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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: 27 March 2023

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 childcare 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 local government at the commune level (the lowest local government level). The legislation does not provide any core curriculum or educational programme to be followed by childcare settings nor sets out standards for childcare or external or internal mechanisms for quality evaluation; neither does it regulate the issue of external or internal performance appraisal of childcare staff.

Detailed standards for childcare are set by the commune authorities. The 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 verify documentation concerning the staff employed, request additional information and undertake site visits to the place where childcare is provided.

Detailed quality assurance arrangements 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, to propose initiatives and submit motions and opinions on all matters relating to the activities, and in particular educational activities, of the crèche or kids’ club. 

Preschool education and school education

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

  • Pedagogical supervision system
  • Teacher appraisal
  • External pupil assessment (external examinations)

Pedagogical supervision system

The pedagogical supervision system 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 comparable 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 and childcare activities and other statutory activities, provide conditions for the development of each pupil, and improve performance and foster organisational development of schools. 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 check compliance of their activities with the legislation, and evaluate educational processes and outcomes or effectiveness of educational, childcare and other statutory activities;
  • support for schools, which aims to inspire and intensify performance improvement and enhancement 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 amendments to the legislation as part of external pedagogical 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.

„Approaches and Methods of Quality Assurance” in Chapter 11.1 discusses only inspections as an evaluation mechanism.

Tasks as part of inspections and support are carried out on a mandatory basis by external 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.

In accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Education and Science (until January 2021, the Ministry of National Education responsible for the school education system only), external inspections were temporarily suspended in the school years 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry recommended that the bodies responsible for external pedagogical supervision should focus on supporting activities of schools and use, insofar as possible, online communication channels to do so.

Teacher appraisal

Arrangements for teacher 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 and aims to assess the performance of the teacher’s duties as defined in the national legislation. Performance appraisal linked to the professional promotion process is mandatory for novice teachers, that is teachers who hold the qualifications required for the teaching profession, but do not hold a professional promotion grade and undertake an induction. Novice teachers should receive at least a “Good” grade in the final induction year to obtain the grade of appointed teacher (the first professional promotion grade) as one of the preconditions for promotion. 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. Moreover, a performance appraisal which is not linked to promotion can take place at any time, but not earlier than one year after the previous appraisal, on the initiative of the school head 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). For details about teacher promotion, see Chapter 9.2.

As part of external quality assurance, 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 participate in the examination process for novice teachers to be promoted to the appointed teacher grade, and in the qualifying process for appointed teachers who apply for the chartered teacher grade. See also the information about the promotion process in Chapter 9.2.

 

 

External pupil assessment

The external assessment system includes: the eighth-grader exam conducted at the end of the primary school, the final secondary education (maturity exam) at the end of the secondary school, and vocational exams for, among others, vocational secondary and post-secondary school pupils and graduates. External exams, which enable objective measurement and evaluation of school performance, aim to improve the quality of education, support the assessment of learning achievements and ensure the comparability of results across the country. Results of external exams are taken into consideration in external and internal inspections as part of pedagogical supervision. Thus, they help schools and education authorities to undertake activities improving the quality of education. For details about pupil assessment, see Chapters 5.3 and 6.3.

Reforms in the last decade

In the last decade, quality assurance in the school education system (including both preschool and school education) was based on the three afore-mentioned mechanisms: pedagogical supervision, teacher appraisal and external pupil assessment. However, in recent years, changes have been introduced in both the pedagogical supervision system and teacher appraisal.

Pedagogical supervision system

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 relating to 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 and enhancement 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. In justifying the change, the Ministry of Education and Science pointed out 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 the legislation 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 changes, performance of the school is currently evaluated as part of an inspection. The scope of external and internal inspections, which covered only compliance with the legislation earlier on, has been extended to include evaluation of educational processes, and of the effectiveness or outcomes of educational, childcare and other statutory activities of schools. Most of the regulations previously concerning the scope, topics, procedure and consequences of evaluations are currently applicable to inspections. However, the legislation does not define explicitly the criteria or aspects to be evaluated as part of inspections focusing on educational processes and / or the effectiveness or outcomes of educational, childcare and other statutory activities of schools, which have replaced external evaluations. Such inspections can address any aspects of school activities which fall within the scope of pedagogical supervision (see the information about the pedagogical supervision system above). These include the aspects covered by the 9 afore-mentioned requirements, which were previously used as the criteria of external evaluations, as these requirements are still in force. For details, see “Approaches and Methods of Quality Assurance” in the Chapter 11.1.

Teacher appraisal

In recent years, changes have also been introduced in teacher appraisal. Until the end of the school year 2017/2018, two processes were in place: performance appraisal and assessment of professional achievements. A performance appraisal aimed to assess the performance of the teacher’s duties as specified in the legislation. It was mandatory for all teachers, except for those holding the grade of trainee teacher (the first of the four professional promotion grades then existing) who were required to undergo an assessment of professional achievements when applying for promotion to the next grade. An assessment of professional achievements was conducted when a teacher intended to apply for promotion to a higher grade. The legislation in force in the school year 2018/2019 provided only for performance appraisal, which was also linked to the promotion to a higher professional grade, thus replacing a separate assessment of professional achievements. The legislation in force between the school years 2019/2020 and 2021/2022 re-established two processes: performance appraisal, and assessment of professional achievements linked to promotion. However, performance appraisal was no longer mandatory, and the legislation did not lay down detailed appraisal criteria.

Recent amendments to the legislation, which enter into force on 1 September 2022, have left two higher of the four previously existing professional promotion grades (appointed teacher and chartered teacher) and provide for performance appraisal only. Performance appraisal is linked to the promotion to both grades. As the Ministry of Education and Science explains, this is a qualitative change which aims to strengthen the role of performance appraisal as an indicator measuring the quality of the teacher’s performance at each stage of their career. As a precondition for an indefinite contract and the promotion to the grade of appointed teacher, a novice teacher should receive at least a Good grade in the performance appraisal. An appointed teacher should receive a Very Good grade in the performance appraisal as a precondition for the promotion to the grade of chartered teacher. Performance appraisal which is not linked to promotion will not be mandatory and can be conducted at any time, but not earlier than a year after the previous appraisal. The amended legislation also provides for detailed performance appraisal criteria to be established by a regulation of the Minister of Education and Science. This change aims to facilitate teacher performance appraisal for heads of schools and ensure greater consistency and comparability in performance appraisals across schools. For details, see “Approaches and Methods of Quality Assurance” in Chapter 11.1.

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 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. 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).

The Heads of the REAs, as well as bodies administering schools, also have specific tasks related to teacher appraisal.

See also the information about Examination Boards, responsible for external pupil assessment, in Chapters 5.3 and 6.3

Minister of Education and Science

The Ministry of Education and Science was established in January 2021, following the merger of the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

The Minister of Education and Science 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 also establishes the national school education policy agenda and approves inspection sheets for the Heads of the REAs. The documents define, among other things, the topics of external inspections, specific issues to be evaluated and the proportion of schools which should undergo an inspection.

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, the national school education policy agenda and a pedagogical supervision plan adopted by the Minister.

Detailed 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 and number of external inspections in supervised schools, and submits a report on findings from supervision in a given school year to the Minister.
  • As part of external inspections, the Head of the REA appoints 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 (for improving the effectiveness of education) and schedule 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 appraisal, the Heads of the REA appoint panels which consider appeals filed by teachers against the outcome of a performance appraisal conducted by school heads (see Bodies responsible for internal quality assurance below). They also appoint their representatives to boards conducting exams for teachers who apply for the grade of appointed teacher (the first professional promotion grade). Finally, they organise 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

School administering bodies

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. Communes (gmina, local authorities at the lowest level) are the administering body for most schools in the public sector. 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, 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 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 findings from pedagogical supervision in the previous year and the national school education policy agenda. Aside from that, school heads are free to determine the topics, number and dates of internal inspections. After the end of the school year, the head presents 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, and the relevant regulations apply to both the public and non-public sectors. The teacher may appeal against the head’s decision to an external pedagogical supervision body, which, in most cases, is the Head of the REA.

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, 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 concerning premises and 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 the irregularities or shortcomings identified in an inspection. 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 for childcare staff (see Chapter 4) set by the legislation aim to ensure high quality of care and educational services.

The national legislation does not provide any specific core curriculum or educational programme 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 (the executive body of the commune). 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. 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 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 or organisational regulations adopted by each crèche or kids’ club.

Preschool education and school education

This chapter describes the following elements of the quality assurance system:

  • External quality assurance:
    • Inspections as part of external pedagogical supervision
    • Teacher evaluation, conducted externally only in the form of an examination or qualifying process for professional promotion (for details about the promotion process, see Chapter 9.2)

(See also general information about external pupil assessment, indirectly related to external quality assurance, in the introductory section to Chapter 11, and detailed information in Chapters 5.3 and 6.3)

  • Internal quality assurance:
    • Inspections as part of internal pedagogical supervision
    • Teacher performance appraisal.

External quality assurance

Inspections

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

  1. the level of compliance with the legislation concerning 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 or foci of external inspections for each school year (see below). Inspections may address any topics or areas of the activity of schools which fall 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 ofeducational, 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 scope and 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). TThe 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 are additionally taken into account 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 specific 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 specific areas or topics of inspections. For each school year, the Minister also approves inspection sheets, which specify detailed issues or criteria to be addressed within a given area or thematic focus, and the proportion of schools which are subject to inspection.  For example, in the school year 2021/2022, inspections focused on the following topics:

  • “Compliance with the legislation on international classes” for post-primary schools (inspections to be conducted in 100% of schools which had so-called international classes);
  • “Compliance with the legislation on the organisation of education and training in healthcare areas” for non-public post-secondary schools providing education in healthcare areas (inspections to be conducted in 100% of such non-public pot-secondary schools supervised by the Minister of Health):
  • “Organisation of support for early child development” for nursery schools and other preschool education settings (5% of nursery schools and 10% of other preschool education settings undergoing an inspection);
  • “Organisation of education and support for pupils participating in special education in special schools” for primary and post-primary schools (10% of public and non-public special schools). 

The Head of a REA in each province develops a pedagogical supervision plan for each school year, taking into consideration findings from the pedagogical supervision in the previous year and the national school education policy agenda established by the Minister of Education and Science, including the specific areas or foci of inspections. The plan specifies the topics and dates of inspections and the number of nursery schools and schools which are subject to an 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.

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 / report 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. In case 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 take into account 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. In case 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, and, in particular, factual descriptions, including the 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 coming 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 appraisal 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, 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 teacher evaluation which is conducted as part of the professional promotion procedure (see Bodies responsible for external quality assurance above). 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 exam aims to assess the extent to which the teacher fulfils the statutory promotion requirements concerning 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. For details about teacher promotion, see Chapter 9.2.

See also information about external exams for pupils, indirectly related to quality assurance, in  Chapters 5.3 and 6.3.

Internal quality assurance

The arrangements for inspections discussed below are in place at both the preschool education and school education levels, 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 assessment apply to both the public and non-public sectors.

Inspections

Like inspections conducted as part of external pedagogical supervision, internal inspections aim to evaluate:

  1. the level of compliance with the legislation concerning 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 and all teachers). The plan specifies the topics and dates of scheduled inspections.

School heads have greater discretion in defining topics of inspections than the Heads of the REAs responsible for external inspections as internal inspections should address issues or topics which the school considers particularly relevant to its activities. However, pursuant to the legislation, the pedagogical supervision plan should take into account findings from pedagogical supervision in the previous year and the national school education policy agenda established by the Minister of Education and Science for each school year.

The legislation does not lay down details of the procedure for internal inspections. It states only that the schoolhead 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 as well as 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 presents findings from internal inspections in a given school year to the teaching council in a report on pedagogical supervision. 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 (for 3 years and 9 months, except in cases specified in the legislation where the induction period can be shortened to 2 years and 9 months; see details about promotion in Chapter 9.2). 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; see Chapter 9.2).

As an additional appraisal 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), classes taught by a novice teacher are evaluated twice during the induction period. In the second year of the induction, before a performance appraisal, a teacher teaches classes of at least 1 hour in the presence of the school head and an induction period mentor, and one of the following specialists chosen by the school head: a teacher-methodological adviser or a teacher-consultant (for details about advisers and consultants, see Chapter 10.3), or a representative of the pedagogical supervision body (that is, the Head of the Regional Education Authorities /REA/ for most schools), or a chartered teacher from the same school who teaches the same type of classes or the same subject. The school head determines the number of taught class hours to be evaluated, taking into consideration the specific needs of the teacher related to the improvement of practical skills. Classes are discussed with the teacher. In the final year of the induction, a teacher who has received at least a Good grade in the performance appraisal in the same year, teaches classes of at least 1 hour in the presence of a board appointed by the school head. The board consists of the school head, an expert holding a qualification in the field of Psychology or Teacher Education, selected from the register kept by the Minister of Education and Science, and one of the afore-mentioned specialists chosen by the head. The board prepares an evaluation report (referred to as „an opinion” in the legislation), including a positive or negative outcome of the evaluation. Where the outcome is negative, the teacher can file a request with the school head to teach classes again in the presence of a board. A positive outcome is one of the preconditions for the promotion to the appointed teacher grade.

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 a Very Good grade received in the performance appraisal is one of the preconditions for promotion. An appraisal covers 3 years of work preceding the appraisal.

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 nursery school or 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 related to the statutory activities of schools as defined in the legislation. As part of their duties, teachers should:

  • demonstrate diligence in the performance of tasks assigned to their position and the key teaching, educational and caring functions of the school, including those related to safety of pupils during classes and other activities organised by the school;
  • support each pupil in his / her development;
  • strive for full personal development;
  • undertake continuing professional development activities in line with the needs of the school;
  • teach and educate young people in a spirit of love for the homeland and respect for the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, and in an atmosphere of freedom of conscience and respect for all;
  • demonstrate commitment in developing pupils’ moral and civic attitudes based on the ideas of democracy, peace and friendship among people of different nations, races and worldviews;
  • conduct classes and educational and childcare activities in direct contact with, or for, pupils;
  • conduct classes and other activities as part of the statutory tasks of the school, including childcare and educational activities addressing pupils’ needs and interests;
  • conduct classes and other activities as part of class preparation, self-study and professional development;
  • be guided in their activities by the wellbeing of pupils, care for their health, moral and civic attitudes, and respect for pupils’ dignity.

In the last few years, the legislation did not define appraisal criteria. The recent amendments to the legislation, which come into force on 1 September 2022 (see Reforms in the last decade in Chapter 11.1), provide for detailed criteria to be laid down in a Regulation of the Minister of Education and Science. Pursuant to a draft Regulation on the teacher performance appraisal (dated July 2022), the criteria will be divided into mandatory and additional. Each appraisal will review performance against all of the mandatory criteria and two additional criteria, with the evaluated teacher and the school head each choosing one in line with the specific professional profile of the teacher.

To fulfil the mandatory criteria defined in the draft Regulation, a teacher should:

  1. demonstrate subject-specific and methodological competence in conducting classes and other educational and childcare activities;
  2. provide safe and healthy conditions for learning, other educational and childcare activities;
  3. be familiar with children’s rights, including the rights established by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, respect them in his / her activities, and be guided in his / her activities by the wellbeing of pupils, care for their health and respect for pupils’ dignity;
  4. support the development of each pupil, including a pupil with disability, and create conditions for active and full participation of each pupil in the life of the school and the local community;
  5. teach pupils respect for other people, raise awareness of their rights, and develop their civic attitude, a sense of patriotism and social engagement, also by setting an example as a teacher;
  6. collaborate with other teachers;
  7. comply in his / her activities with the national legislation concerning the activities of a school and internal regulations of the school where he / she is employed;
  8. broaden his / her professional knowledge and improve his / her professional skills, also as part of continuing professional development;
  9. collaborate with parents.

To fulfil the additional criteria (two to be selected), a teacher should:

  1. plan, organise and conduct classes, other educational and childcare activities, in line with the specificity of the school and the position held, while using active learning methods, including multimedia and IT tools, adapted to the specificity of the classes taught;
  2. assess the needs and abilities of the pupil, and take an individualised approach in the work with the pupil;
  3. review one’s own work, use conclusions to improve educational and childcare processes, and achieve positive outcomes in the work;
  4. apply in his / her work the knowledge and skills acquired as part of professional development activities;
  5. conduct 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 hold information-and-advice meetings with pupils and their parents as part of the so-called availability hours;
  6. introduce innovative organisational, curricular and methodological approaches in classes, other educational and childcare activities;
  7. encourage pupils’ initiative by inspiring them to engage with the school and the community outside the school, and look after pupils who undertake such initiatives;
  8. run and discuss open-access classes for teachers or parents;
  9. carry out the functions or other tasks assigned by the school head;
  10. have skills for resolving conflict between pupils;
  11. have non-verbal communication skills and improve communication skills;
  12. develop and implement innovative curricula, education and problem-prevention programmes or other programmes related to the specificity of the school or the teacher’s position, while taking into consideration the needs of pupils;
  13. evaluate activities related to the function performed or school education tasks carried out outside the school, and use evaluation findings to improve the quality of the school’s performance;
  14. collaborate with the Central Examination Board or a Regional Examination Board, in particular as an examiner, an author of exercises or a reviewer, and collaborate with in-service teacher training institutions or higher education institutions in the supervision of students who undertake a teaching internships;
  15. have other special achievements related to 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. 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: consults the mentor of the evaluated teacher.

The parents’ council and the mentor submit their written opinions within the timeframe specified in the legislation. Where 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.

A performance appraisal ends with one of the following outcomes or grades:

  • Outstanding,
  • Very Good,
  • Good,
  • Negative.

Pursuant to the afore-mentioned draft Regulation of the Minister of Education and Science, which will lay down more detailed arrangements for appraisal, a teacher’s performance under each criterion will be given a score:

  • between 0 and 30 points for the criterion relating to subject-specific and methodological competence in conducting classes, other educational and childcare activities;
  • between 0 and 5 points for the other criteria.

The final outcome will be based on the total number of points:

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

In accordance with the legislation in force, a 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 two of the five conditions for the promotion to the grade of appointed teacher, a novice teacher should receive at least a Good grade in the performance appraisal conducted, and a positive outcome of the evaluation of classes taught, in the final year of the induction period (the other three conditions include the required formal qualifications, the completion of an induction period, and a positive result in the exam taken before an examination board). A Very Good grade received in the performance appraisal is one of the four conditions 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 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 for the duration specified in the legislation (see above), which does not include a period of induction that has already been carried out.  In case a novice teacher received a Negative grade in the performance appraisal in the final year of the induction period and is employed in another school, he / she carries out an additional induction for 1 year and 9 months. In the final year of the additional induction period, a teacher who received at least a Good grade in the performance appraisal in the same year is required to teach classes which are evaluated by a board appointed by the head of the nursery school or school.

Teachers use outcomes of performance appraisals when applying for the position of school head 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 two supervision mechanisms: 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).