Poland:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and 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

Quality Assurance

The legislation has introduced identical quality assurance approaches in early childhood and school education. These include the following three main elements which are subject to separate detailed regulations and which aim to achieve slightly different objectives, although their overall common objective is to improve the quality of education:

  • System of pedagogical supervision which involves:
    • observing, analysing and evaluating educational processes and outcomes of educational, care-related and other statutory activities undertaken by nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions;
    • evaluating the quality and conditions of educational and care-related activities undertaken by nursery schools, schools, other educational institutions and teachers;
    • supporting nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions (hereafter referred to as schools wherever possible) as well as teachers in the performance of their educational and care-related tasks;
    • inspiring teachers to introduce educational, methodological and organisational innovations;
  • Internal teacher appraisal
  • External pupil/student assessment

Pedagogical supervision system

The present pedagogical supervision system was introduced in the school year 2009/10 by the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 7 October 2009 on pedagogical supervision and currently operates on the basis of the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 27 August 2015 on pedagogical supervision. It aims to support the development of schools, thus contributing to better quality of education and equal educational opportunities, enable comprehensive development of pupils/students and teachers, and support the national authorities in developing and pursuing an educational policy based on comparable data on the entire education system. The arrangements adopted make up an integrated system of internal and external quality assurance, covering both early childhood and school education, and both public and non-public schools within these sectors. The system includes three inter-related forms of pedagogical supervision:

  • evaluation, based on uniform requirements laid down in the legislation, which focuses on the quality of education and care and other statutory activities undertaken by schools;
  • (legal) compliance auditing which aims to check the compliance of educational, care-related and other statutory activities undertaken by schools and teachers with the legislation;
  • support for schools and teachers in their educational, care-related and other statutory activities.

All three tasks are carried out on an obligatory basis by both external pedagogical supervision bodies vis a vis schools (external quality assurance) and by the school head, in cooperation with the other staff members holding management positions and teachers, within a given school (internal quality assurance). Results of internal evaluation are taken into consideration in external evaluation.

Teacher appraisal

Arrangements for teacher appraisal are also identical for teachers in both early childhood and school education. Teacher appraisal is included partly in the pedagogical supervision system and partly in the professional promotion system for teachers. It comprises two types of assessment: the assessment of the teacher's performance, and the assessment of the teacher’s professional achievements. Mandatory performance assessment is carried out by the school head as part of internal pedagogical supervision; thus, it serves directly the purpose of quality improvement and is one of the mechanisms of internal quality assurance. This type of assessment is regulated by the Act of 26 January 1982, The Teachers' Charter, and the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 21 December 2012 on the criteria and procedure for the assessment of teacher performance, appeals procedures, the composition and procedures for the establishment of an evaluation board. In turn, pursuant to the Teachers’ Charter and the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 1 March 2013 on the professional promotion grades for teachers, the mandatory assessment of the teacher’s professional achievements is carried out by the school head in case the teacher applies for the promotion to a higher professional grade. Thus this type of assessment is indirectly related to quality assurance.

External pupil / student assessment

The external pupil/student assessment system, which covers only the school education sector, is currently based on the Act amending the School Education Act of 25 July 1998 and the Regulations of the Minister of National Education of 27 April and 25 June 2015 on the detailed arrangements for conducting examinations for vocational qualifications and the primary school test, lower-secondary and final upper-secondary examinations. The external assessment system aims to improve the quality of education, support the process of assessing pupil/student achievements and ensure the comparability of results across the country. Results of external examinations, which enable objective measurement and evaluation of school performance, are taken into consideration in both external and internal quality assurance as part of pedagogical supervision. Thus they support schools and educational authorities in undertaking activities which improve the quality of education. The external pupil/student assessment system currently comprises the following standardized external tests/exams: a test upon completion of primary education; an exam upon completion of lower secondary education; an exam at the end of upper secondary education (except in basic vocational schools); and vocational exams for, among others, students and graduates of vocational upper secondary and post-secondary schools. According to the amendments to the legislation proposed by the Ministry of National Education to the Council of Ministers in April 2016, the test upon completion of primary education will be abolished as from 2017. For detailed information about pupil / student assessment, see chapters 5.3[1]Assessment in Primary Education, 6.3[2]Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education, 6.6[3]Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education and 6.9[4]Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education.

Reforms in the last decade

The main reforms over the last decade concerned the pedagogical supervision system. The pedagogical supervision system existing before 2009 was modified on the basis of regulations of the minister responsible for school education adopted successively in 1999, 2004, and 2006. Initially, the system focused exclusively on the school’s compliance with the requirements relating to its statutory tasks, and only from 2004 did it include the evaluation of its performance in relation to the objectives set and with regard to quality improvement. The Regulations did not, however, define clearly any specific tasks or rules and tools for quality assurance as part of pedagogical supervision. As a result, external pedagogical supervision consisted mainly in checking schools' compliance with the law, while it did not focus sufficiently on the quality evaluation of their work; neither did it provide proper support to them in improving the quality of education and implementing improvement and development plans.

The arrangements put in place in 2009, and in particular evaluation which focuses on processes taking place in schools and their impact on performance, enable effective analysis and evaluation of outcomes of activities undertaken by schools, in line with the aims of pedagogical supervision.. During the first three years, all aspects evaluated were divided into four areas: the performance of a school; processes taking place in a school; the school and its local environment; and the management of a school. Each of the four areas covered a number of aspects (e.g. knowledge and skills acquired by pupils / students, their active participation in classes, and respect for social norms in the first area). The regulations amended in 2013 defined 12 sets of requirements for schools which cover to a large extent the aspects included earlier in the four above-mentioned areas. The 12 sets are currently defined in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 6 August 2015 on the requirements for schools and other educational institutions. These requirements do not embrace all aspects of the functioning of schools, indicating only their main objectives, lines of activity and responsibilities (see details below under ‘Approaches and methods of quality assurance’).

Moreover, the new Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 27 August 2015 has abolished an arrangement where the degree of the school’s compliance with the requirements was assessed on a five-point rating scale (from low to very high level) in the previous years. Emphasising that evaluation should be based on a formative rather than summative approach, the Ministry of Education considered that rating-based evaluation did not serve sufficiently well the purpose of improving the performance of schools and their development. It focused their attention more on whether the rating given was justified than on self-reflection and self-analysis, on a development plan to be devised and the implementation of changes. Ratings were not always comparable and tended to encourage labelling and ranking rather than reflection on the development of schools. In some cases they could have also triggered undesirable developments such as attitudes of reluctance to evaluation or a tendency to provide inaccurate information during an evaluation for fear of being given a negative rating. In accordance with the new Regulation, an evaluation report presents evaluation findings and conclusions, including statements on whether the school complies with the requirements set, indicating the areas where it performs well and those where improvement is needed.

The introduction and operation of the new pedagogical supervision system and other quality assurance measures taken at national level are supported as part of European Social Fund projects (Operational Programme ‘Human Capital’). A portal ‘Pedagogical supervision – School Education Evaluation System’ (http://www.npseo.pl) has been established as part of the project ‘Enhancing the effectiveness of the pedagogical supervision system and quality evaluation of schools’, which involves the Centre for Education Development (Ośrodek Rozwoju Edukacji) as the lead partner. The portal contains not only all information about the new supervision system and individual institutional evaluation reports, but also publications presenting recommended approaches (e.g. ‘A model of, and a recommended procedure for, external evaluation of schools and other educational institutions’), various training and analytical materials and information about related conferences, seminars, training events and study visits. As part of its project, the National Centre for Supporting Vocational and Continuing Education (Krajowy Ośrodek Wspierania Edukacji Zawodowej i Ustawicznej) has developed ‘Quality standards for VET’ (2013). This is a tool which may be voluntarily used by VET providers to improve quality, based on the 2009 Recommendation of the European Parliament and Council on the establishment of a European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQARF/EQAVET).

Responsible Bodies

Bodies responsible for external quality assurance

The key actors in external quality assurance are pedagogical supervision bodies which are responsible for the three above-mentioned tasks within the pedagogical supervision system: evaluation, legal compliance auditing and support for nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions (hereafter jointly referred to as schools, wherever possible). The external pedagogical supervision bodies include:

  • the Minister of National Education (the minister responsible for school education), the ministers responsible for culture and national heritage, agriculture and environment as well as the Minister of Justice who supervise specific types of schools;
  • the Heads of the Regional Education Authorities (REAs) (kurator oświaty).

Minister responsible for school education

Pursuant to the amended School Education Act of 1991, the minister responsible for school education exercises direct pedagogical supervision over specific types of schools and institutions (schools at Polish diplomatic and military missions and consulates abroad, national public continuing education institutions and in-service teacher training institutions, and experimental schools and institutions), and supervises and coordinates pedagogical supervision activities across the country, and in particular those undertaken by the Heads of the Regional Education Authorities (REAs). The Minister:

  • defines the main lines of the national education policy to be pursued by the Heads of the REAs, and in particular those related to their tasks within pedagogical supervision;
  • monitors the efficiency and effectiveness of pedagogical supervision exercised by the Heads of the REAs and compliance with the legislation in this respect, and may give the Heads of the REAs written guidelines and instructions, except in individual cases which are subject to administrative decisions;
  • may instruct the Heads of the REAs to provide information, documentation, periodic reports and reports concerning specific issues;
  • may organise training courses, seminars and conferences for the Heads of the REAs;
  • may publish in the official ministerial journal recommended standards for school equipment and facilities necessary to teach general subjects.

As part of his/her responsibilities, in consultation with the other competent ministers, the Minister lays down, by regulation, detailed rules for pedagogical supervision, i.e. for conducting evaluations and compliance audits/inspections, and for supporting schools. In addition, the Minister publishes an annual pedagogical supervision plan for the Heads of the REAs which defines the scope and content of external evaluations and legal compliance audits / inspections.

The other ministers mentioned above exercise pedagogical supervision over specific types of schools according to their remit (e.g. art, agricultural and forestry schools). However, these schools are subject to pedagogical supervision based on detailed rules laid down in a regulation by the Minister of National Education in consultation with the other competent ministers. Moreover, these ministers may establish specialised pedagogical supervision units.

Heads of the Regional Education Authorities

The Regional Education Authorities (REAs) are organisational units of the government administration at the province/regional (województwo) level. In accordance with the School Education Act amended in January 2016, a candidate for the Head of the REA position in a given province is selected through a competition. The Head of the REA is appointed and dismissed by the Minister of National Education at the request the province governor (wojewoda) (the head of the government administration in the region). If no candidate has entered, or has been selected as a result of, the competition, the Minister of National Education may appoint a person he / she has selected who fulfils the competition requirements laid down in the Act. The Minister may also dismiss the Head of the REA on his / her own initiative. Thus the Heads of the REAs are not independent from the national authorities. Pursuant to the School Education Act, the Heads of the REAs exercise pedagogical supervision over public and non-public schools (and nursery schools and other educational institutions) within their provinces. These tasks are performed in accordance with detailed guidelines laid down in the relevant regulation on pedagogical supervision, the aims of the national policy in the area of pedagogical supervision and an annual pedagogical supervision plan adopted by the Minister.

Detailed responsibilities of the Head of the REA are defined in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 27 August 2015 on pedagogical supervision:

  • The Head of the REA draws up an annual pedagogical supervision plan for a given province, defining the number of overall and problem-specific external evaluations together with the scope of problem-specific evaluations, and the number and topics of external legal compliance inspections in supervised schools, and presents conclusions from pedagogical supervision in a given school year to the Minister.
  • As part of two of the three above-mentioned forms of pedagogical supervision, i.e. evaluation and legal compliance auditing, the Head of the REA appoints teams / panels to conduct external evaluation and compliance audits from among inspectors working in the REA, and considers any possible objections to their reports raised by the school heads concerned.
  • If an evaluation has shown that a given school does not meet certain requirements specified in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 6 August 2015 on the requirements for schools and other educational institutions, the Head of the REA instructs the school head to develop a programme and schedule for improving performance (effectiveness of education) within a given timeframe, and a re-evaluation is carried out after 3 years. In the case of nursery schools, the requirements in question concern the acquisition of knowledge and skills defined in the core curriculum; active participation of children; the shaping of social attitudes and respect for social norms; and support for children’s development. In the case of schools and other institutions, the requirements refer to the organisation of educational processes in a way which enhances learning; the acquisition of knowledge and skills defined in the core curriculum; active participation of pupils/students; the shaping of social attitudes and respect for social norms; support for pupils/students’ development; and cooperation among teachers. Similarly, the Head of the REA instructs the school head to correct irregularities identified during a legal compliance inspection. If the school head fails to act accordingly, the Head of the REA takes steps which lead to dismissal of the head of the public school or may result in closing down the non-public school concerned.
  • As part of support, which is the third form of supervision, the tasks of the Head of the REA include: making and publishing analyses of findings from pedagogical supervision on the REA's website, including conclusions from external evaluation and compliance inspections; and promoting the use of evaluation to improve school performance.

Examination Boards

The external student assessment system, which is another element of external quality assurance, is the responsibility of the Central Examination Board (CEB) (Centralna Komisja Egzaminacyjna), and 8 Regional Examination Boards (REBs) (Okręgowa Komisja Egzaminacyjna) which jointly cover the entire country. The CEB and the REBs, established in 1999, are public-sector institutions supervised by the Minister of National Education. Their main tasks, which are defined in the amended School Education Act of 1991, include: preparing and conducting external tests / exams, analysing their results and producing reports on tests and exams.

Bodies responsible for internal quality assurance

Internal quality assurance within pedagogical supervision is regulated by the amended School Education Act of 1991 and the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 27 August 2015 on pedagogical supervision. The responsibility for internal pedagogical supervision rests with the head of a nursery school, school or institution (hereafter jointly referred to as schools, wherever possible) working together with other teachers holding management positions. The school head and other management staff are required to conduct internal evaluation and use its results to improve the school's performance, and check teachers' compliance with the legislation. They also support teachers in the performance of their tasks; in particular, they analyse the performance of the school, plan development measures, including those encouraging teachers to undertake continuing professional development activities, and implement development measures, including the organisation of training activities and staff meetings.

School heads are free to determine the scope of internal evaluation. They carry out their tasks on the basis of a pedagogical supervision plan for each school year. The school head presents the plan to the school's teaching council (a body including all teachers and the head) before the beginning of the school year, and discusses with the teaching council findings and conclusions from internal pedagogical supervision at the end of the year. The legislation does not define explicitly the role of the teaching council or individual teachers in internal evaluation. However, the involvement of teachers in internal evaluation processes is not only good practice promoted during training seminars on evaluation for school heads, but also an aspect taken into consideration in external evaluation.

Pursuant to the legislation, the school head also carries out the mandatory appraisal of individual teachers, including the assessment of teacher performance and the assessment of teachers' professional achievements. Performance assessment is conducted as part of internal pedagogical supervision on the basis of the Act of 26 January 1982, The Teachers' Charter, and the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 21 December 2012 on the criteria and procedure for the assessment of teacher performance, appeals procedures, and the composition and procedure for the establishment of an evaluation board. These regulations lay down general assessment criteria, three descriptive grades awarded as a result of assessment, and assessment procedures. In cooperation with the school's teaching council, the school head develops detailed criteria for each of the descriptive grades. Assessing the teacher's performance, the school head may consult the pupil/student self-government body and may or – at the teacher’s request – is required to consult a methodological adviser. The teacher may appeal against the school head’s decision to an external pedagogical supervision body, i.e. the Head of the Regional Education Authorities (REA).

In the case of the assessment of teachers' professional achievements, related to the prospective promotion of a teacher to a higher professional grade, detailed rules are defined in the Teachers’ Charter and the Regulation of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 1 March 2013 on the professional promotion grades for teachers. The school head assesses the teacher’s professional achievements before he/she submits an application to initiate the process leading to the award a higher grade by the relevant body. Like in the case of performance assessment, the teacher may appeal against the school head’s decision to the Head of the REA (kurator oświaty). See also teacher appraisal in chapter 9.2[9]Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education.

Approaches and methods of quality assurance

The arrangements currently in place are discussed below as divided into:

  • external quality assurance, with special regard to the evaluation of nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions (together with related legal compliance auditing and support) as the basis of the quality assurance system and, additionally, external pupil/student assessment which also contributes to improving the quality of education;
  • internal quality assurance, including evaluation of nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions (together with related legal compliance auditing and support) and the appraisal of individual teachers.

The terms ‘evaluation’, ‘legal compliance audit’ and ‘support’ are defined in the above-mentioned Regulation of the Minister of National Education on pedagogical supervision. Evaluation refers to the process of gathering, analysing and communicating information about the value of activities carried out by the school, and its findings are used in the process of decision-making aimed at ensuring high quality of educational and care-related processes and their outcomes in the school. Legal compliance auditing refers to measures undertaken to assess the degree of compliance with the legislation concerning activities of the school. Support aims to inspire and intensify processes which are geared towards improving and enhancing the performance of the school and the development of pupils/students.

External quality assurance

External quality assurance is based primarily on the pedagogical supervision system covering both early childhood and school education. It is also supported by the external pupil/student assessment system which covers only school education and is subject to separate detailed regulations. External quality assurance does not include individual teacher appraisal.

External evaluation of nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions

External evaluation of nursery schools, schools and other institutions (jointly referred to as schools, wherever possible) is one of the instruments of the pedagogical supervision system which also includes legal compliance auditing in schools and support for their efforts to improve performance. Although evaluation is the key element in the context of quality assurance, all three elements are discussed below because they jointly determine broadly understood quality of schools.

Evaluation

External evaluation of schools is conducted with regard to the requirements laid down in the above-mentioned Regulation of the Minister of National Education on the requirements for schools and other educational institutions. In terms of scope, a distinction is made between overall evaluation and problem-specific evaluation. Overall evaluation covers all of the requirements defined in the Regulation (12 sets of requirements – see below), and problem-specific evaluation concerns selected requirements. In addition to defining the requirements, the Regulation provides descriptions of the requirements at the basic and high levels. The requirements are common to early childhood education (nursery schools and other pre-school education settings) and school education (identical requirements for schools at all levels of education, including schools for adults and other institutions providing adult education), except for the part referring to the external test and exams in school education.

Requirements

The requirements are presented in the table below.


No. Requirements for nursery schools Requirements for schools (and other institutions)
1 The nursery school pursues a concept of work geared towards children’s development. The school pursues a concept of work geared towards pupils’/students’ development.
2 Processes supporting children’s development and education are organised in a way which enhances learning. Educational processes are organised in a way which enhances learning.
3 Children acquire knowledge and skills defined in the core curriculum. Pupils/students acquire knowledge and skills defined in the core curriculum.
4 Children are active. Pupils/students are active.
5 The nursery school shapes social attitudes / behaviours and respects social norms. The school shapes social attitudes / behaviours and respects social norms.
6 The nursery school supports children’s development, taking into account their individual situation. The school supports pupils’/student’s development, taking into account their individual situation.
7 Teachers collaborate in planning and implementing educational processes. Teachers collaborate in planning and implementing educational processes.
8 The value of preschool education is promoted. The value of education is promoted.
9 Parents are partners in preschool education. Parents are the school’s partners.
10 Resources available in the nursery school and the local community are pooled for mutual development. Resources available in the school and the local community are pooled for mutual development.
11 In planning its work, the nursery school takes into account findings from analysis of external and internal evaluations. In organising educational processes, the school takes into account findings from analysis of results achieved in the primary school test / lower-secondary school exam / maturity exam / exams for vocational qualifications and from other external and internal evaluations.
12 The management of the nursery school is geared towards is development. The management of the school is geared towards its development.

The external evaluation of these aspects takes into account the results of internal evaluation. An external evaluation panel is obliged to analyse results of internal evaluation and compare them with results of its own analysis.

Frequency of evaluations

Pursuant to the legislation, external evaluation is conducted on a regular (scheduled) and ad hoc basis. The legislation does not define the frequency of external evaluation. Scheduled evaluations are carried out in line with the aims of the national policy and a pedagogical supervision plan in which the Minister of National Education defines the scope of evaluations for every school year. For example, in accordance with the main lines of the education policy for the school year 2015/16, overall evaluations represented 10% of all evaluations, problem-specific evaluations – 60% of evaluations, and problem-specific evaluations of the scope defined by the Head of the REA on the basis of findings from pedagogical supervision – 30%. As part of their 60% share, problem-specific evaluations in nursery schools concerned Requirements 1, 4 and 6, and those in schools focused on Requirements 3, 6 and 11 (see the table above). The Minister’s guidelines do not specify the number or proportion of schools undergoing evaluation in a given year.

Within the framework set by the Minister, the Heads of the Regional Education Authorities (REAs) (kurator oświaty) develop more detailed plans for supervision in their provinces. Criteria for the choice of schools to be covered by evaluation are determined by the Heads of the REAs. The Head of the REA may take into consideration criteria such as the date of the previous evaluation in a given school, poor learning achievements of pupils/students, complaints and irregularities or voluntary applications for evaluation from schools. Ad hoc external evaluations are carried out in case it is necessary to take action which was not envisaged in the pedagogical supervision plan.

Evaluation procedure

The procedure for external evaluation is defined in the legislation only in general terms. Evaluation is conducted by teams / panels of experts set up by the Head of the REA (however, in the case of schools and institutions supervised by more than one body, e.g. art or agricultural schools, the regulations enable a joint evaluation team to be set up). The Head of the REA appoints an evaluation expert or a team of evaluation experts from among inspectors working in the REA. Inspectors conducting evaluation are required to have the following qualifications defined in the regulations: a Master’s degree; at least 5-year experience in teaching; and either a certificate of completion of an in-service training course in administration or management or at least 2-year work experience in a management position in a nursery school / school / other institution, or at least 2-year work experience in a pedagogical supervision body or a nursery school / school / institution managing body. In addition, all inspectors are obliged to complete an in-service training course in evaluation at least every two years.

At the end of the evaluation, the inspector or team of inspectors presents findings from the evaluation to the teaching council of the school (which is a collective body composed of the school head as its chair and all teachers). Then the inspector/team prepares a report which contains evaluation findings, including a description of the school’s activities related to the requirements concerned and statements on whether the school complies with the requirements, and conclusions from the evaluation. The Head of the REA forwards the report to the school's head and its managing body. The school's head may raise objections to the report which are considered by the Head of the REA. If the objections are found justified, changes are made in the report.

More detailed guidelines and good practice on how to conduct an external evaluation are provided in the document ‘A model of, and a recommended procedure for, external evaluation of schools and other educational institutions’ (Model i zalecany przebieg ewaluacji zewnętrznej szkół oraz placówek) (http://www.npseo.pl/data/documents/4/313/313.pdf), produced as part of the above-mentioned project ‘Enhancing the effectiveness of the pedagogical supervision system and quality evaluation of schools – Stage III’. The model was introduced in September 2013 and updated in 2014.

Evaluation tools

The legislation does not define evaluation tools, but recommended tools are presented in the above-mentioned document ‘A model of, and a recommended procedure for, external evaluation …’ In practice, in line with the recommendations, evaluation teams use various methods. These include, for example: quantitative methods such as surveys and qualitative methods such as analysis of documents, individual and group interviews with wide circles of respondents (the school head, teachers and other staff, pupils/students, parents, representatives of the managing body and institutions cooperating with the school, i.e. counselling and guidance services, culture centres, NGOs) as well as observation of classes.

Consequences for schools

Consequences are defined in national legislation. Where a school does not meet the requirements specified in the Regulation on the requirements (Requirements 3 to 6 for nursery schools, and 2 to 5 and 7 for schools and other institutions – see the table above), the Head of the REA instructs the school head to develop a programme and schedule for improving performance (effectiveness of education), and a re-evaluation is undertaken after 3 years. In case a public school fails to develop a programme and schedule for improving performance, the Head of the REA submits a motion to dismiss the head of the school to its managing body which is binding for the latter. Where this concerns a non-public school, it may be struck from the register of non-public schools and, consequently, closed down.

Evaluation reports

Reports on external evaluation of individual schools are published in the portal ‘Education Evaluation System: Pedagogical Supervision’ (http://www.npseo.pl) launched as part of the above-mentioned project ‘Enhancing the effectiveness of the pedagogical supervision system and quality evaluation of schools’ (see the Introductory page to Topic 11 ‘Quality Assurance’). They provide information for comparative analysis of evaluation results in schools.

In addition, the Heads of the REAs obligatorily prepare annual reports for the Minister which contain findings from pedagogical supervision, including evaluation, in their province and publish summary evaluation reports on their website. Conclusions from these reports are used by the Heads of the REAs to devise a pedagogical supervision plan for the coming school year, including specific activities aimed at quality improvement in schools. Annual reports summing up evaluation findings at national level (‘Quality of Education: Data and findings from external evaluations’ / ‘Jakość edukacji – Dane i wnioski z ewaluacji zewnetrznych’; at present, reports for the years 2010-2015) are published in the above-mentioned Pedagogical Supervision portal. Conclusions from reports serve as an input to define the main lines of the education policy and the pedagogical supervision plan for the next year at national level.

Legal compliance auditing

Compliance auditing aims to assess whether and to what extent schools comply with the legislation concerning their educational, care-related and other statutory activities. Scheduled and ad-hoc compliance audits / inspections are based on the same approach as evaluation.

The procedure for compliance audits/inspections is laid down in the legislation. Like evaluations, external inspections are conducted by persons or teams appointed by the Heads of the REA from among inspectors working in the REA. Inspectors conducting compliance inspections should have the same qualifications as those conducting evaluation, except that they are not required to complete an in-service training course in evaluation. During a compliance inspection, inspectors use standardised audit forms, approved by the Minister, which cover issues to be examined. An inspection report is provided to the head of the school concerned. The school head may raise objections to the content of the report which are considered by the Head of the REA; in justified cases changes are made in the document.

Consequences defined in the law for non-compliance with regulations are similar to those in the case of evaluation. Where an inspection reveals any failures to observe the regulations by the school, the Head of the REA instructs the school head to eliminate the shortcomings. Should the school head fail to do so, the head of a public school is dismissed by its managing body or a non-public school may be struck from the register and, consequently, closed down.

Audits reports concerning individual schools are not published. Summary results of compliance auditing are presented in annual reports on pedagogical supervision which the Heads of the REAs are obliged to prepare for the Minister of National Education. Findings from inspections are used in pedagogical supervision plans in the next years.

Support

Pursuant to the legislation, the Heads of the REAs are obliged to support schools (nursery schools and other educational institutions), in particular, by:

  • analysing and publishing findings from pedagogical supervision, including conclusions from external evaluations and legal compliance inspections, on their websites;
  • promoting the use of evaluation results in order to improve the performance of schools.

External pupil/student assessment

The external pupil/student assessment system, which covers only school education, is related to quality assurance insofar as external examination results measure the performance of schools in an objective way, and analysis of these results should contribute to improving the quality of education. Moreover, analysis of external examination results is one of the requirements in external evaluation of schools (see the requirements covered by external evaluation above).

The system comprises the following standardised external tests/exams:

  • A compulsory test taken by all pupils at the end of the 6-year primary school (to be abolished in 2017; see the Introductory page);
  • A compulsory examination taken by all pupils at the end of the 3-year lower secondary school;
  • An examination (maturity exam) taken at the end of the upper secondary school which is not compulsory, but which gives access to higher education to those who have passed it;
  • A vocational examination for, among others, students and / or graduates of upper-secondary vocational and post-secondary schools (an exam confirming vocational qualifications, and an exam confirming qualifications in a given occupation established in 2012).

Detailed reports with exam results are published by each Regional Examination Board (REB) at regional level and by the Central Examination Board (CEB) at national level. Exam results are used both in quality improvement activities by the Heads of the REAs as part of pedagogical supervision at regional level, and in policy development by the national education authorities.

More detailed information about external exams at individual levels of education can be found in chapters 5.3[11]Assessment in Primary Education, 6.3[12]Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education, 6.6[13]Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education and 6.9[14]Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education.

Internal quality assurance

As external quality assurance, internal quality assurance covers three pedagogical supervision mechanisms: evaluation, legal compliance auditing and support. Moreover, individual teachers are subject to appraisal based on separate legislation. All these arrangements are in place in both early childhood education and school education.

Internal evaluation of nursery schools, schools and institutions

Since evaluation, compliance auditing and support are inter-related mechanisms, all three elements of pedagogical supervision are discussed below.

Evaluation

Like in external quality assurance, internal evaluation of nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions (jointly referred to as schools, wherever possible) is quality-oriented. Internal evaluation is obligatorily carried out every school year, but school heads have greater discretion than the Heads of the Regional Education Authorities (REAs) in external evaluation. As provided for in the legislation, scheduled and ad hoc evaluations concern issues or topics which the school considers relevant to its activities. The scope and subject of internal evaluation is determined by the school head in consultation with other management staff. However, since internal evaluation is intended to be a team-based activity, these issues should be agreed with all teachers.

Pursuant to the legislation, internal evaluations are carried out on the basis of a pedagogical supervision plan, prepared by the school head for every school year and presented to the teaching council of the school. A supervision plan should include the objectives, extent and subject, as well as the schedule of internal evaluation. As evaluation activities should reflect the specific needs of a given school, a pedagogical supervision plan developed by the head may but does not have to take into consideration the aims of the national education policy or priority tasks in the area of pedagogical supervision set by the Minister of National Education. It should, however, take into account findings from pedagogical supervision from the previous year.

Internal evaluation is carried out by the school head together with other management staff. Regardless of that, all teachers should be actively involved. Their involvement in internal evaluation not only ensures the validity of the process, but also is taken into account in external evaluation.

The legislation does not lay down the procedure for internal evaluation. The only tool referred to in the legislation is observation: the school head observes classes conducted by teachers, as well as other activities undertaken in line with the school’s statutory tasks. In practice, this means that observation may cover both classes and other activities such as teachers' meetings with parents.

Findings from internal evaluation in a given school year are presented by the school head to the school's teaching council in a report on all internal pedagogical supervision tasks carried out by the head. Results of internal evaluation are not published, but they are obligatorily used to improve school performance and are taken into consideration in external evaluation.

Legal compliance auditing

Like in external quality assurance, scheduled and ad hoc internal audits or inspections aim to check whether teachers comply with legal regulations. Scheduled inspections take place in accordance with the above-mentioned pedagogical supervision plan which is prepared by the school head and presented to the teaching council. A pedagogical supervision plan specifies the subject and dates of inspections.

The responsibility for internal inspections rests with the school head working together with other management staff. The legislation does not lay down procedures or specify any auditing tools, except that observation of classes conducted by teachers should be used for this purpose.

Findings and conclusions from internal compliance auditing in a given school year are presented by the school head to the teaching council in a report covering all tasks carried out as part of pedagogical supervision.

Support

Pursuant to the legislation, supporting teachers in the performance of their tasks is one of the responsibilities within pedagogical supervision that the school head should carry out jointly with other management staff of the school. Support for teachers involves in particular:

  • analysing the performance of the school;
  • planning development measures, including those encouraging teachers to undertake continuing professional development activities;
  • implementing development measures, including the organisation of training activities and staff meetings.

Topics of training activities and meetings are specified in a pedagogical supervision plan for a given school year, prepared by the school head and presented to the teaching council. Activities undertaken in a given school year are presented by the school head to the teaching council in an overall annual report on pedagogical supervision.

Internal teacher appraisal

Individual teacher appraisal is divided into the assessment of teacher performance and the assessment of teachers' professional achievements. The rules for appraisal, laid down in the legislation, are identical for teachers working in the early childhood sector and the school education sector.

Performance assessment

Performance assessment concerns all teachers, except teachers-trainees, i.e. those with the first grade in the professional promotion system, as teachers-trainees are subject to the assessment of professional achievements when they apply for the promotion to the grade of contract teacher after one school year (9 months). The legislation does not define the minimum frequency of performance assessment. It may be carried out at any time, but not earlier than a year after the previous performance assessment or the previous assessment of professional achievements.

Pursuant to the legislation, performance assessment is carried out on the initiative of the school head or at the request of the teacher, the body responsible for external pedagogical supervision, the school managing body, the school council or the parents' council. Performance assessment is carried out by the school head as part of internal pedagogical supervision. The school head may consult the pupil/student self-government and may or – at the teacher's request – is obliged to consult a teacher-methodological adviser.

General assessment criteria are laid down in the legislation. Assessment focuses on the extent to which the teacher has fulfilled educational, care-related and other statutory school tasks assigned to him/her. In particular, it takes into consideration the following aspects:

  • correct conduct of classes in terms of curricular contents and methodology; correct performance of other tasks based on the school statutes; proper manners and language standards; efforts taken to motivate pupils/students; ensuring discipline during classes;
  • professional commitment (involvement in the school's extra-curricular activities and teacher team-working; innovative activities undertaken in the area of teaching, education and care; interest in pupils/students and their environment; cooperation with parents);
  • involvement in continuing professional development (CPD) activities;
  • activities undertaken to support comprehensive development of pupils/students;
  • respect for work organisation arrangements (punctuality; full use of class hours; properly kept documentation).

The regulations also stipulate that performance assessment ends with one of the following general descriptive grades:

  • outstanding,
  • good,
  • negative.

Detailed approaches are developed on the basis of these general rules by the school's teaching council (composed of the school head and all teachers). Internal procedures or regulations for performance assessment in every school lay down requirements for each of the three possible grades.

The school head uses various tools in performance assessment, including: observation of classes and other activities; observation of other activities such as the teacher's meetings with parents; analysis of pupils’/students' achievements, analysis of documentation concerning CPD; and interviews with the teacher. The school head gives an assessment grade after he/she has discussed the proposed grade with the teacher concerned and has received the teacher's feedback, including any possible objections; then the school head fills in a performance assessment sheet, giving the grade and its justification. Teachers may appeal against the grade given by the head to the body exercising external pedagogical supervision over the school (the Head of the REA/kurator oświaty). Appeals are considered by a team appointed by the pedagogical supervision body which may either keep the same grade or give a different one. Where a ‘negative’ grade is given, the employment relationship with the teacher concerned is terminated.

Results of performance assessment are used by teachers when they apply for the promotion to a higher professional grade or for the position of school head in a competition. They are also used by school heads and teachers to justify motions to grant awards which are put forward to higher-level bodies or decisions to give incentive allowances and awards in accordance with internal school regulations. Moreover, general findings from teacher performance assessment are used in the planning of school activities.

Assessment of professional achievements

The assessment of professional achievements is carried out only when the teacher applies for the promotion to a higher professional grade (details about promotion are given in chapter 9.2[15]Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education. The legislation lays down only general rules for the assessment of professional achievements. The assessment of professional achievements covers a period of employment defined in the legislation which precedes the promotion procedure, and takes into account the extent to which the teacher concerned has implemented a professional development plan, approved earlier by the school head. Assessment is carried out by the school head, but the assessment to be given is proposed by a so-called probation period supervisor (a teacher who acts as a mentor for a given teacher in the period preceding the application for a higher professional promotion grade) in the case of teachers in the first or second of the four professional promotion grades for teachers. Moreover, as part of the assessment, the head consults the parents' council. Like in performance assessment, teachers may appeal against the school head's assessment of their professional achievements to the body responsible for external pedagogical supervision (the Head of the REA/kurator oświaty).

In accordance with the legislation, the assessment of professional achievements may end with a positive or negative grade. A positive grade enables the teacher to apply for the initiation of the procedure which leads to the award of a higher professional promotion grade by the relevant body. Where a negative grade is given, another assessment of professional achievements may be carried out after nine months and in accordance with the rules laid down in the legislation.