This report for Portugal forms part of the OECD Review of Policies to Improve the Effectiveness of Resource Use in Schools (also referred to as the School Resources Review, see Annex A for further details). The purpose of the review is to explore how school resources can be governed, distributed, utilised and managed to improve the quality, equity and efficiency of school education. School resources are understood in a broad way, including financial resources (e.g. expenditures on education, school budget), physical resources (e.g. school infrastructure, computers), human resources (e.g. teachers, school leaders) and other resources (e.g. learning time).

Portugal was one of the countries which opted to participate in the country review strand and host a visit by an external review team. Members of the OECD review team were David Liebowitz (OECD Secretariat), co-ordinator of the review; Pablo González (Director of the Centre for Public Systems at the University of Chile); Edith Hooge (Full Professor of “Boards and Governance in Education” at TIAS, Tilburg University in the Netherlands), Gonçalo Lima (OECD Secretariat) and Deborah Nusche (OECD Secretariat). The biographies of the members of the review team are provided in Annex B. This publication is the report from the review team. It provides, from an international perspective, an independent analysis of major issues facing the use of school resources in Portugal, current policy initiatives and possible future approaches. The report serves three purposes: i) to provide insights and advice to Portuguese education authorities; ii) to help other countries understand the Portuguese approach to the use of school resources; and iii) to provide input for comparative analyses of the OECD School Resources Review.

The scope for the analysis in this report covers primary (including 1st and 2nd cycle of basic education) and secondary (including 3rd cycle of basic education and upper secondary) school education. At the request of Portuguese authorities, the focus areas of the Review of School Resources in Portugal are: i) the process of the decentralisation of school governance; ii) the integration of local, national and international funding streams in educational financing; and iii) the teaching profession. The analysis presented in the report refers to the situation faced by the education system in January 2018, when the review team visited Portugal. The most recent educational data used in this report reflects the situation during the 2015/16 school year.

Portugal’s involvement in the OECD review was co-ordinated by multiple staff members in the Ministry of Education. The national co-ordinator was Pedro Abrantes, Expert Advisor to the Minister of Education. He was supported by Luís Farrajota, Board of the Institute for Financial Management of Education (IGEFE), Ana Castro, Board of the Operational Programme for Human Capital (PO CH) and Luísa Canto e Castro Loura, Director of the Directorate-General for Education and Science Statistics (DGEEC). Important review visit logistical support was provided by Isabel Correia from the Secretary-General of Education and Science (SGEC). An important part of Portugal’s involvement in the School Resources Review was the preparation of the Country Background Report (CBR), a document providing policy context and key data that informed the review team. The OECD review team is very grateful to the authors of the CBR and to all those who assisted them in providing a high-quality informative document. The CBR is an important output from the OECD project in its own right as well as a key source for the review team. The CBR follows guidelines prepared by the OECD Secretariat and provides extensive information, analysis and discussion in regard to the national context, the organisation of the education system, the use of school resources and the views of key stakeholders. In this sense, the CBR and this report complement each other and, for a more comprehensive view of the effectiveness of school resource use in Portugal, should be read in conjunction.

The OECD and the European Commission (EC) have established a partnership for the project which partly covers participation costs of countries which are part of the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. The participation of Portugal was organised with the support of the EC in the context of this partnership.1∗ The EC was part of the planning process of the review of Portugal (providing comments on the Portuguese CBR, participating in the preparatory visit and providing feedback on the planning of the review visit) and offered comments on drafts of this report. The involvement of the EC was co-ordinated by Antonio García Gómez, Policy Officer for Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom in the European Commission’s Education, Youth, Sport and Culture Directorate-General (DG EAC). The review team is grateful to Antonio García Gómez for his contribution to the planning of the review and for the helpful comments he provided on drafts of this report.

The review visit to Portugal took place between 8 and 12 January 2018. The itinerary is provided in Annex C. The visit was designed by the OECD (with input from the EC) in collaboration with the Portuguese authorities. It also involved a preparatory visit by the OECD Secretariat on 2-4 October 2017 with the participation of Antonio García Gómez from the EC. The review team met with Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, the Minister of Education; other officials from the Ministry of Education and its associated units; representatives of national educational guidance bodies; the Ministry of Finance; the Ministry of Labour Solidarity and Social Security; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education; representatives of the Secretary of State of Local Administration; employers’ confederations; representatives of associations of private educational providers; representatives of national school teachers’ and principals’ unions and associations; representatives of national associations of municipalities; national parents’ associations, including ones with a particular focus on the needs of special education students; representatives of teachers’ professional, in-service training centres; civil society organisations with an interest in children; representatives from national special education teachers’ associations; and researchers with an interest in the effectiveness of school resource use. The team visited seven schools in four of the five territorial units of the country (Lisbon Metropolitan Area, North, Alentejo and Algarve), interacting with the municipal authorities responsible for school education as well as school leaders, teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and students at each school. The seven schools selected for the main visit were chosen at random from a set of pre-specified geographic, demographic and performance criteria established by the OECD review team. The intention was to provide the review team with a broad cross-section of information and opinions on school resource use and how its effectiveness can be improved. Overall, the OECD review team held 61 meetings with approximately 280 stakeholders, including 7 school clusters serving 10 033 students.

The OECD review team wishes to record its gratitude to the many people who gave time from their busy schedules to inform the review team of their views, experiences and knowledge. The meetings were open and provided a wealth of insights. Special gratitude is due to the National Co-ordinator, Pedro Abrantes, for his commitment and efforts to provide the review team with the best possible conditions for this work. In addition, the review team is grateful for the support provided by Isabel Correia for organising the perfect review visit and going to great lengths to respond to the questions and needs of the review team. The review team was impressed by her efficiency, expertise and kindness. The courtesy and hospitality extended to us throughout our stay in Portugal made our task as a review team as pleasant and enjoyable as it was stimulating and challenging.

The OECD review team is also grateful to colleagues at the OECD. Eleonore Morena provided key administrative, editorial and layout support. We also received valuable feedback on versions of the report from Patricia Mangeol, Clara Barata and Simon Roy all of the Directorate for Education and Skills. Head of the Policy Analysis and Implementation Division Paulo Santiago also provided key feedback on the report. A special thanks to Cláudia Sarrico who assumed interim responsibility for managing the School Resources Review team and provided both critical substantive comments and strategic guidance for the report writing phase.

This report is organised into four chapters. Chapter 1 provides the national context, with information on the Portuguese school system. Chapter 2 analyses the funding of school education. Chapter 3 reviews the organisation of the school network in Portugal. Finally, Chapter 4 examines the distribution and development of teachers, leaders and other staff in Portuguese schools. Chapters 2 to 4 each present strengths, challenges and policy recommendations.

The policy recommendations attempt to build on and strengthen reforms that are already underway in Portugal, and the strong commitment to further improvement that was evident among those the OECD review team met. The suggestions should take into account the difficulties that face any visiting group, no matter how well briefed, in grasping the complexity of Portugal’s education system and fully understanding all the issues. This report is, of course, the responsibility of the OECD review team. While the team benefited greatly from Portugal’s CBR and other documents, as well as the many discussions with a wide range of Portuguese personnel, any errors or misinterpretations in this report are its responsibility.

← 1. ∗ This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

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