environment for mutual respect and trust as well as prevention of aggressive behaviour. The programme is a continuation of the “Safe and friendly school” programme implemented between 2008-2013.

The programme will be implemented in years 2014-2020. Funds amounting to no more than 6 million PLN per year will be allocated to actions within the programme. Additional information in Polish is available on the Ministry's of National Education website.

2014

E-textbook

reform status: under implementation

A new e-text book for grades 1-3 of primary school was presented by the Minister of National Education. This interactive e-textbook for early school education is the first part of the larger e-textbook programme for all levels of general education, from 1st grade of primary school up to the general upper secondary school. They will be all free of charge. All the educational materials will be available on-line for students and teachers at the beginning of the school year 2015/2016.

Additional information in Polish is available on www.epodreczniki.pl

Free textbooks

Reform status: introduced, under implementation

Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 7 July 2014 on targeted subsidy to provide schools with textbooks, teaching and exercise materials

Introduction of free textbooks is carried out in order to:

  • provide all primary schools with a free textbook for pupils in grades 1-3, covering Polish language, Mathematics, science and civil education; the reform will be implemented gradually - in the school year 2014/2015 for pupils in 1st grade and in the following years for the pupils in consecutive grades;
  • introduce a target grant allocated to bodies running public primary and lower secondary schools for purchase of textbooks and educational materials used in foreign language education in the grades 1-3 of primary school and textbooks and educational materials in grades 4-6 of primary school and in all the grades of lower secondary school. The reform will be implemented gradually, in the school year 2014/2015 for pupils in 1st grade of primary school and in the coming years for pupils in consecutive grades of primary and lower secondary school;
  • oblige all public primary and lower secondary schools to provide pupils with free textbooks and educational materials; the reform will be implemented gradually – in the school year 2014/2015 for pupils in 1st grade of primary school and in the following years for the pupils in consecutive grades;
  • offer textbooks with such exercises, tasks or commands so that the books can be used in the following years, as well as to ban references in textbooks to other educational materials offered by the publisher, and to oblige the teaching council to consult the parents council before deciding on a set of textbooks and educational materials to be used in the given school;
  • lay down the rules for marketing practices used by the publishers in order to promote their textbooks in schools as well as to stop offering textbooks which can be purchased with additional educational materials only, against the client’s will.

These changes are implemented in order to ensure the conditions in which the constitutional right to free education is exercised and to guarantee common and equal access to education for all the citizens.

Additional information in Polish is available on the Ministry's of National Education website.


Changes in the reform of lowering the age of starting school education

Reform status: introduced, under implementation

An amendment of 19 March 2009 to The School Education Act lowered the age of starting school education to 6 years, yet the implementation of the reform was postponed for the 3 school years, i.e. until the 1 September 2014. Another amendment of 30 August 2013 which came into force on 1 September 2014 was introduced in order to minimize the fears of a group of parents whose children start obligatory school education at the age of 6 by, e.g. creating in the grades 1-3 of public primary school conditions similar to those in the nursery schools. In particular, this concerns restricting the maximal number of pupils in one class to 25 and placing the children of the same age in the same class. Moreover, on 1 September 2014 all the children aged 7 (born in 2007) and half of the children aged 6 (born in the first half of 2008) started compulsory school education. On 1 September 2015 7-year-olds (born in the second half of 2008) and all the 6-year-olds (born in 2009) will start to attend primary schools.

Additional information in Polish is available on the Ministry's of National Education website


Teachers – assistants in early school education

Reform status: introduced, under implementation

Starting 4 June 2014 the Amended School Education Act of 24 April 2014 allows for employment of teachers assistants in Polish schools, i.e. employment of the personnel supporting teachers providing education and care in grades 1-3 of primary school or the personnel of day care units in schools. A person employed as an assistant is required to have the same level of education as required from teacher employed in primary school and should have completed teacher training. Assistants are employed on the basis of the Labour Code, but also need to fulfill requirements stated in the Teacher’s Charter, including requirement that no criminal, disciplinary or incapacitation proceeding is pending against the applicant as well as the requirement of having no criminal record for the intentionally committed offense. This reform’s aim is to improve the quality of education and care for the youngest pupils of the primary schools.

Additional information in Polish is available on the Ministry's of National Education website.