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International Schools for Expats in Portugal

Submitted: July 2014

The main problem with the publically funded state schools in Portugal is that all of the teaching is done in Portuguese. Furthermore the standard of education and resources offered may not be considered high enough. As a result, most expat children attend private schools.

There are generally two kinds of private schools in Portugal: Portuguese private schools and International schools. Portuguese private schools teach the Portuguese curriculum, aiming to educate the children to the level required for entry into university. International schools tend to educate to international standards such as GCSE (UK), PSAT/SAT (USA) and the International Baccalaureate. This article is only concerned with International schools.

International schools are available at primary, lower secondary and upper secondary level. Many also provide pre-school facilities from the age of three. The curriculum at each school will vary, depending on which international standard the school has adopted. Generally at secondary level your children will study maths, science, history, geography, English, art and PE, and they may also study one or sometimes two other languages.

As an expat, it is important to consider whether the standard of education received is going to be sufficient to enable your child to progress normally if you were to return home. This is especially important at upper secondary level. Some International schools will offer multiple curriculums. The most common are IGCSE and the International Baccalaureate (IB), both of which will allow your child ready access to university or college. The website for the International Baccalaureate Organisation is here. The website for the IGCSE is here. The Oporto British School offers an IGCSE programme as well as the IB diploma, and consistently achieves excellent results. There is a list of IB schools in Portugal here. There is a list of some of the main International schools in Portugal here.

In order to register, you will have to contact the school. The following minimum information is generally required for registration:

In addition, there may be more detailed information required. You may also have to pay a capital levy and registration fee; for example St Julian’s School charges a €3,250 levy and €950 fee, Oporto British School charges a €300 levy and €70 fee; so there are wide variations in the charges.

Tuition fees for international schools in Portugal also vary. Annual fees at St Julian’s range from €10,269 for Year 1 to €20,502 for Y12, whereas at Oporto British School, the same costs €8,228 and €12,091 respectively.

Unlike state schools, international schools are free to set their own term dates, so you will have to check with the schools individually; most will have these details on their websites. The first term  of the school year generally begins in mid-September, and the school year ends at the end of June. There are holidays for Christmas, the Carnival (which is decided by the phases of the moon, so sometimes it will fall in late February or even early March), Easter and a long summer holiday.



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