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Poland schools’ double cohort: potential problems

Finding a good school will be very difficult this year, especially a non-public one



In Poland, this year almost 380,000 elementary school graduates and over 340,000 middle school graduates took their exams. It wasn’t easy because the exams were organized during the public school teachers’ strike. Most teachers participated in the strike, but problems in administering exams occurred only in three schools, and only on the first exam day.  continue reading...


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If anyone hoped that the strike would decrease the competition for admission to high schools, they were wrong. This year there will be lots of kids trying to get into high schools, and only a few more spots open in good schools and non-public ones.

The school year is coming to an end, and soon graduates of middle schools and Grade 8 elementary schools will compete to get into high schools. This double cohort will decrease students' chances of getting into the school of their choice. Due to the education reform to return to an 8-year elementary school and 4-year secondary school, this year (2019-2020) high schools will have to accept young people from two groups: graduates of middle schools and graduates of the last of the Grade 8 elementary schools.

According to the Polish Ministry of Education, high schools this year will have to accept 725,000 students (instead of 350,000 students), out of whom about 45% (327, 227) will be trying to get a spot in a lyceum, while 40% (290, 868) will apply to technical high schools. What this means is that although all students will find spots, many won’t get into their school of choice.

Admissions to public high schools begins this week

This means there will be heavy competition, and students will only have a month to increase their chances of admission by improving their grades. Grades, as well as winning subject competitions, are important factors in admissions, both in public and non-public high schools.

Admissions is Poland is conducted electronically, with students indicating their top three choices. This is done before schools post results of exams taken by Grade 8 graduates and middle school graduates, and before they receive their school reports.

This means only when exam results and grades are released will it become clear whether a student is likely to get accepted to his or her first choice of school. Exam results and grades, based on the Central Examination Commission schedule, will not be released until the beginning of June.

Will there be enough spots in private schools?

Ideally, this would only be a problem for students applying to public schools, but that’s not the case. The double cohort issue applies also to private schools.

Although the number of spots in private schools will grow every year, it’s already clear that some of these schools will be very difficult to get into. There are two main reasons for this. First, the number of spots in these schools hasn’t doubled like the number of students (even though there are more spots than last year). Second, and more importantly, most of the schools finish their admissions procedures in March, and only some of them will still have openings.

For instance, Społeczne LO Bednarska, a Warsaw high school, isn’t admitting students anymore, and recruitment, done on the basis of exams at the end of March, will be known as early as May 20th.

And in the non-public school, Liceum Ogólnokształcące nr 61 im. Stefana Kisielewskiego, there are no more openings, similar to many other private schools.

Liceum Ogólnokształcące LifeSkills is one of the very few schools that still has a few spots open, but only in the three-year program class.

And consider the International American School, where in Grade 10 it’s possible to be put on a waiting list.

“We admit students throughout the year, so it is still possible to make an appointment, see the school, and put your name on the reserve list. But this year our school can’t guarantee there will be a free spot,” says a school representative. “It’s possible that if we have a lot of candidates, we may create two classes at Grade 10, but this decision will not be made until June.”

This means the chances of getting into your dream non-public school aren’t great, though it’s still possible. Until the schools sign final contracts with parents, some spots will remain open. The lists will be finalized in May and June.

Luckily, next year there won’t be the issue of the double cohort. This only affects students who will start their education in high school this fall (in 2019).

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Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee the complete accuracy of the school information on this site. Please contact schools directly to confirm all details.