If you’re considering moving with children, schooling can be a concern. Luckily, the Portuguese education system is excellent. You’ll be happy to know that Portugal’s primary schools, secondary schools, universities, kindergartens, and other educational institutions are of a high standard and offer families a variety of choices for schools and universities.
This article will cover the different types of schools in Portugal, helping you choose the best educational fit for your children.
Education in Portugal
The education system in Portugal includes both state and private schools. The Ministry of Education (Direção-Geral da Educação – DGE) regulates the education system in Portugal, starting from pre-school up until secondary school. School groups (agrupamentos escolares) also work closely with local municipalities to assign funding and define the curriculum. The Ministry of Science, Technology, and Higher Education (Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior – MCTES) oversees policies and budgets for higher education.
You will find a mix of state (free fees) and private (fee-paying) education in Portugal. You can enroll children in pre-school before they join a school at the mandatory age of six. For instance, 92% of children attended pre-school in Portugal in 2019, higher than the OECD average of 88%.
Although the primary educational language in state schools is Portuguese, the country offers many options for expats to register in international schools. This might make it easier for their children, as they can join schools speaking their native language.
Understanding the different stages of the Portuguese educational system and all the available options for your children is fundamental in deciding where to send them.
The structure of education in Portugal
You can enroll your child in either a private or public school in Portugal. If you pick a private school, you can check to see whether it’s certified by the relevant Ministry.
Regardless of whether you choose a state school or a private one, the education system in Portugal is the same. It consists of four stages and comprises the following educational levels:
- Preschool education (Educação Pré-escolar): ages 3 to 6
- Primary education (Ensino Básico): ages 6 to 15
- Secondary education (Ensino Secundário): ages 15 to 18
- Higher education (Ensino Superior): ages 18 and above
School is mandatory from the ages of 6 to 18. After that, students can decide whether they want to continue on to university.
Even if your children are in international schools, we recommend that they learn Portuguese. The state offers free language courses and support to help children become more familiar with Portuguese from a young age.