Childcare and education

Living in Europe | Day care, schooling & family related issues | Poland

LabFactor, Faculty of Process and Environmental Engineering, Lodz University of Technology, author: Jacek Szabela

The Ministry of National Education is responsible for the development and implementation of educational policy at primary and secondary levels. Educational establishments at these two levels are supervised directly by regional educational authorities (kuratorium) in each of 16 voivodships. Higher education institutions are supervised by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, but enjoy extensive autonomy.

Education in public institutions is free. Non-public establishments in Poland, which charge tuition fees, offer a wide range of programmes at all levels. They are set up on the basis of a permit from the Ministry of National Education or the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, as appropriate.

Non-nationals working or studying in bigger cities may send their children to international schools and nursery schools or bilingual establishments where the language of instruction is, for example, English, French or Spanish. A number of higher education institutions offer full degree programmes or selected courses taught in a foreign language.

Education is compulsory in Poland for children and young people between 7 and 18 years of age. The rule also applies to foreign children, irrespectively of their own or their parents’ status (e.g. foreigners holding permanent or temporary residence permit). The school year usually starts on 1 September and ends in the last week of June. In addition to a two-month summer holiday break, pupils in primary and secondary schools have short breaks of several days during Christmas and Easter and a two-week winter break. Classes usually start at 8 a.m. Each class lasts 45 minutes. Breaks last at least 5 minutes and no longer than 25 minutes. Pupils attend primary and secondary schools five days a week (from Monday to Friday).


Institute of Physical Chemistry PAS, author: G.Krzyzewski

All children aged 6 during a given calendar year are obliged to attend a one-year preparatory class at a nursery school or a primary school.

Children aged between 7 and 15 attend primary schools. In specific situations children aged 6 may also start primary education. Primary schools are divided into two stages: the first stage (grades 1 to 3) offering elementary integrated schooling and the second stage (grades 4 to 8) at which subject teaching is provided.


Upon completion of the primary school, compulsory education is implemented through one of the following types of upper-secondary schools:

  • 3-year general secondary school (liceum)
  • 3-year specialised secondary school (liceum profilowane)
  • 4-year technical secondary school (technikum)
  • 2-year basic vocational school (szkoła zawodowa)

Programmes in the first three types of the schools lead to a compulsory state examination, called “maturity examination” (matura), which gives access to higher education. Higher education institutions may specify the results of the maturity examination which will provide the basis for admission to their degree programmes.


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