Portugal' Education System

As we say "o conhecimento não ocupa lugar" (knowledge doesn't take space) and because knowledge is one of Savvy Cat Realty's biggest values, we got inspired and summarized how the education system works.


In Portugal, the Educational System is regulated by the State through the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education. The most popular and best implemented system is public education but you can always find private schools at all levels of education and other learning alternatives.

Compulsory Education: Between ages of 6 and 18 (from infancy to adolescence).


The Portuguese education system is divided in Preschool Education (from the age of three until the start of Basic Education), Basic Education (6 to 14 years old) and upper Secondary Education (15 to 18 years old).

INFANCY | Creche Daycare Center (ages between 3 months and 3 years)

With the parents' return to work, Portuguese babies have the following options:

  • Being taken care of by relatives;

  • Being taken care of by a nanny;

  • Go to a Creche (social and educational space for the children daycare center);

Although there are 3 types of Creche (public, private or IPSS*), it's not easy to get access because it is not easy to find availability of vacancies.

*IPSS: Instituições particulares de solidariedade social (Private social solidarity institutions).

ENSINO PRIMÁRIO | Pré-escolar or Jardim de Infância

Preschool education (ages between 3 and 5)

From the age of 3, children can be enrolled in the public preschool system. Pré-escola establishments provide services aimed at children's learning and development. In pré-escola education, attendance is free in the public network and in the non-profit private network.

ENSINO BÁSICO | Basic education

Elementary school (ages between 6 and 14)

From the year when children turn 6 years old, they can be enrolled in Basic education. Basic education is universal, compulsory, free and lasts nine years. It is divided into three sequential cycles; each should complete and build upon the previous one from a global perspective:

  • 1º ciclo (corresponds to the first four years of schooling);

  • 2º ciclo (corresponds to the next two years);

  • 3º ciclo (lasts for three years and corresponds to lower secondary education);

The guiding principles of curriculum organisation and management aim to ensure a common general background education for all citizens, via the acquisition of fundamental knowledge and skills that allow further study.

Upper secondary education lasts for three years and corresponds to grades 10, 11 and 12 of upper secondary education, organised into different types. Some are geared towards further studies, others via dual certification (academic and vocational), the latter combining general, technical and work placement training. The permeability between the different paths is guaranteed, as is access via all of them to higher education through national exams.

ADOLESCENCE | Ensino Secundário

Secondary Education (ages between 15 to 18)

There are several approaches to learning and, when enrolling in school, traditional education is no longer the only one to be considered, as different pedagogical lines have increasingly attracted the attention of families. There are alternative teaching methods and schools all over the world and Portugal is no exception. Some new teaching methods are starting to rise and the most popular ones being Montessori, Waldorf and Constructivist.


Ensino Superior (for everyone who finished mandatory education) Higher education is structured according to the principles of the Bologna Process to ensure solid scientific and cultural preparation, plus technical training that qualifies students for professional and cultural life, while developing their capability to innovate and apply critical analysis. Portuguese higher education is a binary system that includes the university and polytechnic systems. Universities are oriented to offer solid scientific training, combining the efforts and competences of teaching and research units, while polytechnics focus on professionally oriented vocational and advanced technical training.

Adult education and training There are various modes of adult education and training with specific aims and target groups, encompassing a system of recognition, validation and certification of skills acquired throughout life. Provision in this area is mainly included in the National Qualifications System/Catalogue and organised by a national network of "Qualifica" Centres, which cover the whole country, providing a guidance system for adults, while coordinating a vast network of training bodies. As such, they are focused on obtaining both academic and vocational certification at the same time, although in some cases they may award only one of these.Recurrent education is designed for adults who have not completed their basic or upper secondary education at the usual age. It follows a study plan based on the official curriculum and leads to the attainment of a qualification and the award of a diploma or certificate, equivalent to those conferred by daytime education.

Education and training of young people and adults offers a second chance to individuals who have left school early or who are at risk of dropping out, as well as those who did not have the opportunity to attend it when they were young and also those who seek school for issues of a professional nature or personal enhancement, in a perspective of lifelong learning.

Some most options for those who didn't finish compulsory education are: Adult Education and Training Courses (EFA) and Modular Training, "Novas Oportunidades" (New Opportunities) Initiative, "S@bER + short term shares"


Hope this article was helpful, any questions you might have feel free to contact us! We are always available at contact@savvycatrealty.com if you need any assistance ;)