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National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms

2010 Edition

European Commission

National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms

PORTUGAL MARCH 2011 1. Education population and language of instruction In 2008/09 the number of young people between 0-29 years of age accounted for 33.8 % of the 1

population (3 590 585) and 32.2 % were enrolled in compulsory education (1 155 757) ( ).The language of instruction is Portuguese in all public schools. There are same private schools where the language of instruction is not Portuguese. Notwithstanding these private schools do not apply the Portuguese curriculum.

2. Administrative control and extent of public sector funded education Private schools in Portugal are regulated by a specific law and status subordinated to what is foreseen in the Education Act. In this sense, they are subject to administrative and financial inspections carried out by the competent authorities of the Ministry of Education. Central Government finances public and supports private schools/institutions which celebrate contracts of association with the Ministry of Education where there is shortage of places in public school provision. The amount of financial support depends on the number of pupils included in the association contract and it involves teaching staff, non-teaching staff and running costs. Nevertheless, there are independent private schools which are not financed by the state and which can have or not pedagogical autonomy and parallelism. In the first case, pupils’ assessment is carried out by the school itself, and in the second case pupils must be submitted to final examinations in a public school. School population – 2008/09 school year Education levels

Public schools

Publicly-funded private schools

Independent private schools


51.83 %

29.84 %

18.33 %


88.08 %

3.19 %

8.73 %


81.2 %

5.13 %

13.67 %


84.31 %

4.4 %

22.45 %

Source: GEPE – Estatísticas da Educação 2008-2009.


( ) It is important to note that these numbers reflect the school year 2008/09 where the compulsory education only contemplated the ensino básico, i.e. the secondary education was not yet compulsory at that time.

National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms


Portugal (March 2011)

The Ministry of Education sets the broad education policies. Five regional bodies (on the mainland) implement ministerial policies and provide guidelines, coordination and support to all non-higher education establishments. In the autonomous regions of Madeira and Azores, education administration is the responsibility of the respective regional governments, through secretariats of education. Municipal level education councils also have a role in coordinating and assisting non-higher education. Since 1998, more autonomy has been devolved to schools or groups of schools management bodies. In 2007, contracts of autonomy and development were negotiated between the Ministry of Education and schools which applied for it and local partners, in order to consolidate the transfer of new responsibilities. Inspection is the responsibility of the General Inspectorate of Education, which has regional delegations supervising all aspects of non-higher education.

3. Pre-primary education Pre-primary education is considered as the first step of the education system and is aimed at children aged 3 to 5 years. In 2009, the law no. 85/2009 of 27 August, established the universality of preschool education for children who reach 5 years, nevertheless, attendance is never compulsory. The preschool network is provided by the state, private and cooperative bodies, private social solidarity institutions and non-profit institutions. The public network is fully financed by the state which also covers the costs of the educational component provided by the private social and non-profit networks. Fees are paid in independent private nursery schools. Each class, per educator, should have a minimum attendance of 20 and a maximum of 25 children.

4. Compulsory education (i)

Phases Levels

Ensino básico -1.º e 2.º ciclos (Primary education) Ensino básico – 3.º ciclo (Lower secondary education) Ensino secundário (Upper secondary education)

Grades st



1 – 4 (first cycle)

6 – 10 years old

5th – 6th (second cycle)

10 – 12 years old

th th 7 – 9 (third cycle)

12 – 15 years old

10th – 12th (secondary)

15 – 18 years old

Since 2009 (law no. 85/2009 of August 27) education is compulsory from 6 to 18 years of age. Pupils who have reached the limit age for compulsory education and who have not successfully completed the 12th grade may continue their education in different types of adult education.


National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms

Portugal (March 2011)

Compulsory education is provided in public schools, private and cooperative bodies, private schools funded by the state and independent private schools. State-run schools are free of charge.


Admission criteria

Admission to compulsory school is generally based on catchment areas. However parental choice is possible if there are places available in the school they prefer for their children. Initial enrolment in the 1st year of ensino básico is compulsory for all children who have completed 6 years of age by 15th of September, or 31st of December at the request of parents and depending of the places available on schools. The admission conditions to subsequent cycles, 2nd, 3rd and upper secondary, depend on pupils successfully completing the cycle immediately previous, or already having the equivalent qualifications.


Length of the school day/week/year

The duration of weekly/annual school time for the different levels is the following: Compulsory Education

No. of weekly/annual hours

Ensino básico 1st cycle (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th years)

25 hours for any of the years

2nd cycle (5th and 6th years)

24 hours in each year (16 teaching periods of 90 minutes)

3rd cycle (7th, 8th and 9th years)

about 25,5 hours in each year (17+17+17,5 teaching periods of 90 minutes, respectively)

Ensino secundário

Scientific-humanistic courses – 16 to 20

(upper secondary education)

Technologic courses – 20 to 36,5 Specialised artistic courses – 20,5 to 25 Vocational courses – global training of 3100 hours

In the 1st cycle of ensino básico the working day consists of 5 compulsory teaching hours plus more 3 hours of optional curricular enrichment activities. With regard to the 2nd and 3rd cycles of ensino básico and upper secondary education, the management bodies of educational establishments stipulate the daily timetable of pupils, respecting general norms in their use of pedagogic autonomy. The main guidelines for organising the school year are the following ones:

The school year is the period between 1st September and 31st August;

The school year, fixed annually by legislation from the Minister of Education, lasts for 180 effective days of school activities in schools which minister compulsory education;

Each term lasts for approximately 3 months, followed by a two weeks break of school activities;

Breaks of school activities occur at Christmas, Carnival and Easter;

National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms


Portugal (March 2011)

School year begin in the first fortnight of September and end between the end of April and the end of June.


Class size/student grouping

In the first cycle, the constitution of classes must meet the following conditions: •

a class who started school in a given year should be maintained throughout the entire cycle, i.e., during four years;

a class cannot be constituted only by students that were retained;

Whenever possible, the same teacher should accompany the class over the four years of schooling;

Classes are comprised of 24 students, as long as they include only one year of schooling. If they include from different school years and only one teacher, they must be composed by 18 students – with more than a teacher may achieve 22 students;

Classes that have students with special educational needs of a prolonged character (cannot include more than 2 students in these conditions), consist of 20 students maximum.

In the second and third cycle, the constitution of classes must meet, primarily, psycho-pedagogical criteria, respecting the following conditions: •

the classes should be composed of students whose ages range from 10/12 to 12/14;

maintenance of the classes from the previous school year, unless there is no indication to the contrary from the class council;

integration of students that were retained should be made in classes of students with the same age or closely;

the constitution of classes only with students that were retained, should be made only when there are projects well reasoned by the executive council body, having heard the pedagogic council;

The number of students per class should be 24 minimum and 28 maximum;

Classes that have students with special educational needs (two students maximum) cannot have more than 20 students;

Classes from sequential years may work with a number of students under 24, if necessary to ensure the continuation of studies of students who passed the previous school year;

Classes with alternative curricular paths, and in order to promote a more individualized teaching approach, may have as minimum number 10 students.

In what concerns to secondary education, the criteria for the organization of classes, both in the scientific-humanistic as in technologic courses, are essentially the following:


National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms

Portugal (March 2011)

serialization based on age groups;

Maintenance of the class from the previous school year to the following year;

Numerical balance in the number of students of both sexes;

Determining the number of students per class depending on size of the rooms: from 24 to 28 students to a room of moderate size (between 35 and 40 m2);

Classes that have students with special educational needs (two students maximum) cannot have more than 20 students.


Curricular control and content

The curriculum is determined at national level. The Ministry of Education also defines the teaching methods guidelines, which are adapted in each school by their teachers, in close relation with the school education project. In what concerns to first cycle of ensino básico, teaching is the responsibility of a generalist teacher who may be assisted by other teachers in specialist areas, namely: Music, Foreign Language and Physical Education. The second cycle of ensino básico is organised into multidisciplinary areas of study, having one or two, semi-specialist teachers per area as a desirable number. The study plan includes the following curriculum subject areas: Languages and Social Studies (Portuguese Language, Foreign Language (French, German or English), History and Geography of Portugal); Mathematics and Sciences (Maths, Natural Sciences); Artistic and Technological Education (Visual and Technological Education, Music, Physical Education), Personal and Social Education (Religious and Moral Education (optional)). The non-subject-based curriculum areas are Project Area, Accompanied Study and Civics. Education for Citizenship is cross-curricular. The third cycle of ensino básico teaching is organised into multidisciplinary areas of study taught by specialist teachers. The curriculum includes the following curriculum subject areas: Portuguese Language, Foreign Language, Human and Social Sciences, Mathematics, Physical and Natural Sciences, Visual Education, another subject (Music, Theatre or Dance), Technological Education, Physical Education, Introduction to ICT (year 9), Personal and Social Education, Religious and Moral Education (optional). The non-subject-based curriculum areas are Project Area, Accompanied Study and Civics. Learning of a second foreign language is compulsory in the rd 3 cycle. Students can choose between French, English, German and Spanish.

For the ensino secundário (upper secondary education) each school provides courses from the list of courses proposed nationally. This choice may be dictated by local or regional socio-economic conditions or by the needs of qualified human resources. Regular upper secondary education is structured around differentiated forms, comprising two branches: courses mainly geared to the pursuit of further education and courses geared to working life although pupils may change from one course to another. All general education courses have a common training component, which includes the following subjects: Portuguese, Foreign language, Philosophy and Physical education.

National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms


Portugal (March 2011)

The vocational courses also have common training components comprising Portuguese and Foreign language. It is also important to refer that in the scope of the 'Global Strategy for the National Curriculum Development' the Ministry of Education launched a project called Metas de Aprendizagem (Learning Goals). This project was designed with the aim to establish learning goals for each cycle (including pre-primary level), as well as its development and progression by grade, subject and disciplinary area. Although these learning goals are not binding the Ministry of Education hopes that it will turn into an important tool to support the curriculum management, as consequence from the recognition of its practical use by teachers, students and families (for more information please consult the following link –


Assessment, progression and qualifications

In the beginning of the school year, the pedagogical council, in agreement with guidelines laid down in the national curriculum, defines the assessment criteria for each cycle and year of schooling, as proposed by the teachers council, in the 1st cycle, and by curricular departments and cycle co-ordinators in the ensino básico (2nd and 3rd cycles) and ensino secundário. Learning assessment covers diagnostic assessment, formative and summative assessment. Teachers are responsible for pupils’ assessment as well as for the awarding of marks. Pupils are internally assessed at the end of each term and each school year. National exams take place in the 4th, 6th and 9th grades, on Portuguese and Maths. In the 4th and 6th grades, pupils undergo gauged tests that aim to monitor and evaluate the education system, with a view to improve the quality of learning. In the 9th grade, the national tests aim pupils’ assessment and certification. In the first year of school no student repeats, except where the number of unjustified absences has been exceeded. In the following three years, students progress if they achieve the 'essential competences' foreseen in the National Curriculum of Basic Education. At the end of the second cycle, the Class Council (conselho de turma) can decide to pass a student that has yet to develop the essential competencies when they have obtained less than a grade 3 in Portuguese Language and Maths, in 3 subjects or in 2 subjects with 'unsatisfactory' in Project Area, as long as it doesn’t include Portuguese and Maths. At the end of the third cycle, the students don’t progress if they have a grade of less than 3 in Portuguese and Maths or a grade lower in 3 subjects or in 2 subjects with 'unsatisfactory' in Project Area. For completion of secondary-level studies, students from technological, specialist artistic and vocational courses pass the year if they achieve a final grade of at least 10 in the internal summative assessment. Students from scientific-humanistic courses, besides a final minimum grade of 10 in the internal summative assessment, shall be submitted to external summative assessment through national examinations in certain subjects defined by specific legislation.


National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms

Portugal (March 2011)

In technological courses, completion of secondary education requires passing all subjects and nonsubject-based areas in the study plan of the corresponding course, as well as the Internship and the Technological Aptitude Test (PAT). Likewise, in specialist artistic courses students complete secondary education if they pass all subjects in the study plan of the corresponding course, as well as the Work-Based Training (FCT) and the Artistic Aptitude Test (PAA). The assessment of students from vocational courses is predominantly formative and continuous and focuses on the learning acquired in each module, groups of modules or subjects. The school technical-pedagogical board may establish a regime of annual progression, as well as the criteria on which such progression is based. To accede higher education all pupils have to take specific national examinations in a set of subjects established by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education.

5. Post-compulsory education/upper secondary and post-secondary level (i)

Types of education

Types of courses Post-secondary non-tertiary education Cursos de Especialização Tecnológica – CET (specialised technological courses)

Age > 18 years old

Technological specialist courses are developed by the network of public, private and cooperative schools, technological schools, vocational training centres under the direct management of, or comanaged by the Employment and Vocational Training Institute (IEFP) and other accredited training entities as well as public and private higher education institutions.


Admission criteria

Technological Specialist Courses (CET) are aimed at those who have completed a secondary education course or a course providing legally equivalent qualifications; have passed in all subjects from years 10 and 11 and, having been enrolled in year 12 of a secondary education course, or a course providing a legally equivalent qualification, have not completed it; have a level-3 professional qualification; have a technological specialist diploma, or a higher education degree or diploma, and wish for their professional requalification. Individuals aged 23 or more can also apply to a CET in a higher education institution if, based on their experience, that institution recognises abilities and skills that qualify them for entry to the CET in question.


Curricular control and content

The curriculum of Technological Specialist Courses is structured according to three training components: general and scientific training, technological training and work-based training. The general and scientific training component is aimed at developing suitable attitudes and behaviours in professionals with a high level of professional qualification and adaptability to the

National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms


Portugal (March 2011)

world of work, and improve, where necessary, scientific knowledge underpinning the specific technologies of the training area. The technological training component includes technological fields directed towards the understanding of practical activities and the resolution of problems at work. Lastly, the work-based training component is aimed at applying the acquired knowledge to the practical activities of the corresponding professional profile, and involves performing tasks under proper supervision, using the skills, equipments and materials included in the processes of producing goods or rendering services. It may take on different forms of practical training in real work situations, namely internships. To ensure integration in the employment market and workplace-based training, the training institution enters into agreements, or other forms of partnership, with companies and other employing entities, business and socio-professional associations or other organisations best suited to the specificity of the training area as well as the characteristics of the job market.


Assessment, progression and qualifications

The assessment system is aimed at assessing the degree of attainment of the professional skills certified by the technological specialist diploma and includes formative and summative assessment. Formative assessment focuses on all training modules, is systematic and continuous, and awards descriptive and qualitative grades. Summative assessment, predominantly resorting to practical tests, is expressed on a twenty-point scale. The trainee who passes in all training components of the CET passes the CET. The technological specialist diploma provides access to a Professional Aptitude Certificate (CAP), issued within the scope of the National System of Professional Certification. In this sense, the CET award a Technological Specialisation Diploma (DET) and a level-4 professional qualification after completion of a training plan with 60 to 90 ECTS credits. Individuals over 25, and with at least 5 years of proven professional activity in the area of a CET, can receive a diploma based on the assessment of their professional skills.

6. Higher education (i)

Types of institution

Higher education in Portugal is organised in a dual system, including university and polytechnic education administered by public, non-public or co-operative schools of higher education. Fees are set by each higher education institution, depending on the type and quality of the course.

(ii) Access In order to apply for access to higher education via the national system, pupils must fulfil the following requirements: they must have passed an upper-secondary education course or legally equivalent qualification; they must have taken the necessary entrance exams for the course that wish to attend with a minimum mark of 95 points; they must have satisfied the necessary pre-


National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms

Portugal (March 2011)

requisites (if applicable) of the course they are applying to. Entrance to each higher education institution is subjected to numerus clausus.



In higher education the following academic qualifications are given: First-degree (licenciado), Master’s degree (mestre) and PhD (doutor). Studies that lead to the first degree from a polytechnic normally involve a minimum of 6 semesters that correspond to 180 credits, and from a university normally last from a minimum of 6 to 8 semesters, which corresponds to 180 or 240 credits. The study cycle that leads to a Master’s degree lasts for between 3 and 4 semesters, which correspond to 90 or 120 credits. The PhD degree is only conferred by universities and to those who have passed all the units of the PhD course, when applicable, and who have successfully defended their thesis.

7. Special needs The concept of special education needs (SEN) applies to every child or youngster showing permanent difficulties at different levels: communication, learning, mobility, autonomy, interpersonal relationship and social participation. Special education aims to promote educational and social inclusion, equality of opportunities of access to education and school achievement, pupils' autonomy and emotional stability, as well as to prepare for further studies and professional life. In order to adapt the learning process to the needs of these learners, different educational measures can be implemented, such as: personalised pedagogic support; individual curricular adaptations; adequate enrolment procedures; adequate assessment procedures; individual specific curriculum; support technologies. Pupils with SEN get an individual education programme, which contains: a report on their educational history; definition of the necessary curricular adaptations, assessment procedures, specialised professionals support, specific equipment and tools. Schools can establish partnerships, namely with private institutions of social solidarity and specialised resource centres, in order to join efforts, know-how and resources, with a view to give the most adequate answers to the different kinds of problems. In 2008, the percentage of pupils in compulsory education who fall outside mainstream education was 0.3 %.

8. Teachers In accordance with the Education Act, teachers (apart for higher education) are given initial and specialised education, and continuous professional development. Initial teacher education is carried out in higher education institutions – polytechnic and universities – with the Master's degree being the minimum academic qualification for the teaching profession, according to the changes introduced within the Bologna Process.

National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms


Portugal (March 2011)

Prospective pre-primary and primary (first and second cycles of ensino básico) teachers follow teacher education programmes at colleges (Escolas Superiores de Educação) which are integrated in polytechnics or universities; for prospective secondary teachers (third cycle of ensino básico and secondary education), teacher education programmes are provided at universities. Specialised education programmes takes place in higher education institutions and aims the qualification of staff for particular specialised educational positions, duties or activities of pedagogical or administrative nature, which are directly applicable to the function of the educational system and schools. Continuous professional development is the same for all non-higher education teachers. It aims at improving the quality of teaching and learning. To enter the profession it is necessary to possess a professional qualification conferred by a polytechnic or a university for the cycle or recruitment group one is applying to, and pass the knowledge and competencies test (designed to evaluate scientific readiness) as well as obtain, at least, the mark of Good in the performance assessment of the probationary period (to assess pedagogic and didactic competencies). Access to the teaching employment in the public sector is done via national application, based on academic qualification and professional experience. Teachers working in the public sector are civil servants.


Ongoing reforms and policy initiatives

Several measures have been implemented, in Portugal, in order to put schools at the centre of educational policy, qualifying them, improving their day-to-day running and organisation and students’ results, as a mean of reducing high levels of school failure and dropouts.

A – Ongoing reforms and policy initiatives related to 'ET 2020' strategic framework 1. Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality – Lifelong learning strategies Some of the Portuguese Government most important aims are the development of quality education, the promotion of vocational training and the raising of the levels of education and qualification of adults. These are fundamental issues within the context of social inclusion and cohesion, mobility, employability, competitiveness, entrepreneurship and the prevention of all forms of discrimination and exclusion. The Government's initiative Novas Oportunidades (New Opportunities) conciliates those aims assuming, within the context of lifelong learning, that a key factor for development, modernisation and a knowledge society is the organisation of a coordinated system of education and training with diverse paths at a national level ( The Program of Lifelong Learning ( has as main aim to contribute to the development of the European Union as a knowledge-based society, characterized by sustainable


National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms

Portugal (March 2011)

economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, acting in parallel to an adequate protection of the environment, considering future generations. – European Qualifications Framework For the coordination of the National Qualifications System, was created the National Agency for Qualifications, a Public institute, indirectly administered by the state under de authority of the Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity and the Ministry of Education. In 2009, 16 Sectoral Councils for Qualifications were created, by the National Agency for Qualification, covering all economic sectors. They consist in working groups with technical and advisory competences to participate in the updating and development of the NQC, in order to reduce the gap between education and training system and labour market qualifications and competences’ needs. Thus, the creation of the NQF was based on a set of premises, namely: •

The need to integrate and coordinate the qualifications obtained in the context of the different education and training subsystems (education, vocational training, higher education), within a single framework;

The importance of valuing and recognising competences acquired in formal, non-formal and informal contexts;

Improving the legibility, transparency and comparability of qualifications;

Valuing the double certification associated above all with the upper secondary level of qualifications;

Ensuring coordination with the European Qualifications Framework, specifically in using the EQF as an instrument of reference for comparing the qualification levels of the different qualifications systems from the perspective of lifelong learning.

For more information please consult the following links:; – Expanding learning mobility The Portuguese National Agency of the Lifelong Learning Programme ( and in the scope of its mission, have been implementing several programmes in order to promote exchanges and cooperation, as well as mobility between education and training systems at European level, in order to settle these as global reference for quality.

2. Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training – Language learning In order to respond to the current linguistic and cultural diversity existing in Portuguese society, stemming from migratory movements, the Ministry of Education launched a programme named Portuguese as a Foreign Language (PLNM) for basic and secondary education. In this sense, and according to their previous formal education, each student is integrated in the school year equivalent to that of his/her country of origin. The student will attend classes with the other class students but, not being a native speaker of Portuguese, will benefit from specific monitoring in

National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms


Portugal (March 2011)

Portuguese Language, favouring the integration of students not only at an educational level but also at a socio-affective level. – Professional development of teachers and trainers In order to continue the work that was done through the National Programme on Teaching Portuguese (NPPEB), the Ministry of Education launched another programme named New Programme on Portuguese for Basic Education. In the scope of this programme, all teachers teaching Portuguese should have a reduction of two hours in their non-teaching time schedule, to enable them to have a weekly meeting of joint work. Teachers who, in the school year of 2009/2010, hold functions as trainers in the scope of the NPPEB implementation, will have a reduction of four hours in their teaching time schedule (corresponding to one class) to carry out their duties as teachers trainers. The Ministry of Education also decided to continue with a programme for continuous professional development for Mathematic first and second cycle teachers, in partnership with Higher Education Institutions with responsibility in the initial teachers training and first cycle schools and school cluster. The aims of this training programme are: to deepen the teachers knowledge on mathematic, didactic and curriculum; to promote experiences to develop the curriculum; to promote a positive attitude among teachers concerning pupils capacities; to create work dynamics among teachers; and to promote the network between school/school clusters and institutions for initial teacher education. – Governance and funding There are several measures that will be taken next school year (2010/11) that will result in a reduction of the budget for education. For instance, a reduction in the number of teachers (due to the reorganisation of the schools network) and a review of financial aspects regarding some programs as well as their continuity. – Basic skills in reading, mathematics and science Please see the above-mentioned priority area on 'professional development of teachers and trainers'. – 'New Skills for New Jobs' Between 1999 and 2006, Portugal has developed a project about 'Skills evolution and training needs diagnosis' which has produced sectoral and prospective studies for 36 economic sectors. These studies have used a prospective methodology with scenarios that covered ten years time and, therefore, some of them are still being used by the VET system. They were mainly qualitative studies that, besides the skills diagnosis, included the production of occupational profiles for each economic sector. In 2007, the Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity published a Skills Audit that made a benchmarking analysis, evaluating the pace of Portugal up-skilling and the catching-up of qualifications through a panel of eight European countries and two non-European integrated in the OECD group. This audit allowed some scenarios of the trends up to 2025, by qualifications levels


National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms

Portugal (March 2011)

(ISCED). In 2010 it was launched a study on New Qualifications for Sectoral Reconversion, which aims to identify future needs for qualifications in order to readjust the training supply to those needs. The study has two different parts: (1) prospective analysis of the future scenarios for sectoral structure in Portugal; (2) existing qualifications description and identification of mismatches between demand and supply. Later this study will evolve to a permanent macro observation system. For more information please consult the following link:

3. Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship – Early leavers from education and training Within the Programme of the XVIII Constitutional Government, the resolution of the council of ministers no. 44/2010, define the guidelines to the reorganisation of the schools network, with three purposes. One of them is to adjust the schools dimensions and conditions to the promotion of school success and to prevent school dropout. A new edition of the Programme for Educational Areas of Priority Intervention (TEIP2) was relaunched and aims to territorialize educational policies according to priority criteria of positive discrimination in particular socio-educational contexts. The programme maintain the same main purposes: the improvement of the learning quality reflected in educational success; to combat the early school dropout; educational guidance and qualified transition from school to active life; coordination of the action between the educational partners with schools and training institutions; the provision by the school of cultural and educational resources needed to the integrated development of the education, qualification, certification and recognition and certification of competences. With the same purpose, prevent early school leaving and raise the students' results, the Ministry of Education launched the program 'More School Success' (Mais Sucesso Escolar (PMSE)). There are several strategies on the base of this program, namely: (1) training of pedagogical teams to intervene and support specific groups of students; (2) organization of flexible groups of students with specific plans for intervention, recovery and learning developments; (3) establishment of teachers networks involved in the program, in accordance with their specific areas, to promote moments of reflexion and discussion within training contexts. – Pre-primary education In order to pursue the goal to extend the offer of pre-school education to all children aged 5 years old or above, the Ministry of Education, in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, launched a Programme for the Development of the Preschool Network in the Metropolitan Areas of Lisbon and Porto (Programa de Alargamento da Rede Pré-escolar nas Áreas Metropolitanas de Lisboa e Porto). This programme aims to allow an increase of the coverage rate from 78 to 82 per cent, in this educational level, as well as the creation of 299 new classrooms and 13 thousand places in the metropolitan areas. – Migrants

National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms


Portugal (March 2011)

No recent policy development publicly declared at national level. – Learners with special needs The Decree-Law no. 3/2008, define specialized support to be provided in pre-school, primary and secondary education, in order to create proper conditions within the educational process for students with special education needs. A recent evaluation made at the end of 2010 showed that the implementation of those measures improve educational responses and fostered the inclusion in Portuguese schools and improve the responses. It was also created in Portugal several networks in order to support students with special educational needs, namely: •

a network of 25 ICT resource centres for special education based in school groups divided by the country, and whose mission is to make the assessment of pupils with Special Educational Needs, in order to determine what support technologies fit better to overcome certain kinds of difficulties. These centres provide support for a wide range of schools clusters of their geographical proximity;

a network of specialized support units to support inclusion of students with multiple disabilities and congenital deaf-blindness, in schools or schools clusters, in order to centre human and material resources that may offer an educational response of quality to these students;

a network of structured teaching units to support the inclusion of students with autism spectrum disorders, in school or school groups, in order to centre human and material resources that can offer a educational response quality to these students;

a network of reference schools for the inclusion of blind students or low vision, in order to centre human and material resources that can offer an educational response quality to these students;

a network consisting of reference schools for the bilingual education of deaf students, in order to centralize human and material resources that can offer a proper educational response to these students;

in the scope of early intervention, were created schools clusters constituted by schools of reference, in order to assure the articulation with the health centres and social security; empowerment of the technological team how provide services on the scope of early intervention, financed by the social security; and to assure, in the Ministry of Education scope, the delivering of early interventions in childhood services.

4. Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training – Transversal key competences The Portuguese curriculum contemplates a specific transversal subject named 'Civic Education' from the 5th grade to 9th grade. This subject was established in order for students to assimilate and to interpret information critically and creatively. By doing this students can acquire methods, tools


National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms

Portugal (March 2011)

and knowledge that allows them to continue their education by developing active and conscious attitudes towards the community. With the aim to promote cultural and artistic knowledge among students of different levels of education, several projects were designed, namely the 'Programme for artistic and aesthetic education in school context'. It was also defined by law the inclusion of Sexual Education in schools, with compulsory status. The contents of Sexual Education are developed in the scope of non-disciplinary curricular areas non-disciplinary, as well as in disciplinary curricular areas. – Innovation-friendly institutions Other changes were recently introduced in the education sector in the scope of two major key concepts: the knowledge-based economy and the information society, and the fostering and consolidation of dynamics of change through a new perspective of the role of schools as a central point for building up knowledge, know-how, competency, new attitudes and interests. The Plano Tecnológico da Educação (Technological Plan for Education – PTE) intends to place Portugal among the five most advanced European countries in terms of school’s technological modernisation. Within the PTE several initiatives have been launched: •

High-speed broadband Internet – to ensure high-speed broadband Internet access among schools;

Internet in the classroom / local area networks – to ensure Internet access in all classrooms and all school spaces;

Programme e.escola 2.0 – following the previous programme (e-escola) this new programme, designed to meet the Digital Agenda's objectives, focus on three main aims: to guarantee the continuity of access to laptops and Internet connection, with special conditions for the educative community; to promote the creation and use of digital content; and, to foster the use of next-generation networks;

e-escolinha – to provide access to a laptop with learning resources to students of first cycle schools;

Technological kit – increase the number of IT equipments in the classroom to promote the interactivity and innovation of the pedagogical practices;

School safety – to increase the safety of assets in schools against theft and vandalism;

Schools portal – reference site of schools in Portugal for sharing digital learning resources, e-learning, communication, collaborative work and access to support services for school administration;

Simplex school – information system based on an electronic platform and on a serviceoriented infrastructure that allows a simplification of the school management. An example is the possibility for students that will apply for the first time to first year, may do so via online;

National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms


Portugal (March 2011)

ICT competencies training and certification – modular, sequential and disciplinary oriented training program and certification of ICT skills;

– Partnership Also within PTE, two other projects were created with the aim to promote partnerships between educational institutions and enterprises, namely: •

ICT internships – workplace training for vocational education students at top national and international technological companies;

ICT academies – creation of ICT academies from technological companies in schools, aiming to reinforce student’s qualifications and their entry in the job market.

B – Other important ongoing reforms and policy initiatives at national level Within the Programme of the XVIII Constitutional Government, the resolution of the council of ministers no. 44/2010 aims to adapt the school network to 12 years of schooling for all students. One of the other purposes is to promote the rationalization of schools clusters in order to favour the development of a common educational project, articulating different levels and different cycles, in particular to integrate upper secondary schools on the existing school clusters which were not grouped in the past. The resolution also determines that schools at first cycle level should work with 21 students, at least. This orientation should lead to closure, until the end of the school year 2010/11, schools whose dimensions do not promote students success. Moreover, in order to improve the quality of education infrastructure in all schools, it was also created, in 2007, the Parque Escolar corporate ( The Parque Escolar corporate object is the planning, management, development and execution of the modernisation programme for the public network of secondary and other schools. The Secondary School Network Modernisation Programme essentially aims to achieve three objectives: •

to rehabilitate and modernise the secondary schools buildings, restoring their physical and functional efficiency, with a view to creating the ideal conditions for a modern education adapted to the programmatic contents, didactic methods and the new information and communication; to open the schools to the communities, creating the conditions for closer cooperative links with the surrounding neighbourhood, encouraging correct appreciation of the buildings and ensuring full exploitation of the potential of the school infrastructures; to establish a new management model for school premises, ensuring optimisation of resources and correct management of the conservation and upkeep of the buildings after the interventions. Unrevised English

Information provided by the Eurydice Unit in Portugal. For more detailed information on the education systems in Europe, you may consult the EURYDICE data base, EURYBASE (


National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms

National system overviews on education systemsin Europe and ongoing reforms 2010 Edition  

National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms 2010 Edition Portugal