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print article141-E School system in Portugal



More and more people decide to come and live in Portugal and start a new life. Quite often now people are not prepared to wait till the education of their children has been completed in their home country. There is no doubt to my mind that a good and sound education will be the corner stone of a child’s future. For parents with children the Algarve has the following to offer.
Basically there are two options:
• State schools
• Foreign – language international schools.

National education system

The school year begins in September, normally around the 15th.  It is divided into three terms, with a two-week break at Christmas, four weeks at Easter and 10 weeks in the summer.  There are three half-term breaks.

Pre-school (pré-escolar)

Pre-school is voluntary.  Kindergartens (jardim de infância) may take children from two years or earlier until they reach six and can enter the primary school system.  There are both public and private kindergartens, but all should be registered with the Ministry of Education.  Some public ones do not charge fees, but most will have charges for meals or other activities.

Primary education (ensino básico)

Primary education is compulsory for all between age six and fifteen.  It is free, in the sense that there are no fees.  However, school books and other accessories may amount to over £250.  There is a national curriculum. 


Primary education is split into three phases (ciclos).  The first covers years one to four.  At this level a class has only one teacher, who will generally follow the class for all four years.  Generally, a child will progress from one year to the next with their age group.  Class sizes vary between 15 and 30, and there are 25 hours of lessons per week.  The evaluation in the fourth year is more stringent and may result in a child not progressing to the 5th year.  If this occurs the school must design and provide a special programme of remedial teaching.

Education in all Portuguese state schools is free and normally each town has its primary school (escola primário) and the bigger towns have their secondary school (escola secundário). In between these 2 schools the Portuguese systems has a 2-year bridge school (ciclo). Normally young foreign children pick up the Portuguese language pretty quickly and adapt to state schooling.


You may however for personal reasons decide that you wish to give your child a more international education and if so you have the choice off quite a few  recognized English-language schools in the Algarve as well as the rest of Portugal.

Three of them educate pupils up to the age of 16 and the curriculum is the English I.G.C.S.E. level (Internal General Certificate of Secondary Education. The language of instruction is English, although Portuguese is compulsory as a second language. The course is divided in a Primary School (4 to 10 years of age) and a Senior School (11 to 18 years of age).


Below a list of schools available in the Algarve:

Jardim do Alto Nursery and Kindergarden

Pre-school using natural development technique for crafts, cooking, gardening and play. At Tavira.

Vale Verde International School

Primary and secondary education for children upt to 16 years old. Teacher student ratio 1 to 7. At Estrada de Burgau, Senhora da Luz Burgau Apartado 125, 8601-917 Lagos.

Aljezur International School

IGCSE education for 10-17 age group. Cambridge International exam centre. Shuttle bus to Lagos, Luz and other areas.

Barlavento Campus of the International School of the Algarve

A private day school for boys and girls aged 4 to 11 years old. The school follows the English national curriculum in most subjects. Caixa, 250-Z Ferrel, Espiche, 8600-110 Lagos.

Dyslexia Support Teacher

Academic support program for students with dyslexia and dyspraxia, following primary and secondary curriculums in English. 

Nobel International School Algarve

English speaking school, for GCSEs and A levels and a Portuguese curriculum. Co-ed school ages 3-18, located 40 minutes from Faro international airport. En-suite boarding, 1 or 2 students ages 12 to 18 per room. English language summer school ages 12-18.

Galore Park Publishing Ltd

Publisher of educational resources for pupils: a wide range of textbooks suitable for children aged 8 covering all the key subject areas available to support childrens learning at home as well as home education.

Colegio da Penina

Co-educational, non-denominational school for children aged from 3 to 18 years. Located at Urbanizacaro Encosta da Penina, Alvor, 8500 Portimao.

BeON Study Academy

Homework help, project help and support preparing for upcoming tests and an after-school program. 28 teacher staff, at 2 locations in Loule and 3 in Albufeira.

The Academy

International school following British National Curriculum for all students, including English, mathematics and science subjects. English as a second language available for children and parents. At Almancil.

Colegio Santiago Internacional Tavira

International school covering foundation, primary and secondary education, following a modified National Curriculum of England with emphasis in bilingual English and Portuguese learning. At Praca Zacarias Guerreiro 29, Tavira.

KSI Algarve Unipessoal, Lda

Private international school for boys and girls having the international baccalaureate educational programme for students aged 3 – 18. English is the primary language of instruction, Portuguese and second language learning op...

Vilamoura International School (CIV)

International nursery, primary, middle, secondary and English studies schools. Pupils learn English and Portuguese as first languages up to age of 10. English national curriculum taught. Located at Sitio das Quintinhas Apartado 856, 8125-911 Vilamoura.

Estetica para Profissionais

Lagos-based professional beauty and massage training courses and product supply for the professional beauty industry in Portugal. 23 Rua Soeiro da Costa, Lagos.



Date Inserted: 15 July 2007
Last Updated: 31 October 2017
Have questions or comments on this article? email me


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