Poland background information


How the official decision of special educational needs (SEN) in the country relates to the agreed EASIE operational definition

Operational definition

An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.


Criteria for an official decision of SEN

  • There has been an educational assessment procedure involving a multi-disciplinary team
  • The multi-disciplinary team includes members from within and external to the child’s/learner’s (pre)school
  • There is a legal document which describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive and which is used as the basis for planning
  • The official decision is subject to a formal, regular review process

Educational assessment procedure in the country

A Guidance and Counselling Centre (poradnia psychologiczno-pedagogiczna) issues a decision on the need for special education following a specialist diagnosis of SEN, which is conducted to gain a qualitative and quantitative profile of the child/learner. Consequently, information on the following aspects is important: intellectual capabilities, learning strategies, perception and the process of perception, social relationships, communication, and individual and educational circumstances in life.

Schools and centres develop individual educational and therapeutic programmes for children/learners with disabilities or behavioural problems or at risk of behavioural problems. Education and fostering of these children/learners are carried out on the basis of these programmes. A team of specialists draws up a programme following a multi-disciplinary assessment of the child’s/learner’s level of functioning.

How the multi-disciplinary team is comprised in the country

The multi-disciplinary team only includes members external to the child’s/learner’s school.

The team comprises the Guidance and Counselling Centre manager or person authorised thereby as the team leader, a psychologist, an educator and a physician. The team may include other specialists if their input to the team’s work is essential.

The legal document used in the country to outline the support that the child/learner is eligible to receive

The relevant legal document is the decision on the need for special education. Diagnosis is based on syllabus requirements and development standards for the child’s/learner’s age. A psychologist, an educator, a speech specialist and (if necessary) a physical therapist carry out the assessment. The child’s/learner’s parents/legal guardians or an adult learner apply for diagnosis and decisions for determining special education organisation and teaching methods.

The entitlements are defined in the Educational System Act (1991, as amended) and its implementing regulations.

How the document is used as the basis for planning in the country

The decision on the need for special education establishes the individual need for support and is an administrative act based on legal and administrative regulations.

The formal, regular review process in the country

The decision on the need for special education is issued for the entire education stage or for a particular school year at the request of parents or legal guardians. There is no regular review. Only parents/legal guardians or an adult learner can request a review of the decision on the need for special education.


Proxy indicator for the 80% benchmark used for the country’s data collection

The EASIE work uses an 80% benchmark of inclusive education. This is defined as:

An inclusive setting refers to education where the child/learner with SEN follows education in mainstream classes alongside their mainstream peers for most – 80% or more – of the school week.

Proxy indicator used

Placement in a mainstream class implies over 80% or more.

Details on what the country proxy is

Learners in special classes in mainstream schools and children with severe intellectual disabilities who have a decision on the need for rehabilitation and educational activities have been excluded.

Why this proxy was used

This is the only option to present data about inclusive education.

Difficulties in using the proxy

There were difficulties in excluding children/learners who are individually taught or educated at home, so these are counted in the 80% benchmark.

Specific country issues in applying the proxy indicator

No issues.


Detailed description of what ‘out of formal education’ means within the country

The 2011 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) defines ‘formal education’ as follows:

[…] education that is institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognised private bodies and, – in their totality – constitute the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognised as such by the relevant national education or equivalent authorities, e.g. any other institution in cooperation with the national or sub-national educational authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education […] Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognised as being part of the formal education system. Qualifications from formal education are by definition recognised and, therefore, are within the scope of ISCED. Institutionalised education occurs when an organization provides structured educational arrangements, such as student-teacher relationships and/or interactions, that are specially designed for education and learning.

(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011, International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011, p. 11).

Do the country definitions of formal, non-formal and informal education differ from the ISCED definitions?

According to Polish law, individually-taught children/learners (i.e. children/learners with a health condition that prevents them from attending school, as stated in an official statement issued by a public Guidance and Counselling Centre) and children educated at home (with the agreement of the school’s director) are in formal education.

How specific cases – such as home-educated children/learners – are considered

Schools maintained by the justice sector are part of formal education provision.

Children/learners who are considered out of formal education (meaning those not in formal education as defined by ISCED)

Education is compulsory from the age of 6 to the age of 18. One-year compulsory pre-primary education and full-time compulsory education (to be received in public or non-public pre-primary institutions and schools) cover children and young people aged 6 to 16 years, whereas part-time compulsory education (to be received either in school or non-school settings) concerns young people aged 16 to 18 years. Full-time compulsory education includes the final year of pre-primary education, six years of primary education and three years of lower-secondary education.

Children/learners with severe intellectual disabilities fulfil their compulsory education through individual or group rehabilitation and educational activities. Children/learners with multiple disabilities (including intellectual disabilities) or with severe intellectual disabilities can be educated in rehabilitation and education centres. They are still assigned to a class in their registry schools (except for those with severe intellectual disabilities). Being out of formal education means that the child is not in any of the forms of educational provision mentioned above.

How the population of children/learners who are out of formal education is defined

There is no legal definition of children/learners who are out of formal education. This group includes:

  • children and young people from the age of 6 to the age of 18 who do not fulfil compulsory education;
  • adults who participate in non-formal or informal education or who do not participate in lifelong learning at all.

The Act on Integrated Qualification System of 22 December 2015 includes definitions of formal and non-formal education:

  • Formal education: education provided by public and non-public schools and other entities in the school education system and the higher education system within the framework of programmes which lead to the attainment of full qualifications, qualifications awarded after completion of postgraduate studies or professional qualifications.
  • Non-formal education: learning beyond educational and training programmes which does not lead directly to the attainment of full qualifications, qualifications awarded after completion of postgraduate studies or professional qualifications.


Provision of data on private sector education

The data collection covers all sectors of education, including numbers for the child/learner population in the private sector.

Private sector education in the country

Formal education in Poland includes non-public schools that possess public schools’ rights. This means that they apply the same curricula, organisational arrangements for the school year and rules for assessing and promoting children/learners and conducting tests and examinations as public schools.

Public schools are free, but some financial contribution from children/learners and their families is often required at each education stage. Non-public schools charge fees. Many schools offer various types of fee waivers to exceptionally gifted children/learners and those from disadvantaged families.

Child/learner population counted for each relevant question

All children/learners in public and non-public schools.

Specific issues with providing data on private sector education and how these have been overcome in the data collection

No issues.


ISCED level age ranges

The following are the most common (pre)school entrance ages and (pre)school leaving ages for the different ISCED levels:

Age range in the country at ISCED level 02 (pre-primary): 3 to 6

Age range in the country at ISCED level 1: 7 to 12

Age range in the country at ISCED level 2: 13 to 15

Age range in the country at ISCED level 3: 16 to 18 (general programme) or 16 to 19 (vocational programme)


2012/2013 and 2014/2015 data background information

This country updated its background information for the 2016/2017 dataset. A PDF of the background information for the 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 datasets is available.

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