Education and Schools in Poland
The Polish education system has undergone many positive reforms in recent years, marking an overall improvement to the standard of education in Poland.
Expat children are allowed to attend public schools free of charge. However, due to the fact that teaching in public schools is in Polish, and a general expat preference for their children to continue their education in line with their home country’s curricula, most foreigners choose to enrol their children in international schools, of which there are a number to choose from.
Compulsory education in Poland begins at age 5 or 6 with a preschool year and continues for 12 years to the age of 18. At 16, students write standardised tests which will help determine which school and type of school they will attend in the next level. Students have the option of choosing between general high school, technical high school or vocational high school.
The Polish school year runs from September to June. The three major holiday periods are over Christmas and Easter as well as a winter break in late January or early February.
Public schools in Poland
The majority of children in Poland attend state or public schools. Tuition is free for all children attending these schools, including foreign children. However, this does not include the additional costs of textbooks, school uniforms, lunches or general stationery and school supplies, which parents will have to pay. Despite the high standard of education and free tuition, most expats in Poland don't send their children to public schools as the language of instruction is Polish.
In the case that expat parents do decide to make use of public schools in Poland, it's important to know that attendance is determined by where a child lives and schools are required to accept all children residing in their territorial catchment area. Children are not obliged to attend their nearest school, however, and parents can request that their child be allowed to attend another school outside of their residential area. In such cases, it is up to the director of the school to determine whether the child will be accepted or not.
Private schools in Poland
Private primary and secondary education is relatively new in Poland, having only been introduced in the late 1980s. Private or non-state schools are partly funded by the government and partly by fees and donations by parents and other organisations, such as religious orders. As a result, many private schools in Poland are run by religious or social organisations.
The language of instruction at these schools is generally Polish or a minority language. They are independent of the government and are not restricted to following the national curriculum. Fees at private schools in Poland can be quite high.
International schools in Poland
There are a number of international schools in Poland which cater to numerous nationalities, including American, British, German, French and Japanese expats. Most international schools in Poland are based in Warsaw or Krakow, and there are also a handful in Poznan and Wroclaw. While most of the schools follow the curriculum of their home country, some also offer the International Baccalaureate programme.
Places at international schools in Poland may be limited and expat parents should therefore plan in advance when making arrangements for their child’s education in Poland. Consideration should also be given to the cost of education at international schools, which are often an expat's highest expense.