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Poland:Organisation of Primary 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

The 6-year primary school (szkoła podstawowa), established in the school year 1999/2000, is compulsory for all pupils, including disabled pupils. Only children with a severe intellectual disability receive full-time compulsory education in the form of so-called rehabilitation and education classes. The compulsory status of education will be maintained also when the current school system is replaced with a new one based on eight-year primary education (for general information, see: /Poland:National_Reforms_in_School_Education).

The Minister of National Education has the overall responsibility for setting national standards, while communes (gmina) are local government units responsible for administering primary schools (as so-called school managing bodies). Primary schools can be public or non-public institutions; public schools can also be established or administered by private entities (natural persons or legal entities). However, all non-public primary schools are obliged to acquire the public school status. Non-public primary schools are administered by entities with legal personality (corporate bodies) (e.g. associations, foundations, religious organizations) and natural persons. No tuition fees are charged in public institutions.

Geographical accessibility

As primary education is compulsory, primary schools are most evenly spread across the country. Due to the demographic reasons, rural schools are, however, much smaller than those in urban areas.

In the school year 2014/2015, there were 13 528 primary schools in total, including special schools. They were attended by 2 306 102 pupils. Statistical data in Polish and English is available in 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).

Access to public schools is ensured through 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 primary school have a statutory right to attend it, and this is taken into consideration in the regulations concerning the admission process (see below).

If the distance between the school and the pupil’s place of residence (in rural areas) exceeds 3 km (grades I to IV) or 4 km (grades V to VI), the commune is required to provide free transport or pay fares for public transport.

Admission requirements and choice of school

Following the amendments to the School Education Act adopted on 29 December 2015, primary education is compulsory for all children from the age of 7; 6-year-old children are admitted to grade I at the request of their parents, if they have a positive opinion on their school readiness from a counselling and guidance centre and have completed one year of pre-school education, i.e. one pre-school preparatory year (either in a nursery school or in a preschool education class in the primary school).

Where it is justified by valid reasons, the admission to the primary school may be deferred, but not longer than for one year. The decision on admission or its postponement is taken by the school head upon consultation with a counselling and guidance centre.

Heads of public primary schools are required by the School Education Act to monitor participation in full-time compulsory education as covering all children and young people aged 7 to 18 years. Thus, heads of public primary schools keep a register of children living in their catchment areas and send a reminder letter to parents (legal guardians) of children who are not registered in a school or do not attend school classes. Administrative sanctions are applied by commune (gmina) bodies for failure to participate in full-time compulsory education despite a reminder.

Communes are divided into catchment areas in order to provide even access to schools. A commune is divided into catchment areas in a plan for the network of public primary and lower secondary schools administered by a given commune (Article 17 (4) of the School Education Act). Any change in catchment area boundaries involves a change in the school network, which requires a positive opinion from the head of the regional education authorities (REA) (kurator oświaty).

Primary schools are required to take children living in their catchment area. If places are available, the school can additionally take children living outside a given catchment area at their parents’ request. Admission criteria for free places in primary schools are defined locally by a resolution of the council of the commune, based on general statutory provisions (Article 20c (3) (4) of the School Education Act).

Age levels and grouping of pupils

A class (also referred to as ‘division’ in national legislation) is the basic organisational unit in the primary school (and in schools at higher education levels) in Poland. It (nominally) groups pupils of the same age who jointly follow the same curriculum under the supervision of teachers. Roman numbers are used to designate classes.

Grouping into classes is based on the age of pupils as the basic criterion and, where applicable (so far, at the education stage comprising grades IV to VI), on the promotion of the pupil to the next grade. Each class is supervised by a grade / class teacher. As a rule, a given teacher holds this function throughout an education stage, i.e. separately for early school education (grades I to III) and for subject-based education (grades IV to VI).

The minimum and maximum numbers of pupils per class are not defined in the legislation. As from 1 September 2014, however, the number of pupils per class in grade I of the primary school has been limited to 25 (with some exceptions). Further exceptions may be provided for in regulations adopted for special or integrated primary schools (attended by disabled or socially maladjusted pupils) on the basis of the School Education Act; for example, the number of pupils per class in integrated schools and classes should range between 15 and 20, including 3 to 5 disabled pupils.

For some school activities / classes, pupils are further divided into groups. In grades IV to VI of the primary school, this is obligatory in the following cases:

  1. for compulsory computer science and IT classes, where classes have more than 24 pupils; the number of pupils in a group cannot exceed the number of computers in the computer lab; school heads and school governing bodies should adjust the organisation of classes to this requirement no later than on the 31st of August each year;
  2. for compulsory foreign language classes, where classes have more than 24 pupils; classes can be taught in a class group, cross-class group or cross-grade group with the number of pupils not exceeding 24; pupils should be grouped according to the level of their language skills;
  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.

Detailed arrangements should be laid down in the statutes of a given primary school.

Organisation of the school year

The school year in Poland starts on 1 September each year and ends on 31 August in the next year (Article 63 of the School Education Act). It includes both the period when classes are taught and holidays / summer and winter breaks and other breaks.

Classes in a school year are divided into two semesters: the first semester lasting from the first day of classes (the first working day of September) until the last Saturday preceding the winter holidays; the second semester from the Monday directly after the winter holidays up to the last day of classes (the last Friday of June).

The summer break begins on the Saturday following the last day of educational activities and ends on 31 August.

The dates of the winter break vary between the provinces. The winter holidays are set 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, dates of summer holidays and winter breaks with geographical variations, as well as public / religious holidays) are available in the annually updated Eurydice publication Organisation of the school time in Europe. Primary and Secondary General Education. 2016/2017 school year

Organisation of the school day and week

In accordance with the Regulation of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 18 April 2002 on the organization of the school year, classes may be taught in schools for five or six days per week, depending on working conditions in a given school. Primary schools where the so-called shift-work index (the number of classes in relation to the number of classrooms) is at least 2 may teach classes for 5 or 6 days per week throughout the school year or introduce an alternating workweek schedule, depending on the season of the year. Decisions on these matters are made by the school head after consultation with the school council (rada szkoły) and the teaching council (rada pedagogiczna).

Classes usually start at 8 a.m. and finish around 2-3 p.m. in upper grades if the school works in one shift (they last longer if the school works in two or three shifts). Each lesson (period) lasts 45 minutes, but the duration of lessons in grades I to III of the primary school is determined by the teacher. Breaks usually last from 5 to 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. Primary school pupils normally go to school 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 for six days a week throughout the school year or, in the alternating system, 5 days in one week and 6 days in the following week.

The school weekly timetable is established by the school head after consultation with the school council and the teaching council.