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Eurydice

EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance in early childhood and school education

Poland

11.Quality assurance

11.1Quality assurance in early childhood and school education

Last update: 7 June 2024

General information

Care for children aged up to 3 years

The national legislation sets out only general arrangements for the organisation and operation of childcare settings (see the types of settings in Chapter 4), conditions for the provision of services (premises, health and hygiene, and fire safety requirements), the qualifications of staff, and arrangements for the supervision of crèches, kids’ clubs and day-care providers (three of the four childcare settings, except for nannies) by the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy and local government at the commune level (the lowest local government level). The national legislation does not provide any core curriculum for childcare institutions nor sets specific standards for childcare or external or internal quality assurance mechanisms; neither does it address external or internal performance appraisal of staff managing childcare institutions or providing childcare. Detailed standards for childcare are set by the commune authorities.

The external supervision of crèches, kids’ clubs and day-care providers by the commune covers the above-mentioned aspects regulated by the national legislation and standards adopted by the commune council (the legislative and supervisory body of the commune). As part of the supervision, the mayor of a commune, town or city (the executive body of the commune) keeps registers of crèches and kids’ clubs and of day-care providers which / who comply with the statutory requirements for childcare, and may conduct inspections and other supervisory activities.

Detailed internal arrangements relating to the quality of childcare are laid down in internal regulations of a crèche or kids’ club. The national legislation only grants some powers to the parents’ council in a crèche or kids’ club; for example, access to documents on nutrition; visits to premises; initiatives concerning educational activities.

Preschool education and school education

Identical mechanisms are in place for preschool education and school education. They include the following three main elements which are covered by separate detailed regulations and have different specific objectives, but all carry forward the overall common goal of improving the quality of education and institutional performance:

  • Pedagogical supervision
  • Teacher appraisal
  • School head appraisal

Pedagogical supervision

Pedagogical supervision aims to support the development of nursery schools and primary and post-primary schools (and other educational institutions) (hereafter jointly referred to as schools, wherever possible), contribute to better quality of education and equal educational opportunities, and enable comprehensive development of pupils and teachers. It also aims to support the national authorities in designing and pursuing education policy based on data for the entire school education system.

As regards its scope or main areas, pedagogical supervision focuses, in particular, on:

  • qualification requirements for teachers to conduct classes assigned to them;
  • implementation of the national core curricula and outline timetables;
  • compliance with the rules for pupil assessment and promotion and external exams, and with the legislation on full-time and part-time compulsory education;
  • compliance with the statutes of a school;
  • respect for children’s and pupils’ rights, and dissemination of information about children’s rights;
  • safe and hygienic conditions for education and childcare.

Pedagogical supervision also covers activities which schools should undertake to create optimal conditions for their educational, childcare and other statutory activities, and for the development of each pupil, and to improve performance and foster institutional development. Such activities are related to:

  • outcomes of educational and childcare activities, the pursuit of statutory aims and the fulfilment of statutory tasks;
  • organisation of educational and childcare processes;
  • conditions provided for the development and active participation of pupils, including their creativity;
  • collaboration with parents and the local community;
  • management of the school.

Pedagogical supervision includes two types of mechanisms:

  • inspections in schools, which aim to evaluate compliance of their activities with the legislation, educational processes and outcomes or effectiveness of educational, childcare and other statutory activities;
  • support for schools, which aims to inspire and intensify performance improvement processes, geared towards the development of pupils: activities which include, in particular: publication of findings from pedagogical supervision; organisation of conferences and meetings and dissemination of information on school education issues and legislation as part of external supervision; and assessment of the school’s performance and institutional development activities undertaken by the school head and other teachers holding management positions as part of internal supervision.

Chapter 11.1.2 “Approaches and Methods of Quality Assurance” discusses only inspections as an evaluation mechanism.

External inspections and support activities are carried out on a mandatory basis by the pedagogical supervision bodies vis-a-vis public and non-public schools, and by heads of public schools, in cooperation with other staff holding management positions and teachers, as part of internal pedagogical supervision. The regulations on internal pedagogical supervision do not apply to non-public schools which may put in place different approaches. Outcomes of internal inspections are taken into consideration in external inspections.

Teacher appraisal

The arrangements for appraisal are identical for teachers working in preschool education and school education institutions, and in both the public and non-public sectors.

Performance appraisal is conducted by the head of a school as part of internal quality assurance. Performance appraisal linked to professional promotion is mandatory for novice teachers (teachers who hold the qualifications required for the teaching profession, but do not hold a professional grade and are carrying out an induction programme). At least a “Good” grade received in the performance appraisal in the final induction year is one of the preconditions for promotion to the grade of appointed teacher (the first professional grade for teachers). Performance appraisal is also conducted at the request of a teacher holding the appointed teacher grade who intends to apply for the grade of chartered teacher (the second and highest promotion grade). A “Very Good” grade in the performance appraisal is a precondition for promotion. For details about teacher promotion, see Chapter 9.2.

A performance appraisal which is not linked to promotion is not mandatory. It can take place at any time, but not earlier than one year after the previous appraisal, on the school head’s initiative or at the request of the bodies and individuals identified in the legislation (for details, see “Approaches and Methods of Quality Assurance” in Chapter 11.1.2).

Performance appraisal is not formally linked to the other quality assurance mechanisms. However, the school head takes into consideration outcomes of appraisals when drafting an annual pedagogical supervision plan which includes internal inspections and support for teachers in the performance of their tasks (e.g. staff meetings and training activities).

External quality assurance does not include performance appraisal of individual teachers. However, external bodies (the body administering a given school, and the pedagogical supervision body, which is the Head of the Regional Education Authorities, for most schools) and external experts are involved in teacher evaluation as members of boards for teachers who apply for the promotion to the appointed or chartered teacher grade. A board takes into consideration outcomes of the teacher performance appraisal conducted by the school head. See also details about promotion in Chapter 9.2.

School head performance appraisal

Performance appraisal of a school head involves two external bodies: the school administering body and the pedagogical supervision body. An overall appraisal includes so-called partial appraisals conducted by the two bodies with regard to specific responsibilities of the head. Appraisal is not formally linked to the other quality assurance mechanisms, but the pedagogical supervision body takes into consideration the outcomes of the appraisal in an external inspection.

Reforms in the last decade

In the last decade, quality assurance was based on the three afore-mentioned mechanisms: pedagogical supervision, teacher appraisal and school head appraisal. However, in recent years, changes have been introduced in pedagogical supervision.

Between 2009/2010 and 2020/2021, the pedagogical supervision system comprised four types of mechanisms:

  • evaluations, which focused on the quality of school performance;
  • legal compliance inspections, which assessed compliance with the legislation on the activities of schools and teachers;
  • support for activities of nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions, which aimed to inspire and intensify performance improvement processes;
  • monitoring, which involved collection and analysis of information about activities of schools to identify and eliminate risks to proper performance of their tasks.

Recent amendments to the legislation abolished, with effect from the school year 2021/2022, two of the four pedagogical supervision mechanisms, evaluation and monitoring, while keeping inspections and support in place. The Ministry of Education and Science argued that benefits from evaluations were disproportionate to the time and workload necessary to conduct them. Evaluations, and, in particular, internal evaluations, created an undue bureaucratic burden for teachers. Although schools were not required by law to prepare additional documents, many of them often produced additional reports, studies or factsheets to document their activities as part of an evaluation.

As a result of the amendments, the scope of inspections, which previously covered only compliance with the legislation, has been extended to include evaluation of educational processes and the effectiveness or outcomes of educational, childcare and other statutory activities of schools. However, the legislation no longer defines specific criteria or aspects to be evaluated in external inspections focusing on educational processes and / or the effectiveness or outcomes of educational, childcare and other statutory activities of schools. Such inspections can address any aspect within the scope of pedagogical supervision (see above), and inspection sheets, including criteria, for a given school year are published by the Minister of Education and Science. For details, see “Approaches and Methods of Quality Assurance” in the Chapter 11.1.2.

Responsible Bodies

Bodies responsible for external quality assurance

Care for children aged up to 3 years

The responsibility for overall  supervision of the childcare system lies with the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy. The Minister lays down, by regulation, for example, the requirements for premises and health, hygiene and safety requirements for crèches and kids’ clubs, and establishes training programmes for childcare staff to obtain the required qualifications.

The mayor of the commune, city or town (the executive body of the commune, the lowest-level local government unit) enters entities complying with the statutory requirements (premises, health and hygiene and fore safety) onto the Register of Crèches and Kids’ Clubs or day-care providers complying with the requirements onto the Register of Day-Care Providers.  The mayor refuses to do so or strikes off an entity or day-care provider from the Register in case it is established that they do not meet the statutory requirements or cease their activity.

The mayor supervises crèches, kids’ clubs and day-care providers with regard to the conditions and quality of the childcare services provided. As part of their supervisory responsibilities vis-à-vis crèches, kids’ clubs and day-care providers who are natural persons and self-employed (not employed by entities administering childcare settings), the mayor also verifies the accuracy of data provided in the Registers and monitors their compliance with the requirement to submit activity reports. The supervision by the mayor is based on a supervision plan adopted by the commune council (the legislative and supervisory body of the commune). Staff authorised by the mayor conduct inspections and other supervisory activities. Each commune submits reports on childcare to the province governor (the head of the government administration in the region), and province governors submit aggregate reports to the Minister of Family and Social Policy.

The national legislation does not identify a body or person responsible for internal quality assurance in a crèche or kids’ club; such aspects are addressed in the statutes or organisational regulations of a crèche or kids’ club. In practice, related tasks are assigned to the director of a crèche or the head of a kids’ club as those taking overall responsibility for the operation of an institution (see also the information about management staff in Chapter 10.1).

The legislation only authorises the parents’ council in a crèche or kids’ club, for example, to propose initiatives and submit opinions and motions on all matters relating to the activities, and in particular educational activities, of the crèche or kids’ club; to examine its documentation on nutrition norms; and to visit the premises where childcare is provided.

Preschool education and school education

The main institutions involved in external quality assurance are pedagogical supervision bodies. They are responsible for the two aforementioned processes: inspections and  support for nursery schools, schools and other educational institutions (hereafter jointly referred to as schools, wherever possible). These bodies include:

  • the minister responsible for school education (currently, the Minister of Education and Science), and the ministers responsible for culture and national heritage, agriculture and justice who supervise specific types of schools;
  • the Heads of the Regional Education Authorities (REAs) (kurator oświaty).

Furthermore, the Heads of the Regional Education Authorities (REAs) and / or bodies administering schools have specific tasks in the evaluation and / or professional promotion of teachers and performance appraisal of heads of nursery schools and schools, and other institutions in the school education system (hereafter jointly referred to as schools, wherever possible).

Minister of National Education

The Minister of National Education  exercises direct pedagogical supervision over specific types of schools and institutions (so-called Polish schools: schools at Polish diplomatic and military missions and consulates abroad; national public continuing education institutions; in-service teacher training institutions; and experimental schools and institutions). The Minister also oversees and coordinates pedagogical supervision activities across the country and, in particular, those undertaken by the Heads of the REAs. The Minister:

  • sets the main lines of the national school education agenda to be implemented by the Heads of the REAs, and in particular those related to their pedagogical supervision tasks;
  • monitors the efficiency and effectiveness of pedagogical supervision exercised by the Heads of the REAs and compliance with the legislation in this respect, and may give the Heads of the REAs written guidelines and instructions, except in individual cases which are subject to administrative decisions;
  • may instruct the Heads of the REAs to provide information, documentation, periodic reports and reports on specific issues;
  • may organise training courses, seminars and conferences for the Heads of the REAs;
  • may publish in the official ministerial journal recommended standards for school equipment and facilities to be used in the teaching of general subjects.

The Minister also manages an electronic pedagogical supervision platform, which includes, for example, information on activities of schools and other educational institutions collected in external inspections, and findings from, and outcomes of, external inspections. Access to the platform is open to staff in the bodies responsible for external pedagogical supervision, and – to the extent necessary for their involvement in inspections in individual schools – their administering bodies, heads, teachers, pupils and parents.

In consultation with the other competent ministers, the Minister lays down, by regulation, detailed arrangements for pedagogical supervision, including inspections. For each school year, the Minister establishes the national school education policy agenda and approves inspection sheets which specify topics and criteria for external inspections in schools.  

The other ministers mentioned above exercise pedagogical supervision over specific types of schools according to their remit (for example, agricultural and forestry schools). However, such schools are subject to pedagogical supervision based on detailed arrangements laid down by the minister responsible for the school education system in consultation with the other competent ministers. The other ministers may also establish specialised pedagogical supervision units.

Heads of the Regional Education Authorities

The Regional Education Authorities (REAs) are organisational units of the government administration at the province (województwo) level. A candidate for the Head of the REA is selected through a competition. The Head of the REA is appointed and dismissed by the Minister of Education and Science at the request of the province governor (wojewoda) (the head of the government administration in the region). Where no candidate has entered or has been selected in a competition, the Minister may appoint a person he / she has selected who fulfils the competition requirements laid down in the legislation. The Minister may also dismiss the Head of the REA on his / her own initiative. Thus, the Heads of the REAs are not independent from the national authorities.

The Heads of the REAs exercise pedagogical supervision over public and non-public schools within their provinces. They perform their tasks in accordance with detailed regulations on pedagogical supervision and the national school education policy agenda established by the Minister for each school year.

Specific responsibilities of the Head of the REA in pedagogical supervision:

  • The Head of the REA develops an annual pedagogical supervision plan for a given province, specifying, for example, the topics of external inspections and the number of schools undergoing inspection, and submits a report on findings from supervision in each school year to the Minister.
  • The Head of the REA appoints external inspection panels from among inspectors working in the REA and considers objections to their reports which may be raised by heads of the schools concerned.
  • Where, for example, an external inspection establishes that a school is underperforming in terms of educational effectiveness, the Head of the REA instructs the school head to develop a performance improvement programme within a specified timeframe. If the school head fails to eliminate shortcomings in the timeframe set, to develop or implement a performance improvement programme or take into consideration the comments and conclusions presented, the Head of the REA takes steps which lead to the dismissal of the head of the school. In the case of a non-public school, failure to carry out the instructions may provide the basis for the Head of the REA to cancel the permit for establishment and, consequently, to close down the school concerned.

As regards teacher performance appraisal, the Heads of the REAs appoint panels which consider appeals filed by teachers against outcomes of performance appraisals conducted by school heads (see Bodies responsible for internal quality assurance below).

As part of the teacher promotion process, the Heads of the REAs appoint their representatives to boards conducting exams for teachers who apply for the grade of appointed teacher (the first professional promotion grade). They also manage the qualifying process for the award of the chartered teacher grade (the second and highest grade). They appoint a board, including their representative, which assesses professional achievements and conducts an interview with the teacher, and award the grade. See also details about the promotion of teachers in Chapter 9.2

As a pedagogical supervision body, the Head of the REA conducts, in cooperation with the body administering a given school. a performance appraisal of a school head and appoints a panel to consider an appeal against the outcome of the appraisal filed by the head.

School administering bodies

Communes (gmina, local authorities at the lowest level) are the administering body for most schools in the public sector. The body administering a given school appoints a board, including their own representative, to conduct an exam for a novice teacher who applies for the promotion to the grade of appointed teacher, and awards the grade to the teacher. It also appoints its representative to a qualifying board, established by the pedagogical supervision body (see above), for appointed teachers who apply for promotion to the chartered teacher grade. See also information on the promotion of teachers in Chapter 9.2

Bodies responsible for internal quality assurance

The regulations on internal pedagogical supervision do not apply to non-public schools which may put in place their own arrangements. In the public sector, the responsibility for internal pedagogical supervision, which includes inspections and support, rests with the head of a school (or a teacher holding a management position if the head is not a teacher), working together with other teachers who hold management positions.

As part of internal pedagogical supervision in the public sector, the school head together with other management staff conduct internal inspections or audits on a mandatory basis and use findings to improve the school's performance. They also support teachers in the performance of their tasks; for example, they analyse the performance of the school, design development measures, including continuing professional development activities for teachers, and implement such measures (for example, training activities and staff meetings).

For each school year, the school head develops a pedagogical supervision plan which is submitted to the school's teaching council (a body composed of the head as its chair and all teachers). The plan has to take into consideration the aims of inspections set in the legislation, the national school education policy agenda, and findings from pedagogical supervision in the previous year. Aside from that, school heads are free to determine specific topics and the number of internal inspections. After the end of the school year, the head reports on findings from internal pedagogical supervision to the teaching council. The legislation does not define explicitly the role of the teaching council or individual teachers in internal inspections.

The school head also conducts teacher appraisal (in cooperation with a teacher holding a management position if the head is not a teacher), and the relevant regulations apply to both the public and non-public sectors. The teacher may appeal against the head’s decision to the external pedagogical supervision body, which, in most cases, is the Head of the REA (see above).

 

Approaches and methods of quality assurance

Care for children aged up to 3 years

The national legislation does not refer explicitly to ‘quality assurance’. However, as part of external supervision, some requirements and mechanisms are in place for crèches, kids’ clubs and day-care providers (three of the four childcare settings; see Chapter 4) to ensure that they provide good quality services.

Pursuant to the national legislation, a crèche or kids’ club should be entered onto the Register of Crèches and Kids’ Clubs kept by the mayor of a commune, city or town (the executive body of a commune). An application includes information such as the number of places and children to be enrolled, working hours and any possible facilities for children who have a disability or require special care. It should also include decisions of the competent authorities or services confirming that the entity meets the requirements for premises, hygiene and safety (for example, at least one room; space for rest for children; conditions for eating hygiene) and fire safety. An entity may be struck off from the Register in case it does not eliminate irregularities or shortcomings where identified in an inspection.

Similarly, to offer services, day-care providers (both self-employed and employed by local government units, natural persons, legal persons or legal entities with limited legal capacity) should be entered onto the Register of Day-Care Providers. In addition to holding specific qualifications, a day-care provider is required to provide adequate premises and health and safety conditions. Before registering a day-care provider, the mayor may visit the place where childcare will be provided.

The legislation also sets the maximum number of children for a kids’ club (30) and the maximum number of children per childminder in a crèche or kids’ club (8, or 5 when a group includes a child with a disability, a child requiring special care or a child under 1 year of age). A crèche with more than 20 children is required to employ at least one nurse or midwife. Furthermore, the qualification requirements set by the legislation for childcare staff (see Chapter 4) and the director of a crèche and the head of a kids’ club (see Chapter 10.1) aim to ensure high quality of childcare and educational services.

The national legislation does not provide any specific core curriculum nor recommends teaching or learning methods (see Chapter 4.3), standards or mechanisms for quality assurance of childcare. Specific standards for childcare are set by the commune authorities as responsible for the supervision of crèches, kids’ clubs and day-care providers. The commune council (the legislative and supervisory body of the commune) adopts a supervision plan to be implemented by the mayor of the commune, city or town. External supervision covers compliance with the requirements set in the national legislation and standards adopted in a given commune.

In practice, inspections and other supervisory activities, undertaken by staff appointed by the mayor, cover compliance with the requirements concerning premises, health and hygiene and fire safety and the qualification requirements for childcare staff, and the organisation and quality of services as based on the supervision plan adopted by the commune council. In accordance with the national legislation, staff conducting inspections may visit the place where childcare is provided, examine documentation concerning the staff employed and request additional information and clarifications.

If an inspection establishes that an entity (a crèche, kids’ club or day-care provider) fails to meet the statutory requirements or childcare standards, the mayor instructs it to eliminate the shortcomings. The entity has the right to submit motivated objections to an inspection report. If the entity does not eliminate the shortcomings within a specific timeframe, the mayor strikes it off from the relevant Register.

The national legislation does not establish any specific mechanisms which could be considered as part of ‘internal quality assurance’. It grants, however, the following powers to the parents’ council (which is composed of parents of all enrolled children) in a crèche or kids’ club:

  • propose initiatives and submit motions and opinions on all matters relating to the crèche or kids’ club, and in particular, its educational activities, to its head or the entity administering the crèche or kids’ club;
  • examine documentation on nutrition norms;
  • visit premises and report any irregularities or shortcomings to the head of the crèche or kids’ club, and to the mayor of the commune, city or town in case such irregularities or shortcomings have not been eliminated.

Detailed arrangements for quality assurance of childcare can be laid down in the statutes of an institution, adopted by the body administering the institution, or in internal organisational regulations adopted by its director or head.

Preschool education and school education

This chapter describes the following quality assurance processes:

  • External quality assurance:
    • Inspections as part of external pedagogical supervision
    • Teacher evaluation, conducted externally only as part of an examination or qualifying process for professional promotion (for details about the promotion process, see Chapter 9.2)
    • Performance appraisal of heads of nursery schools and schools (and other institutions in the school education system)
  • Internal quality assurance:
    • Inspections as part of internal pedagogical supervision
    • Teacher performance appraisal.

External quality assurance

Inspections

The legislation defines external inspections as measures taken by the pedagogical supervision body (the Head of the Regional Education Authorities for most nursery  schools and schools (hereafter jointly referred to as schools)  to evaluate:

  1. the level of compliance with the legislation on educational, childcare and other statutory activities of schools;
  2. educational processes in schools;
  3. outcomes or effectiveness of educational, childcare and other statutory activities of schools.

Scope, thematic foci and frequency of inspections

The Minister of Education and Science defines specific topics of external inspections for each school year (see below). Inspections may address any topic or area of the activity of schools which falls within the scope of pedagogical supervision exercised by the Minister and Heads of the Regional Education Authorities. As mentioned above, in accordance with the legislation, pedagogical supervision covers, in particular:

  • qualification requirements for teachers to conduct classes assigned to them;
  • implementation of the national core curricula and outline timetables;
  • compliance with the rules for pupil assessment and promotion and for external exams, and with the legislation on full-time and part-time compulsory education;
  • compliance with the statutes of a school;
  • respect for children’s and pupils’ rights, and dissemination of information about children’s rights;
  • safe and hygienic conditions for education and care.

The legislation does not define explicitly criteria or aspects to addressed in inspections which aim to evaluate educational processes and / or outcomes or effectiveness of educational, childcare and other statutory activities of schools. However, as mentioned above, schools should create optimal conditions for their educational, childcare and other statutory activities, provide conditions for the development of each pupil, and improve institutional performance and foster organisational development. Thus, measures taken by schools should cover:

  • outcomes of educational and childcare activities, the pursuit of statutory aims and the fulfilment of statutory tasks;
  • organisation of educational and childcare processes;
  • conditions provided for the development and active participation of pupils, including their creativity;
  • collaboration with parents and the local community;
  • management of the school.

These aspects are addressed in the requirements laid down for schools in the legislation and, thus, can be evaluated in external inspections (these requirements defined the foci of external evaluations of schools conducted until the end of the school year 2020/2021; see “Reforms in the last decade” in Chapter 11.1). The requirements are common to nursery schools and other preschool education settings and schools (identical requirements for schools at all levels of education, including schools for adults and other institutions of the school education system providing adult education), except that results of external exams for pupils are additionally considered in the case of primary and post-primary schools and adult education institutions. 

The legislation specifies 9 general requirements for schools (and other institutions of the school education system) listed below, each together with a more detailed description.

No. Requirements for nursery schools Requirements for schools (and other institutions)
1. Processes supporting the development and education of children are organised so as to enhance learning. Educational processes are organised so as to enhance learning.
2. Children acquire knowledge and skills defined in the core curriculum. Pupils acquire knowledge and skills defined in the core curriculum.
3. Children are active. Pupils are active.
4. The nursery school shapes social attitudes / behaviours and respects social norms. The school shapes social attitudes / behaviours and respects social norms.
5. The nursery school supports pupils’ development, taking into account their individual situation. The school supports pupils’ development, taking into account their individual situation.
6. Parents are partners of the nursery school. Parents are partners of the school.
7. The nursery school collaborates with the local community for their mutual development. The school collaborates with the local community for their mutual development.
8. In planning its work, the nursery school takes into account findings from analysis of external and internal evaluations. In organising its educational processes, the school takes into account findings from analysis of results achieved in external exams and from other external and internal evaluations.
9. The management of the nursery school is geared towards its development. The management of the school is geared towards its development.

The legislation does not specify the frequency of external inspections in individual schools. Inspections are conducted on a scheduled and ad-hoc basis. Scheduled inspections are conducted every school year on a mandatory basis, but their topics and the number or proportion of schools undergoing an inspection vary between the years. Ad-hoc inspections take place when the need arises to take action which is not included in a pedagogical supervision plan for a given school year.

For each school year, the Minister of Education and Science establishes a national school education policy agenda. In addition to policy lines, it defines pedagogical supervision tasks for the Heads of the Regional Education Authorities (REAs), including topics of inspections. For each school year, the Minister also approves inspection sheets, which specify criteria for each topic.  For example, in the school year 2022/2023, inspections focused on the following topics:

  • Post-primary schools: “Family education classes conducted in compliance with the legislation”
  • Schools providing vocational education (and vocational training centres in the school education system): “Theoretical training sessions for juvenile workers organised and conducted in compliance with the legislation”;
  • Mainstream and integration nursery schools, primary schools, general secondary schools, technical secondary schools and stage I sectoral vocational schools: „Measures improving accessibility and quality of support for pupils provided by teachers-specialists, including special education pedagogues / counsellors, implemented in compliance with the legislation”;
  • Public primary and post-primary schools: „Arrangements for school admission, and for learning support for non-Polish nationals and Polish nationals at the full-time or part-time compulsory age who attended schools in the school education systems in other countries, implemented in compliance with the legislation”

The Head of a REA in each province develops a pedagogical supervision plan for each school year, considering findings from the pedagogical supervision in the previous year, the Minister’s national school education policy agenda, including topics for inspections. The plan specifies topics of inspections and the number of schools undergoing inspection. Inspections are based on the aforementioned inspection sheets approved by the Minister. 

Inspectors

Inspections are conducted by an inspector or a panel of inspectors appointed by the Head of the REA from among those working in the REA (however, a joint panel can be set up for schools and institutions supervised by more than one body, such as art or agricultural schools; see “Bodies responsible for external quality assurance “ in Chapter 11.1).

Inspectors are required to have qualifications specified in the legislation. This position can be taken only by:

  • appointed or chartered teachers (teachers holding one of the two existing professional promotion grades) who hold a Master’s degree and:
    • have completed in-service training courses in administration or management, or
    • have at least 2-year work experience in a management position in a school (a nursery school or another educational institution), or
    • have at least 2-year work experience in a pedagogical supervision body or a body administering a school (a nursery school or another educational institution) in a position related to the organisation of work at a school (nursery school or another education institution);
  • academic teachers who have at least 5-year work experience in a higher education institution and have completed in-service training courses in administration or management.

See also the conditions of service for inspectors in Chapter 10.2 “Staff involved in monitoring educational quality for early childhood and school education”.

Inspection procedure

The Head of the REA informs the head of the school about the date and topic of an inspection at least 7 days before its beginning. An inspection focusing on the compliance with the legislation should not last longer than 2 days; an inspection which aims to evaluate educational processes and / or the effectiveness / outcomes of educational, childcare and / or other statutory activities of the school should not last longer than 5 days during 2 consecutive weeks.

Inspectors use the afore-mentioned inspection sheets approved by the Minister of Education and Science. The legislation does not lay down a detailed procedure for an inspection, but inspectors can:

  • visit a school;
  • examine its documentation concerning educational and childcare processes and the organisation of work, and documents confirming qualifications of teachers and other staff to conduct specific types of classes;
  • attend meetings of the school’s teaching council if the school head is informed prior to the meeting;
  • observe classes, other educational activities, childcare and other activities organised by the school;
  • conduct research to evaluate the effectiveness of educational and childcare activities of the school.

After an inspection, an inspector or a panel of inspectors prepares an inspection protocol which contains a factual description, including the irregularities or shortcomings identified, conclusions and recommendations, together with the timeframe for their implementation.  The Head of the REA forwards the protocol to the school head who can submit written and reasoned objections. The protocol is amended if the head’s objections are justified. If the Head of the REA does not take into consideration any or some of the objections, this is addressed in a written statement provided to the school head.

Consequences for schools

In case an inspection (or any action taken by the pedagogical supervision body) reveals that the school fails to comply with the legislation, the Head of the REA instructs the school head to eliminate the shortcomings or irregularities within a specified timeframe. If it is established that the school is underperforming in terms of educational effectiveness, the Head of the REA instructs the school head to develop a performance improvement programme and a schedule for its implementation. The school head prepares such documents in consultation with the body administering the school and should consider comments and conclusions presented by the Head of the REA; the programme implementation schedule should be approved by the Head of the REA.

If the school head fails to eliminate shortcomings within the timeframe set, to develop or implement a performance improvement programme in line with the approved schedule or to take into consideration the comments and conclusions presented, the Head of the REA submits a motion for dismissal of the head to the school administering body. The motion is binding upon the school administering body. If a non-public school fails to comply with the instructions from the Head of the REA, the Head may cancel the permit to establish the school; consequently, the school is struck from the register and closed down.

Publication and use of inspection protocols

Information on the scope of inspections and their findings, including any irregularities and / or shortcomings identified, and conclusions and recommendations, are collected on the online pedagogical supervision platform. Staff of the ministries responsible for pedagogical supervision and their units and bodies, and staff of the REAs performing pedagogical supervision tasks (see: “Responsible Bodies” above) can access the platform to the extent that is needed to use the supervision tools in inspections, analyse data and summarise findings. Bodies administering schools have access  to the tools available on the platform insofar as these are related to the pedagogical supervision of schools which they administer. School heads, teachers, pupils and parents may access such tools during an inspection in a given school to provide information in response to questions covered by the supervision tools.

Each year, the Heads of the REAs prepare reports for the Minister of Education and Science, which contain findings from pedagogical supervision, including inspections, in their provinces and publish summary reports on the REA websites. The Heads of the REAs use findings to develop a pedagogical supervision plan for the next school year, including specific measures aimed at quality improvement in schools. Their reports enable a comparative analysis of the activities of schools at the national level, and are used by the Minister to establish the national school education policy agenda, including pedagogical supervision tasks, for the next school year.

Teacher Appraisal

The teacher evaluation system does not include mechanisms for appraisal of candidates wishing to join the teaching profession; entry requirements for the profession are discussed in Chapter 9.1. External quality assurance does not comprise periodic assessment of teacher performance. However, the pedagogical supervision body (which, for most schools, is the Head of the Regional Education Authorities) appoints a panel which considers appeals against the outcome of a performance appraisal conducted by the school head.

External bodies (a body administering a given school and the pedagogical supervision body / the Head of the REA), as well as external experts selected from the register kept by the Minister of Education and Science, participate, as members of examination or qualifying boards, in the professional promotion procedure (see Bodies responsible for external quality assurance above).  For details about teacher promotion, see Chapter 9.2.

As part of the process for the promotion to the appointed teacher grade, an examination board considers an evaluation report (referred to as “an opinion” in the legislation) on the classes taught by a novice teacher in the final year of his / her induction period and the teacher’s performance appraisal report (see Internal quality assurance below), and conducts an exam. The board assesses the extent to which the teacher fulfils the statutory promotion requirements regarding the knowledge and skills that are necessary to effectively perform the duties of a teacher.

As part of the promotion process for the chartered teacher grade, a qualifying board considers an appointed teacher’s performance appraisal report, reviews professional achievements presented by the teacher and conducts an interview. The interview aims to assess the extent to which the teacher fulfils the statutory promotion requirements concerning tasks and activities undertaken for school education and their outcomes.

Performance appraisal of the school head

The legislation on performance appraisal applies to heads of public schools (and nursery schools and other institutions), including those administered by natural persons or legal persons other than local government units, and to teaching heads in non-public schools (or nursery schools or other non-public institutions) administered by natural persons or legal persons other than local government units, and non-public schools with the public-school status.

Appraisal is conducted by the pedagogical supervision body (for most schools, the Head of the Regional Education Authorities, REA) in collaboration with the school administering body (which normally is a local government unit in the case of public nursery schools, schools and other public institutions). Where the pedagogical supervision body is, at the same time, the school administering body, appraisal is conducted by the former.

Performance appraisal can be undertaken on the initiative or at the request of:

  • the school head,
  • the school council / teaching council,
  • the parents’ council of the school,
  • the school administering body or
  • the pedagogical supervision body.

Appraisal is conducted after consultations with the school council and trade unions operating within the school.

The legislation does not specify the frequency of performance appraisal. It states only that appraisal should be conducted within 3 months of the date of submission of a request, and that an appraisal may take place any time, but not earlier than a year after the previous one.

Appraisal covers the performance of duties of the head, and additionally duties of the teacher for teaching heads, as specified in the legislation (see the legislation in the introductory section to this Chapter).

Mandatory criteria of performance appraisal

The school head:

  1. organises the work of the school in compliance with the law;
  2. plans and organises the work of the teaching council; performs tasks in compliance with decisions of the teaching council and the school council (if such bodies have been established) and decisions of the pedagogical supervision body and the administering body;
  3. collaborates with other governing bodies of the school, and ensures effective flow of information between these bodies;
  4. ensures that records on the teaching process and pupil progress, educational and childcare activities and other documents relating to the statutory tasks of the school are compiled and kept in the correct manner;
  5. creates conditions for teaching, educational and childcare activities, and ensures safety for pupils and teachers during classes and other activities conducted by the school;
  6. exercises pedagogical supervision (for a teaching head or otherwise for a teacher holding a management position);
  7. implements measures improving the quality of the school’s performance;
  8. organises psychological and educational support for pupils, and implements recommendations made in statements of special educational needs;
  9. conducts educational and problem-prevention activities in the school and creates conditions for health promotion activities;
  10. creates conditions for respect for children’s and pupils’ rights, including the rights of pupils with a disability, and raises awareness of these rights;
  11. takes measures to support the development of pupils, including pupils with a disability, and creates conditions for their active and full participation in the life of the school and the out-of-school environment;
  12. supports professional development of teachers;
  13. improves his / her own management competences;
  14. collaborates with the local community and social partners, and builds a positive image of the school;
  15. ensures that State-budget funding and funding raised from other sources is properly managed;
  16. carries out the responsibilities arising from the labour law in relation to staff, including staff performance appraisal, in the correct manner.

If a teaching head conducts classes and other educational and childcare activities, the appraisal also covers the mandatory criteria for the performance appraisal of teachers and one criterion chosen by the head from among additional criteria for the teacher appraisal. For a full list of mandatory and additional criteria of the teacher performance appraisal, see the section “Internal quality assurance: teacher performance appraisal” below. 

If the head does not conduct classes and other educational and childcare activities, the appraisal also covers the following two mandatory criteria for the teacher performance appraisal:

  • have knowledge of children’s rights, including the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989, safeguard these rights, and be guided by pupils’ well-being, care for their health and respect for their personal dignity;
  • develop pupils’ respect for other people, raise in them the awareness of their rights, and instil civic, patriotic and prosocial attitudes, also by setting an example for pupils.

The pedagogical supervision body and the school administering body conduct so-called partial assessments, which focus on specific management duties, and the two bodies jointly evaluate the performance of some other duties. The pedagogical supervision body evaluates the head’s performance against the mandatory criteria defined in points 6, 10 and 11 above and the mandatory and additional criteria for the teacher performance appraisal (see above). The school administering body evaluates the head’s performance against the mandatory criteria defined in points 15 and 16 above.  The pedagogical supervision body in consultation with the school administering body evaluates the head’s performance against the mandatory criteria defined in points 1-5, 7-9 and 12-14 above.

The two bodies use scores in assessing the extent to which the head’s performance meets the criteria.

The following scale is used for the head who conducts classes and other educational and childcare activities:

  1. between 0 and 10 points: for the mandatory criteria of the head performance appraisal;
  2. between 0 and 30 points: for the mandatory criterion of the teacher performance appraisal that refers to subject-specific and methodological competence in conducting classes and other educational and childcare activities;
  3. between 0 and 5 points: for all other mandatory criteria of the teacher performance appraisal (which refer to, for example, adequate conditions created for teaching, learning and childcare; knowledge of children’s rights; support for pupils’ development and the development of their attitudes; collaboration with teachers and parents; professional development; compliance with the law) and one additional criterion for the teacher performance appraisal chosen by the head.

The following scale is used for the head who does not conduct classes and other educational and childcare activities:

  1. between 0 and 10 points: for the mandatory criteria of the head performance appraisal;
  2. between 0 and 5 points: for the mandatory criteria of the teacher performance appraisal that refer to the knowledge of children’s rights and the development of pupils’ civic, patriotic and prosocial attitudes (see above the two mandatory criteria for the teacher performance appraisal that apply to heads who do not teach).

As the teacher performance appraisal, the appraisal of teaching and non-teaching heads ends with a descriptive grade:

  • outstanding: at least 90% of the maximum number of points;
  • very good: between 75% and 89.99%;
  • good: between 55% and 74.99%;
  • negative: below 55%.

The school head may lodge an appeal against the outcome of the performance appraisal to the pedagogical supervision body. Appeals are considered by a team appointed by the pedagogical supervision body, which consists of representatives from the pedagogical supervision body, the school administering body, the school council or (if the school council has not been established) the parents' council and, at the head's request, a teacher-methodological adviser or teacher-consultant, and a representative of the trade union.

Where the final grade is Negative, the school head is dismissed by the body that has appointed him / her to the position.

Internal quality assurance

The arrangements for inspections discussed below are in place for both preschool education and school education, but apply only to public nursery schools (and other preschool education setting) and schools (hereafter jointly referred to as schools, wherever possible). All types of institutions in the non-public sector may develop different approaches. The arrangements for teacher performance appraisal apply to both the public and non-public sectors.

Inspections

Like external inspections, internal inspections aim to evaluate:

  1. the level of compliance with the legislation on educational, childcare and other statutory activities of schools;
  2. educational processes in schools;
  3. outcomes or effectiveness of educational, childcare and other statutory activities of schools.

Like external inspections, internal inspections are conducted on a scheduled and ad-hoc basis. Pursuant to the legislation, scheduled inspections take place on a mandatory basis in each school year. Inspections are based on a pedagogical supervision plan, developed by the school head for each school year and submitted to the school’s teaching council (a body composed of the head as its chair and all teachers). The plan specifies the topics and dates of scheduled inspections.

A pedagogical supervision plan should consider the national school education policy agenda, established by the Minister of Education and Science for each school year, and findings from pedagogical supervision in the previous year. Within this framework, the head defines topics for inspections in line with specific needs of the school.

The legislation does not lay down details of the procedure for internal inspections. It states only that the school head carries out inspections in collaboration with other management staff, and, as part of an inspection:

  • analyses documentation related to the educational process;
  • observes classes, other educational and childcare activities conducted by teachers and other activities as defined in the statutes of the school.  

In practice, this means that the head can observe both classes and other activities such as teacher-parent meetings.

The head submits a report on pedagogical supervision, including findings from internal inspections, in a given school year to the teaching council. Findings are not published, but they should be used to improve school performance and are taken into consideration in external inspections. 

Teacher appraisal

Performance appraisal linked to the promotion to the grade of appointed teacher (the first of the two professional promotion grades) is mandatory for novice teachers, that is teachers who hold qualifications required for the teaching profession, but do not have a professional promotion grade and carry out an induction programme (for details about induction, see Chapter 9.2.3). A performance appraisal is conducted in the second and final year of the induction period (and in the final year of an additional induction period if a teacher undertakes it as (s)he did not fulfil the requirements for its completion laid down in the legislation).

As an additional evaluation mechanism which is linked to the promotion to the appointed teacher grade but is not part of a performance appraisal (and, thus, is not discussed below), a committee evaluates classes taught by a novice teacher in the second and final years of the induction period (for details, see Chapter 9.2.3).

A performance appraisal linked to the promotion to the grade of chartered teacher (the second and highest professional promotion grade) is conducted at the request of an appointed teacher who intends to apply for promotion. Such an appraisal is not described as mandatory in the legislation, but at least a Very Good grade received in the appraisal is one of the preconditions for promotion. An appraisal covers 3 preceding years of work.

Performance appraisal which is not linked to promotion is not mandatory. As stated in the legislation, it can be carried out at any time, but not earlier that a year after the previous appraisal. An appraisal is initiated by the school head or conducted at the request of:

  • the teacher concerned;
  • the pedagogical supervision body (the Head of the REA in most cases);
  • the body administering a given school (a commune in most cases);
  • the school council (composed of the school’s teachers and pupils and their parents);
  • the parents’ council (composed of  representatives of parents of all pupils in the school).

Scope and criteria of performance appraisal

Pursuant to the legislation, a performance appraisal covers the performance of teaching, other educational and childcare duties and other duties stemming from the statutory activities of schools as defined in the legislation. The legislation lays down mandatory and additional criteria for performance appraisal. An appraisal covers all of the mandatory criteria and one of the additional criteria chosen by the school head and by the teacher according to the specificity of his / her work.

Mandatory criteria

A teacher:

  1. demonstrates subject-specific and methodological competence in conducting classes and other educational and childcare activities;
  2. creates safe and healthy conditions for learning, other educational and childcare activities;
  3. is familiar with children’s rights, including the rights established by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, respects them in his / her activities, and is guided in his / her activities by pupils’ wellbeing, care for their health and respect for their dignity;
  4. supports the development of each pupil, including a pupil with disability, and creates conditions for active and full participation of each pupil in the life of the school and the local community;
  5. teaches pupils respect for other people, raises in them awareness of their rights, and develops their civic attitudes, a sense of patriotism and social engagement, also by setting an example as a teacher;
  6. collaborates with other teachers in performing the school’s educational, childcare and other statutory tasks;
  7. performs his / her tasks in compliance with the national legislation on school activities and internal regulations of the school;
  8. broadens his / her professional knowledge and improves his / her professional skills, also as part of continuing professional development;
  9. collaborates with parents (the requirement does not apply to teachers in stage II sectoral vocational schools and postsecondary schools, which take adult learners, and schools for adults and continuing education institutions).

Additional criteria

A teacher:

  1. plans, organises and conducts classes and other educational and childcare activities in line with the specificity of the school and the position held, using active learning methods, including multimedia and IT tools, adapted to the specificity of the classes taught;
  2. assesses the needs and abilities of pupils, and takes an individualised approach in the work with pupils;
  3. evaluates his / her own work, uses conclusions to improve educational and childcare processes, and achieves positive outcomes in his / her work;
  4. applies in his / her work the knowledge and skills acquired in continuing professional development activities;
  5. conducts classes and other activities extending beyond the compulsory teaching load which carry forward the statutory tasks of the school (for example, classes and activities responding to pupils’ needs and interests; participation in external exams), and holds information-and-advice meetings with pupils and their parents as part of the so-called availability hours;
  6. introduces innovative organisational, curricular and methodological approaches in classes, other educational and childcare activities;
  7. encourages pupils’ initiative by inspiring them to engage with the school and the community outside the school, and looks after pupils who undertake such initiatives;
  8. runs and discusses open-access classes for teachers or parents;
  9. carries out functions or other tasks assigned by the school head;
  10. has skills for resolving conflict between pupils;
  11. has non-verbal communication skills and improves his / her communication skills;
  12. develops and implements innovative curricula, education and problem-prevention programmes or other programmes related to the specificity of the school or his / her position, taking into consideration the needs of pupils;
  13. evaluates activities related to his / her function or school education tasks performed outside the school, and uses evaluation findings to improve the quality of the school’s performance;
  14. collaborates with the Central Examination Board or a Regional Examination Board, in particular as an examiner, an author of exercises or a reviewer, and collaborates with in-service teacher training institutions or higher education institutions in the supervision of students who undertake a teaching internships;
  15. has other special achievements in his / her teaching, other educational and childcare activities.

Procedure and outcomes of performance appraisal

A performance appraisal is conducted by the head of a school (or the school head together with a teacher holding a management position if the head is not a teacher). During the appraisal, the school head:

  • consults the parents’ council (in the types of nursery schools and schools where such a council is established);
  • can consult the pupil self-government organisation;
  • can consult on his / her own initiative, or consults at the teacher’s request, a teacher-methodological adviser about the performance of the evaluated teacher; where this is not possible, consults another appointed or chartered teacher;
  • for a novice teacher carrying out an induction programme: consults the mentor of the evaluated teacher.

The parents’ council and the mentor submit their written opinions within the timeframe specified in the legislation. If such an opinion is not submitted, this does not suspend the appraisal process.

The school head decides on the outcome of the appraisal after a discussion on a draft appraisal report with the teacher, during which the teacher can make comments and objections.

The school head gives a performance score for each criterion:

  • between 0 and 30 points for the first mandatory criterion, which relates to subject-specific and methodological competence in conducting classes, other educational and childcare activities (see above);
  • between 0 and 5 points for the other mandatory criteria and the additional criteria.

The teacher receives one of the following four descriptive grades, depending on the total number of points:

  • Outstanding: at least 90% of the maximum number of points;
  • Very Good: between 75% and 89.99%;
  • Good: between 55% and 74.99%;
  • Negative: below 55%.

The teacher may appeal against the outcome of the appraisal to the pedagogical supervision body (the Head of the REA for most schools). An appeal is considered by a panel appointed by this body. Each panel consists of representatives of the pedagogical supervision body, the school’s teaching council and parents’ council (one per each), a teacher-methodological adviser or teacher-consultant, and – at the request of the evaluated teacher – a representative of the trade union operating in the school, chosen by the teacher. The decision of the pedagogical supervision body is final.

Consequences of performance appraisal, and use of appraisal outcomes

As one of the preconditions for the promotion to the grade of appointed teacher, a novice teacher should receive at least a Good grade in the performance appraisal (the other conditions include the required formal qualifications; a positive opinion on the teaching of classes observed; the completion of an induction period, and a positive result in the exam taken before an examination board). Similarly, at least a Very Good grade received in the performance appraisal is one of the preconditions for the promotion of an appointed teacher to the chartered teacher grade (the other conditions include the required formal qualifications, a minimum period of work in the school as specified in the legislation, and the approval by a qualifying board). For details about promotion, see Chapter 9.2.

A Negative grade received in a performance appraisal leads to dismissal (the termination of an employment contract), regardless of whether or not the appraisal is linked to promotion. Furthermore, in case a novice teacher received a Negative grade in the performance appraisal in the second year of the induction period, he / she may not be re-employed in the same school until he / she obtains the grade of appointed teacher. Such a teacher employed in another school carries out an induction period for the duration specified in the legislation (see Chapter 9.2.3), which does not include the induction period that has already been carried out.  In case a novice teacher received a Negative grade for performance in the final year of the induction period and is employed in another school, he / she carries out an additional induction programme.

Teachers use outcomes of performance appraisals when applying for the school head position in a competition. School heads and teachers use the outcomes as the basis for incentive allowances and awards to be granted in accordance with internal school regulations, and to support their motions for awards which are granted by higher-level bodies.

General findings from teacher performance appraisal also feed into the planning of school activities. School heads take findings from performance appraisals into consideration in developing annual pedagogical supervision plans which cover internal inspections and support, including teacher in-service training or professional development (see general information on the introductory page of this chapter, and detailed information about inspections above).