Portugal & Spain education systems


In Portugal compulsory education lasts 9 years  from 6 to 15.

The school system is organized as follow:

Primary and Secondary School (Escola Básica  6-15)

High School (Escola Secundária 15-18)

Jardins de ìnfòncia: 3 years (for kids from 3 to 6 years old). The Ministry of Education is the person in charge for kindergartens, both for state and private institutions. Pre-school education, based on the 1997 Pre-school Education Framework Act, is considered an integral part of the education system even if it is optional. Pre-school education can be organized through different organizations: jardins de infòncia (kindergarten) or socio-educational activities.

The kids groups are organized according to the methodology used by the pedagogical Council of the single institution (usually same age groups or mixed age groups). Schools for children, managed and financed by the Ministry of Education, provide a maximum number of 25 children per teacher, 20 in case of classes with 3-year-old children. Generally, teachers change groups every day and in schools activities last  5 hours a day for 5 days a week.

The teacher is responsible for the development of the curriculum and have to follow  the guidelines on pre-school education defined by the Ministry of Education in 1997. The evaluation is of a training nature, since it is mainly concerned with the processes rather than the results and  develop active learning.

Staff; the initial formation of the pre-school teachers includes a scientific component and a pedagogical component, oriented to the achievement of a specific professional qualification, and takes place in the Escolas Superiores de Educaòo. The future teacher of the pre-school level follows higher courses that give the title of” licenciado”. Teachers work 35 hours a week, divided into 25 teaching  hours and 10 hours dedicated to other activities.


The compulsory school in Spain lasts 10 years, from 6 to 16.

The school system is as follows:

Primary School   (6-12)

Secondary School  (12-16)

Higher School  (16-18)

Professional Training  (16-20)

The “Educaciòn infantil” is the first level of the educational system, it is not mandatory and is free. It lasts 6 years divided into two cycles of 3 years each (one from 0 to 3  and the other from 3 to 6). It is offered by both public and private institutions and often the second cycle is organized at primary education institutions.

The maximum number of children per class varies from 8 (classes of babies under 1 year old) to 25 (children from 3 to 6). School year starts from 1 to 15 September and finishes from 21 to 30 June, for a total of 180 days divided into 5-day weeks. Usually children can not stay at school for more than 9 hours a day. Many schools have also started to offer breakfast from 7.30 in the morning.

Both levels have an educational aims and the curriculum deals with three areas of experience: identity and personal autonomy, discovery of the physical and social environment, communication and representation. In particular, in the second cycle we can find the introduction to literacy, basic elements of ICT and foreign languages. Pre-primary education must be closely coordinated with primary education, in order to guarantee a more gradual transition to that level of education.

Staff: the training for pre-school teachers takes place at the Escuelas Universitarias de Profesorado. The training consists of three-year cycle at university level. At the end of these studies they get a Master’s degree  in different specializations: pre-primary education, primary education, foreign language, physical education, music education. They are public employees and are selected through public competitions. Training is obligatory  at all levels and the courses must be organized by the educational authorities and are free.

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