Pre-school and Primary School

Find out about the types of school available for children up to the age of 14 in Portugal...

The school year runs from the middle of September to the end of June, for compulsory schooling, or to the middle of June for secondary schools. Individual schools set the actual dates but there must be at least 180 school days in each year.

Pre-school/Kindergarten (Jardims de Infância)

Pre-school attendance is optional and children may be accepted between the ages of three and five. Pre-schools may be run by State organisations, charitable institutions, private or cooperative organisations. Most international schools offer an international approach to pre-primary learning following the International Preschool Curriculum.

Basic Compulsory Education

Basic compulsory education (Ensino Básico) lasts for nine years and is divided into three consecutive cycles, EB-1º, EB-2º and EB-3º.

The first cycle of education (EB-1º) is provided by primary schools (escolas básicas), while the second and third cycles are provided by secondary schools (escolas secundárias). These three cycles are collectively referred to as Basic Education. (Ensino Básico)

  • First cycle (EB-1º): lasts four years, for pupils aged six to ten
  • Second cycle (EB-2º): lasts two years, for pupils from ten to twelve
  • Third cycle (EB-3º): lasts three years, for pupils from twelve to fifteen

Entry requirements

Children who are six by 16 September are eligible to attend the first cycle of basic education. Those reaching this age by 31 December may also be admitted, but priority is given to older children when allocating places.

Enrolment

Pupils must attend an educational establishment in the area where they reside, or in the area in which the parents are employed, although exceptions can be made in certain cases. A number of documents are necessary to register a child in a school.

  • Registration papers (available from the school)
  • Health certificate
  • Three passport photos
  • Proof of identity (cédula, identity card, passport of certificate from the embassy of the child’s country of origin)
  • A leaving certificate (confirmation of the last level passed by the student)
  • Health certificate from the Health Centre (Centro de saúde)
  • Vaccination book

Assessment

Pupils are assessed at the end of each school year in a National Exam, and at the end of each cycle. Those who are considered satisfactory will go on to the next stage. Pupils who do not meet the required standards may be asked to repeat all or part of the year.

Portuguese primary schools use a grading system of 1-5, with 5 being the top grade and 1 the lowest. Children are required to obtain a grade 3 and above to pass.

Pupils who achieve the required standard in the general assessment at the end of the third cycle are awarded a certificate of basic education (diploma do ensino básico) by the school. This diploma is essential for gaining entrance to Secondary School education.