What are the Best Schools in Portugal for my Children?

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Published on 26 February, 2020 • Last updated on 01 March, 2024

By Portugal Homes

What are the Best Schools in Portugal for my Children?

There are several factors an individual must consider, especially if relocating with the family when deciding to move abroad. Chief among the main concerns is Education. Some of the more prevalent questions that arise tend to be: Does the country I am moving to have a good education system? How does it work? How will my children benefit from enrolling in a completely new school? Will my children be safe when attending school in the country I am moving to? 

Portugal brings positive answers to all the questions. Before, though, it is important to note that Portugal is one of the best countries in the world to live in and raise children and a family. In 2023, it ranked 7th in the Global Peace Index, earning the title of one of the safest countries in the world. With Portugal’s deep focus on education, and with some of the best schools out there, children living in Portugal have the perfect, conducive environment to thrive, and to create long-lasting, cherished memories with their peers and families.

International Schools in Portugal

Expats moving to Portugal will have several options to enroll their children in excellent schools. Within the overarching Portuguese Educational Systems, there are options for every type of budget, including public, private, and international schools in Portugal.

While Portugal is a traditionally welcoming and friendly country, with a high focus on teaching English, the rest of the curriculum tends to be taught only in Portuguese in both public and most private schools. Expats tend to prefer enrolling their children in international schools, where there is a broader multicultural setting and focus, and where their children will have the opportunity to both learn Portuguese as a second language and retain their contact and connection with their native language.

International schools are often held to a higher standard of education, where there is a broader worldly scope, and a deeper personalised focus on each child, letting each of them flourish, grow and develop on their own. International schools in Portugal also tend to offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities, which are always a tremendous plus and help children gain new skills and abilities.

Most international schools in Portugal tend to follow either the British or the American curriculums, though there are plenty that also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB), the French and German curriculums as an alternative.

International schools tend to combine the use of these curriculums with alternative, proven methods of teaching more fit to a modern world, geared toward critical thinking, creativity, and other essential skills, which are recognised by the best and top universities around the world, an always valuable plus when considering enrolling a child in a Portuguese school.

Are International Schools Free in Portugal?

All children, whether citizens or foreign-born residents, are entitled to access the country’s public educational system free of charge in Portugal. When it comes to the private system, which includes international schools, there are associated costs, usually in the form of tuition, registration fees, administrative fees, among others.  

It is important to bear in mind that there is no fixed cost of what a family may spend on a private school in Portugal, as each institution determines its own pricing structure. Regardless, according to the 2022 findings published by the International Schools Database, a family may expect to spend, on average, between €5,000 to €15,000 per year on an international school in Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, which hosts 27 international schools as of the beginning of 2024.  

The Portuguese Education System

The Education System in Portugal is similar to many other Western countries around the world, including the United Kingdom and the United States, being mandatory from the ages of 6 up to 18.

Public schools are organised into local clusters, which have their own administration and management bodies and share the same overall project. The clusters usually include institutions across all levels, including kindergartens, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Private schools are privately managed, with their own board of administrators.

It is important to bear in mind the following terms are what apply to the Portuguese context and may not have a direct equivalent in an expat’s country of origin’s educational system. Some of the meanings may be lost in translation.

School Level Age
Nursery (Infantário) 0-2
Kindergarten 3-5
Basic Education 1st Cycle (Ensino Básico 1º Ciclo)
1st 6-7
2nd 7-8
3rd 8-9
4th 9-10
Basic Education 2nd Cycle (Ensino Básico 2º Ciclo)
5th 10-11
6th 11-12
Basic Education 3rd Cycle (Ensino Básico 3º Ciclo)
7th 12-13
8th 13-14
9th 14-15
Secondary Education (Ensino Secundário)
10th 15-16
11th 16-17
12th 17-18

Between ages 0-3, children attend nursery school, and from 3-6, children attend kindergarten. Unlike the following educational grades, both nurseries and kindergartens are optional, with parents being able to decide if they want their children to attend or not.  

Between ages 6 to 9, children enrol in the 1st Cycle, commonly referred to as the Primary Education, from the 1st to the 4th grade.

Between ages 10-11, children enrol in the 2nd Cycle, commonly referred to as Basic Education, from the 5th to the 6th grade.

Between ages 12-14, children enrol in the 3rd Cycle, also referred to as Basic Education, from the 6th to the 9th grade.

Capping it off, between 15-18, children enrol in Secondary Education, from the 10th to the 12th and final mandatory education grade in Portugal.

The Best International Schools in Portugal

As of the writing of this article, in early 2024, there are 55 international schools in Portugal. According to the International Schools Database, 27 of them can be found in the capital, Lisbon, while 14 are in the Algarve, and 5 of them are located in Porto. The remaining schools are in Torres Vedras (1), Palmela (3), Leiria (2), Madeira (2) and Braga (1).  

The following does not reflect Portugal Homes’ stance on the matter, and we are merely reporting on the lists provided by the International Schools Database. 

Best Schools in Lisbon

1. St. James’ Primary School

St. James’ Primary School is an elementary-level school, covering British and Portuguese curriculums, and teaching children ages 6-10, which means it is a school focused on the Portuguese 1st cycle.

  • Yearly Tuition: between €7,100-€7,200
  • Teaching Languages: English and Portuguese

2. Oeiras International School

Oeiras International School accepts children from ages 6-18, which means it boasts the infrastructure to teach students from the 1st grade to the 12th grade. The school focuses on the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. Classes are taught in English.

  • Yearly Tuition: €11,150-€19,420
  • Teaching Languages: English

3. St. Dominic’s International School

St. Dominic’s International School also follows the IB curriculum, and its classes are taught in English. The school provides kindergarten services, accepting children from ages 3-6, and has programmes dedicated to the corresponding grading years of the Portuguese system.

  • Yearly Tuition: €11,660-€21,450
  • Teaching Languages: English

4. United Lisbon International School

United Lisbon International School follows both the IB and the American curriculums. The school accepts children from ages 3-18, having programmes for primary, basic, and secondary education. The classes are taught in English.

  • Yearly Tuition: €10,643-€21,745
  • Teaching Languages: English

5. British School of Lisbon

The British School of Lisbon focuses on teaching children between the ages of 6 and 13, roughly the equivalent of the 1st and 2nd Portuguese cycles. The school follows the British curriculum and places an emphasis on extracurricular activities.

  • Yearly Tuition: €12,255-€16,245
  • Teaching Languages: English and Portuguese

Best Schools in Porto

1. Oporto British School

Oporto British School is a private school for children aged 3 to 18. Younger students follow the British curriculum, while and senior pupils study the IB Diploma Programme.

  • Yearly Tuition: €8,735-€14,585
  • Teaching Languages: English

2. CJD International School

CJD International School is a private educational school open for children from 0 to 18, meaning the school boasts the necessary facilities to teach from the 1st to the 12th grade. It follows the Portuguese and British curriculums.

  • Yearly Tuition: €6,380
  • Teaching Languages: English and Portuguese

3. CLIP Oporto International School

CLIP Oporto International School teaches a modified British curriculum in English fit to the school’s philosophical approach, from children ages 3-18, covering the entire mandatory Portuguese schooling, from 1st to the 12th grade.

  • Yearly Tuition: €8,468
  • Teaching Languages: English

4. Lycée Français International School

Lycée Francais International Porto accepts children from the ages of 3-18, also spanning the mandatory Portuguese 1st to 12th grades. It focuses on the French curriculum, and offers learning other languages as classes.

  • Yearly Tuition:  €4,771
  • Teaching Languages: French

5. Deutsche Schule zu Porto

The German School of Porto focuses on teaching children between the ages of 3-18 the German curriculum. Classes are taught both in German and Portuguese.

  • Yearly Tuition:  €4,282
  • Teaching Language: German and Portuguese

Best Schools in the Algarve

1. Montalvo International School

Based in Loulé, the Montalvo International School focuses on the British curriculum to the children between the ages of 13-18, corresponding to the Portuguese 3rd Cycle and Secondary Education, placing emphasis on preparation for higher education.

  • Yearly Tuition: from: €11,250-€12,255
  • Teaching Languages: English

2. Vale Verde International School

Vale Verde teaches the British curriculum in English classes out of Lagos, in the Algarve region, to children between the ages of 5 and 18, spanning the mandatory Portuguese 1st to the 12th grade.

  • Yearly Tuition: €6,432-€11,274
  • Teaching Languages: English and Portuguese

3. Vilamoura International School

Vilamoura International School focuses on a bilingual approach, teaching both the Portuguese and the British curriculums in each respective language to students ages 3-18.

  • Yearly Tuition: €6,340-€12,065
  • Teaching Languages: English and Portuguese

4. Aspire International School

Located in Almancil, Aspire International School accepts students from ages 3-18, providing the necessary infrastructure to teach all the mandatory Portuguese schooling years. The school teaches the British curriculum in English.

  • Yearly Tuition: from: €6,345-€13,500
  • Teaching Languages: English

5. Eden Montessori International School

As the name indicates, this school teaches the Montessori curriculum in both the Portuguese and the English language out of Albufeira, in the Algarve, to students between the ages of 3-12.

  • Yearly Tuition: from: €6,432-€11,274
  • Teaching Languages: English and Portuguese

Move to Portugal and Get the Best Education for Your Children

There are plenty of options for every expat and their family’s financial plans, across every main region in Portugal, including other schools not mentioned in the previous lists. Regardless of the method of education or curriculum, one thing is certain: Portugal has among the best international schools in the whole European continent.

Parents can rest assured that, in moving to Portugal, their children’s education will be in safe hands, and that they will have a vast array of opportunities for success. Besides methods and curriculums, international schools frequently only hire experienced teachers and are based in facilities with the latest equipment, with many of them actively using technological devices such as iPads as an integral tool to a child’s education.

The Portuguese international schools boast world-renowned and proven programs as well as a plethora of extracurricular activities, revealing their dedication to educating and training their students for the future. With Portugal having all the conditions for families to grow happily together and international schools providing the environment for them to succeed, moving to Portugal becomes the easiest decision an expat can ever make.

While Portugal makes the choice to relocate easy, actually moving and residing in the country is effortless with Portugal Homes. Obtain Residency in 3 months and Citizenship in 5 years for you and your family with our dedicated D2 Visa investment options. Get in touch with us today to find out more about these exciting new opportunities and ensure your children receive the best education in Portugal.


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