Care for children aged up to 3 years
Pursuant to the legislation on the childcare system, a crèche is managed by its director and a kids’ club by its head (referred to in the legislation as ‘the person managing a kids’ club’). The legislation does not specify in detail responsibilities of the director of a crèche or the head of a kids’ club. In practice, their responsibilities cover all matters relating to efficient performance of the following statutory tasks of a crèche or kids’ club in accordance with the law:
- provide care to children in home-like conditions;
- provide to children proper nursing and educational care through play activities with elements of education adapted to the individual needs of each child;
- organise childcare, educational and learning activities suitable for the level of psychological and physical development and the age of children.
Specific powers and responsibilities of the director or the head are described in detail in the statutes of an institution, adopted by the entity administering the institution and its organisational regulations, adopted by the director or the head of the institution, or other internal regulations. (Pursuant to the legislation, a crèche or kids’ club may be established and administered by a local government unit, a public institution, a legal person or a unit without legal personality, or a natural person.)
Preschool education and school education
The head of a nursery school (or an alternative preschool education setting), school or another educational institution plays a key role in management at the institutional level at both the preschool education and school education levels. Pursuant to the legislation, the head of a public school is the only single-person authority and works together with the school’s collective bodies: the teaching council (composed of all teachers and the head), the school council (representatives of teachers, parents and pupils) and the parents' council (parents of all pupils) (where such bodies are established), and with the pupil self-government (only in schools) (see also Chapter 2.7, Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level).
Public nursery schools, schools and other public institutions establish the position of deputy head if they meet the following statutory conditions:
- a nursery school has at least 6 classes (groups), classes are located in different places, and at least 2 classes work for more than 10 hours per day;
- a school or another institution has at least 12 classes.
With the consent of its administering body, a nursery school, school or another institution which does not meet these conditions can create the position of deputy head, and any institution can also create additional deputy head and other management positions.
Deputy heads and other management staff are appointed and dismissed by the school head after consultation with the body administering a given school, the school council and the teaching council.
The governing bodies and management positions, including the head, and their powers and responsibilities in non-public schools are specified in their statutes.
Responsibilities and powers of school head
In accordance with the legislation, the head of a public school (or a public nursery school or another public institution):
- manages the school and represents it in its external relations;
- exercises pedagogical supervision (if the head is not a teacher, this task is taken on by a teacher holding a management position);
- provides care to pupils and conditions for their harmonious psychological and physical development through active health promotion activities;
- implements resolutions of the school council and the teaching council adopted within their remit;
- manages funds as part of a financial plan reviewed by the school council, and is responsible for their correct use; may arrange for administrative and financial services to be provided within the school (if there is no special unit to provide such services);
- creates conditions to ensure safety for pupils and teachers during classes and other activities organised by the school;
- collaborates with higher education institutions in the organisation of teaching internships for their students;
- creates conditions for activities undertaken in the school by volunteers, associations and other, in particular, scout, organisations whose statutory aim is to pursue educational activities or develop and enrich educational and childcare activities of the school;
- ensures that recommendations in statements of special educational needs for pupils are implemented;
- collaborates with a school nurse or hygienist, doctor and dentist providing preventive healthcare to children and young people;
- implements appropriate technical and organisational measures for processing personal data in accordance with the legislation on personal data protection;
- performs other tasks as laid down in specific national regulations.
Some key responsibilities of the head in several areas are described in greater detail below.
As the head for staff, the school head:
- establishes additional positions of deputy directors and other management positions;
- employs and dismisses teachers and non-teaching staff;
- gives awards and administers disciplinary penalties;
- submits to the competent bodies at higher governance levels motions for financial and commendation awards after consultation with the teaching council and the school council;
- assesses the performance of teaching staff (see Chapter 11.1 ‘Quality assurance in early childhood education and care);
- grants paid training leave and other benefits and allowances related to continuing professional development (CPD).
With respect to the organisation of work in the school, the head:
- establishes a school timetable;
- after consultation with the teaching council, approves school curricula proposed by teachers, and ensures their compliance with the core curricula established by the Minister of Education and Science;
- is responsible for the proper organisation and conduct of external exams for pupils;
- divides pupils into classes / groups;
- sets up educational, subject-specific and other problem- or task-specific teams and appoints their leaders.
With respect to the professional promotion of teachers, the head:
- develops a CPD plan for the teaching staff;
- appoints a mentor for a novice teacher for the induction period; provides conditions for a novice teacher to observe lessons conducted by other teachers, participate in CPD activities and benefit from support provided by counselling and guidance centres and other institutions; and assesses classes run by a novice teacher together with other members of a committee set up for this purpose (for information about the induction, see Chapter 9.2.3);
- is a member of qualification and examination boards for teachers applying for promotion to one of the two grades available in the professional promotion system for teachers (appointed teacher and chartered teacher) (for information about promotion, see Chapter 9.2).
With respect to pedagogical supervision (see also Chapter 11.1 ‘Quality assurance in early childhood education and care), the head who is a teacher (or otherwise a teacher holding a management position):
- develops a pedagogical supervision plan for each school year, which is submitted to the teaching council;
- conducts internal inspections (audits) (see the section on staff involved in monitoring educational quality and Chapter 11.1);
- supports teachers in the performance of their tasks, in particular, by planning and organising CPD activities, including training activities and staff meetings;
- collaborates with the body responsible for external pedagogical supervision (which, for most schools, is the Head of the Regional Education Authorities), whose responsibilities include, for example, external inspections.
With respect to psychological and educational support, the head:
- initiates, organises and coordinates psychological and educational support for pupils, in collaboration with their parents, counselling and guidance centres, in-service teacher training institutions, other nursery schools, schools and educational institutions, non-governmental organisations and other institutions and organisations supporting families, children and young people.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the national regulations that were in force in the school years 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 introduced temporary restrictions on the activity of schools (and other institutions in the school education system) and suspended temporarily face-to-face teaching. Classes were partly or fully conducted in an online format, using distance learning methods and technologies. When the national legislation allowed classes to be conducted face to face, the head of a school could suspend face-to-face teaching for a specific period, with the consent of the body administering a given school and based on a positive opinion from the competent local sanitary and epidemiological services, if the epidemiological situation could pose a threat to the health of pupils. When the restrictions were in place, the head of a school was responsible for the organisation of online learning.
Requirements for appointment as school head
Care for children aged up to 3 years
The qualification requirements for the director of a crèche and the head of a kids’ club are set out in the legislation.
The position of the director in a crèche can be taken by a person who has:
- a higher education qualification and at least 3 years of experience in working with children or
- at least a secondary or secondary vocational qualification and 5 years of experience in working with children.
The head of a kids’ club has the qualifications required of the director of a crèche or of a childminder in a crèche or kids’ club. The legislation provides various qualification options for childminders. Childminders:
- hold a qualification of a nurse, midwife, childminder, preschool education teacher, early school education teacher or childcare and education pedagogue (childcare and education counsellor), social care pedagogue (social care counsellor), early education pedagogue (early education counsellor), or educational therapist; or
- have completed a degree programme or a non-degree postgraduate programme in one of the following fields or specialisation areas: early childhood development; childhood development as part of psychological and educational support in crèches and nursery schools; development-oriented education; early childhood education; child psychology; psychology of learning and development; or educational psychology.
This position can also be taken by a person who has completed – not earlier than 2 years before taking up the position – a training course in first aid for children and meets the following requirements:
- holds at least a higher education qualification in a field where the curriculum covers early childhood care or development, and has completed an 80-hour training course to update and broaden his / her knowledge and skills; or
- holds at least a secondary or secondary vocational qualification and:
- has at least 2 years of experience in working with children aged up to 3 years; or
- before taking up the position of a childminder in a crèche or kids’ club, completed a 280-hour training course, including at least 80 hours of practical training, where he / she provided care to children under the supervision of a mentor holding the qualifications as specified in the first set of qualifications above.
If a person has a secondary or secondary vocational qualification and at least 1 year of experience in working with children aged up to 3 years (see one of the options above) but did not work with children aged up to 3 years for at least 6 months directly before his / her employment in a crèche or kids’ club, he / she is required to complete an 80-hour training course to update and broaden his / her knowledge and skills, within 6 months of taking the position of childminder.
Furthermore, like other staff, the director of a crèche and the head of a kids’ club must meet the following additional legal and formal requirements:
- provides a guarantee of proper care for children;
- his / her parental responsibility has not been terminated, suspended or limited;
- fulfils his / her child maintenance (alimony) obligations if such obligations have been administered or approved by a court ruling;
- is not included in the Register of Sex Offenders and has not been convicted of an intentional offence by a valid court ruling.
Preschool education and school education
The requirements for the position of head of a public school (or nursery school or another public institution) are specified in the legislation. The head may be a teacher (teaching head) or a person who is not a teacher (non-teaching head). The overwhelming majority of school heads are teaching heads.
The position of head in public nursery schools, schools or institutions at all education levels may be taken by an appointed or chartered teacher (a teacher holding one of the two grades in the professional promotion system for teachers, aside from the honorary title of school education professor); see Chapter 9.2, Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education) who meets all of the following requirements:
- has completed a degree programme and holds a Master's (magister or equivalent) degree, a teaching qualification and any other qualifications required to take a teaching position in a given type of (nursery) school or institution;
- has completed a first-, second- or long-cycle programme or a non-degree postgraduate programme in the field of management, or a qualification course in school education management provided in accordance with the regulations on in-service teacher training institutions;
- has at least 5 years of teaching experience as a school teacher or academic teacher;
- has received:
- for a school teacher: at least a Very Good grade in the performance appraisal conducted in the last 5 years of work;
- for an academic teacher: a positive assessment in the performance appraisal at his / her higher education institution during the previous 4 years;
- meets health requirements for a management position;
- has full legal capacity and public rights;
- has not received a disciplinary penalty by a decision which has come into force as envisaged in the relevant regulations, and is not subject to any disciplinary proceedings;
- has not been convicted of an intentional offence or an intentional fiscal offence by a valid court judgment;
- is not subject to any legal proceedings initiated by public prosecution services;
- has not been banned from performing functions related to the management of public funds;
- for foreign nationals: has knowledge of the Polish language certified in accordance with the relevant regulations or has completed a first-, second- or long-cycle programme in the field of Polish Language and Literature Studies, or is a sworn / certified Polish-language translator.
The position of head in nursery schools and primary schools, except special schools, may also be taken by an appointed or chartered teacher who has a Bachelor's (licencjat / inżynier or equivalent) degree (awarded upon completion of a first-cycle programme), a teaching qualification and the qualifications required of teachers in a given type of institution; see also Chapter 9.2, Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education). Other requirements are the same as for teachers with a Master's degree.
The position of school head may also be taken by a person who is not a teacher butfulfils all of the following requirements:
- is a Polish national, except that this requirement does not apply to nationals of the EU Member States, the EFTA countries that are parties to the EEA agreement, and the Swiss Confederation;
- holds a Master's degree;
- has at least 5 years of work experience, including at least 2 years in a management position;
- is not subject to any legal proceedings initiated by public prosecution services or disciplinary proceedings;
- meets the requirements specified in points 2, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 11 above for teaching heads.
Training courses in school education management, mentioned above among the qualification requirements, usually have a duration of around 200 hours. The topics covered include general organisation and management theory; school education legislation; change management; psychology in managing an educational institution; quality management and quality measurement; educational institution in its local environment; school education and care programme; organisation of the teaching process; and development of a programme for an educational institution. The programme also comprises a management internship.
The legislation does not specify appointment requirements for the position of head in non-public schools (or nursery schools or other non-public institutions). Such requirements are laid down by the body administering a given school in internal regulations. They can be identical with the requirements for school heads in the public sector.
Conditions of service
Care for children aged up to 3 years
The legislation does not lay down any procedure for the appointment or conditions of service for the director of a crèche or the head of a kids’ club. Such matters are regulated by the entity administering a given institution in accordance with the generally applicable labour, retirement and pension law and regulations and / or specific regulations applicable to the entity that administers a given institution (for example, a local government unit). Local government units hold competitions for the position of the director of a crèche or the head of a kids’ club.
The legislation on the childcare system does not address performance appraisal or continuing professional development of the director of a crèche or the head of a kids’ club.
Preschool education and school education
Pursuant to the legislation, the head of a public school (or a nursery school or another institution) is appointed by an administrative decision of the body administering a given school (which is a local government unit in most cases) (see also Chapters 2.6, Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level, and 2.7, Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level). If the head to be appointed is not a teacher, the administering body is additionally required to consult the body in charge of external pedagogical supervision (which is the Head of the Regional Education Authorities, REA (kurator oświaty) in most cases).
The candidate is selected through an open competition organised by the school administering body. The requirement to hold a competition does not apply to public schools (or nursery schools or other institutions) which are administered by natural persons or legal persons other than local government units.
The school administering body appoints a competition committee which is composed of representatives of:
- the school administering body (3 members);
- the pedagogical supervision body (3 members);
- the school’s teaching council (2 members);
- the school’s parents’ council (2 members); and
- trade unions operating in the school (1 member from each).
The total number of representatives from the school administering and pedagogical supervision bodies may not be smaller than that of the other representatives to ensure that the majority represents the bodies that are responsible for the quality of school performance.
The committee holds an interview with each candidate who meets formal requirements, assessing, in particular, his / her ideas for the activities and development of the school. If no irregularities are found, the administering body approves the competition and the selected candidate.
Where no candidate has entered or has been selected in a competition, the school administering body appoints a candidate chosen in agreement with the pedagogical supervision body, after consultation with the school council (composed of representatives of teachers, parents and pupils) and the teaching council (all teachers and the head).
In accordance with the legislation, the position of school head in the public sector may be held for 5 school years, but where justified, the term of office may be shorter, though not shorter than one school year.
There is no requirement for heads of non-public schools to be appointed through a competition, and recruitment arrangements are laid down in their internal regulations.
The head of a public school may be dismissed by the school administering body in the case of:
- his / her resignation (with a 3-months’ notice);
- a ‘Negative’ grade received in the performance appraisal, including the performance of financial management and administrative tasks (with no notice);
- a dismissal motion submitted by the pedagogical supervision body in case the head has failed to address, within a timeframe set, shortcomings identified in an inspection conducted in the school (see also Chapter 11.1 ‘Quality Assurance in Early Childhood Education and Care).
A motion to dismiss a teaching head may also be submitted by the teaching council of the school. The body administering a given school considers the motion and takes a decision.
Conditions for the dismissal of heads in the non-public sector are laid down in internal regulations of each institution.
In the public sector, the working time of a teaching head is regulated by the legislation on the conditions of service for teachers. The arrangements for a non-teaching head are laid down in the legislation concerning local government employees (as a local government unit is the administering body for most preschool education institutions, schools and other institutions) and / or the generally applicable labour law regulations. See the legislation in the introductory section to this Chapter.
The working time of a full-time teacher may not exceed 40 hours per week. A teaching head either has his / her statutory weekly teaching load reduced, based on the size of the school (number of classes), its type and working conditions, or is fully relieved from his / her teaching duties. The head (and a teacher who holds a management position for at least 10 months) is entitled to holiday leave of 35 working days during a period set in the holiday timetable.
The working time of a non-teaching head may not exceed 8 hours per day and 40 hours in a 5-day working week. However, when necessary, management staff should work extra hours without overtime pay. If employed by a local government unit, non-teaching heads have the same holiday entitlements as local government employees. The length of holiday leave is determined as part of the conditions for appointment or in an employment contract with the head, and its timing is set in the holiday timetable for local government employees. In other cases, holiday entitlements are laid down by the body administering a given school in accordance with the generally applicable labour law regulations.
In the non-public sector, the labour law regulations apply to school heads regardless of whether they are teaching or non-teaching heads. In practice, most schools adopt arrangements which are similar to those in the public sector.
Like for the working time, different remuneration arrangements are in place for teaching and non-teaching school heads in the public sector.
Salaries of teaching heads are determined in accordance with the regulations applicable to all teachers (see the legislation in the introductory section to this Chapter). The salary of a head consists of the basic pay and allowances (including, a function-related allowance and a length-of-service allowance) and, where applicable, the pay for overtime hours and ad-hoc replacements, awards and other benefits. The minimum rates of the basic pay, which take into account teachers’ professional promotion grades (see: Chapter, 9.2,Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education), the level of formal qualifications and the teaching load, are established annually by the Minister of Education and Science in a relevant regulation. The specific rate to be applied is negotiated between the school head and the school administering body.
Salaries of non-teaching heads are usually determined in accordance with the legislation on local government employees (see the introductory section to this Chapter) as heads of most schools are employed by a local government unit as the school administering body (see also Chapters 2.6, Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level, and 2.7, Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level). The salary of a head consists of the basic pay, a function-related allowance and a length-of-service allowance, and, where applicable, an allowance for increased workload or work in specific conditions.
In the school year 2020/2021, annual gross basic statutory salaries of heads (full-time and fully qualified school heads in public nursery schools and schools) were as follows:
Heads of nursery schools
Heads of primary schools*
Heads of lower secondary schools*
Heads of upper secondary schools
* Data refers to the 8-year primary school, which provides education at ISCED 1 and 2 levels (as part of a single structure). Information on salaries is available in “Teachers’ and School Heads’ Salaries and Allowances in Europe”, a publication regularly updated by the Eurydice National Units.
The level of the salary for both a teaching head and a non-teaching head in the non-public sector is determined by their employer (the body administering a given school) in accordance with the generally applicable labour law regulations.
Teaching heads who hold the appointed teacher grade can be promoted to the chartered teacher grade (the second and highest professional promotion grade for teachers (see Chapter 9.2, Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education). They can also apply for a job in a Regional Education Authority responsible for pedagogical supervision over nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions in the school education system; see the section ‘Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality’ below.
Teaching heads of public schools may retire in accordance with the same regulations as other groups of employees: at the age of at least 60 years for women and at least 65 years for men. However, teaching heads also have the same special retirement rights as all other teachers; they may retire earlier, regardless of the age, after 30 years of work, including 20 years in specific conditions in education (for details, see Chapter 9.2, Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education).
Non-teaching heads in the public sector and heads in the non-public sector are subject to the generally applicable retirement regulations. They may retire under the same conditions as other employee groups: at the age of at least 60 years for women and at least 65 years for men.
Continuing professional development
The legislation does not lay down specific requirements for continuing professional development (CPD) of school heads, but improvement of management competences is one of the mandatory criteria for the appraisal of their performance. Teaching heads should also undertake CPD activities in line with the needs of their schools, as provided for in the legislation applicable to teachers (for details, see Chapter 9.3). Pursuant to the legislation concerning local government employees, non-teaching heads should improve their skills on a continuous basis. Training courses and other types of CPD activities for school heads are organised by in-service teacher training institutions and continuing education centres, higher education institutions and other educational and training institutions.
For information on the performance appraisal of a school head, see Chapter 11.1 ‘Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education’.