The structure of education in Poland
The latest reform of the education system in Poland closed the gymnasium, a school that students attended for three years after completing six years of elementary school. After graduating from gymnasium, students used to enter high schools, where after 3 years of study they passed the final exams and received higher education diploma. Students received education in technical schools, where after 4 years of study they passed the final exams and received higher education diploma. Students went to basic vocational schools, where after years of study they did not need to pass the final exams.
After this reform, elementary school education was extended up to 8 years. At the end of the 8th grade all students have to pass the final exam.
The results of this exam are very important, because on the basis of grades in the certificate, students submit applications to high schools, where they will study for the next 4 years. Students also may enter 3-year sectoral VET school (stage I) and 2-year sectoral VET school (stage II).
The eight-year elementary school, which accepts children from the age of 7, is divided into 2 stages. In 1st – 4th grades of elementary school, classes acquire forms of integrated learning, that means no clear division into subjects. Classes are managed by one teacher who is a class teacher. In 5th – 8th grades only teachers who specialize in certain subjects teach and one of them is a class teacher. Most often, the class teacher changes after the fourth grade but the students remain in the former composition.
As you can see, the structure of education in Poland has been expanded. Currently, the most popular options are general and specialized secondary schools, but many students go the other way – first they enter five-year technical schools or combine 3-year sectoral VET school (stage I) and 2-year sectoral VET school (stage II). Polish students have the opportunity to enter universities at the age of 19 or 20. In Poland, compulsory education ends at the age of 18. Therefore, young people independently decide on the need for higher education.