Domestic report: Poland

September 2017

The history of the Polish waldorf school movement started in 1920’s when a group of sympathizers of waldorf pedagogy established the first waldorf school in Wrocław. The school was open until the beginning of WWII and was never brought to life again after the War.

When the communists started their almost 50 year-long rule no schools or kindergartens were established as communists did not allow for any alternatives in the education system which was strictly controlled by the government. New impulses came in the late 80’s when communists became weaker and people felt that the system had some breaches, which finally led to the collapse of the Polish communist rule in 1989. The first waldorf kindergartens were then organised and just after that the two first schools in Warsaw and Bielsko-Biała were opened.

The development of the Polish school movement that started with the new era of Polish contemporary history continues till today, progressing step by step.

Kindergartens were the first to start a new chapter of the Polish waldorf movement history. There are 9 kindergartens that have the Waldorf name and 11 are inspired by waldorf pedagogy. There are about 400 children in those kindergartens.  Nowadays in Poland there are 6 waldorf schools with 550 students – two in Warsaw (the capital), two in Cracow, one in Bielsko-Biała and one in Poznań. There are two more initiatives which are already running their schools and waiting for the Waldorf label to be assigned (in Poznań and Cracow). There is also a new initiative to bring a waldorf school to life in Wrocław. The schools are run in cities (all of the mentioned cities have over 500.000 inhabitants and are in the southern or central part of Poland). It is worth mentioning that the development of Polish waldorf schools were and still are hindered – firstly by the communists and now by the Catholic church which is still critical about Steiner schools.

The school system in Poland is divided into four stages – kindergartens (up to 6 years old), primary schools (classes 1 to 6, ages 7-12), secondary school which is called gymnasium (classes 7 to 9, ages 13-15) and high school (classes 10-12, ages 16-18). It is going to be changed in 2017, and there will be three stages – kindergartens (up to 6 years old), primary schools (classes 1 to 8, ages 7-14) and high schools (classes 9-12, ages 15-18). The waldorf schools that are found in Poland are mainly primary schools, there are two secondary schools run by primary schools but they do not carry the waldorf label.

The Polish educational system do not allow any alternative school to be run as a state school and are therefore not fully funded by the government. As a consequence, all the schools must ask for school fees to the parents. The fee differs depending on the school – some of the schools support parents and grant lower fee for those who are not able to cover the full fee. School fees are about 200 Euro which is as high as a private school fee. Although waldorf schools are not fully funded by the state they must follow the state curriculum.

The Polish national Waldorf School Association was established in 1995. The Association is funded by all the schools which are its members. The main aims are: supporting waldorf schools at different levels and organising the teacher training centre and courses for teachers.

There is one waldorf teacher training centre in Warsaw, run by Warsaw University. It offers 3-year supplementary studies for waldorf teachers in two faculties – waldorf primary school pedagogy and waldorf kindergarten pedagogy.

The Waldorf movement is still developing and the number of pupils increases every year. There are some new initiatives to start new schools. There are perspectives for progress which gives the movement an optimistic vision of the future.

Mariusz Nieroda is ECSWE representative for Waldorf schools in Poland

National Association:

Związek Szkół i Przedszkoli Waldorfskich w Polsce
ul. Żytnia 79, 01-149 Warszawa | e-mail: zarzad(at)zspwp.pl

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