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email article print article39 School system in Portugal


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.



Date Inserted: 15 July 2007
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