Poland considers education very important for children. Every child living in Poland, even ones seeking asylum, has a guaranteed right to an education until the age of 18. In fact, every child between 6 and 18 is required to attend school. Children who do not speak Polish are entitled to take preparatory classes to catch up. The authority of the child’s school should organize these classes. Even children who do not attend these preparatory classes are still entitled to 2 extra hours of Polish lessons per week. For this, children actually have the right to ask that the school hire an assistant who is familiar with their language and culture.

Being able to speak Polish will greatly enhance your everyday life in Poland. You’ll make friends faster, get to know your neighbors and colleagues better, and be able to communicate with various businesses. To learn Polish you could sign up for a course, many of which are offered for free or very cheap, or you could join a language club based on your level of proficiency.

For adults who want to learn Polish as a foreign language, there are several adult programs depending on the learner’s speaking level. These are most often found in postsecondary schools, higher education facilities, or even schools for adults who did not complete their education.

Basic Polish Language Course

Being able to speak even basic Polish will help you in so many areas of your life, but even more, being able to read and speak in Polish will provide you with more opportunities to learn about Polish history and culture.

You can find several courses in all major cities offering different levels of Polish. Some of them are very cheap or free because they receiving assistance from the city. Beyond these kinds of courses, you can also join a language club, where you can learn Polish and meet people in a non-classroom setting.

Preparatory classes for foreign-language children

Children who do not speak Polish well or at all can take preparatory classes to catch up.

What is a preparatory class?

Foreign children who begin their education in Poland can take preparatory classes to catch up with the language. These classes are meant for children who speak a foreign language as a first language or Polish-born children who spent significant time out of the country during their earlier years.

The preparatory classes include more than just the Polish language. They also learn communication skills, and words and phrases from other subjects like math, science, and history. Students also take part in integration lessons so that they get to know the culture of Poland. Students take to study the curriculum that corresponds with their age, therefore a gap year is not necessary for those participating in the preparatory course.

Students should be between the ages of 6 and 19, and non-Polish-speaking, and enrolled in a Polish school in order to be accepted into the preparatory classes. They can participate in the classes from any location between 4 weeks and 12 months. These classes are offered for free, and parents can enroll their children at any time. Teachers are very supportive, and offer consultations to parents to help them understand Polish education.

Why is it a good idea to enroll your child in a preparatory class?

Not knowing Polish could make your child’s life a lot more difficult. He/she may have a harder time learning in school or being able to express his/her feelings to teachers and peers, all of which could leave your child feeling depressed or anxious.

Admissions to public school for immigrants in Poland

Poland has a clear set of guidelines in place regarding schooling for foreign children or children of Polish parents who have recently returned. It is important that these children learn, or re-learn the Polish language quickly since the majority of schools teach their students in Polish.

The guidelines provide several factors from which to assess a child’s education level, including their level of Polish, their age, previous school certificates, and courses are taken. The school also conducts an interview with the parents of the child, and together they decide at which level to enroll the child, and if he/she needs any additional subjects or tutoring.

You do not need any special documentation in order to enroll your child in public school, however, any additional documentation will help the school to determine your child’s level of education. The Polish guidelines state that if a foreign student cannot supply any informative documentation about their education history, that he or she will be assessed and then placed in whatever class the assessor deems to be the best fit.

The assessment of a child’s level is not taken lightly. The school takes time to observe incoming students, and properly diagnose them. The Polish education system wants to ensure that children are not placed at a level that is too far above their aptitude. Since different countries advance their students at different paces, it is not uncommon for a child to be placed in a level that is lower than where he or she was in their last school abroad. Sometimes educators even recommend that the child undergo what they refer to as a “zero year” before entering primary school. That way, the child can get accustomed to the differences of Polish schooling, its methods, and expectations, all while improving his or her Polish language skills. It is recommended that foreign children learn Polish at an intensive rate, in order to prepare them for learning alongside Polish children.

Education system

The Polish education system is divided into the following stages:

  • Preschool: (3 – 5/6 years old)
  • Primary school (6/7 – 14/15 years old)
  • Secondary schools (15+ years old)


The subject matter can also be classified into two different stages:

  • Levels 1-3: Here students learn more general knowledge. They are kept together with one teacher and do not break away from different subjects.
  • Levels 4-8: Here students learn by attending different classes per each subject, such as math, history, science, and the Polish language.


In accordance with the law, a child:

  1. Has the right to an education from age 3.
  2. Must follow a one-year pre-primary education program from age 6.
  3. Must comply with compulsory schooling from age 7 through the end of primary school (no further than the age of 18).
  4. Must have compulsory schooling until the age of 18.


What is compulsory schooling?

  • Children must attend school from the age of 7 through the end of primary school (no further than the age of 18).
  • Since 1 September 2019, children meet the compulsory school requirements if they are enrolled in a public or non-public primary school.


Who controls compulsory schooling?

Per the Act on Education Law, primary public school principals monitor the ongoing fulfillment of compulsory schooling. They do so by checking the student’s current residential address and not their permanent residential address.

For students who attend non-public or public primary schools, their principals are required to notify the principal of the student’s catchment area as to whether the student is completing his/her compulsory school requirements.


Failure to attend compulsory schooling

As a parent, if you fail to adhere to the compulsory schooling requirement, you could face a fine, or lose your rights as a parent. After a student turns 18, he or she no longer needs to comply with compulsory schooling. If the student has a disability, he or she might not need to comply with compulsory schooling until the age of 10. However, that decision depends upon an evaluation by a psychological-pedagogical counseling center.


Important exams

There are either 2 or 3 important educational exams for students in Poland, depending on how far they pursue their education:

  1. The 8th-grade examination, which consists of three parts: Polish, Mathematics, and Modern Foreign Language. This is taken after a student completes primary school and is promoted to secondary school. Since 2020/21 students will also need to choose an additional subject or more, either in biology, chemistry, physics, geography, or history. The passing of these exams allows your child to move up to the next level of education.
  2. The secondary school final examination (“Matura”), which consists of both an oral and written exam. This is taken after a student finished secondary school and is accepted into higher education
  3. The bachelor’s exam or master’s thesis defense. This is taken to decide whether or not a student can receive their degree or continue on to another higher education facility.


Children between 6 months and 3 years old can join a nursery. In Poland there are both public and private nurseries, however, the demand for public nurseries is very high, particularly in the bigger cities like Warsaw. To try and get your child into a public nursery, make sure to register him or her right after birth. Even then, he or she may not be accepted. As a result of such high demand, private nurseries have begun opening up. These, however, are more expensive.


Public Nurseries

Make sure you know when the application deadline is for the nursery you want to apply to. These are usually available on the nursery’s website. While the nurseries operated by the city usually cost less than private ones, you may still need to pay some small fees for food and admission. Some may even charge you for the cost of diapers and wipes or educational materials for the children. Children are allowed to stay in the nursery for as long as 10 hours a day.


Private Nurseries

The cost of a private nursery depends on the location. In some of the larger cities like Warsaw, it usually costs around 8,000 – 12,000 PLN per year. Private nurseries, however, often offer more features than public ones. For example, you could send your child to a bilingual nursery to give them earlier exposure to a foreign language.


Rules for admission to nurseries

Nurseries accept applications all year round. The forms are typically submitted electronically and they will be in Polish. If you do not speak Polish you will need to find someone who can help you complete the form. All children are eligible to apply for a nursery located in their specific city. You also are allowed to modify your electronic application until your child has been accepted into a nursery.

Children have to be at least 20 weeks old by their first day of joining the nursery.

On the day of admission to a nursery, a child must be at least 20 weeks old. If more children apply than there are available spots, then the nursery will have to assess a child’s application based on further criteria. If you want to submit additional documentation, such as an employment confirmation or full-time student status, please remember that their issue date cannot be later than 3 months before your child’s admission day into the nursery. If any of these certificates are not in Polish, they will first need to be translated by a certified translator.

Information regarding a child’s acceptance to the nursery will be sent to the parent electronically. After receiving this information, the parents must then confirm that the child meets all necessary criteria by submitting a hard copy of the application form as well as any supporting documents.

At least one of the parents or a legal guardian of the child applying for admission must live within the same city as the nursery. To confirm residency, the parent must provide one of the following documents:


Children may enter preschool once they reach the age of 3. Under special circumstances, parents may ask to enroll their two-and-a-half-year-old child. Remember that children between the ages of 3 and 5 have an automatic right to an education, but after the age of 6, education is considered compulsory.

When you believe your child is ready for preschool, you can enroll him or her in whatever preschool suits your or your child’s needs. Like the nurseries, you can choose to enroll your child in either public or private institutions. Unlike primary schools, you are not required to enroll them in a school within your catchment area.


Rules for admission to preschools

There are two stages of the recruitment process:

  1. Recruitment procedure
  2. Supplementary recruitment procedure (this is done only if there are vacancies left)

A recruitment committee selected by the school’s principal is in charge of admission. The recruitment committee members only concern themselves with spots that are available within a certain age group. Once the parents of already-enrolled children declare that they want their child to continue through to the next year, the principal can determine how many vacancies will be available in that facility for the next year.

To apply, you can either complete an application online or fill out the documents in person at the preschool. Make sure to verify what the application dates are and how many spots are available. You can do this on the District Council’s website.

Children who prove that they live within the same city as the school will be given priority, so make sure to submit these supportive documents early. If there are any vacancies left after the city residents have been settled, then children living outside the city borders can apply. To confirm residency, your supportive documentation must clearly state your place of residence.

You will be notified whether or not your child was accepted. If your child was accepted, then you will have to confirm their enrolment by signing a contract with the pre-school. If your child was not approved during the first round of applications, there will likely be a second-round during which you can apply again. Or you can apply to a private pre-school.


Time limits and the course of recruitment


  1. Submitting an application

The deadline to submit an application for preschool admission is most often in March, however, you should verify this information on the City Office’s website. Please make sure to include documents confirming your child meets all the necessary criteria for recruitment.

  1. Results of recruitment

The recruitment results are published in May.

If there are any vacancies left after the first stage of recruitment, the results will indicate the number of vacancies in the facilities closest to your address. If there are no vacancies, then you must continue on to the next stage of recruitment.


  1. Submission of applications and results of recruitment

State 2 is usually completed by June. If a facility has a vacancy after stage you, you can apply for a spot directly with the facility’s principal. But remember that even if there are no vacancies at this point, and your child is between the ages of 3 and 5, he/she is still guaranteed an education. So in this case, you can enroll your child in the preschool of your choice. However, if your child must adhere to compulsory schooling, then the City is required to place you in any preschool that has a vacancy, no matter your place of residence.


Filling out an application for admission to a preschool

Preschool recruitment is done electronically through the following websites:


These platforms are currently only available in Polish, so if you cannot complete the application yourself, you can:

  • Ask someone you trust for help
  • Go to a nearby facility and ask an employee for help

The order in which an application is received has no influence on whether the student will be admitted.

To fill out the application correctly, you must:

  • Enter the details of a child and his/her parents/legal guardians
  • Select a maximum of 3 facilities from the list
  • Create a preference list – rank the institutions, starting with your first choice
  • Mark the criteria your child meets
  • Print out the application form and attach the required documents/*declaration,
  • Sign and submit the application to the preschool/primary school you ranked as your first choice

*Declaring that you have met the criteria must be done under punishment of making false testimony. The declarant must include the following passage: “I declare that I am aware of the criminal liability for making a false statement.” (Article 150(6) of the Act of 14 December 2016 on Education Law). Print-out versions of declarations, constituting attachments can be found on the website where you apply for electronic recruitment.

In the event that you would like to withdraw your application from a particular school after the results are published, you can submit your withdrawal directly to that facility.

If your child received a denial of admission, you can:

  1. Request that the committee of that preschool justify why they refused to admit your child within 7 days from the date the results were published.

Make an appeal to the principal in opposition of the recruitment committee’s decision. This must be made within 7 days of receiving the justification.


In Poland, primary schools are categorized by region, also called a catchment area. So when your child enrolls in school, they will have to go to a school within their catchment area. Even if your child does not speak Polish, the school in their region cannot refuse entry. Children in Poland attend primary school for 8 years total.

Private or non-public schools, however, do not have to accept any child in their region. Even if there is a vacancy in the school, the director could still refuse to accept your child. This is usually because there are certain criteria the school requires for admission.


Enrollment at a catchment area school/district school

Students are placed in a regional school that corresponds to their place of residence. So if your first option is a regional school, and you submit your application on time, your child will automatically be enrolled. Please note that if you apply, you are making an official declaration that your child is willing to study at that school. Your application should include proof of residence and that you are the parent or legal guardian.

To confirm residency, your supportive documentation must clearly state your place of residence.

If your child is subject to the rules of compulsory schooling, you may receive a fine of up to PLN 50,000 if your child does not regularly attend school.


Enrollment at a primary school other than the catchment area school

It is possible to enroll your child in a school that is not in your catchment area, but remember that children who live within that school district get the first choice.

Course of recruitment


  1. Submitting an application

The legal parents or guardian must sign and submit the application, with all required attachments, to the first-choice school.

  1. Results of recruitment.

If you choose to enroll your child in another district, you are required to tell the primary school in your own district. If your child is not accepted into your school of choice even though there is still a vacancy, you should skip to stage 2 and go apply to the school principal in person.


  1. Submission of applications and results of recruitment

Filling out an application for admission to a primary school

The parent or legal guardian should submit an application for their child according to the date and time outlined in the recruitment process.

It is also possible to get an application form directly from your first-choice school and then submit it in person once you’ve completed it.

In the event that you would like to withdraw your application from a particular school after being accepted, you can submit your withdrawal directly to that facility.


Bilingual 7th grades

For children who speak Polish well, there is an option to take a bilingual class after finishing primary school. Check with the Department of Education of the City Office for information on which primary schools offer these classes, and what the requirements are to get in.


Moving to Poland does not mean that your child’s education has to be completely changed. Even though schooling is compulsory, your child may complete these requirements in an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. Polish children are also taught in IB schools, but the instruction is done in English and often incorporates similar educational programs as those taught in England, Canada, or the US. Enrolling your child in an international school will make the transition to living in a new country much easier. However, admission to an international school is not automatic—your child must apply. The application required them to complete an interview and submit all documentation from their last school. Then the director of the school or admission committee is responsible for accepting the student and assigning him or her to the appropriate class. While foreign students may be exempt from learning the Polish language, Polish children who choose to attend the international school may be required to learn the Polish language, its history, and its geography.


Students who complete 8 years of primary school can move on to secondary school, given that they pass the exams after primary school. Unlike primary schools, secondary schools do not operate admission through regionalization, and they can admit whomever they want. So if your child is not accepted into the school of his or her choice, you will need to consider other schools. Generally, the school directors are very helpful in finding placement for your child, though.

In Poland there are three paths one can take for secondary education:

  1. Four-year secondary schools of general education. This option is for students who intend to continue on to university studies.
  2. Five-year technical secondary schools. This option also requires taking the Matura exam. Those who complete this kind of schooling work towards receiving a particular kind of qualification such as engineering technician.
  3. Three-year vocational schools. This option is designed for those who want to start working right after finishing. Career paths with this option might be to become a hairstylist or chef.

When selecting classes, make sure that your child continues to study Polish as a foreign language. If your child enrolls in a secondary vocational training school, he or she should receive a referral from the secretary’s office to get a medical examination.

To learn more about possible financial aid, such as scholarships, grants, or other benefits, please visit the Education Department.


The matura is a test that allows you to continue on to university study. The subjects available to take your exam in are numerous. Some subjects require you to take the matura exam both written and orally. You can take the exam at either the basic level or the extended one. Make sure to check your university’s requirements for different subjects before you submit an application.