On 1 September 2018, a new regulation on vocational guidance and counselling in Polish schools entered into force. Vocational guidance and counselling will be carried out in a systematic way in all types of school with the exception of art schools.

Previously, vocational guidance, based on the provisions of the Regulation of the Minister for National Education of 30 April 2013, comprised providing and organising psychological and pedagogical assistance in public pre-schools, schools and other education institutions. However, there was no specific programme content in vocational guidance for each education stage.

The new regulation introduces rules intending to change the way of thinking about vocational guidance and counselling. From now on it will be perceived as a process starting in pre-school and continuing at subsequent stages of education. According to the regulation, the basic goal of vocational guidance is to support students in making independent and responsible decisions about their education and professional life, based on their knowledge of the education system, the labour market, and their own abilities.

The regulation also defines the terms and ways of carrying out and organising vocational guidance, including forms and programme content, which vary depending on the programme level. Vocational guidance activities include:

  • in pre-schools (ISCED 0): initial vocational orientation, which aims to start familiarising children with selected professions as well as stimulate and develop their interests and talents;
  • in primary school classes 1-6 (ISCED 1): vocational orientation, which aims to familiarise students with selected occupations, develop positive attitudes towards work and education, and stimulate, recognise and develop their interests and talents;
  • in the seventh and eighth grades of primary school (ISCED 2) and secondary schools (ISCED 3): vocational guidance activities aim to support students in selecting (consciously and independently) the next stage of their education and occupation, taking into account their interests, talents and vocational inclinations, and information about the education system and the labour market.

According to the new regulation, schools are expected to develop their own annual vocational guidance programme, which should comprise:

  • vocational guidance activities (including their content, methods and forms of implementation, timeframe , and the responsible professional);
  • the cooperating stakeholders.

In organising and carrying out vocational guidance, schools can cooperate with employers, practical education institutions and centres for further education and training, vocational education schools, psychological and pedagogical counselling centres, teacher training centres and labour market institutions. The programme should also take into account student and parent needs, and local or regional activities related to vocational guidance. The Centre for Education Development, under the project Effective educational and vocational guidance for children, adolescents and adults, developed examples of vocational guidance programmes for different types of school and organisational solutions for intra-school guidance systems.