This chapter provides a thematic and chronological overview of national reforms and policy developments since 2021.
The introduction of the chapter describes the overall education strategy and the key objectives across the whole education system. It also looks at how the education reform process is organised and who are the main actors in the decision-making process.
The section on ongoing reforms and policy developments groups reforms in the following broad thematic areas that largely correspond to education levels:
- Early Childhood Education and Care
- School Education
- Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning
- Higher Education
- Transversal Skills and Employability
Inside each thematic area, reforms are organised chronologically. The most recent reforms are described first.
Overall national education strategy and key objectives
Education as an element of the Polish Deal (Polski Ład)
Until 2020, the primary strategic document of the Polish government was the Strategy for Responsible Development. At present, the role of the main strategic program has been taken over by the Polish Deal, the outline of which was announced in June 2021. The Polish Deal includes a separate chapter on education entitled. "Friendly school and culture for the new century".
The strategy announces the establishment of a Child and Family Centre as an institution to support the development of children, learners and families expecting or raising children. Additionally, it announces a new model of psychological support and a psychological-pedagogical office in every school. The Polish Deal also announces a new post-pandemic COVID-19 equity programme.
With regard to the development of students' skills, the Polish Deal draws attention to the further development of students' digital competences and promises to increase the role of history in the curriculum.
Within the framework of the "Green School" program, the new strategy also announces thermal modernization of schools improving energy efficiency, equipping buildings with ecological heating systems, energy-efficient lighting and better ventilation systems.
The following strategic projects related to education have been identified in the Polish Deal:
- Child and Family Centre
- Psychological Support Program
- National Educational Equity Program after Covid-19
- Digital Core Curriculum
- Green School
- Day Care Centre Fund
- Youth Community Councils Fund
- Friendly and Accessible Schools for All
- Educational Workshop of the Future
- Student Loan
- Modern Skills Fund.
Information about the Polish Deal Program is available at https://www.gov.pl/web/polski-lad.
The Lifelong Learning Perspective (PLLL)
On September 2013 the government adopted the integrated strategic document entitled The Lifelong Learning Perspective, covering various forms of learning (formal, non-formal, informal) at different educational levels (from ECEC to senior education). This document’s aim is to develop a consistent attitude towards lifelong learning, not only within formal education system, but also in other aspects of the State’s activity in which the question of qualifications and competences of citizens is important.
Currently, support for lifelong learning is implemented by the Institute for Educational Research (IBE) through such tools as the Integrated Qualifications System (ZSK) and the Integrated Register of Qualifications (ZRK).
Current reform of the structure of school education system
Current changes which take place in the Polish school education system were initiated in December 2016 when the Polish Parliament has approved an Act "Law on School Education”. Transformation of the two-stage general full time compulsory education (6-year primary school + 3-year lower secondary school) into one stage general full time compulsory education (8-year single structure called primary school) is a central element of this reform. Consequently education at ISCED 3 level (upon graduation from single structure) was prolonged by one year. At the same time compulsory education has been limited to single structure education (8-year primary school) as before it covered both primary and lower secondary school.
The above mentioned changes resulted in a necessity to elaborate a new core curriculum and new formulas for external exams. In the school year 2018/2019 the last cohort of pupils has graduated from the phased out lower secondary school in parallel with the first cohort of 8-year primary school graduates. In the school year 2019/20 both cohorts of pupils started education in general, technical and sectoral vocational secondary schools. In the school year 2022/2023 the fourth cohort of students is educated according to the new programme.
Current reforms of the higher education system
At present systemic changes in science and higher education are implemented in the framework of “Strategy towards scientific excellence, modern higher education, partnership with business and social responsibility of science” (Strategia na rzecz doskonałości naukowej, nowoczesnego szkolnictwa wyższego, partnerstwa z biznesem i społecznej odpowiedzialności nauki).
This process is implemented on the basis of three elements:
- Constitution for Science (Konstytucja dla Nauki) (systemic changes in science and higher education)
- Innovations for the Economy (commercialization of research and partnership with business)
- Science for You (Nauka dla Ciebie) (social responsibility of science).
According to the approved basis, the following groups will benefit from these changes: academic and research community, children, young people, senior citizens, entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, investors, creative and ambitious persons, inventors, teachers, and NGOs.
In the case of second and third elements the reform is implemented via a standard legislative procedure.. In the case of Constitution for Science the implemented process includes preparation of the new law on higher education known also as Act 2.0 which is organised according to the following time table:
Issue of the Communication by the Minister of Science and Higher Education „Act 2.0 – Basis for the higher education system” (Polish Monitor 2016 item 191)
23 February 2016
Open competition by the Minister of Science and Higher Education
29 February 2016
Directive by the Minister of Science and Higher Education on the establishment of an interdisciplinary team for the assessment of proposals for the „Act 2.0 – Basis for the higher education system” imitative. (Ministry’s Official Journal 2016 . item. 22)
7 April 2016
Submission of proposals to the Ministry by research institutions
Deadline 29 April 2016
Works of the intersdisciplinary team for the assessment of proposals for the „Act 2.0 – Basis for the higher education system” – assessment of proposals
4-5 May 2016
Conclusion of agreements setting the terms of financing, implementation, reporting and accounting of the project accepted for financing in the framework of the Act 2.0 competition.
Award Ceremony of the Act 2.0 competition
3 June 2016
Works by the winning teams including consultations with the research and academic community
June 2016 – January 2017
Announcement of the „Strategy towards scientific excellence, modern higher education, partnership with business and social responsibility of science”
September 2016 r.
Gradual presentation of proposals during thematic conferences of the National Science Congress:
Governance in higher education (Uniwersytet Warszawski, 19-20. 06. 2017)
between October 2016 and June 2017
Eight student Oxford debates in the frame of National Science Congress devoted to gathering opinions by the research community
Starting February 2017
Proposals for basis for the act regulating the higher education system as well the regulation test, report on the consultation with the research and academic community and finacial report
between November 2016 and June 2017
The Ministry of Science and Higher Education reviews the proposals of new regulations for HE including regulation tests
31 January 2017- February 2017
Presentation of basis for the act – competition
Publication „National Science Congress” including outcomes of thematic teams work as well as conclusions from the conferences and thematic panels; presentation of three concepts – results of the Act 2.0 drafting competition, wrap up of the student Oxford debates.
Presentation of the Act 2.0 proposal during the national Science Congress in Kraków
19-20 September 2017
Public constulations of the Act 2.0 proposal.
20 September 2017 – 20 October 2017
Consultation of the project and collection of opinions, comments and points of view (public inter-ministerial consultations)
September-2017 - March 2018
Draft Act „Law on Higher Education and Science’ proceeded to the Polish Parliament
Approval of the Act by the Polish Parliament
The Act approved by the President of Poland
1 August 2018
Law on Higher Education and Science comes into force (a majority of regulations)
1 October 2018
Introduction of detailed framework for functioning of the reformed higher education and science system through issue of relevant regulations
Starting in April 2018
Full entry into force of the provisions of the Act
1 October 2022
The following main actors can be named in the above mentioned process:
- The Ministry of Science and Higher Education (as contractor and initiator)
- SWPS University, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, and Allerhand Institute (as institutions from which the winning teams come and which are responsible for drafting proposals of basis for the new higher education act).
- The General Council of Science and Higher Education (Rada Główna Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego), the Polish Accreditation Committee (Polska Komisja Akredytacyjna), Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland (Konferencja Rektorów Akademickich Szkół Polskich), Conference of Rectors of Vocational Schools in Poland (Konferencja Rektorów Zawodowych Szkół Polskich) (in advisory and opinion making capacity).
- The Foundation for the Development of the Education System (organisation of student Oxford debates).
Overview of the education reform process and drivers
Any changes of systemic character take place in the field of education on the basis of the following legislation:
- Act of 6 December 2006 on the rules for preparing the policy of development
- Act of 29 June 1995 on public statistics
- Act of 15 April 2011 on School Education Information System
- Act of 8 August 1996 on the Council of Ministers
- Act of 16 December 2016 – Law on School Education
- Act on the Education System of 7 September 1991
Normative acts are drafted on the basis of:
- Resolution Number 190 of the Council of Ministers of 29 October 2013 Code of Functioning for the Council of Ministers – regulation related among others to the preparation of draft normative acts including impact assessment on society and economy.
- Recommendations by the Minister of Economy and Prime Minister’s Chancellery for assessment of impact and public consultation for the governmental legislative procedure (recommendations for assessment of impact on society and economy according to the resolution of the Council of Ministers of 29 October 2013 - Regulation Code of Functioning for the Council of Ministers).
- Recommendations on establishment service monitoring of functioning and closure of opinion/advice bodies supporting the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers (on this basis various teams and bodies can be established in order to provide opinion and advice).
For the projects co-financed from the EU funds the key document is European Funds for Social Development programme.
The Act on public statistics defines rules and gives basis for a reliable, professional and independent statistical research which results have an official status and it establishes the organisation and procedure for such research and related responsibilities.
Act on School Education Information System defines organisation and operational rules for the School Education Information System which’s purpose it to obtain the data necessary for: 1) drafting and implementation of educational policy at the central, regional and local levels including support to school education management; 2) efficient functioning of education financing at the central, regional and local levels; 3) analysis of cost effectiveness of public funds expenditure earmarked for educational purposes; 4) supervision and coordination of pedagogical supervision in the whole country and improvement of quality assurance. The system provides open access to information on school education.
Act on the Council of Ministers gives the ministers a right to establish at the post of minister various teams and bodies with opinion making and advisory capacity. The regulation by the minister further regulates the purpose, tasks, members and functioning of these bodies. For example in 2015 the Minister of National Education established a Team for Strategy at her post giving it a right to commission analysis, opinions or experts’ work.
For information on reform process in higher education please refer to the text below (Current reforms of the higher education system).
The Act – Law on School Education, as well as the Act on the Education System, define the duties and powers of the institutions co-creating the education system and the principles on which they can implement educational initiatives.