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Portugal:National Reforms in School Education

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Overview Portugal


Portugal:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Portugal:Historical Development

Portugal:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Portugal:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Portugal:Political and Economic Situation

Portugal:Organisation and Governance

Portugal:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Portugal:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Portugal:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Portugal:Organisation of Private Education

Portugal:National Qualifications Framework

Portugal:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Portugal:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Portugal:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Portugal:Funding in Education

Portugal:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Portugal:Higher Education Funding

Portugal:Adult Education and Training Funding

Portugal:Early Childhood Education and Care

Portugal:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 3 years

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 3 years

Portugal:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 3 years

Portugal:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 3 years

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 3 years

Portugal:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 3 years

Portugal:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Portugal:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Portugal:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Portugal:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Portugal:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Portugal:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Higher Education

Portugal:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Portugal:First Cycle Programmes


Portugal:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Portugal:Second Cycle Programmes

Portugal:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Portugal:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Portugal:Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Distribution of Responsibilities

Portugal:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Portugal:Main Providers

Portugal:Main Types of Provision

Portugal:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Portugal:Teachers and Education Staff

Portugal:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Portugal:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Portugal:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Portugal:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Management and Other Education Staff

Portugal:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Portugal:Management Staff for Higher Education

Portugal:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Portugal:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Quality Assurance

Portugal:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Portugal:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Educational Support and Guidance

Portugal:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Portugal:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Portugal:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Portugal:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Portugal:Mobility and Internationalisation

Portugal:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Mobility in Higher Education

Portugal:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Portugal:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Portugal:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Portugal:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Portugal:National Reforms in School Education

Portugal:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Portugal:National Reforms in Higher Education

Portugal:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Portugal:European Perspective





National Programme for the Promotion of School Success – Update

Pursuing the goals of the National Programme for the Promotion of School Success, the Government announced that, to this end, in December 2016, regional competitions were set up as part of the Regional Operational Programmes. These have enabled local authorities and inter-municipal commissions to request funding for school success projects.

To encourage local authorities to get involved in this work, a meeting was held allowing local authorities, inter-municipal commissions and schools to present and disseminate the collaborative work they are doing in this area.

In-service teacher training is also a predictor of school success and seen as contributing to the strategic action plans presented by schools, which means it should satisfy quality and impact criteria. As such, the training will be provided via partnerships with higher education institutions, societies and experts, focussing on a workshop approach, with experimentation in the classroom. As a way of encouraging municipalities to get involved in this task a meeting was held to allow municipalities, CIMs and schools to present and publicize the cooperation work they are making in terms of the promotion of school success.

All the strategic plans conception process was and is still followed by the Mission Structure, both in the implementation and continuous training phases.

Therefore, considering that the 2nd school period is undergoing, the Mission Structure is developing a proximity follow-up with the teachers that in each school coordinate the implementation of each of the measures delineated in the strategic action plans.

There are also meetings in all schools to boost the learning promotion work, and in a broader initiative there have been theme seminars with the goal of allowing schools to share the work they are undertaking.


Exit profile of students leaving compulsory schooling

In February 2017, The Ministry of Education published the study that defines the exit profile of students leaving compulsory schooling.

This document will act as a framework for compulsory schooling and aims to meet the following objectives:

  • Defining the purposes of 12-year compulsory schooling, which had been without a framework until now;
  • providing a common exit profile for all students at the end of upper-secondary education, regardless of the educational path chosen (science-humanities, vocational or artistic), to ensure permeability among courses and the legitimate aspiration that everyone can continue their studies;
  • outlining the competences needed for active citizenship, for an effective response to what society expects of students and, most of all, making sure that students finish schooling feeling motivated and able to invest in their education and lifelong learning.


Pedagogical Flexibility and Autonomy

The Ministry of Education has been working with schools to help them implementing flexibility mechanisms for exploring areas of responsibility based on a transdisciplinary approach, exploring different themes and projects to provide more in-depth knowledge.

As such, each school will be able to, for each of the models, allocate up to 25% of the weekly timetable to:

  • Improving, enriching and consolidating essential learning;
  • projects whose aim is to remedial learning;
  • promoting the arts, sport, experimental work and ICT, as well as the integration of regional and local aspects;
  • the acquisition and development of research, assessment, reflection, critical and autonomous information mobilization skills to solve problems and boost students' self-esteem;
  • the development of communication and expression in their different forms (oral, written, visual and multi-form);
  • active citizenship, social participation within contexts of sharing and collaboration and the discussion of current issues;
  • the coordination of curricular areas, using a transversal approach to learning;
  • the experience of communication in its different forms (oral, written, visual and multi-form);
  • the dynamics of project work, focussing on students’ role as authors, providing significant learning situations.


Escola 360°

On 17th March, the Ministry of Education launched the Escola 360° system (E-360°).

This is an education information system that centralises student management processes, from pre-school to upper-secondary education, providing all administrative information related to students on the same platform: personal details; registration, renewals and transfers; school calendar; classes; attendance; assessment; certificates and diplomas.

E-360° aims to facilitate interaction among all those participating in students’ educational process (parents/guardians, teachers, school leaders, administrative staff and educational administration bodies), allowing for greater collaboration and faster and more effective information exchange among the various stakeholders, ensuring security, confidentiality and existence of information in real-time.

To access the system, stakeholders will have individual, personal and non-transferable authentications, which will give them access to a set of data according to their user profile. Depending on duties and responsibilities, permissions are defined centrally and can be customised by the head of the school cluster or non-grouped school, except in the case of parents/guardians, whose permissions do not change.

E-360° has been operating in 10 pilot schools, and is expected to be gradually rolled out to all public and private schools with an association contract by 2018.

School Autonomy Contracts

The 21st Constitutional Government’s programme has consolidated and extended the system of autonomy, administration and management of schools and school clusters as a core element of the efforts to decentralise the powers previously wielded by the Ministry of Education. To do so, the Government has boosted the legitimacy and responsibility of the Ministry of Education’s administration and management bodies, consolidating the pedagogical autonomy of schools and teachers.

Autonomy contracts, as defined by the system of autonomy, administration and management of public pre-school, basic and secondary education institutions, are the tool for the development and extension of that autonomy.

Dispatch No. 11976/2016, 7th October, sets up the School Autonomy Contracts Project Team to undertake the following tasks:

  1. To study school autonomy consolidation via 2nd generation autonomy contracts which boost schools’ and teachers’ pedagogical autonomy;
  2. to monitor the implementation of autonomy contracts at macro level, thus allowing their timely renewal;
  3. to study and propose effective and swift rules for assessing contracts, with possible proposal for the amendment of Ordinance no. 265/2012, 30th August.

During an initial phase, several higher education experts and school head teachers were consulted on this issue.


Timetable credit system

The timetable credit is a set of hours assigned to each school and aims to ensure the implementation of measures that encourage educational success, particularly in relation to the strategic action plan designed as part of the National School Success Programme, and the school’s pedagogical management. Priority is given to implementing didactic and pedagogical measures to promote success at different levels of education.

The importance of form tutors is highlighted, with an increase in the number of credit hours assigned to their duties, particularly liaison with the other class teachers, as well as with the students and their families.

The form tutor is also seen as a key player in the educational process of each student, where the class council is the best place for its implementation. Greater importance is placed on managing and guiding the class learning, as well as the promotion of sustained reflection on the effectiveness and suitability of methodologies, thus improving the quality of learning and students’ educational attainment.

To the same end, the pedagogical council is key to pedagogical coordination and supervision and educational guidance, functioning as a bastion of the school’s pedagogical mission, ensuring that all children and young people have access to learning that allows them to complete compulsory education properly equipped with the essential skills for participation in 21st-century society.

At this level, another key measure is tutorial support for students with a history of retention, which provides continuous monitoring to find the most suitable responses to their specific needs, thus facilitating their integration and socialization at school and a successful educational path.

With this framework, for the current 2016/2017 academic year, a new organizational dispatch was published - Legislative Order no. 4-A/2016, 16th June, which is a tool to consolidate school autonomy, making it possible to organize school differently and create solutions that focus on the students’ needs.

This legislation made the following changes:

  • Clarification that the main purpose of the dispatch is to guarantee the quality of students’ learning;
  • simplification of the formula for calculating timetable credits;
  • the calculation of the timetable credit is based on the principle that a larger number of classes means a larger number of students, a greater diversity of courses and, therefore, the need for more hours to work with these students (support);
  • flexible management of timetable credit;
  • consolidation of the head teacher’s role;
  • specific credit given for tutorials to support and supervise pupils with two or more retentions throughout the 2nd and 3rd cycles of basic education (primary and lower-secondary);
  • revaluation of the generalist teachers by providing students in the 1st cycle of basic education (primary education) with comprehensive teaching and learning;
  • teaching languages in terms of writing and speaking skills through workshops, according to variety of organizational solutions found by schools;
  • clarification of the aims and value of teaching assistance;
  • allocation of the non-teaching component to ensure support for teachers with visual impairment.


Working Group for the study of professional regulations for teaching Portuguese sign language

Inclusive education is a strategic goal for investing in people and has widespread implications in all areas of public policy.

The 21st Constitutional Government assumes this commitment with the construction of democratic and quality schooling that guarantees everyone the right to education and a fair and real equality of opportunity in terms of access to the curriculum and school success. This means that the educational system possesses the mechanisms to respond to the social, cultural and linguistic heterogeneity of our society’s school community.

All children and young people’s education must, therefore, occur in an environment that provides maximum cognitive, linguistic, emotional and social development, associated with the recognition of Portuguese sign language as a cultural expression and tool for access to education.

In that sense, Order No. 2286/2017, 16th March, created a Working Group that took the first steps towards identifying and defining the requirements (academic and professional) for the teaching of Portuguese sign language in the Ministry of Education teaching establishments.

This Working Group includes a representative of the Assistant Secretary of State for Education, who will coordinate the work, as well as representatives of the Secretary of State for Science, Technology and Higher Education, the Secretary of State for Education, the Secretary of State for Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, of the General-Directorate of School Administration, the General-Directorate of Education and the General-Directorate of the School Establishments.

It will consult associations of sign language teaching professionals, as well as other relevant bodies, and present a final report that considers the legal regime for vocational qualifications for pre-school, basic and secondary education, as well as highlighting other situations worthy of specific regulation.


First foreign language from the 3rd year 

From the 2016-2017 academic year onwards, the teaching of the first foreign language (English), became compulsory for at least 7 years, from the 3rd year of schooling until the end of basic education. When students choose to continue studying it in the 10th year, it becomes a compulsory part of the curriculum.



Free and Reused Schoolbooks

The 21st Constitutional Government, in its programme, states its commitment to valuing people and focussing public policy on the principles of equity and equal opportunities for all Portuguese children and young people. The Government Programme also includes the development of "(...) a textbook acquisition and return system that gradually ensures free textbooks (...).

As such, to stimulate initiatives that make the most of school resources, the Government proposes to make textbooks less expensive for families and encourage their re-use without jeopardizing the freedom of schools to adopt textbooks, according to the provisions of Law no. 47/2006, 28th August, which defines the textbook assessment and certification system for primary and secondary education.

Article 127 of Law no. 7-A/2016, 30th March, which approved the 2016 State Budget, foresees the free distribution of textbooks to all students in the first year of the 1st cycle of basic education, with the creation of a working group whose mission is to define a programme for the acquisition and reuse of textbooks, with a view to implementing such a measure in compulsory schooling within the term of the current legislature.

As such, the Ministry of Education has set in motion several procedures to help make the acquisition and free distribution of textbooks for all students enrolled in the 1st cycle a reality.

For the 2017/2018 academic year, there are plans to extend free textbooks to all students in the 1st cycle of basic education, that is, students in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th years, as well as establishing regulations for the reuse of textbooks.

InfoEscolas Portal (Development)

In November, 2016, InfoESCOLAS was updated to provide more information about students and schools. The new indicators are expected to offer more rigorous and realistic information regarding school performance and their absolute and relative positions. This recent update includes (i) an indicator of direct success pathways in upper-secondary education, which previously existed only for the 2nd and 3rd cycles of basic education, providing access to results that combine internal and external assessment; and (ii) panels by subject in upper-secondary education and in the third cycle, which extend analysis to all subject areas covered by external assessment, counteracting the overvaluation of Portuguese and mathematics.

This update and improvement is intended to provide schools and the general public with more and, essentially, better information, thus facilitating the processes of analysis and improvement.

In addition to the abovementioned developments, it is worth noting that the information compiled on the InfoEscolas Portal is being extended to include other data important for defining school performance, such as participation in programmes and projects, creation of partnerships and data on the involvement of students, as well as the relationship with the community.

National Reforms Program

The government presented the National Reforms Program stabilising the following objectives:

  • Combating school failure, guaranteeing 12 years of schooling;
  • investing in pre-school education as key to combatting school failure: it is always worth starting well;
  • combatting failure at its root: developing basic education that is integrated, global and common to all children;
  • guaranteeing 12 years of compulsory education: Improving upper-secondary education and diversifying training provision;
  • improving upper-secondary education and diversifying training provision;
  • diversifying training provision and improving vocational and artistic education;
  • mobilizing School Social Assistance to combat inequalities and school failure;
  • ensuring schools focus on teaching and student learning, valuing their professionals;
  • modernizing learning models and tools.

National Programme for the Promotion of School Success

Considering that the expansion of Pre-school Education plays a decisive role in reducing school failure and improving the quality of students’ learning, the Government has defined the legal entitlement of Pre-school Education for all the children between 3 and 6 years old as a priority before the end of the legislature.

Investing in quality education from the very first years is a key factor in educational success. Viewing the role of Pre-school Education as the first stage of Basic Education, closely linked to the 1st cycle of Basic Education that has recently been extended to 12 years of compulsory schooling, is strategically important to promoting social justice and equality of opportunities, according to the XXI Constitutional Government’s programme.

Within the context of educational policy guidelines set out in the 21st Constitutional Government Programme, the Key Options of the 2016-2019 Plan and the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 23/2016 of 24th March, the National Programme for the Promotion of School Success (PNPSE) was created.

Within this framework, the Promotion of School Success Mission Group was also created. This structure is scientific and monitors primary and secondary schools, implementing, monitoring and assessing the programme.

The objective of the PNPSE is to promote school success by intervening at the first signs of difficulty using a proactive approach based on the principle that educational communities best understand their contexts, difficulties and capabilities, and, as such, better prepared to design plans for strategic action, designed at individual school there, with the aim of improving student learning.

While academic success is influenced by internal and external factors, the role schools is crucial, given that community collaboration and responsibility at local and regional level are essential to school success and commitment to education and improved learning.

Within this context, 663 schools presented their strategic action plan in order to foster different dynamics in terms of organizational and pedagogical aspects which may offer an educational response "for each student" to improve their learning and provide a better school for all.

The measures outlined by each school focus mainly on the early years of the cycle, particularly in 1st and 2nd years of the 1st cycle of Basic Education, and the assessment of the plans undertaken by the Mission Group regarding pedagogical importance and sustainability.

In addition to the above, the design of plans and their analysis were governed by criteria, such as the inclusion of measures involving changes in work dynamics in the classroom, the collaborative work of teachers, the maximisation of internal resources of each school and the core nature of pedagogical differentiation and innovation.

Aware of the need to increase the effectiveness of the measures to be implemented, in order for them to become internalized in how school clusters / non-grouped schools in the future, the Ministry of Education will consolidate teaching work in most school clusters / non-grouped schools.

The strategic action plans were approved by the General Boards of each school, which are their responsibility and constructed according to the dynamics envisaged in the design process, with any associated partnerships considered important.

As such, they involve different actors, including the entire educational community, the university and polytechnic network, civil society and local authorities.

Here, municipalities and inter-municipal communities (CIM) play the role of partners in the implementation of these plans in a convergence between their own initiatives in the area of education, and the plans drafted by schools, in order to improve the learning, and reduce levels of school failure and dropouts.

This involves interaction with schools and other local educational policy partners to assess the possibility of convergence, using a complementary approach regarding school plans and the local authorities’ educational projects to apply for POCH funding.

The Ministry of Education has supported schools, providing initial teacher training, supporting plan design, which will take place during a second stage during the school year that is now beginning, with a view to their implementation. At the same time, schools may ask for support to implement educational measures to be developed in connection with the educational community.

An early stage of the training plan involved the training of 160 trainers and the following phase of support for schools to design the plans was organised by 91 Schools Association Training Centres (CFAE) for a total of 156 classes and 2,811 students (teachers).

Now, once the strategic action plans have been drawn up, each CFAE assesses training needs so they can be implemented for associated schools.

The entire strategic action plans design process was monitored by the Mission Group, something that will also occur at the implementation stage, as well as ongoing training.

These school projects are part of a wider challenge of reducing school failure at national level by 50%.

The new assessment model is designed to promote school success, providing schools with the necessary conditions to focus on effective learning.

To this end, the end of the 4th and 6th year exams was announced, as was the introduction of national tests (as diagnostic tools) in the middle of the different cycles (2nd, 5th and 8th years), which allows timely action to improve learning via detailed, descriptive information made available to schools through individual performance reports in tests.

The model that supports these tests foresees the diversification of assessed subjects, which, combating a narrow curriculum, will allow information to be collected on the whole curriculum of the three cycles of basic education over a five-year period.

The new learning assessment system in basic education and measures promoting school success are guided by three key focusses:

Focus 1 – The implementation of routines of information analysis and processing regarding learning as a starting point for the definition of assessment frameworks, ensuring equity, rigour and transparency, and the definition of performance profiles, as guidance for teaching and learning.

Focus 2 – The involvement and joint-responsibility of all stakeholders in the assessment process (teachers, students and parents), in order to construct quality educational pathways.

Focus 3 – Improving diagnostic and formative assessment, focussing on internal assessment, which is the responsibility of schools, students and teachers.

The approved model - which will be universal and compulsory from the 2016-2017 academic year onwards – makes it possible to assess student performance and evaluate the education system in relation to all curricular components, without disturbing the normal learning of students in basic education.

As the English test (PET) is not part of the Integrated Model of External Learning Assessment in Basic Education, it was suspended as it was not consistent with the model. It involves external assessment as an integral part of internal assessment, which does not respect the principles governing learning assessment in basic education.

In terms of valid certification of foreign languages, the matter is currently being studied by the Ministry of Education and will be subject to an overall, structural review that encompasses the different foreign languages offered in the curriculum (primary and secondary education).

Supervision and monitoring of the model’s implementation, as a public policy, is undertaken by those entities and services directly involved, in order to improve where possible. The recent school survey (October 2016) on Individual Reports and School Reports on National Tests and Learning Assessment Routines aims to accurately survey and systematize practices of appropriation and the use of national test results, their relationship with internal assessment and strategic plans to promote school success. The data will make it possible to disseminate good practices and improve the model.

Creation of a Curriculum Work Group

A Curriculum Working Group was set up to define the exit profile of young people of 18 years at the end of 12 years of compulsory education.

The Ministry of Education launched a questionnaire for all teachers from public and private schools to discover their opinion of curriculum documents and how they use them in their work with students.

The results of the collected answers were presented at a conference on 30th April, 2016 - Curriculum for the 21st Century: skills, knowledge and values in 12-year schooling.

The Ministry of Education’s aim is to create a broad discussion regarding the school curriculum, within the context of the need to define exit curriculum frameworks for compulsory education, encouraging discussion with teachers regarding the decisions to be taken on major areas of curriculum development and implementation and the degree of autonomy and decision-making that teachers should have.

The current curriculum documents for basic and upper-secondary education have been approved and implemented since 1991. At the moment, for the same subjects, there are odd situations in which 1991 programmes are implanted in conjunction with 2014 curriculum standards, 2001 programmes in conjunction with 2014 curriculum standards and 2015 programmes and curriculum standards.

This anachronistic situation of current curriculum documents in conjunction with different curriculum development models worsened with the suppression of the Basic Education National Curriculum (2001) in 2012, as this created a vacuum regarding the definition of the exit profile of students at the end of basic education.

Before beginning discussion on basic and upper-secondary education curricula and, particularly, the subject knowledge that students must learn throughout compulsory education, it is important to have a broad consensus on the skills, values and knowledge that all citizens have when leaving compulsory education to allow them to continue learning throughout life and respond to the social and economic challenges of today's world, developing 21st-century skills.

Once the exit profile for compulsory education is defined and consensual, another phase of work begins where the focus returns to subjects and the definition of subject knowledge which each knowledge area should contribute so all students can achieve the compulsory education exit profile. Once this educational goal is ensured, widespread school autonomy becomes possible in relation to the flexible management of the curriculum.


Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Inclusive Education

An Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Inclusive Education was set up to propose amendments to Decree-Law No. 3/2008, 7th January, amended by Law No. 21/2008, 12th May, and respective regulatory framework, including funding and support mechanisms for the implementation of measures to promote greater educational inclusion of pupils with special educational needs. (...)".

This mission is part of a clear objective of making changes to the system that "provide greater educational inclusion of students with special educational needs", thus lending substance to the Government Programme’s commitment to creating a " 2nd Generation Inclusive School ".

Follow-up Group of the pilot project of offering Mandarin as a foreign language on Secondary Education Curriculum

As the pilot project for providing Mandarin as a Foreign Language on the secondary school curriculum (2015/2016 academic year) needs to be improved, as well as monitored and assessed during its implementation, a steering group was set up to supervise, monitor and assess such provision in Portuguese public upper-secondary schools.

With the creation of this Follow-up Group, through Order n.º 10973/2016, of 9th September, the Ministry of Education continues the pilot project of offering Mandarin as a foreign language on Secondary Education curriculum, started in the school year of 2015/2016 in 12 public secondary schools, with continuity classes on the 11th grade and of initiation on the 10th grade of the Scientific-Humanistic courses, making a clear bet on the qualification of the students and the valorisation of Secondary Education.

The domain of communication competences in several languages is an added value for an active and participated citizenship, also contributing for the cooperation between cultures. This group will visit the participating schools and will produce information in view of its gradual monitoring along the year and subsequent evaluation as to its expansion in a near future.

The prices of school books will not rise in the next school year

The prices of school books will not suffer any raise in the next school year. This is a result of a convention celebrated with the Portuguese Association of Publishers and Bookstores (APEL), after a negotiation with the Ministries of Education and Economy. This agreement will be in force from April 1st onward.

Counteracting the raise verified in the last four years, this agreement allows some relieve of the pressure of education expenses on the Portuguese families’ budget.

Also starting in the school year of 2016/1017, the Ministry of Education will ensure the free distribution of school books to all the students of the 1st year of the 1st cycle of Basic Education.

What if it was me? Packing a bag and leaving action

The Refugee Support Platform (Plataforma de Apoio aos Refugiados – PAR), together with the General-Directorate of Education (Direção-Geral da Educação – DGE), the High Commissariat for Migrations (Alto Comissariado para as Migrações – ACM, I.P.) and the National Youth Council (Conselho Nacional de Juventude – CNJ) are preparing the launch of “What if it was me? Packing a bag and leaving”, an action to raise awareness amongst children and youngsters as to the difficulties endured by refugees to escape war and find humanitarian protection.

This action will take place on the first hour of one day in all schools across the country. Students will be challenged to, in that day, take a backpack to school with the goods they would take with them if they were refugees (using images or, if possible, the goods themselves), and will be asked to share the reason of their choices.

Other measures

  • Inter-Ministerial Working Group to present a strategy proposal for Citizenship Education.


Mandarin as a Foreign Language option in Upper Secondary Education

A pilot project on the teaching of Mandarin as a Foreign Language option was launched in upper secondary education in the school year 2015/2016. It targets learners attending years 10-12 (aged 15-18) and comprises 10 state secondary schools at national level. The pilot project draws on a protocol signed by the Ministry of Education of Portugal and the Confucius Institute (Hanban) of the People’s Republic of China and was created under the Dispatch no. 7031-A/2015, of 24th June.

This pilot project is regarded by the Portuguese Ministry as an opportunity for public education as it can provide access to learning another foreign language, in addition to English, French, German or Spanish, which are also offered by the Portuguese education system. Furthermore, it enables learners to be better prepared for an international career in the future and to benefit from the advantage of communicating with the Asian world in Mandarin, which is the most spoken language in the world.

This project is included in the overall Portuguese policy for continuously implement foreign language learning. According to the latest provisional data available the share of ISCED 2 students learning two or more foreign languages in school 2013/2014 is 86.8%, an increase of 14.2 pp since 2011.

Decentralization of Education

Recognizing the positive impact of the decentralization of decision-making and school autonomy on student achievement and acknowledging the over-centralized Portuguese education governance system, the Portuguese Government set up an ambitious, but gradual, process of greater decentralization from central government to local authorities in several social areas, including education.

This is a further step in improving the Portuguese educational system after the 2012 national curriculum reform, the implementation of external national evaluation tests for mathematics and Portuguese in the 4th, 6th and 9th years of basic education, in order to externally assess and monitor the learning process, and the establishment of national standards, essential references for organizing education throughout the different stages of schooling. 

The level of national accountability is guaranteed and monitoring mechanisms have been established, allowing an increased decentralisation towards school and local decision-making autonomy that does not include changes in the established teacher recruitment and placement system.

A pilot-project was set up for the next four school years in order to improve student academic achievement and increase involvement of municipalities in supporting school educational strategies, promoting efficiency and democratic responsibility in the decision-making process, an integrated social response to the student population’s needs and the adoption of an incremental strategy built on the experience and external evaluations of the process that began in 2008. 

After an extensive national debate and negotiation between central government with local authorities and local education communities, a set of 15 municipalities (representing nearly 11% of the public system young student population and 10.4% of classes) will implement the project via inter-administrative contracts, by which the Ministry of Education and Science delegated current central responsibilities to municipalities and schools. These municipalities are representative not only of territorial and socio-economic diversity, but also of the education management challenges in relation to the differences in the number of schools involved, type of school provision and student population profile.

Each municipality and local education community has a specific responsibilities matrix that was previously discussed with the local school managing boards, establishing a decision-making mechanism as well as responsibilities covering different areas: education policies, curriculum, pedagogical and administrative organization, school management and resources management. 

The project establishes specific internal and external monitoring mechanisms. The internal one includes a dashboard with all important and systematic local educational data and student achievement indicators available to the local and school community, as well as a permanent assessment commission that includes members of the central government, local authorities and local school heads. 

Further information:

Law no. 75/2013, of 12 September

Decree-Law no. 30/2015, of 12 February


The InfoEscolas Portal

The InfoEscolas Portal was set up following the transparency and monitoring policy developed by the Ministry of Education. Like the InfoCursos Portal, it is a digital platform that gathers information on all upper-secondary school programmes. This user-friendly portal has important and systematic education information on private and public schools, organized by school or school cluster, local and regional data, allowing easy consultation by the public in general. 

The large amount of data now publicly available includes student distribution by school provision, school year and age, as well presenting the historical school progression indicators, using comparable socio-economic metrics. These indicators include national assessment results; retention rate; drop outs rate; assessment, and others.

The information available allows families to make informed choices and education agents and decision-makers to identify problems, adopt strategies and implement specific programmes and measures that improve educational responses to students’ needs, thus increasing equity in the Portuguese education system.