A comparative survey
on School Systems
Finland, Italy, Poland,
Compulsory School
Students start school at the age of 6 and they
continue until they graduate from junior
secondary school (at the age of 16). If a
student is over eighteen and still hasn’t
graduated from junior secondary school, they
can leave without graduation.
Compulsory School (stages)
Primary school: 6-13 years of age
Junior secondary school: 13-16 years of age
After graduating from junior secondary school most students continue their
education in of the following:
 Liceum ogólnokształcące (general upper secondary school) 3 years
 Technikum (technical upper secondary school) 4 years
 Zasadnicza szkoła zawodowa (basic vocational school) 3 years
 Szkoła policealna (post secondary non-tertiary school) 2 years
After graduating from the first two types of school (and passing national
school leaving exams) students can continue studying at colleges or
Private or State School
State run school chosen by 95 % of students
Private schools are chosen by only 5% of
students and the fees are about 100-130
Euros per month (it depends on the city and
the school itself)
Avarage No of students in classrooms
Usually there are about 20-30 students in a
class. It depends on the school. There are
also subjects (such as English or IT) where
students are divided into groups and have
classes separately (if a class is over 25
Mandated subjects:
Primary and junior secondary school
 Stage 1 (grades 1-3, primary school): early school education (including:
mother tongue education, social education, natural sciences education,
mathematical education, technology education, foreign language education,
education in music and arts, computer education, physical education).
 Stage 2 (grades 4-6, primary school): Polish language, History and
civics, Modern foreign languages, Mathematics, Natural science, Music/ Art,
Technology, Computer classes, Physical education, lessons with class
 Stage 3 (grades 1-3 of the gimnazjum): Polish language, History, Civic
education, 2 Modern foreign languages, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry,
Biology, Geography, Art/ Music, Technology, Arts class, IT, Education for
safety, Physical education, lessons with class tutor.
Mandated subjects:
secondary school
General upper secondary school: Polish language, 2 foreign languages, History,
Civic education, Culture studies, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology,
Geography, Introduction to entrepreneurship, Information technology, Physical
education, Education for safety, lessons for class tutor, lessons for additional subject
teaching envisaged in the curriculum at advanced (extended) level.
Technikum: Polish language, 2 modern foreign languages, History, Civic education,
Cultural studies, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Introduction
to entrepreneurship, Information technology, Physical education, Education for
safety, lessons for class tutor, subjects at advanced level, theoretical vocational
training, practical vocational training .
Basic vocational school: Polish language, modern foreign language, History, Civic
education, Mathematics, Physics, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Introduction to
Entrepreneurship, IT, Physical Education, Education for safety, theoretical vocational
training, practical vocational training, lessons for class tutor.
Annual Curriculum
No of lessons (hrs) per day/per week
The school year comprises around 180 days and is divided into two terms.
The number of lessons in particular schools is as follows:
Stage 1 (grades 1-3, primary school): 3-4 hrs per day/ 22-23 hrs per week*
Stage 2 (grades 4-6, primary school): 4-6 hrs per day/ 29-30 hrs per week*
Stage 3 (grades 1-3, gimnazjum): 6-8 hrs per day/ 34 hrs per week*
Stage 4 (upper secondary schools): 6-8 hrs per day/ 35 hrs per week*
*The actual number of lessons depends on the character of the school, extended
subjects chosen by students and extra-curricular activities
School day organisation,
Teachers’ responsibility
School day usually starts at 8:00 and it finishes at about 3:00 (there are
some schools where classes last longer). One lesson lasts for 45 minutes.
After each class there is a ten-minute break. Around 12:00, there is a longer
(20-minute) lunch break. Students bring packed lunch or they can eat it at a
school canteen.
Teachers are responsible for students during lessons. They cannot remove
a student from the classroom if he/she causes problems.
During breaks teachers guard school corridors according to a plan which is
prepared before the school year starts.
At the end of the 6-year primary school (age 13) – general, obligatory test with no selection function; the
entry for the test enables pupils to start education in the gimnazjum; it provides pupils, parents as well as
both schools, i.e. the primary school and the gimnazjum, with information about the level of
achievements of the pupils.
At the end of the 3-year lower secondary school, (age 16) – general, obligatory examination. The exam
is based the core curriculum. It consists of three parts: Humanities (History, Civic education and the
Polish language), Mathematics and Natural Sciences (including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and
Geography) and a Modern Foreign Language. The results of the exam together with the final
assessment of the pupils’ performance determine the admission to upper-secondary schools.
At the end of upper secondary school, except for vocational schools (age 19-20)- final/matriculation
examinations (egzamin maturalny). The liceum ogólnokształcące, and the technikum may issue
świadectwo maturalne (a certificate for those who took and successfully completed the final examination,
which is required for admission to higher education). The upper secondary school leaving examinations
are national external exams.
The matura examination (egzamin maturalny), entitling pupils for admission to higher education is made up
of two parts: external written (prepared and assessed by Regional Examination Commissions) and
internal oral (assessed by school teachers).
Evaluating Standards
Evaluation marks, tests
Marks range from 1 to 6, where 1 is the worst (unsatisfactory) and 6 is the best (excellent)
During each term students receive marks for:
Oral answers
Written tests (big ones after a unit of the curriculum and small ones concerning a particular isuue)
Taking active part in lessons
Extra activities (participation in competitions, projects etc.)
Those marks are taken into account at the end of each term, whereas the second term determines if and
with what results a student is promoted to the higher grade.
A student is promoted to a higher grade if he/she has received “acceptable” marks or above for all
compulsory subjects at the end of the school year. In the case of one "unsatisfactory" mark the pupil can
take an exam in this subject. A pupil who is not promoted and has not passed the exam has to repeat the
same grade. (There is also a possibility of a conditional promotion of a pupil with one "unsatisfactory"
mark only once during the educational cycle upon the consent of the teachers’ council).
Teacher’s working hours a week
Teachers’ working week is 18 hours at school which they
get paid for. Moreover, all teachers are obliged to
organise one or two „social” classes a week according to
the students’ needs.
In addition to those twenty hours inside the classroom,
teachers must be available twenty more hours from
Monday to Friday (afternoon meetings, school discos,
trips etc).
Teachers’ evaluation
There are two separate ministries in Poland: Ministry of National Education and Ministry of
Science and Higher Education. The Ministry of National Education is responsible for
nearly the whole system of education, with the exception of higher education which is
under the supervision of the Minister of Science and Higher Education.
 National educational policy is developed and carried out centrally, while the
administration of education and the running of schools, pre-school institutions and other
educational establishments are decentralized. The responsibility for the administration of
public kindergartens, primary schools and gymnasia has been delegated to local
authorities (communes). It has become the statutory responsibility of powiaty (districts) to
administer upper secondary schools, artistic and special schools. The provinces
(voivodships) have the coordinating function, supervising the implementation of the policy
of the Ministry and being responsible for pedagogical supervision.
The inspection of teaching standards in schools comes directly under the Ministry of
Education and is represented by a regional administrative body (kuratorium).

A comparative survey on School Systems