Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is divided into two stages: care for children aged up to 3 years, including centre-based care provided in crèches and kids’ clubs and home-based care provided by day-care providers and nannies, and preschool education for children aged 3-6/7 years in nursery schools and alternative settings. Crèches, kids’ clubs and home-based childcare settings form a separate childcare system, which is not linked to the education system. Nursery schools and other preschool education settings are part of the school education system. The school education system comprises not only preschool and school education, but also adult education in schools for adults, stage II sectoral vocational schools and post-secondary schools, and in specific types of educational institutions. Adult education outside the education system is provided by various entities as part of economic or labour-market training activities. Different quality assurance approaches are in place for the care for children aged up to 3 years, and for the school education system, the higher education system and the adult education sector.
Early childhood and school education
Care for children aged up to 3 years
The national legislation lays down only general arrangements for the organisation and operation of childcare settings (see also childcare settings in Chapter 4), basic conditions for the provision of services (premises, and health, hygiene and fire safety requirements), qualification requirements for staff and general rules for the supervision of childcare settings exercised by the Minister of Family and Social Policy and local authorities at the level of the commune (the lowest-level local government unit). There are no national regulations or recommendations on performance appraisal of staff managing childcare institutions or providing childcare. Specific standards for the quality of childcare (which includes both childcare and educational activities) are set by the commune authorities. Inspections and other supervisory activities, conducted by the commune authorities, cover compliance with the national legislation and local standards.
The national legislation does not lay down any specific arrangements for internal supervision or quality assurance in childcare institutions, except for some powers in this respect assigned to the parents’ council in a crèche and kids’ club. The tasks of an institution regarding the quality of childcare result from the aforementioned statutory requirements, childcare standards adopted by the commune authorities and internal regulations of the institution.
Preschool education and school education
The approaches in the school education system are identical for preschool education and school education. The central element of both external and internal quality assurance is the pedagogical supervision system, which includes two mechanisms: inspections and support (various forms of support aimed at performance improvement such as the publication of information, conferences, training activities). External pedagogical supervision mechanisms apply to both public and non-public nursery schools and schools (hereafter jointly referred to as schools, wherever possible), whereas non-public schools may adopt different approaches in internal pedagogical supervision.
Pursuant to the national legislation, external inspections in public and non-public schools and internal inspections or audits, which are mandatory only for public schools, aim to evaluate (1) compliance with the legislation on educational, childcare and other statutory activities; (2) educational processes; and (3) outcomes or effectiveness of educational, childcare and other statutory activities. These aims define in general terms the scope or foci of inspections.
Specific topics of external inspections and the number of schools undergoing an inspection are established for each school year by the Minister of Education and Science in the national school education policy agenda, and by the Heads of the Regional Education Authorities (REAs) (a government administration unit at the province level) in detailed pedagogical supervision plans. External inspections are carried out by inspectors working in the REAs.
The head of a public school defines topics of internal inspections in a pedagogical supervision plan for a given school year, taking into consideration the statutory aims of inspections, the national school education policy agenda, findings from pedagogical supervision in the previous year and specific needs of the school. Internal inspections are conducted by the school head. Findings from internal inspections are considered in external inspections.
The legislation on teacher performance appraisal applies to both the public and non-public sectors. Appraisal is mandatory for a teacher carrying out an induction programme, and for an appointed teacher (holding the first of the two professional promotion grades available to teachers) to apply for the chartered teacher grade (the second and highest grade). The school head conducts an appraisal against the criteria set in the legislation. However, representatives of two external bodies, the school administering body and the pedagogical supervision body, as well as external experts, are involved in the procedure for teachers applying for the promotion to the appointed or chartered teacher grade. For details about promotion, see Chapter 9.2.
School head appraisal is conducted jointly by two external bodies, the school administering body and the pedagogical supervision body, against the criteria set in the legislation. The legislation applies to heads of public nursery schools and schools, and to teaching heads in specific types of non-public nursery schools and schools and other non-public institutions.
The legislation provides for 6 evaluation processes as part of external quality assurance, and most of them are mandatory for higher education institutions (HEIs). The mandatory processes can also be defined as accreditation processes (though the legislation uses the term only as referring to programme evaluations in the fields of Nursing and Midwifery) as they end with a formal decision granting or refusing permission for a non-public HEI to be established or operate, for a public or non-public HEI to establish or continue to deliver a programme, or to continue to run a doctoral school.
The following four processes are currently in place: initial institutional evaluation and institutional re-evaluation (referred to in the legislation as the process of assessing applications and entering HEIs into the Register of Non-Public Higher Education Institutions or extending their registration), and initial and periodic programme evaluations (with initial evaluation being referred to in the legislation as the process of assessing applications and granting permits to establish programmes).
Initial institutional evaluation and institutional re-evaluation are conducted to grant permission to non-public HEIs to operate. The Polish Accreditation Committee (PAC) assesses applications, and the Minister of Education and Science takes a decision to enter a non-public HEI into the Register and extend the period of its registration.
As part of initial programme evaluation, mandatory permits are granted for the establishment of first-, second- and long-cycle programmes in all fields of study to newly established non-public HEIs, and to existing public and non-public HEIs which do not meet the statutory requirements to establish autonomously a programme in a given field of study. Except for the cases laid down by law, the Minister of Education and Science issues such permits based on applications from HEIs assessed by PAC.
For programmes in the fields of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy, the Minister of Education and Science also consults the Minister of Health. Accreditation awarded by the Minister of Health is additionally required for permits to establish programmes in Nursing and Midwifery; it is based on an evaluation conducted by the National Accreditation Council for Schools of Nursing and Midwifery (NACSN&M).
Mandatory periodic programme evaluations in all fields where HEIs provide first-, second- and long-cycle programmes is conducted by PAC, which also takes decisions in this process, with no involvement of the Minister of Education and Science. Additionally, the NACSN&M conducts periodic evaluations of programmes in the fields of Nursing and Midwifery, with accreditation granted by the Minister of Health.
Furthermore, the legislation provides fortwo new processes, complex evaluation and evaluation of the quality of education at doctoral schools, to be put in place.
Complex evaluation, a non-mandatory process, will focus on the effectiveness of internal quality assurance in all areas where a given HEI provides education. It will be conducted by PAC. If an evaluation ends with a positive outcome, PAC will not conduct periodic programme evaluations in the fields of study assigned to the disciplines within areas where PAC has assessed the quality of education as particularly high, unless it is instructed to do so by the Minister of Education and Science.
Evaluation of the quality of education at doctoral schools will focus on the quality of doctoral training (which has replaced third-cycle programmes in 2019) and will be conducted by the Research Evaluation Committee (a body which is also responsible for evaluation of research quality).
The national legislation does not prescribe the scope or elements of internal quality assurance in HEIs. It lays down only general arrangements for the quality of programmes, including student course evaluation, and periodic appraisal of academic staff. HEIs adopt detailed arrangements for quality assurance in their internal regulations. PAC and the NACSN&M consider internal quality assurance in their external evaluations.
External and internal quality assurance arrangements for schools for adults, stage II sectoral vocational schools and post-secondary schools (which take adults but are not classified as schools for adults), and institutions providing continuing education in non-school settings within the school education system are the same as for school education for children and young people (see above).
The legislation does not lay down any mandatory or recommended quality assurance arrangements for entities providing continuing education in non-school settings outside the school education system, as part of economic activity or labour-market training activity. Each institution can put in place its own approaches.
Both institutions within the school education system and entities outside the system which provide continuing education in non-school settings may apply on a voluntary basis for accreditation to the Head of the Regional Education Authorities (REA). Accreditation covers specific types of continuing education programmes and confirms compliance with certain requirements and high quality of education. Evaluation is conducted by a panel appointed by the Head of the REA who also takes an accreditation decision.
NB.: In January 2021, the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education were merged into the Ministry of Education and Science. Regulations issued earlier are now amended by regulations of the Minister of Education and Science.
Early Childhood and Care and School Education
- Act of 4 February 2011 on the Care for Children Aged up to 3 Years (as subsequently amended) (Ustawa z dnia 4 lutego 2011 r. o opiece nad dziećmi w wieku do lat 3 (z późn zm.): lays down, for example, the arrangements for the organisation and operation of childcare settings, conditions for the provision of services, the qualifications of staff providing childcare, and arrangements for the supervision of childcare settings.
- Act of 14 December 2016, Law on School Education (as subsequently amended) (Ustawa z dnia 14 grudnia 2016 r. – Prawo oświatowe (z późn. zm.)): The Act regulates key aspects of school education, including adult education; for quality assurance, it outlines general rules for pedagogical supervision over nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions, with detailed arrangements laid down in a relevant Regulation by the minister responsible for school education.
- Act of 26 January 1982, The Teachers’ Charter (as subsequently amended) (Ustawa z dnia 26 stycznia 1982 r. – Karta Nauczyciela (z późn. zm.)). The Act regulates key matters for teachers in the school education system and sets a general framework for teacher appraisal; detailed arrangements are laid down in a relevant Regulation by the Minister.
- Act of 20 April 2004 on the Promotion of Employment and Labour Market Institutions (as subsequently amended) (Ustawa z dnia 20 kwietnia 2004 r. o promocji zatrudnienia i instytucjach rynku pracy (z późn. zm.)). The Act identifies so-called labour market institutions, which conduct training activities as part of continuing education, and which can apply for accreditation.
- Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 25 March 2011 on the requirements concerning premises and health and safety conditions for creches and kids’ clubs (as subsequently amended) (Rozporządzenie Ministra Pracy i Polityki Społecznej z dnia 25 marca 2011 r. w sprawie wymagań lokalowych i sanitarnych dotyczących żłobków i klubów dziecięcych (z późn. zm.))
- Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 25 March 2011 on the scope of training programmes for a childminder in a creche or kids’ club and for a day-care provider (as subsequently amended) (Rozporządzenie Ministra Pracy i Polityki Społecznej z dnia 25 marca 2011 r. w sprawie zakresu programów szkoleń dla opiekuna w żłobku lub klubie dziecięcym oraz dziennego opiekuna (z póżn. zm.)
- Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 25 August 2017 on pedagogical supervision (as subsequently amended) (Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji Narodowej z dnia 25 sierpnia 2017 r. w sprawie nadzoru pedagogicznego (z późn. zm.)). The Regulation lays down detailed arrangements for pedagogical supervision, incl. inspections, and the responsibilities of the bodies responsible for external and internal pedagogical supervision.
- Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 11 August 2017 on the requirements for schools and other educational institutions (as subsequently amended) (Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji Narodowej z dnia 11 sierpnia 2017 r. w sprawie wymagań wobec szkół i placówek (z późn. zm.)). The Regulation lays down requirements related to activities which nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions should undertake to create optimal conditions for their activity, improve their performance and foster their organisational development, and provide conditions for the development of pupils.
- Regulation of the Minister of Education and Science of 25 August 2022 on the teacher performance appraisal (Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji i Nauki z dnia 25 sierpnia 2022 r. w sprawie oceny pracy nauczycieli). The Regulation lays down the procedure and criteria for the performance appraisal of teachers and heads of nursery schools, schools and other institutions.
- Regulation of the Minister of Education and Science of 6 September 2022 on the professional promotion grades for teachers (Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji i Nauki z dnia 6 września 2022 r. w sprawie uzyskiwania stopni awansu zawodowego przez nauczycieli). The Regulation lays down detailed arrangements for the promotion to the two professional grades available to teachers: appointed teacher and chartered teacher.
- Act of 20 July 2018, The Law on Higher Education and Science (as subsequently amended) (Ustawa z dnia 20 lipca 2018 r. – Prawo o szkolnictwie wyższym i nauce (z późn. zm.)). The Act regulates key aspects of the higher education system. With regard to quality assurance, it sets a general framework for the activities of the Polish Accreditation Committee (PAC) and arrangements for programme evaluation, complex evaluations and evaluation of the quality of education at doctoral schools.
- Act on the Nursing and Midwifery Professions of 15 July 2011 (as subsequently amended) (Ustawa o zawodach pielęgniarki i położnej z dnia 15 lipca 2011 r. (z późn. zm.)). The Act regulates key matters related to the training of nurses and midwives. With regard to quality assurance, it lays down general operational rules for the National Accreditation Council for Schools of Nursing and Midwifery.
- Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 12 September 2018 on the criteria for programme evaluation (Rozporządzenie Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego z dnia 12 września 2018 r. w sprawie kryteriów oceny programowej). The Regulation defines general criteria for programme evaluations conducted by PAC.
- Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 27 September 2018 on degree programmes (as subsequently amended) (Rozporządzenie Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego z dnia 27 września 2018 r. w sprawie studiów (z późn. zm.)). The Regulation specifies, among other things, general requirements for a curriculum for first-, second and long-cycle programmes and a higher education diploma, and information to be provided in an application for a permit to establish a programme.
- Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 14 December 2018 on the fees for members of institutions, bodies and panels, and experts and disciplinary prosecutors operating within the higher education system (as subsequently amended) (Rozporządzenie Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego z dnia 14 grudnia 2018 r. w sprawie wysokości wynagrodzenia przysługującego członkom instytucji, organów i zespołów oraz ekspertom i rzecznikom dyscyplinarnym działającym w systemie szkolnictwa wyższego (z późn. zm.). The Regulation sets the level of salaries for, among others, PAC members and experts.
- Regulation of the Minister of Health of 29 November 2012 on the National Accreditation Council for Schools of Nursing and Midwifery (as subsequently amended) (Rozporządzenie Ministra Zdrowia z dnia 29 listopada 2012 r. w sprawie Krajowej Rady Akredytacyjnej Szkół Pielęgniarek i Położnych (z późn. zm.)). The Regulation sets detailed accreditation and operational procedures for the Council.
- Regulation of the Minister of Education and Science of 27 September 2021 on the evaluation of the quality of education at doctoral schools (Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji i Nauki z dnia 27 września 2021 w sprawie ewaluacji jakości kształcenia w szkole doktorskiej). The Regulation lays down detailed criteria and procedures for this type of evaluation.
- Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 29 August 2019 on the accreditation of institutions providing continuing education in non-school settings (Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji Narodowej z dnia 29 sierpnia 2019 r. w sprawie akredytacji kształcenia ustawicznego w formach pozaszkolnych). The Regulation lays down detailed arrangements for the accreditation of adult education programmes provided by institutions within and outside the school education system.
Schools for adults, stage II sectoral vocational schools, post-secondary schools and other adult or continuing education institutions within the school education system are governed by the legislation for the school education (early childhood and school education) system; see above.