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Poland:Organisation of General Lower Secondary 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

Types of institutions

The lower secondary school (gimnazjum), established in the school year 1999/2000, offers 3-year full-time general lower secondary education for pupils who have finished the 6-year primary school. It is compulsory for all pupils.

The Minister of National Education has the overall responsibility for setting national standards, while communes (gmina) are local government units responsible for administering lower secondary schools (as so-called school managing bodies). Lower secondary schools can be public or non-public institutions. However, all non-public lower secondary schools are obliged to acquire the public school status. Most lower secondary schools provide education for mixed gender classes. Non-public lower secondary schools are administered by associations, foundations, religious organizations and natural persons. No tuition fees are charged in public institutions. Lower secondary schools can be administered as separate institutions or as clusters of schools (together with another school of a different level, e.g. with a primary school or general upper secondary school), and as part of special school and care centres (for disabled or socially maladjusted children and young people).

Lower secondary schools include: mainstream lower secondary schools, special lower secondary schools, integration lower secondary schools, lower secondary schools with integration classes, bilingual lower secondary schools, sports lower secondary schools and lower secondary schools of sport championship .

Geographical accessibility

In the school year 2014/2015, there were 7 635 lower secondary schools for children and young people (including special schools), attended by 1.06 million pupils. These included 3 581 schools in rural areas and 4 054 in urban areas. The difference in size between lower secondary schools in urban and rural areas is smaller than in the case of primary schools. For further data, see the Central Statistical Office’s publication ‘Early childhood and school education in the school year 2014/2015’ (Oświata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 2014-2015).

As lower secondary education is part of full-time compulsory education, public lower secondary schools operate within designated catchment areas. These are areas designated by law within the jurisdiction of a given commune (gmina) (one or more localities or their parts). Children living in the catchment area of a given lower secondary school have a statutory right to attend it, and this is taken into consideration in the regulations concerning the admission process.

If the distance between a lower secondary school and the pupil’s home exceeds 4 km, the commune is required to provide free transport (a school bus) or reimburse costs of using public transport for parents (legal guardians).

Admission requirements and choice of school

The only admission requirement is the successful completion of the 6-year primary education as confirmed by a primary school leaving certificate. Between 2002 and 2016, this certificate was awarded together with a certificate from the Regional Examination Board which included results of the standardized external test taken obligatorily at the end of primary education by all pupils. Pursuant to amendments to the School Education Act, which were adopted in December 2015 and came into force on 1 September 2016, the final primary school test has been abolished.

Every child has the statutory right to be admitted to a lower secondary school in the catchment area for his/her place of residence. Admission to another school depends on results of the admission process for free places.

Age levels and grouping of pupils/students

The lower secondary school is intended for pupils aged 13 to 16 years. It is the third and final stage of general compulsory school education (with primary education covering stages I and II). The grouping of pupils is based on their age as the basic criterion.

Dividing pupils into smaller groups is obligatory in the following cases:

  1. for compulsory Information technology classes, where classes have more than 24 pupils; the number of pupils in a group cannot exceed the number of computers in a computer lab;
  2. for compulsory foreign language classes, where classes have more than 24 pupils; pupils can also be grouped according to the level of their language skills; classes are taught in inter-grade or cross-grade groups of up to 24 pupils;
  3. for a maximum of 50% of compulsory general education classes which, in line with curricular contents, should comprise practical classes (including lab classes), in classes of more than 30 pupils;
  4. for family education classes, in accordance with the regulations concerning the teaching of contents related to sexual life, responsible parenthood, the value of family, prenatal life, and means and methods of family planning.
  5. physical education classes, depending on the arrangements, can be provided in separate groups for boys and girls.

Organization of the school year

Classes in the school year in lower secondary schools are divided into two semesters:

  1. the first one lasting from the first day of classes (the first working day in September) till the last Saturday preceding the winter holidays;
  2. the second one from the Monday directly after the winter holidays till the last day of classes (the last Friday in June).

The dates of the winter break vary among the provinces in Poland. The winter holidays are scheduled between mid-January and the end of February, and last for two weeks. The exact timing of the winter break is defined by the head of the regional education authorities (kurator oświaty) in agreement with the governor of the province. Schools in Poland also have Christmas and Easter breaks of a few days.

Detailed information on the organisation of the school year (start and end dates of the school year, summer and winter breaks in a breakdown by province, and dates of public / religious holidays and other breaks) are available in the annually updated Eurydice publication ‘Organisation of school time in Europe: Primary and secondary general education. 2015/16 school year’.

Organization of the school day and week

In accordance with the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 7 February 2012 on the outline timetables in public schools (with further amendments; last amended on 29 December 2014), the weekly number of compulsory classes and classes with the class teacher is as follows:

  • grade I – 29 teaching hours (in bilingual classes – 31),
  • grade II – 30 teaching hours (in bilingual classes – 32),
  • grade III – 31 teaching hours (in bilingual classes – 33).

Lessons usually start at 8 a.m. and finish around 2-3 p.m. if the school works in one shift (they last longer if the school works in two or three shifts). Each lesson (teaching hour) lasts 45 minutes. Breaks last at least 5 minutes, but no longer than 25 minutes.

The duration of the school day also depends on the size of the school building, the number of classrooms and other facilities for after-school activities. Pupils normally go to a lower secondary school on five days a week (from Monday to Friday). If the number of pupil classes is at least twice as high as the number of classrooms, classes may be taught on six days a week throughout the school year, or in the alternating system, i.e. 5 days in one week and 6 days in the next week.