Primary education

Admission, subjects and grading

Primary education

Up to the age of fifteen, children receive general and mandatory education which covers a wide range of topics.

Subjects include: English (Inglês), History (História),Geography (Geografia), Portuguese language (Língua Portuguesa), French (Francês), Natural Sciences (Ciências Naturais), Physics and Chemistry (Físico-Química), Physical Education (Educação Física), Information and Communication Technology (Tecnologias de Informação e Comunicação), Theatre (Teatro), Dance (Dança), Design (Educação Visual), Design Technology/Woodwork (Educação Tecnológica).

Basic education (ensino básico) is divided into three levels:

First cycle (1º Ciclo) lasts four years for children aged 6-10.

Second Cycle (2º Ciclo) lasts two years for children aged 10-12.

Third Cycle (3º Ciclo) lasts three years for people aged 12-15.

Admission into Basic education

Parents are requested to enroll their children in the school nearest their home or place of work. If your child's birthday is before the 15th of september, you have to enroll him or her in a primary school in that year.

If your child's birthday is after that day, enrollment is optional if there a places available. You should make a special petition to the school during the registration period (between the beginning of January and 31st of May).

To enroll your child in a basic school you will need:

  • The child's ID card, passport, or a certificate from the embassy of the country of the child's origin.
  • A completed registration form with a passport photograph attached. Forms will be supplied by the school.
  • Proof that the child has had all necessary vaccinations and eye/hearing tests. (For this to be done you must be registered at a Health Centre (Centro de saúde).

The first cycle of primary education is taught at a different institution to the second and third cycle. When your child moves on to the 2nd cycle, you will have to repeat the enrollment process again at a different school.

Assessment process and grading

Pupils are assessed at the end of each year and cycle. Children who pass the assessment will be allowed to continue into the next year of education. If a child does not pass they will be made to resit the school year.

In Portuguese primary schools a grading system of 1-5 is used.

  • 5 is the best possible grade (90-100%),
  • 4 (75-89%),
  • 3 means "average" performance (50-75%),
  • 2 (20-49%),
  • 1 is the lowest possible grade (0-19%).

Children pass with a grade 3 and above.

At the end of the third cycle of ensino básico successful pupils will be awarded a diploma/certificate. This diploma is essential for entrance into secondary education.

Further reading

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