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Portugal – Education and Schools

The quality of education in Portugal

Education in Portugal is generally of good quality, with a strong focus on academic achievement and critical thinking skills. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings, Portugal ranks above the average for countries in the world for education quality.

Age of compulsory education in Portugal

Education is compulsory in Portugal for children between the ages of 6 and 18. However, most children start school at the age of 3 or 4 with preschool education.

Types of schools in Portugal

There are several types of schools in Portugal, each with its own educational philosophy and focus. The breakdown of schools by age is as follows:

Preschool Education

Preschool education in Portugal is for children between the ages of 3 and 6. There are several types of preschool programs available, including public preschools, private preschools, and church-affiliated preschools.

Primary Education


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Primary education in Portugal is for children between the ages of 6 and 10. There are several types of primary schools available, including public schools, private schools, and international schools.

Lower Secondary Education

Lower secondary education in Portugal is for students between the ages of 10 and 15. There are several types of lower secondary schools available, including general secondary schools, technical secondary schools, vocational schools, and arts schools.

Upper Secondary Education

Upper secondary education in Portugal is for students between the ages of 15 and 18. There are several types of upper secondary schools available, including general secondary schools, technical secondary schools, vocational schools, and arts schools.

Syllabus and qualifications

Schools in Portugal follow a national curriculum that is set by the Ministry of Education. The curriculum includes several core subjects, such as Portuguese, mathematics, science, and social studies, as well as optional subjects, such as foreign languages and physical education.

At the end of upper secondary school, students take a national exam called the Exame Nacional do Ensino Secundário, which assesses their knowledge and skills in various subjects. The exam is used to determine eligibility for higher education in Portugal and other European countries.

School hours and holidays

School hours in Portugal typically run from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm for primary and lower secondary schools and from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm for upper secondary schools, although they may vary depending on the school. There are two-week breaks in December, February, and April, as well as a three-month summer vacation from June to September.

Enrollment and competition

To enroll in a school in Portugal, parents must provide proof of residency, such as a passport or ID card, as well as a birth certificate or passport for their child. There may be some competition for enrollment in popular schools or schools in areas with high demand, particularly in urban areas.

International schools

There are several international schools in Portugal that cater to expats and international students. These schools offer education in English or other languages and follow international curricula, such as the International Baccalaureate or the British Curriculum. Some notable international schools in Portugal include:

  • St. Julian’s School: An international school in Lisbon that offers education from preschool to secondary school, following the International Baccalaureate programme.
  • Carlucci American International School of Lisbon: An American school in Lisbon that offers education from preschool to secondary school, following the American Curriculum.
  • Oporto British School: A British school in Porto that offers education from preschool to secondary school, following the British National Curriculum.

Higher education options

Portugal has several universities and institutes of higher education that offer undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of fields, such as business, law, medicine, and engineering. Some of the top universities in Portugal include the University of Coimbra, the University of Lisbon, and the University of Porto.

To enroll in higher education in Portugal, students must have a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification. Some programs may have additional requirements, such as language proficiency tests or entrance exams.

In addition to universities, Portugal also has several polytechnic institutes that offer vocational education and training in fields such as tourism, agriculture, and health.

Education in Portugal is generally of good quality, with a strong focus on academic achievement and critical thinking skills. Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 18, and there are several types of schools available for different age groups and educational goals. The national curriculum provides a framework for teaching and learning, and students take national exams at the end of upper secondary school to qualify for higher education. Portugal also has several international schools and universities for expats and international students.


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