September 1. Poland
The school year in Polish schools begins on September 1, or the next day after the day off. This day is not marked by anything special: there are no solemn lines-up, children just go to their classes. Only first-formers can be brought together for a short solemnity in the assembly hall. Kids go to school at the age of six or seven, at the parents' request: compulsory schooling from 6 years old has been cancelled.
Polish schoolchildren have the same teacher in a primary class. They do not receive grades, and their knowledge is symbolically evaluated by letters that correspond to a certain scale of evaluation. For example, W is excellent, D is good, P is bad, Z is satisfactory, S is weak. Classes usually last from approximately 8 am to 12 pm, but kids may remain in the school room until 17:00, until their parents take them away. There they are trained and cared for by educators who are assigned to each class. Staying in a class-room after 12 pm is payable to parents, except for children from low-income families for whom it is free.
Textbooks, which children daily carry according to the schedule of classes, are free of charge, their cost is paid by the Ministry of Education of Poland. However, in some cases, parents must pay extra for them. It is worth noting that in recent years the Polish authorities have been working hard on affordable broadband Internet access in Polish schools. In the long run, this should partly replace the use of traditional paper textbooks. Already, all Polish schools have switched to e-diaries: on the Internet, parents can follow the educational success of their children, ask for or clarify something from teachers. School food is paid: if parents want their child to eat at school, they have to pay some money. The average cost per lunch in a Warsaw school, for example, costs 6 zł. Polish schools also have small booths where children can buy something to eat. However, it is useless to look for «unhealthy» food, such as chips or a stake, which is prohibited by the order of the Minister of Education.
Pupils of Polish schools from the fourth grade are taught by many teachers. Their knowledge is evaluated by a 6-point system. Students are enrolled in the secondary school up to the eighth grade, and then they are chosen to study for another four years in the lyceum, five years in the technical school or, for example, two or three years in specialized professional schools.
Education in Polish schools is divided into two semesters: before January-February — the first, and then, by the end of June, the second. An interesting feature is that the terms of the winter holidays, which last for two weeks in Polish schools, vary by region. An interesting educational practice in Polish schools is the so-called «green school» (in May-June) or, in some cases, «white school» (in winter). This is an element of the compulsory school curriculum, which is a multi-day departure of classroom teachers to other regions of the country for cognitive and recreational purposes. During this period, students visit interesting places, get acquainted with nature, spend various developing games in the open air. «Green School „is paid by parents.