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International Schools in Portugal: Which Are the Best?

31 de January, 2024

International Schools in Portugal: Which Are the Best?

Are you considering living in Portugal as an expatriate and searching for the best education for your children? Discover here the top international schools in the country, how they operate, and their costs.
Estudante com mochila
Reading: 9 min

Are you considering living in Portugal as an expatriate and looking for the best education for your children? International schools in Portugal are synonymous with high-quality education and can be found from north to south. Generally, they incorporate global teaching programs with the rich local culture and history. Your children will have the opportunity to study in a diverse environment, surrounded by children from all over the world. Many of these schools offer classes in languages like English, French, or German. And in Portugal, these schools aren’t as expensive as in other countries.

Find out in this article about how international schools in Portugal are, their costs, the best ones, and their locations.

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International schools are recommended for both Portuguese families seeking a more multicultural education for their children and for foreigners who have moved to Portugal and wish to maintain connections with their home country.

Moreover, these institutions stand out due to several characteristics:

  • They offer a more comprehensive education.
  • They don’t strictly follow Portugal’s National Common Curriculum: they include local curriculum components and those of the represented country.
  • They foster deeper connections with the represented country, valuing its culture.
  • Classes can be taught in foreign languages.
  • They follow the school calendar of the represented country.

Which are the best international schools in Portugal?

International schools in Portugal are primarily located in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, areas with a high presence of expatriates.

Among the most renowned are St. Peter’s School, The Cascais International School, St Julian’s School, Carlucci American International School of Lisbon, and International Preparatory School.

In the context of the national ranking of Portuguese schools, Luso-French and St. Peter’s International School stand out. This is due to these schools adhering to the National Curriculum Base, which is not followed by all institutions.

Below is a list of the best international schools in Portugal.

International Schools in Northern Portugal (Porto Metropolitan Area)

OPorto British School

Founded in 1894 in Foz do Douro, this prestigious institution initially had 11 boys as students. In 1902, it expanded its acceptance to non-British boys and, later in 1914, to girls. Today, Oporto British School offers International Education for children aged 4 to 18, based on an adapted version of the British national curriculum, including the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB), being the only IB World School in northern Portugal.

Escola Internacional Luso Francês

Colégio Luso-Internacional do Porto

Founded in 1990, CLIP offers an international curriculum based on the National Curriculum for England, maintaining international standards of excellence and equivalence in various countries, including Portugal. The institution accommodates over a thousand students and provides excellent teaching conditions.

Colégio Luso-Francês

With an 85-year history, this Catholic school run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady provides education from the 1st to the 3rd cycle and Secondary Education. It blends tradition with an educational approach that meets current demands in scientific, humanistic, and artistic training.

Colégio Alemão do Porto

Education at the German School spans from Kindergarten, Primary School, to High School, culminating in the 12th-grade exam. From the outset, emphasis is placed on parallel teaching of both the German and Portuguese languages.

Students from German-speaking countries undergo a 3-year integration period in Portuguese studies to attain the corresponding academic qualification for the ‘Deutsche Reifeprüfung’ and the 12th-grade exam. This preparation allows students the flexibility to enroll in both Portuguese and German universities.

International Schools in the Central Region of Portugal

Colégio São José

The school in Coimbra follows the Schoenstatt Pedagogy, aiming for the comprehensive development of students across physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual aspects. It values freedom, responsibility, creativity, and initiative among students, who play an active role in constructing their knowledge. Teachers act as guides, and each student has a tutor for personalized support. Education is collaboratively organized with planning every two weeks. This methodology has yielded excellent academic results and awards in competitions.

Colégio Luso-Internacional do Centro

Located in Marinha Grande, Leiria district, this school provides education from preschool (ages 3 to 5) to Middle School (4th grade), where students follow the English National Curriculum adapted to the Portuguese National Curriculum. In the Upper School, students pursue programs geared towards Cambridge International Examinations, including the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) in the 9th and 10th grades.

Metropolitan Area of Lisbon

Escola Internacional Cristã de Cascais🇺🇸

Located in Cascais, the school offers education based on Christian principles and the American curriculum, spanning from kindergarten to grade 12. A member of the Association of Christian Schools International – ACSI, following the North American teaching style. The institution emphasizes its openness to students from diverse cultural, ethnic, religious, and educational backgrounds.

Carlucci Escola Internacional Americana de Lisboa 🇺🇸

Situated in the capital, Lisbon, this school caters to students from 2 years old to 18 years old, following an American curriculum and preparing them for higher education in Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Students pursue the IB Diploma program (International Baccalaureate).

Founded by American Anthony McKenna to primarily serve the children of engineers from the United States who came to assist in the construction of the Salazar Bridge (now 25th of April Bridge). The school’s initial aim was to provide an American education enabling students to seamlessly enter schools and universities in the U.S. upon their return home. As the school’s reputation for academic excellence grew, students from other nationalities enrolled. Today, there are around 700 students.

Escola Alemã de Lisboa 🇩🇪

Established in 1848 to preserve the German language within the community, GSL is supported by the German federal government and offers education from Kindergarten to the German Abitur and, since 2019, the International German Abitur. This enables entry into higher education globally.

Lycée Francais Charles Lepierre 🇫🇷

Inaugurated in 1952, this Lycée is overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and offers Kindergarten, Elementary, High School, and certifications in Spanish DELE B2 and CAPLE Portuguese.

Prime College 🇬🇧

The first institution to offer International Higher Education in Portugal, Prime College is part of an international group of schools based on the Cambridge curriculum, United Kingdom. It caters to students aged 3 to 18 in São João, Estoril, and Sintra.

St Julian’s School 🇬🇧

Located near Lisbon and Cascais, this British school offers diverse curriculum programs, including the local Portuguese system, the English National Curriculum, IGCSEs, and the IB Diploma, opening doors to universities worldwide.

St. Peter’s Internacional School 🇬🇧

Located in Setúbal, with 30 years of experience, it combines excellent academic achievements within the Portuguese National Curriculum with internationally recognized Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP), both taught in English. Welcoming local and international students aged 4 months to 18 years, the school offers a holistic and bilingual learning environment, following the Portuguese curriculum from preschool to secondary education, while also providing the option for international education, including the Cambridge curriculum from the 7th year and the renowned International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme for older students.

International Schools in the Algarve

Colégio Internacional de Vilamoura

Established in 1984 in Loulé, the school stands as a reference in the educational landscape, attracting a diverse community of approximately 40 nationalities. They promote the teaching of various languages, including English, French, Mandarin, Russian, and German. Accredited by the University of Cambridge and a partner of the Alliance Française.

Aljezur International School

Located in Aljezur, within a true paradise, this school operates on a farm, welcoming students of all nationalities and backgrounds. Established in 2010, the Aljezur International School accommodates young people from ages ten to 18. It prioritizes individualized student support, organizing them into small groups and fostering the relationship between the student and their tutor. Adopts the British curriculum and encompasses 26 nationalities.

Escola Internacional Vale Verde

Situated between the villages of Luz and Burgau, in the municipality of Lagos, it offers primary and secondary education. With a bilingual program for younger students and recognized international qualifications for adolescents, VVIS prepares its students for global challenges.

Nobel International School Algarve

With units in Lagoa and Almancil, the school has an international section divided between Primary and Secondary School, providing a rigorous academic program. The faculty is international, and boarding options are available from the age of 12.

Which language is spoken in international schools in Portugal?

In international schools in Portugal, the language of instruction varies from English to French, German, and even Mandarin, depending on the school’s reference nationality. Generally, the foreign language is prioritized, but Portuguese is also widely used and taught.

What is the average cost of international schools in Portugal?

The costs of international schools in Portugal can vary significantly, depending on the school and the academic year, ranging between 5,000 and 24,000 euros per year.

Consider the following costs:

  • Enrollment fee, charged upon entering a school (between 30 and 70 euros);
  • Annual tuition fee (between 200 and 500 euros);
  • School insurance, required in some institutions (50 euros);
  • Monthly fees, ranging from 450 euros to 1800 euros;
  • School uniforms, required in almost all private schools in Portugal;
  • Books and school materials;
  • School meals, which are also paid separately and can vary significantly, averaging around 100 euros monthly;

It’s worth noting that many schools offer different prices for students from the European Union and those outside it. Some also provide discounts to national students from the school’s reference country.

The educational system in Portugal

Some essential information about education in Portugal:

  • The country has a mixed public-private school system.
  • Education is compulsory from six to 18 years old.
  • Public schools, except universities, are free and accessible to both national citizens and foreigners.
  • Basic education uses a grading system from 0 to 100%.
  • Secondary education uses a scale of 0 to 20 points.

Educational levels in Portugal and corresponding ages:

EducationAge*
Nursery0-2 Years
Kindergarten3-5 Years
Primary Education, 1º cycle 1º to 4º year (Elementary School)6 – 10 Years
Primary Education, 2.º cycle 5º ao 6º (Elementary School)10 – 12 Years
Primary Education, 3º cycle 7º ao 9º (Elementary School)12 – 15 Years
Secondary Education 10º ao 12º (High School)15 – 18 Years
*The ages in different stages of education follow a structure similar to the division used in the educational system of the United States.

What is the school year like in Portugal: School holidays

The school year in Portugal usually starts between September 12th and 15th and ends in June. For 9th, 11th, and 12th-grade students, the last day is usually early June. For 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th-grade students, the last day is usually mid-June. For preschool and the 1st cycle, the last day is usually late June.

  • Christmas: Christmas holidays last for about two weeks, starting on December 18th and ending on January 2nd.
  • Carnival: There are no Carnival holidays, but there might be a short break of 3 days.
  • Easter: Easter holidays occur in April and last for about two weeks.

Admission requirements for international schools in Portugal

To enroll a child, you’ll need the following documents and requirements:

  • School enrollment form;
  • Parents’ and children’s IDs;
  • Three passport-sized photos of the student and the legal guardian;
  • Proof of legal residence;
  • Previous school reports;
  • Medical certificates or vaccination proofs for the child;
  • Proof of payment of the registration fee;
  • Language tests, if necessary.

Additionally, most international schools require an interview with the child as part of the admission process.

Advantages and disadvantages of international schools

International schools in Portugal offer high-standard education, smaller classes, modern facilities, often following recognized international programs, which can provide a more global education. They promote cultural diversity and multilingualism, enriching students’ experiences. They are excellent choices for preparing students for studies abroad, familiarizing them with foreign educational systems.

On the other hand, these institutions tend to be more expensive, which can be a limiting factor for some families. Additionally, some children may find it challenging to adapt to bilingual education.

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Silvia Resende

Author:

Silvia Resende

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