Over the last 20 years, Poland has gone through a major transition process in which the challenges for education in terms of new approaches to learning and teaching have been compounded by broader changes such as the democratisation of structures and processes and the major economic and social changes. This article is a case study that examines the early stages of significant shifts in the learning and teaching process, the stepped approach that was taken and the different international influences. It was decided to focus on the top-down, policy level actions in order to trace how influences have shaped current policy on outcomes-based approaches and key competences, which are increasingly implemented in schools today.
The Polish education and training system has been through a complex series of reforms, many simultaneously. The introduction of outcome-based approaches and key competences is part of much broader reforms that have affected mindsets and attitudes by having addressed the structure of the system (e.g. the length of compulsory education), school governance, the roles of principals and teachers, teacher training, etc. Parents' expectations have evolved and students are growing up in a much more connected environment with Internet and social networks and an exponential development of access to ICT and the need for digital competences and a range of key competences for lifelong learning and work (Gordon et al., 2009). Although change has taken place at all levels and in all sub-sectors of the system, this article focuses on general education in primary and secondary schools.