Theme: Poland

The Polish Education System

  • Estimated literacy is 99% of the population
  • Compulsory education is from age 6 to 18
  • Primary education, which is preceded by one year of pre-school, lasts for 6 years between the ages of 7 and 12
  • Children attend a Gimnazjum, from age 13 to 16
  • Secondary education is divided into 3 types of schools -General Lyceum, Vocational Secondary School and Technical Secondary School - and lasts from 2 to 4 years depending on the course
  • Citizenship education is an increasingly important feature of the curriculum in Poland
  • Foreign Language learning is compulsory from year 4 in Primary Schools though in practice many schools start teaching Foreign Languages (usually English) from year 1 and even in some cases in year 0, at pre-school

The structure outlined above is quite new and was implemented following a 1999 Education Reform Act. Previously, a structure existed that was very similar to that in most of Central and Eastern Europe, with primary education lasting 8 years followed by 4 years of secondary education.

Another change relates to curriculum and the flexibility accorded to teachers. Previously, teachers had to follow strictly one core curriculum. Now teachers have to respect a core curriculum but are free to choose from additional selected curricula, which have been approved by the Ministry of Education and Sport. Teachers can also use a variety of textbooks from a list approved by the Ministry.

Some of the things children coming from Poland will find different in school in England are:

They will be used to having a cloakroom for their coats and bags, and changing their shoes when they come into school. They are expected to buy all their own equipment and textbooks. They may have been taught following text books, and expected to learn by rote, and so will need to be taught independent learning strategies. In secondary science, they will not be familiar with using equipment themselves, but with watching teacher demonstrations. Science is always taught as three separate subjects. Religious studies will be new to them, as they will only have been taught about Catholicism, usually by a priest or nun.

Parents will expect children to bring home significant amounts of homework every night and will expect them to have their exercise and textbooks every night for them to revise their last lessons and prepare for the next ones!

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