Poland's Primary and Secondary Schools Returning to 8 + 4 Structure

Ministry of National Education of Poland announced the return to the 8-year elementary school and a 4-year secondary school. The new (old) system is to be implemented in 2017.

Prior to 1999, the Polish school system consisted of an 8-year elementary school followed by a 4-year "lyceum" (general education secondary school) or a five-year "technikum" (technical secondary school), both leading to maturity examinations required for access to higher education. Following the reforms of the 1999 Act, elementary school was shortened to 6 years, followed by a 3-year "gimnasium" (middle school) cycle, followed by a 3-year "lyceum"  or a 4-year "technical lyceum" cycle. The new reforms are to reinstate the old system, with some significant adjustments:

  • The 8-year elementary school will consist of two stages, with grade 4 designed to offer a transitioning period between general primary education in grades 1-3 and the subject-oriented middle school education in grades 5-8.
  • The "szkoła zawodowa"  (vocational-school) sector will be replaced by a two-stage "szkoła branżowa" (trade school) where students would earn a vocational qualification after stage I and a technical secondary school  qualification after stage 2, leading to the maturity exams which are required for access to higher education. In the current system, vocational school qualifications are terminal and do not provide access to higher education.

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