3. Developing capacity for diversity, equity and inclusion

In the past few years, Portugal has implemented progressive measures aimed at addressing diversity in education both at the systemic (societal) level and among its student body. One of these measures is the National Strategy for Citizenship Education (ENEC), which was introduced in 2017. The ENEC aims at improving the societal values and competencies that contribute to active and informed citizenship to foster the attainment of a more secure, fair, sustainable and inclusive society. Furthermore, the legislation enacted under the Decree Law No. 55/2018 states that “the programme of the 21st Constitutional Government assumes as a priority the implementation of an educational policy with a people-centred approach, which ensures equity in the access to public education, therefore promoting educational success and equal opportunities for all”.

Therefore, citizenship and developmental education seek to develop a broad range of active citizenship competencies in students, which are deemed essential for young people to acquire before they turn 18. The ENEC proposed the mandatory creation of school-based strategies geared toward the implementation of a specific curricular component on Citizenship and Development. In order to provide clear guidance regarding content and focus of Citizenship Education, the ENEC specified different domains of Citizenship Education, split into three categories: i) (domains) mandatory for all grade levels of compulsory education (Grades 1 through 12); ii) domains that should be taught in at least two levels of primary and lower secondary education (Grade 1 through 9); and iii) optional domains. Table 3.1 shows the three broad categories into which the curriculum on Citizenship and Development is organised, as well as the specific themes/areas that fall under each category.

The ENEC derives from and draws on the Students’ Profile by the End of Compulsory Schooling Act (see Chapter 2 for a detailed account of the Students’ Profile). The Students’ Profile document underlines the principles and a humanistic-based vision on which educational action should be based as well as the values, competencies and areas to be developed by young people at the end of compulsory schooling. Some of the values that students should develop are inclusion, sustainability, responsibility and integrity, curiosity, reflection and innovation, and freedom. Most of these values are reflected in the ENEC. It is important to highlight that ENEC objectives embrace a whole-school approach. The fact that the Students’ Profile, Decree Law No. 55/2018 on Curricular Flexibility, Decree Law No. 54/2918 on Inclusive Education and the ENEC draw on each other and are complementary indicates a clear commitment by Portugal to focus the education system on the development of these competencies. However, the attainment of these principles and values requires the commitment of the whole school, teachers, families and parents, and education leaders.

The citizenship education curriculum comprises 17 domains. Among the compulsory courses for all schools, each grade has course objectives, which are highly relevant for diversity, equity and inclusion, including: Sustainable Development, Human Rights, Gender Equality, Interculturality, Environmental Education and Sexuality. These topics align with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals and the growing popularity of global Citizenship Education (Andreotti, 2010[2]; Peck and Pashby, 2018[3]).

With the introduction of this law, Citizenship Education has been implemented in all public and private schools in Portugal. An important consideration is the fact that the Portuguese government tied the implementation of Citizenship Education to the curriculum’s autonomy and flexibility (Decree Law No. 55/2018). This gives schools the freedom to manage up to 25% of the curriculum, enriching and deepening the disciplinary essential learning, which fosters interdisciplinary and collaborative work, problem-based learning and deeper learning tailored to the specific context of schools (see Chapter 2 for further details on curriculum autonomy and flexibility). What remains unclear is whether or not teachers adopt a critical approach to teaching Citizenship Education. In order to accomplish its purpose, Andreotti (2006[4]) admonishes that a critical approach rather than a soft approach to teaching Citizenship Education must be adopted (see Box 3.1 for the distinction between a soft and critical approach to teaching Citizenship Education). The crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has interfered with the implementation of this policy. It remains to be seen what the actual impact of this programme will have on students.

The Portuguese Government has approved Resolution No. 61/2018 of 21 May, implementing the National Strategy for Equality and Non-Discrimination (Estratégia Nacional para a Igualdade e Não Discriminação – Portugal + Igual, ENIND), for the period covering 2018-2030. This National Plan addresses three main domains: equality between women and men (Igualdade entre Mulheres e Homens, IMH); violence against women, gender violence and domestic violence (Violência contra as Mulheres e Violência Doméstica, VMVD); and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender and sexual characteristics (Orientação sexual, Identidade e Expressão de género, e Características sexuais, OIEC).

In relation to IMH, the main goals of this Plan are to address the gender dimension at all levels of public governance. The Plan also aims to: i) further promote gender equality in access to education; ii) fight gender stereotypes in the field of access to health services; iii) eradicate gender stereotypes in communication and media; and iv) integrate the gender dimension in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. The second plan, VMVD, aims to: i) prevent and eradicate social tolerance towards violence against women and domestic violence by promoting a culture of non-violence and tolerance; ii) enlarge the protection already granted to the victims of such violence; iii) fight practices such as genital mutilation and forced marriage involving children. The third plan, OIEC, intends to promote the mainstreaming of non-discrimination issues related to LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, etc.) individuals and fight all forms of violence based on the OIEC.

Enshrined in Law No. 38/2018, the legislation aims at fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sexual characteristics in governance at all levels and domains. Among others, this law seeks to attain the following:

  1. 1. Preventing and combatting discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression or sexual characteristics.

  2. 2. Identifying and intervening in situations where children and young people manifest gender identity or gender expression that is not identified with the sex attributed at birth.

  3. 3. Protecting gender identity, gender expression and sexual characteristics against all forms of social exclusion and violence in schools; ensuring respect for the autonomy, privacy and self-determination of children and young people who experience social transitions of gender identity and expression.

  4. 4. Providing training for teachers and other professionals in the education system concerning issues related to gender identity, gender expression and the diversity of sexual characteristics of children and young people, with a view of their inclusion as a process of socio-educational integration.

The recent publication “The fifth review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the EU [European Union] Member States” of the European Institute for Gender Equality noted that, since the adoption of the law in Portugal, there has been an increase in the proportion of women in companies. In particular, it highlighted an increase of women in the boards of listed companies from 12% to 18%, from 28% to 32% in state companies, and from 20% to 32% in local public companies. Another law adopted in March 2019 requires that at least 40% of top civil servants in public administration and staff in public higher education institutions and associations are women (European Institute for Gender Equality, 2020[5]). This national agenda is directly reflected in the ENEC programme with a specific focus on gender equality. The ENEC provides educational materials and programmes for teacher training.

While there have been significant improvements in raising awareness on issues related to gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, gaps remain in relation to ethnic groups and national minorities. In particular, there seems to be persistent discrimination against Roma people in Portuguese society (see Chapter 1). The recent report of the European Institute for Gender Equality suggests that over half of Roma women (52%) in Portugal reported discrimination with only 4% having reported the latest incident (European Institute for Gender Equality, 2020[5]). Despite progress in recent years, there remain high levels of discrimination, poverty and social exclusion for many Roma people and families, as well as continued lack of awareness and mistrust between Roma and non-Roma people (Ministry of Education, 2022[1]).

The Portuguese National Strategy for the Integration of Roma Communities (Estratégia Nacional para Integração das Comunidades Ciganas, ENICC) was created to bring about improvements to the overall situation of Roma communities and promote their inclusion within Portuguese society, including by encouraging communication and positive interaction, and deconstructing stereotypes. The first Strategy was established for the 2013-2020 period (Council of Ministers’ Resolution No. 25/2013, of 27 March). It followed a call made by the European Commission (EC) that led to the creation of the 2011 Framework for the National Integration Strategies (NRIS), which complements the Racial Equality Directive (No. 2000/43/EU). Countries were then encouraged to develop and implement their own NRIS in order to foster the inclusion of Roma communities within their borders (Rutigliano, 2020[6]). The Portuguese Strategy was published following consultation processes involving all ministries, civil society organisations, Roma communities and experts. Besides the four main areas proposed by the EC 2011 NRIS – housing, education, health and employment, – the Portuguese ENICC added crosscutting pillars in order to address issues like discrimination, mediation, citizenship, gender equality, Roma history and culture. The ENICC included a total of 40 priorities, 105 measures and 148 goals to reach by 2020. 

The ENICC monitoring process has shown the need to introduce changes, both to the strategy’s definition – particularly in relation to the clarification and implementation of measures – and in the identification of priority intervention areas – particularly gender equality, knowledge on Roma people and their participation in the implementation process of the next ENICC. The Government has therefore decided to review the ENICC to adjust its objectives, targets and, consequently, to enhance its impact on improving the situation of Roma communities. The priority is to improve inclusion in education and training and the workplace as well as the overall living conditions of Roma people, and to recognise and boost interventions in intercultural mediation, improve information and knowledge, and combat discrimination (Ministry of Education, 2022[1]).

Along the same lines, the new strategy will aim to place the relevance of Roma inclusion higher in the political and public agenda, and to coordinate the different sectors that promote it, in particular by highlighting the central role of local policies in integrating vulnerable Roma populations. The Council of Ministers Resolution No. 154/2018, of 29 November, approved the revision of the National Roma Communities Integration Strategy 2013-2020 by extending it until 2022. The revised ENICC is in line with other national strategies, such as the National Strategy for Equality and Non-Discrimination 2018-2030 (Ministry of Education, 2022[1]).

Likewise, Portugal has a National Strategy for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities (Estratégia Nacional para a Inclusão das Pessoas com Deficiência, ENIPD). A national consultation was recently conducted to design the 2021-2025 ENIPD. Like the previous strategies (the first one being in 2011-2013), the 2021-2025 ENIPD has “Education and Qualification” as one of its main strategic orientations. The “Promotion of an Inclusive Environment” is also one of its main strategic orientations.

In Portugal, teachers are required to have a Master’s (MA) degree in Education and Teaching, which results in a teaching qualification to teach in public, private or cooperative education. This requirement applies to all teachers regardless of the school level they teach (pre-primary, basic and upper-secondary education). The teaching profession is regulated, and the qualifications required of teachers are defined in the legislation (Decree Law No. 79/2014). The legislation defines the curricula (main elements) and minimum study requirements for each of the main elements, including General educational sciences (GES, 5-15%2), Subject-specific didactics (SSD, 25%), Supervised teaching practice (STP, 35 - 40%) and Subject-matter knowledge (SMK, 15%) (Ministry of Education, 2022[1]).

Currently in Portugal, there are 150 ITE programmes offered by both public and private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) aimed at preparing teachers to become fully capable of independently analysing and solving problems in education and teaching. Of this number, 80 programmes (53.4%) are offered by 32 training institutions whose focus is on preparing teachers for pre-primary education and the first and second cycles of basic education (Grades 1 through 6) (Ministry of Education, 2022[1]). Seventy programmes (46.6%) are offered by 12 training institutions that prepare teachers to teach in the third cycle of basic education and secondary education (Grades 7 through 12). A significant number of these 70 programmes that focus on preparing the third cycle and secondary education teachers are concentrated in the largest universities in Portugal (Ministry of Education, 2022[1]). In particular, 47 of the 70 programmes are offered by four public HEIs, namely the University of Lisbon, the New University of Lisbon, the University of Coimbra and the University of Porto.

Annex 3.A provides insight into initial teacher preparation and highlights areas of focus and the weight put on specific areas of the curriculum. Specifically, Annex Table 3.A.1. displays the training programmes offered by two of the main public universities in Portugal, the University of Coimbra and the University of Lisbon. The data display the training programme and main elements as well as the number and workload of courses included in the corresponding syllabus (Ministry of Education, 2022[1]).

Teaching practice is an essential component of initial teacher preparation in Portugal and attendance is mandatory. However, the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) for Supervised Teaching Practice (STP) is small when compared to other curricula elements. In some of the high performing education systems like Finland, a master’s degree that leads to teacher qualification includes 20 credits of practice time for both class teachers and subject teachers, carried out for between 5-6 weeks each year (see Box 3.2). Some programmes consider the STP as a single curricular unit, followed by a seminar delivered at the training institution. Other institutions tend to split the component into smaller ECTS units, which are then fused with courses on research methods in education. The STPs are completed in schools that have agreements with universities. A cooperating teacher from the school and a supervisor from a university guide the practice of the teacher in training. Trainees must develop a reflective portfolio and, in the end, prepare a traineeship report that is then defended in public examinations (paragraph (b) no.1 of article 20 of Decree Law No. 74/2006, amended by Decree Law No.115/2013 (Melo, 2015[7]; Vieira, 2013[8])). A close, strong and positive relationship between faculty (professors at universities) and schools is essential if the maximum benefit is to be gained from in-school practice.

Decree Law No. 240/2001 stipulates the competencies that teachers should acquire from initial preparation, including the following dimensions:

  • Professional, social and ethical dimensions: teachers promote curricular learning, basing their professional practice on knowledge developed through the production and use of diverse integrated knowledge.

  • Development of education and learning: teachers promote learning according to the curricular domain. Within the framework of a pedagogical relationship teachers promote quality by integrating scientific and methodological rigour along with knowledge of the areas that substantiate it.

  • School participation and relationship with the community: teachers carry out their professional activity in an integrated way, combining different dimensions of the school work with societal services within the context of the community in which it operates.

  • Professional learning throughout life: teachers are trained to be lifelong learners by continuously developing professional practice through reflection and the use of research performed in cooperation with other professionals.

Ordinance No. 212/2009, 23 February, establishes the competencies required to qualify as a special education teacher. In line with the ordinance, teachers recruited for special education (Educação Especial) purposes must have a teaching qualification from any of the recruitment groups and specialised training in the area of special education as required by the relevant legal framework. Portugal has a system named “recruitment groups”. The main function of the recruitment groups is to select and recruit teaching staff in pre-primary, basic and secondary education. There are currently 36 recruitment groups in Portugal distributed across the different levels of schooling and curriculum subjects.

The 2009 legislation underlines two ways to become a special education teacher: professional qualification and specialised training. Professional qualification implies at least five years of training in mainstream education. Decree Law No. 95/97, 23 April, established the basis for specialised training in special education, which typically consists of at least 250 hours distributed by general training in educational sciences (20%), specific training (at least 60%) and research training. The new Decree Law No. 54/2018 on Inclusive Education assigns a distinctive role for special education teachers in schools, including:

  • Collaborating with the different stakeholders (classroom teachers, parents, school psychologists, etc.) in planning students’ educational process.

  • Providing direct support to students, which should complement the work developed in mainstream classrooms or other educational contexts.

In compliance with the EU requirements for accreditation of higher education programmes enshrined in Regulation No. 765/2008, Portugal has in place a rigorous accreditation policy for HEIs. The main body responsible for the accreditation of ITE programmes is the Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education (Agência de Avaliação e Acreditação do Ensino Superior, A3ES). The agency’s role goes beyond administrative matters by verifying whether new and existing training programmes meet legal requirements. It provides a uniformly rigorous approach to accreditation across ITE programmes, evaluating their adequacy to offer a professional teaching qualification. The agency also assesses the quality of human and material resources, training processes and outcomes achieved. A vital mission of the agency is to implement these accountability, monitoring and evaluation functions in a manner that does not take power away from higher education institutions to certify their graduates’ teaching qualifications.

In Portugal, teachers participate in a considerable amount of professional learning activities. Proof of participation in professional learning represents 20% of teachers’ overall annual evaluation score (Liebowitz et al., 2018[11]). Opinions gathered during interviews with experts by the review team and official documents suggest that all career teachers with permanent tenure must participate in at least 50 hours of professional learning activities every four years. This means that a teacher has to participate in at least 12 hours of professional learning every year, which translates to one hour of professional learning per month. By international standards (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[12]), this is a significant amount of time and resources that can have both positive and negative implications. On the one hand, this means that there are opportunities to develop and improve teachers’ work as professionals. On the other, it is not clear whether this is making a difference in respect to the thinking and practice of teachers and school leaders in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.

In Portugal, school clusters define priority areas and needs relevant to improve teachers’ competencies and knowledge. These choices are often made in close cooperation with the Teachers’ Training Centre associated with the school cluster (Centros de Formação de Associações de Escolas, CFAEs). In November 1992, the government enactment of the Decree Law No. 249/92 brought into force the CFAEs. This Decree Law stipulates that CFAEs should be localised within and affiliated to school clusters. The CFAEs define and design the training plan that is then provided by these centres. Teachers are free to attend professional learning offered by other training centres or training institutions such as HEIs.

There are several other avenues for continuous professional learning in Portugal. Professional learning courses can also be organised in collaboration with universities and other stakeholders, such as teacher unions or national specialised associations (e.g. on special education needs or on gifted students)3 to offer specific workshops, seminars and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). The Ministry of Education (MoE) can also design and require teachers to attend specific training activities, which was, for example, the case following the adoption of the new legal framework on inclusive education (Ministry of Education, 2022[1]).

However, as recently pointed out by the OECD (Liebowitz et al., 2018[11]; OECD, 2019[13]), teachers in Portugal are less likely than teachers from most other countries participating in the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) to receive release time during regular working hours to participate in professional learning activities (see Figure 3.1) and among the most likely to pay for professional learning (OECD, 2019[13]). The latest report by the European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice on teacher careers, development and well-being in Europe shows that in Portugal, 77.2% of lower secondary teachers “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement that professional learning conflicted with their work schedule, which is one of the highest in the EU and well above the EU average of 52.9% (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[12]). In TALIS 2018, barriers to participating in professional learning reported by Portuguese teachers include expense, lack of employer support, conflict with work schedule, no relevant offerings and lack of incentives for participation (OECD, 2019[13]). These indicators corroborate qualitative impressions gathered by the OECD review team during online interviews conducted with school staff (mainly teachers but also school psychologists, sign language experts and other support staff) who stated the challenge linked to attending professional learning sessions in the evening or weekends at their own expense, without additional compensation.

Teachers in Portugal hold either permanent tenure positions or fixed-term contracts. Permanent tenure is a civil servant position, and employment conditions follow the general rules established for public sector employees, whereas fixed-term positions are temporary. Data from TALIS 2018 show that rates of permanent positions in Portugal are among the lowest in the EU only after Spain, Romania and the French Community of Belgium (OECD, 2020[14]). Portugal also has the highest proportion of teachers with fixed-term contracts for more than one school year in the EU (see Figure 3.2). Most novice teachers start with a fixed-term contract. Tenured teachers (civil servants) progress through ten steps (escalões) of the professional teaching career. To advance from one step to the next, teachers must teach for a minimum period of four years at their current level, complete 50 hours of professional learning and receive a rating of “at least good” in their latest evaluation.

Portugal has a highly centralised and controlled teacher recruitment system. All teachers are recruited through a national system. Municipal councils can recruit non-teaching staff but do not have the prerogative to recruit teachers. In rare cases, when the centralised teacher recruitment system cannot provide suitable candidates, schools can organise their own recruitment. Consequently, Portuguese teachers who wish to apply for permanent positions or placement have to apply through the centralised system, which has been recently digitalised.

As noted by Santiago et al. (2012[15]), the process of recruitment of teachers is done through public competition. Applications are ranked based on criteria, including a current position at school (permanent, fixed-term or no ties in the case of first placement), length of service, professional learning activities and average grade obtained in initial higher education studies. Candidates who are ranked high are appointed for the post or position. Santiago and colleagues (2012[15]) also explain that the current system of teacher recruitment in Portugal poses foreseeable challenges. The process accounts for the major differences between schools, with a concentration of some of the most skilful and experienced teachers in wealthier neighbourhoods and the most prestigious schools. Furthermore, the great majority of recently graduated teachers, as well as more experienced teachers who have not managed to obtain a permanent contract, have to apply every year to renew their temporary contract. Most of them also attempt each year to be placed closer to their place of residence. Impressions from meetings with stakeholders by the review team attest to this point. In some cases, teachers obtain a contract in a school cluster or individual school that is far away from their residence. For example, a newly trained teacher told their experience of having to commute over 300 kilometres daily to the school where they were placed (Liebowitz et al., 2018[11]).

With regards to teacher retention, Portugal has not faced shortages of teachers although nowadays there are some indications that this is changing. Teacher turnover seems quite stable in public and private schools; most teachers stay in their jobs until they retire and do not leave the profession for other jobs. Eurydice/Eurostat data provide evidence in support of this. Data show that the majority of teachers in Portugal are within the ages of 35-49 (49.9%) and over 50-years old (46.7%), with only 1% of primary teachers considered young teachers (aged under 30) (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[12]), which is lower than the OECD average of 12% (OECD, 2020[16]). Furthermore, OECD Education at a Glance (2020[16]) suggests that, between 2005 and 2018, the proportion of young teachers at the upper-secondary level in Portugal decreased by 15 percentage points, whereas it dropped by four percentage points on average across OECD countries during the same period (see Figure 3.3), thus indicating a rapidly ageing teacher population in Portugal. The increasingly ageing teacher population in Portugal remains a challenge.

Teacher performance evaluation is a central concern in the Portuguese school system. It is mandatory for all teachers in Portugal, regardless of the contractual relationship with a school (probation, fixed-term contracts or permanent contracts) and at all levels of education (pre-primary through secondary school). It is a mandatory process for career advancement and contract renewals (Liebowitz et al., 2018[11]; Santiago et al., 2012[15]).

Santiago et al. (2012[15]; 2009[18]) present a comprehensive account of the performance evaluation system including the chronology and rationale of teacher evaluation in Portugal. In brief, the Portuguese teacher evaluation model underwent numerous changes and amendments between the end of the 20th century and the 2010s. The current evaluation model was introduced in 2011 and, according to Santiago and colleagues (2012[15]), it maintains the original objectives and principles included in the 2007 model and evaluates teachers based on similar indicators and domains of performance. The current teacher evaluation model reflects the broader regulation on performance appraisal in the public sector in Portugal and stipulates that teacher appraisal shall cover the following three aspects of a teacher’s work: “scientific-pedagogical; participation in school activities and links to the community; and professional development” (Santiago et al., 2012[15]). The model has the following reference points:

  • Objectives and goals set by individual schools in their educational projects and plans (at the school level); and

  • evaluation parameters established by each school’s pedagogical council for each of the three dimensions covered by teacher appraisal (at the school level) (Santiago et al., 2012, p. 70[15]).

There is a collegiate body in schools that is charged with the responsibility for evaluating and making decisions about teacher performance. According to Santiago and colleagues (2012[15]), each school establishes an evaluation committee called the Section for the Appraisal of Teacher Performance, which is part of the school pedagogical council. A positive element of the current evaluation model compared to the previous model is that it involves more teachers in the appraisal process. The evaluation team is comprised of the president of the pedagogical council (often the school director) and four teachers of the pedagogical council. As a rule, evaluators have to be from the same subject group as the teacher being appraised, hold a qualification or experience in evaluation or pedagogical supervision, and should have the same or a higher rank in the career ladder (Liebowitz et al., 2018[11]; Ministry of Education, 2018[19]). Importantly, while the process is decentralised to schools, a number of national agencies play a role in driving this process. For instance, the MoE provides national regulations, tools and guidelines to implement teacher appraisal and training for evaluators. The General Inspectorate of Education and Science (Inspeção-Geral da Educação e Ciência, IGEC) monitors schools’ implementation of teacher appraisal and the Teacher Evaluation Support Office, which is part of the Directorate-General for School Administration (Direção-Geral da Administração Escolar, DGAE). Additionally, it provides technical support and advice regarding teacher appraisal to schools.

Performance evaluation results can be consequential for teachers as they have implications for teachers’ career progression and monetary rewards (as in salary increment), as well as identifying individual professional learning needs. Among the wide spectrum of responses collected by the OECD review team during several interactions with teachers and school leaders, a key message that stood out was the widely perceived challenges posed by the teacher evaluation system and the accompanying stress. Recent data from Eurydice (2021[12]) show that teachers in Portugal reported the highest stress levels associated with appraisal as a requirement for career progression of all EU countries and this value was, from a statistical point of view, significantly different from the EU value.

In conclusion, the factors mentioned above, including recruitment procedures, non-permanent contracts and stringent evaluations, can serve to detract teachers from focusing on the salient issues of equity and inclusion in classrooms, which has direct implications for promoting equitable and inclusive learning opportunities for all students.

There is broad consensus that the single most important within-school variable influencing student achievement is teacher quality (Adnot et al., 2017[20]; European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[12]; Jackson, 2012[21]). It is also well known that teachers in highly successful school systems are highly qualified, with a master’s degree qualification in teaching. Since the enactment of the Decree Law No. 79/2014, all teachers including pre-primary, basic and upper-secondary education in Portugal must obtain a master’s degree in teaching in order to teach. Data from TALIS 2018 show that Portuguese teachers and principals are among some of the most highly qualified within the OECD with 93.4% of teachers having acquired qualifications at ISCED level 7 (see Figure 3.4) and 94.2% of principals having acquired qualifications at ISCED level 7 (see Figure 3.5). Harnessing the benefits of its high-quality teaching force as evidenced in some European countries will be crucial in promoting inclusive education.

Portugal can capitalise on its highly qualified teaching force and recent curriculum adjustments within the new Decree Law No. 55/2018 that prioritises the implementation of an educational policy with a people-centred approach. This approach ensures equitable access to public education along with the introduction of Citizenship Education as a vehicle to drive the inclusive education agenda. This perspective aligns with previous OECD conclusions suggesting that readily measurable teacher characteristics such as teacher qualifications, teaching experience and indicators of academic ability or subject-matter knowledge tend to be positively associated with student performance, even if the correlation coefficients tend not to be large (Adnot et al., 2017[20]; Chetty, Friedman and & Rockoff, 2014[22]; Jackson, 2012[21]; European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[12]; OECD, 2019[13]). This, therefore, highlights the need for highly qualified and committed teachers who are prepared for their job.

Portuguese schools visited by the review team demonstrated a genuinely inclusive environment and profound awareness and acceptance of inclusive education and diversity (see Chapter 4 for a detailed discussion of this). The review team was struck by the extent to which children and young people are aware of this emphasis and the ways this is influencing their thinking about student differences. Many inspiring examples of students talking sensitively about differences among their classmates and positively about the benefits they bring to their lives was heard in schools with remarkably diverse populations in terms of, among others, cultures and religions, languages and abilities. This level of acceptance and openness in the school context is important in light of research showing that attitude can guide thoughts, behaviours and feelings (Petty, Wheeler and Tormala, 2003[23]). This is also important because attitudinal change requires a change or modification of attitude (Petty, Wheeler and Tormala, 2003[23]), which implies that change occurs when a person’s attitude shifts from negative to positive or from having no attitude to having one. Due to the functional value of attitudes and the complex psychological and sociological processes involved in such a change, this accomplishment is remarkable and should be used as a lever for widespread change in Portuguese society.

A review of official policy documents and legislation as well as impressions gathered from interactions with stakeholders by the OECD review team revealed several structures in place in the Portuguese school system that can be built upon to build capacity for diversity, equity and inclusion in education. These strengths include:

Chapter 4 of this report provides an overview of the school cluster system in Portugal and how they can be vehicles for introducing new thinking and practices. There is considerable evidence from research to suggest that partnerships and networks of schools can be effective mechanisms for innovation (Bryk, Gomez and Grunow, 2011[24]; Ainscow, 2012[25]; Muijs et al., 2011[26]). Creating school clusters is one way of partnering or networking among schools. As defined by Bray (1987[27]), school clustering is the grouping of schools within the same geographical location for economic, pedagogic, administrative and political purposes (Bray, 1987, p. 7[27]). Bray (1987[27]) outlines a number of objectives for clustering schools, including help using scarce resources more efficiently, decentralising decision-making, helping disadvantaged communities, increasing participation in professional learning, supporting isolated teachers and improving social equity, all of which align with the principles of inclusion in education. In line with this thinking, the school cluster system in place in Portugal can be a very powerful instrument for capacity building for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Similar to many countries, Portugal shares new societal goals aiming at greater learning for all students. There is a growing demand for teachers and educational institutions to operate more efficiently and be culturally and linguistically responsive (Acquah and Szelei, 2020[28]; Acquah, Szelei and Katz, 2020[29]; Ladson-Billings, 2009[30]) but also responsive to the identities and personal characteristics of individual students. Responding to the needs of the student population requires a fundamental shift in attitudes, curriculum adaptation, cooperation among stakeholders and collaborative efforts between schools. While a shift in attitudes might be a long-term goal, the cluster system in place offers a platform for mobilising resources at the local level to support disadvantaged schools and improve social equity.

A foreseeable challenge to harnessing the benefits of the school cluster system is the centralised structures and partial autonomy granted schools in the Portuguese education system. As noted by Bray (1987[27]), the cluster concept partly grew from developments in micro-planning. Micro-planning, commonly used in health care planning, postulates that it is impossible for a central agent, in this case, the MoE, to know the specific circumstances of every school and community. Thus, it is essential to decentralise decision-making power to local authorities and encourage local participation so that the full benefit of the school cluster can be realised. In moving forward with this thinking, branding and equipping school clusters as facilitators of inclusive education, the following definition proposed by UNESCO (2003[31]) is useful:

“In the broadest sense, micro-planning covers all planning activities at the sub-national level; that is, regional, local and institutional. Planning involves the future and has to do with the organisation and management of resources so as to enable the successful attainment of the set goals. Micro-planning is defined by its relationship with macro-planning. It is the expression of a desire to improve the operation of the education system by strengthening the planning work done at regional and local levels. It is a planning process that focuses on local characteristics and needs and builds local capacities. Micro-planning seeks to reach the objectives set at the national level by assuring greater equality in the distribution of educational services, a better fit between these services and the needs of local communities, and the more efficient use of available resources. Micro-planning requires the participation of local communities in the planning process and this involvement can be a key to the success of the planned reforms at the local level.”4

CFAEs are tasked with the design and implementation of training for school clusters in cooperation with schools. This is carried out by jointly drawing up an annual/multiannual training plan for a school cluster, based off of the priorities put forward by the associated schools. Each CFAE is affiliated to a school cluster and located in the same geographical area. This approach ensures that CFAEs tailor professional learning to meet the needs of the school clusters. By design and function, the training centres are in line with international thinking of local coordination. International perspectives emphasise local coordination as particularly crucial for efforts to promote equity and inclusion (UNESCO, 2017[32]). Proponents of micro-planning argue that local level planning and involvement can trigger feelings of ownership and participation (Bray, 1987[27]), which is critical in promoting inclusive education.

Efforts to improve educational quality around the globe have focused on improving teacher quality (ADEA, 2002[33]; ADEA, 2004[34]; Craig, Kraft and duPlessis, 1998[35]; European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[12]; Prouty, 2000[36]). There is consensus among researchers and international organisations that good quality teaching and learning can be achieved when teachers engage in in-service professional training (OECD, 2019[13]; LeCzel, 2004[37]; Leu, 2004[38]; O’Grady, 2000[39]). This has put in-service teacher professional training into the limelight internationally. It also has raised questions on the most effective strategies to organise professional training activities. As governments around the world engage in efforts to promote teacher quality, many are turning to localised school and cluster-based in-service programmes as the primary means of professional support for teachers (LeCzel, 2004[37]; O’Grady, 2000[39]). According to Leu (2004[38]), the shift towards school-based and cluster-based in-service programmes is fundamentally rooted in modern conceptions of student learning and teacher training. Leu argues that current notions of teachers as empowered and reflective practitioners who can make informed professional choices and be responsive to student diversity requires a robust, active and participatory model of teacher learning (Leu, 2004[38]). While the school association training centres might have the potential to drive the equity and inclusion school agenda in Portugal, it is essential to integrate all plans into a national framework that ensures monitoring and evaluation as well as accountability. Also, it will be vital to liaise the work of school association training centres with ITE programmes in higher education institutions in Portugal. This coordination will enhance synergy and cohesion in subject matter and delivery of professional learning activities. It will also ensure that a broader viewpoint of diversity and inclusion will be adopted instead of the current perspective focused on students with SEN.

Portugal’s new legislation Decree Law No. 54/2018 stipulates that students who need additional support should be integrated in mainstream classrooms and learn with other students while being provided with support for specific curriculum adjustments to ensure full access to the curriculum. Specialised support is, to a large extent, to be provided by the Resource Centres for Inclusion (Centros de Recursos para a Inclusão, CRIs) whose personnel have the professional expertise of providing special services. During interviews with stakeholders, the review team gained the impression that CRIs could be additional hubs for promoting innovation in the system. Besides having a solid expertise on supporting students with SEN, most CRIs are well-established and connected to the community. Some of them seem to have broader expertise and be able to also provide support to other students in addition to those with SEN.

During interviews with stakeholders carried out by the review team, the Multidisciplinary Team (Equipa Multidisciplinar de Apoio à Educação Inclusiva, EMAEI) was highlighted as a key cornerstone in school-level implementation of policies and practices for diversity, equity and inclusion. Required since the adoption of Decree Law No. 54/2018, the EMAEI brings together professionals from within and beyond the school, including teachers, psychologists, social workers and health professionals who work collaboratively in identifying and meeting the needs of students with physical impairments or other health-related issues. Scholars from the United States (Chalfant and Pysh, 1989[40]; Harris, 1995[41]) and the United Kingdom (Norwich and Daniels, 1997[42]) show that multidisciplinary teams can be effective. As Daniels, Creese and Norwich (2000[43]) note, multidisciplinary teams provide an opportunity to support students and teachers. As a form of group problem-solving, they have the potential of extending staff involvement in the development of policy and practice related to students with SEN and broader diversity, equity and inclusion in education. They can be indispensable in addressing students’ individual needs and bringing about change in school systems.

The student population in Portugal is highly diverse. As mentioned in Chapter 1, according to data from PISA 2018, 7% of students in Portugal schools had an immigrant background in 2018 (OECD, 2019[44]). When examining the percentage of students with an immigrant background in Portugal, it is important to take into account that Portugal has one of the most flexible naturalisation laws in the EU. The Portuguese Nationality Law (No. 37/81, of 3 October), which was amended in 2018 to broaden access to Portuguese citizenship, allows children with foreign-born parents who have been legally living in Portugal for two years preceding the birth to obtain Portuguese citizenship. This means that, by the time children start school, many would not be identified as immigrants. Taking this into consideration, diversity in Portuguese schools might be higher than what the figure points to. In response to the diversity in its classrooms, Portugal has introduced Citizenship Education (See Context and main features section) as a way to develop student capacity to analyse and understand intercultural issues and global connectedness, social and emotional skills, and sustainable development goals. Citizenship Education can also develop values such as respect, self-confidence and a sense of belonging within students, all of which are important to create an equitable society for all and advance shared respect for human dignity. As learned by the review team during the school visits in Portugal, tremendous progress has been done on this front. Citizenship Education is no longer an isolated curriculum area but permeates the activities of all subjects in schools.

Schools play a crucial role in helping young people to develop intercultural competencies. Recognising this and introducing courses at all levels of schooling is a major progress. Both the OECD and international researchers have emphasised the role of schools in promoting this (OECD, 2021[45]; Sinicrope, Norris and Watanabe, 2007[46]). Schools can provide opportunities for children and young people to critically examine their own worldviews and global developments that are significant to the world and their own lives. They can equip students with tools to use digital media and social network platforms effectively and responsibly. Schools can also encourage intercultural sensitivity and respect by engaging students in experiences and activities that foster an appreciation for diverse cultures and languages. Additionally, they can teach young people the importance of challenging cultural biases, stereotypes and racism (OECD, 2021[45]; Sinicrope, Norris and Watanabe, 2007[46]). Many OECD countries frame this discourse around competencies from a globalised perspective, which is often envisioned within the area of global Citizenship Education. The impact of Citizenship Education has yet to be known as there are no available data on its impact in Portuguese schools.

Evidence gathered by the review team during the visits suggests that professional learning activities on inclusive education practices in Portugal still centre around students with SEN. Even though the principle of inclusion is widely understood in schools and is influencing actions on the ground, schools and resources are still mainly oriented towards the support of students with SEN. International research highlights that in many education systems, training on diversity, equity and inclusion tends to be infused into training to address students with SEN (European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, 2011[47]; OECD, 2021[45]).

Impressions gathered through consultations with stakeholders suggest that the composition and training of EMAEI staff tend to focus on students with SEN. Furthermore, the recent creation of EMAEI teams tend not to be well trained and often lack time to deliver their work. Therefore, the challenge is for Portugal to readjust the training and focus of the EMAEI teams to drive inclusive education and innovation in schools. Strategically, these teams can be equipped to offer a range of services to support young people at risk of educational underperformance and dropout. This includes, for example, focus on language development, mental health support, emotional support, bullying prevention and outreach to marginalised families.

Moreover, the review team repeatedly heard during interviews that available time for these teams to meet constituted a considerable barrier, where the teachers’ working week includes non-teaching time in school. Data from TALIS 2018 show that Portuguese teachers spend on average 39.9 hours per week carrying out school duties (OECD, 2020[14]), while TALIS 2013 shows that teachers devote an additional 10 hours of work per week outside of their mandated hours at school in grading assignments, contacting families and planning lessons (OECD, 2014[48]). Portuguese teachers report higher levels of stress in relation to certain aspects of their job (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[12]; OECD, 2020[14]). Specifically, they report well above OECD averages of stress in relation to the following: addressing parents or guardian concerns (Portugal, 62.8%; OECD average, 33.4%); modifying lessons for students with SEN (Portugal, 66.7%; OECD average, 31.2%); having too much administrative work to do (Portugal, 76.7%; OECD average, 49.4%); and having too much lesson preparation (Portugal, 70.9%; OECD average, 33.4%).

Furthermore, although the review team gathered limited information on the focus and training that the staff at CRIs receive, impressions gathered suggest that the training and expertise within this body of experts tend to centre heavily on students with SEN and little on other dimensions of diversity. There was also a sense that training of CRI staff has not evolved much over the years and the practice still encourages forms of individualised support that are likely to reinforce segregated provision within mainstream schools, rather than efforts to make general practices more responsive to diversity.

This evidence is corroborated by data from TALIS 2018 showing that among professional learning activities attended by Portuguese teachers related to diversity and inclusion, teaching students with SEN was the most highly attended (see Figure 3.6). Portuguese teachers have also expressed the highest levels of interest in receiving more professional learning in areas such as teaching students with SEN (27%), teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting (21.6%), and student behaviour and classroom management (17.8%) (OECD, 2019[49]).

The reality on the ground is that Portuguese teachers do not only confront the challenge of teaching students with SEN. They are also, on a daily basis, dealing with culturally and linguistically diverse students, among others. As teachers work closely with students and have a direct impact on their learning, they need experience related to knowledge and methods of teaching to respond to diversity and complexity, providing a strong link between practical classroom experience and theoretical frameworks. This is particularly important given that knowledge of diversity and how to teach diverse students requires preparation and self-inquiry (Brussino, 2021[50]). Teachers need to be equipped with the knowledge and tools in order to feel prepared to provide language support and meet the different learning needs of their students. The change in needs for professional learning on teaching in multicultural or multilingual settings reported by teachers in Portugal is significant. It increased from 16.8% in 2013 to 21.6% in 2018, indicating a growing need for support in this area of competence (OECD, 2019[49]).

There is research to suggest that professional learning activities can have a positive impact on the work of teachers. A recent review found that professional learning activities that are carefully embedded within the organisation and the wider context of the teacher are more likely to be effective and increase teachers’ intercultural competences (Romijn, Slot and Leseman, 2021[51]). This suggests that the limited professional learning activities around the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion may have implications for their ability to work with diverse students.

In Portugal, teachers are required to participate in a considerable amount of professional training activities that have direct implications for salary increment and career progression (See section on Continuous Professional Learning). There can be several reasons for this and some practical advantages associated with such a system. For instance, it might be the “soft power” that ensures that teachers participate in professional training. Professional learning represents an enormous investment in the development of human capital, directed at ensuring that the teaching and learning in schools are up to date and effective. From this standpoint, providing incentives for teachers to participate in it can be advantageous. Further, from a developmental point of view, career advancement should correspond to growth in expertise, i.e. learning that helps teachers develop in ways that will serve all of their students, even as expectations of students and schools are constantly changing.

However, given that the goal of professional learning for teachers is to strengthen student outcomes (Koonce et al., 2019[52]; Reeves, 2010[53]), it is important to reflect on why professional training is tied to promotion and salary increment and the unintended consequences this might have for teaching and learning in schools. This opens up several questions on the motivation behind engaging in professional learning and whether professional learning activities bring about changes in teachers’ practices. This is important in light of research showing that training does not always transfer into practice. Therefore, thinking of how professional learning translates into practice is critical (Brion, 2020[54]) as well as of the reasons why there is no consensus among researchers on teachers’ motivation with respect to professional learning. Work by the Oregon School Board in the United States (2009[55]) provides some explanations of teacher motivation: the importance of reward (expectancy theory), compensation for effort (equity theory) and the importance of varied and challenging work (job enrichment theory). This behavioural-oriented approach gives priority to incentives such as payments, career ladders and differentiated teaching roles. Others have presented an alternative intrinsic motivational approach to explain teacher motivation including the desire to help students learn and improved work context (e.g., class size, discipline, resources) and valued content (e.g., the opportunity for professional learning, challenging work and collegiality) (Frase and Sorenson, 1992[56]).

It is important to improve the methods for assessing the impact of professional learning on individuals and society and to use evidence on what works for diverse students in different contexts. The result of this process should be a much sharper focus on student outcomes. Teachers are the ones who work directly with students, translate curricular goals into classroom practices and shape the environment for learning. Teachers’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions have direct and serious implications for the success of the students they teach. It is therefore important to think of professional learning more broadly as a stimulus for innovation rather than a “box-ticking” exercise.

Following the introduction of the Decree Law No. 54/2018, the National Government intensified actions to support teachers in the implementation of these new inclusive policy and curriculum differentiation. The CFAEs were tasked to provide localised training to school clusters. However, an analysis of documents and impressions matured after consultations suggest that, although the MoE has made considerable efforts to provide professional learning on areas related to diversity, equity and inclusion, these training opportunities are mainly theoretical and do not always provide teachers with concrete tools to deal with dimensions of student diversity other than students with SEN.

Another challenge in Portugal is funding and incentives provided for participation in professional learning. As reported by Liebowitz et al (2018[11]), there is a statutory requirement for Portuguese teachers to participate in in-service professional training courses, as proof of participation accounts for 20% of the overall score in their annual evaluation (see Continuous Professional Learning). Having this requirement in place will require providing the necessary support for participating. However, in Portugal, incentives are limited. As mentioned earlier, Portuguese teachers have increasingly had to pay for professional learning (OECD, 2019[13]) and are least likely to receive release time during work hours to participate in professional learning among the countries included in the analysis.

Commitment to inclusion is a continuous and lifelong learning process. Teachers are the drivers of change in schools. Therefore, to ensure the sustainability of inclusive education and wider impact, it is important that ITE reflects the new legal framework on inclusive education (Decree Laws No. 54/2018 and 55/2018). Although over 83% of Portuguese teachers included in TALIS 2018 reported feeling well prepared for teaching across multiple domains including subject content matter, pedagogy and practice (OECD, 2019[13]), consultation with stakeholders in the Portuguese higher education system suggests that ITE does not systematically cover diversity, inclusion or multicultural education, which are not officially required. The OECD review team gained the impression that:

  • There are no compulsory requirements for initial teacher preparation to train prospective teachers for diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • Inclusive education is a separate course of study, rather than a theme that permeates the whole ITE programme.

  • Multicultural teacher education is not mainstreamed in the teacher education curriculum.

  • As a result, teachers often feel unprepared and unable to respond to diversity in the classroom.

The lack of requirements for ITE curricula to include areas related to diversity, multiculturalism and inclusion came up frequently in the consultations carried out with stakeholders. The coverage of these areas is at the discretion of faculties. While there seem to be pockets of optional courses on diversity at various university departments, the majority of these courses tend to focus heavily on conceptualisations of diversity and do not provide any in-depth analysis of how culture, language and identity affect learning. These courses also tend to adopt what Nieto and Bode (2011[57]) would call a “conservative” approach to multicultural education and culturally responsive teaching where faculties do not dig deeper into issues such as homophobia, xenophobia and racism. As reported by Liebowitz et al. (2018[11]), the only recently introduced and required course for all prospective teachers in pre-service training on aspects of inclusion is a course on pedagogies to support the learning needs of students with SEN. The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education defines this as a Europe-wide problem (European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, 2011[47]). As Brussino (2020[58]) points out, the concept of inclusive education has traditionally been applied to promote the mainstreaming of students with SEN. However, today, conceptions of inclusive education have expanded to address other student groups, such as students with an immigrant background or belonging to ethnic groups, national minorities and Indigenous communities. This has meant that, in the past, issues around diversity and inclusion were infused into special education courses in higher education training. Reasons for not including diversity and inclusion-related ITE courses include lack of sufficient time to cover all content considered necessary for initial teacher education, which made it challenging to introduce any additional content to address diversity and inclusion. In general, across European countries, ITE courses on areas related to diversity and inclusion are mainly electives despite some countries making diversity and inclusion-related courses mandatory (European Commission, 2017[59]).

Evidence from TALIS 2018 shows that after subject content, pedagogy and classroom practice, aspects that are included in OECD countries teachers’ ITE and professional learning are student behaviour and classroom management (with 72% of all teachers included in TALIS 2018 stating this); monitoring student development and learning (69%); teaching cross-curricular skills (65%); teaching in a mixed-ability setting (62%); and the use of ICT for teaching (56%) (OECD, 2019[49]). Teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting is rarely included as an element of teachers’ formal education, reflecting the realities in the field. Issues of diversity, equity and inclusion recently gained more space on the educational agendas and discourse of many countries and are gradually being infused into teacher training. Data from TALIS 2018 further show that Europe has the lowest share of teachers trained in multicultural/multilingual teaching. Portugal has one of the lowest shares (21%), only after Hungary (19%), the Czech Republic (16%), France (12%) and Slovenia (12%). Of these countries, Portugal and France have high rates of students with an immigrant background. In comparison, countries and systems with English as a first language as well as those with several official languages and/or a tradition of multiculturalism, including Alberta (Canada), Australia, England (United Kingdom), New Zealand and the United States, had the highest training in teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting for teachers (60-80%) (OECD, 2019[13]).

Teachers interviewed by the review team noted that they did not feel fully prepared to handle diversity, equity and inclusion in schools in general. In particular, they did not feel supported and well trained to implement the Decree Law No. 54/2018 (see section on Building awareness of equity, inclusion and diversity in education) although most valued the law as highly important and needed. Similar stands were echoed by teacher educators.

Concerning the appointment of teachers, Portugal has a centralised system of recruitment and placement. Newly graduated teachers and those in the field have to apply for permanent positions (civil servants) or fixed–terms (see Section on Recruitment, retention and evaluation of teachers). For newly graduated students who most often only secure fixed-term one-year contracts, this means having to apply for vacant positions every year. This can be very disincentivising when coupled with pressures from workload (both teaching and non-teaching) and demands for professional learning. Furthermore, this centralised decision-making process regarding the appointment of teachers to schools leaves no room for schools, educational institutions or school leaders to consciously shape the profile of their teams to support the local context and needs. School leaders are those who know the expertise that might be lacking in the teaching staff in their school. At the moment, school leaders are only consulted by the MoE to estimate the number of hours each school cluster and individual school needs. Therefore, further involving school leaders in this process could be more effective.

During the interviews conducted by the review team, various stakeholders raised a number of concerns about the current system, in particular, the fixed-term contracts. They mentioned that it affects the stability of the teaching staff of schools and the expertise of the teaching and non-teaching staff, especially those of the multidisciplinary teams, who are core school actors in the promotion of inclusion and success of all students. More broadly, this instability might impact the overall cohesion of schools. This ultimately has implications for school clusters’ expertise and ability to tackle the challenges posed by the diversity of students. More specifically, this lack of stability and cohesion might lead to considerable obstacles in the identification and follow up of measures for students in need of support measures, mainly selective and additional ones (more details on these measures in Chapter 2).

During the visit, the OECD review team gained the impression that teachers seem to spend time preparing for teacher evaluation rather than using it to build a stronger professional approach to teaching that reflects the need for students and schools to become innovative and inclusive learning centres.

In Portugal, teachers are evaluated based on a five-level rating scale as follows: insufficient, regular, good, very good or excellent. Upon evaluation, teachers are required to receive between good to excellent ratings at the end of each step of the teaching schedule, which is four years, to move on to the next professional stage. However, the teaching schedule for the fifth step is two years. In addition to this, teachers are observed at least twice by an external evaluator at the end of second, fourth and fifth stages of the teaching schedule. When a teacher wishes to obtain the highest mark (excellent), the evaluation also includes class observation by a teacher from another school who is specifically qualified in supervision or teacher evaluation. While similar evaluation arrangements are implemented elsewhere, the weight and intensity of these appraisals can take a toll on teachers (Conley and Glasman, 2008[60]).

During the visit, the review team gained the impression that the evaluation process was not fully transparent. It seemed that there were no objective criteria for how the scoring (based on the insufficient, regular, good, very good or excellent ratings) is done. In some cases, scoring might be arbitrary as teachers are not given reasons for why one gets an excellent rating and another a good rating. This might create unhealthy competition and conflict between schools, as gaining a high grade of excellence has bearings on the image of individual teachers and the school as a whole, thus raising questions of equity and fairness.

Stakeholders described the process as bureaucratic and not linked to teacher accountability, personal growth needs or well-being. The current model in Portugal does not include reference standards to evaluate teachers on a diversity and inclusion dimension. Therefore, the process is limited in informing subsequent improvement of practice as there is limited or no feedback on how teachers could address diversity and inclusion in education. These challenges seem to have a considerable impact on the ability of teachers to respond to diversity within the classroom. Some examples noted of the impact of evaluation on teachers’ work with diversity and inclusion to encourage inclusion include:

  • The lack of boundedness in teachers’ work. The review team gained the impression that teachers believed that there was always more they could be doing to support their students, especially those with an immigrant or Roma background. However, this desire was overshadowed by the fear of and preparation for evaluation (Conley and Glasman, 2008[60]; Hargreaves, 1994[61]).

  • Relationships with, support and involvement of parents from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds such as immigrants and the Roma community (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1988[62]).

  • Anxiety posed by teacher evaluation threatens teachers’ control of what and how they teach and the performance feedback they receive. This stands in direct conflict with teachers’ professional accountability and ability to pursue professional tasks to the utmost (Conley and Glasman, 2008[60]; Glasman and Glasman, 2006[63]).

  • Feelings of dissatisfaction or even apathy can reduce opportunities for constructive conversations about student achievement, including pedagogy, assessment and expectations.

For teachers, fear (ambiguity, uneasiness and discouragement) about the future stemming from evaluation and accountability measures leads to responses that Conley and Glasman (2008[60]) termed as “politics of maintenance” aimed toward protection against anticipated job losses (Conley and Glasman, 2008, p. 65[60]). In the context of building inclusive schools, such situations can pose serious challenges.

Among the various stakeholders interviewed by the OECD review team, there were concerns expressed about the ageing teaching force in Portugal. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that there are not many young people entering the teaching profession. According to data from TALIS 2018, Portugal is among the EU countries with the largest share of lower secondary teachers aged between 35 and 49 (52.4%) and over 50 years (46.9%) (OECD, 2019[13]). This presents a specific challenge to Portugal as these cohorts of teachers will retire in the next 15 or 20 years and would need to be replaced. Meeting the labour demand for such a large number of teachers requires concrete actions if Portugal is to avoid looming teacher shortages. While being extremely valuable assets due to the experience accumulated by these teachers, older teachers might also present challenges and the greatest resistance for effective implementation of change (Snyder, 2017[64]). In light of the remarkable changes happening in Portuguese schools (both in terms of policy, practice and innovation), the paradox of innovation without change can present a challenge for the education system.

Portugal is also facing a shortage of students entering ITE programmes. Over the past years, the country has recorded low rates of students enrolling in ITE (Liebowitz et al., 2018[11]). Teacher educators and policymakers interviewed by the OECD review team repeatedly indicated their worries about the apparent disinterest in the profession among young people. Reasons include the low societal image of the teaching profession. This is a particular challenge for Portugal, which requires long-term planning to change this perception of the profession. In some of the highest performing education systems, the teaching profession is highly regarded and valued in society.

Against a backdrop of increasing demands, responsibilities and expectations of teachers, lack of job security (many teachers especially those aged below 35 remain on a fixed-term contract for several years) can generate stress and low motivation and efficacy. The persistent fixed-term contract does not guarantee job security, as expressed by teachers interviewed by the review team. Evidence from TALIS 2018 shows that, in Portugal, around 17% of teachers included in the study were on a fixed-term contract (OECD, 2020[14]). The OECD (2020[14]) highlights that, despite the fact that fixed-term contracts allow some flexibility in teacher supply, teachers on less than year-long temporary contracts tend to report lower levels of self-efficacy. The perception of lower self-efficacy may be related to the young age of the teachers who hold fixed-term contracts and have less working experience (OECD, 2020[14]).

Furthermore, according to data from TALIS 2018, only 9.4% of teachers in Portugal consider their salary to be satisfactory or very satisfactory (compared to an EU average of 37.8%) (OECD, 2020[14]). This means that fewer than one out of ten teachers show satisfaction with their salary in Portugal. Research on applied financial economics shows that there is a relationship between employees’ salary satisfaction and psychological contract and job enthusiasm (Indrasari et al., 2018[65]; Hung-Wen and Mei-Chun, 2014[66]). According to Hung-Wen and Mei-Chun, employees care about reasonable salary mechanisms, motivating human resource strategy, appropriate reward system and available communication channels (Indrasari et al., 2018[65]; Hung-Wen and Mei-Chun, 2014[66]). Furthermore, research suggests that when employees sense their salary to be lower than the market average, they will harbour unsatisfactory feelings, put less effort into their work and even leave the job. This means that working conditions are essential to improve the attractiveness and status of any profession. Among working conditions, salary is the single most important factor that makes any profession appealing (Indrasari et al., 2018[65]).

Data from the Directorate-General for Education and Science Statistics (Direção-Geral de Estatísticas da Educação e Ciência, DGEEC) (DGEEC, 2021[67]) show that the Portuguese teaching force has a very small number of teachers with foreign backgrounds (see Table 3.2). In a multicultural country such as Portugal, this might create challenges. Evidence suggests that there are important benefits that teachers with diverse backgrounds provide to all students, especially students with diverse backgrounds (Carver-Thomas, 2018[68]; Carver-Thomas and Darling-Hammond, 2017[69]; Gershenson et al., 2017[70]).

All of this has significant implications for the ability of teachers to respond to diversity within the classroom. Additionally, it affects the sustainability of inclusive education in Portugal.

From an international perspective, Portugal’s actions towards inclusive society and schools are progressive, ambitious and responsive to the challenges posed by globalisation today. Having enacted a law on inclusive education (Decree Law No. 54/2018) and another on curriculum autonomy and flexibility (Decree Law No. 55/2018), Portugal set a solid foundation to advance the agenda for diversity, equity and inclusion in schools and wider society. Both laws have the potential to direct thinking and practices toward inclusion. However, laws by themselves do not produce change or results. People and structures do. It is in light of this that the following recommendations are provided as pointers to areas that need to be strengthened in order to facilitate a shift towards this new thinking and concrete change. Systemic reform is needed to tackle diversity issues more broadly and ensure the development of inclusive schools.

In order to translate the law into a change in school practices and the lives of students, the education system should improve the areas detailed below. The recommendations are divided into short-term and long-term to distinguish areas in which Portugal can take immediate steps to drive change and those that require longer-term planning.

An examination of the current implementation of inclusive education in Portuguese schools shows that the main focus until now has been on bringing all students together in mainstream classrooms for the majority of the day. While inclusive education might have been about mainstreaming of students with SEN (Alves, Campos and Janela, 2020[71]), inclusive practices will be successful for all students, regardless of their ethnicity, language, gender, socio-economic status or other personal characteristics. Portugal should consider expanding the scope of inclusive practices to reflect broader student diversity. Current thinking suggests that Portugal would benefit from thinking about ways in which existing successful inclusive education practices can be identified and scaled up. For instance, Portugal would benefit from identifying outstanding schools in terms of inclusive practices such as those implemented in some school clusters visited by the review team that were particularly striking in relation to their inclusive cultures (see Box 3.3). Besides dedicating resources to and projects for the inclusion of students with SEN, some clusters established multiple projects dedicated to the inclusion of students with an immigrant background and from Roma communities. For example, one of the clusters visited organised various events to highlight the value, practices and cuisine of communities from diverse cultural backgrounds.

That said, more needs to be done and Portugal should improve some areas within the implementation of inclusive education, especially for students with an immigrant background and students from Roma communities.

There are several resources on good practices in inclusive schools that Portugal can draw on to expand and strengthen inclusive practices and capacities within schools, starting with inclusive teaching toolkits (see Box 3.4). The Catalogue of Good Practices on inclusive schools developed by the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE, 2021[73]) is a particularly useful resource for Portugal in its move to widen inclusive practices in schools (see Annex 3.B).

At the national level, with an inclusive education policy in place that clearly articulates and supports inclusive education, Portugal could consider implementing periodic reviews of inclusive programmes in schools. Several tools have been developed that can be useful in reviewing inclusive education practices and policies including the Index for Inclusion toolkit (see Chapter 4), the Supporting Effective Teaching project, the Lao Inclusive Education Project by Save the Children (Grimes, 2010[81]) and UNESCO’s set of equity indicators (2018[82]),

Promoting the inclusion of Roma people is a challenge faced by many European countries. In an overview of evidence and policy initiatives on the Roma population, Rutigliano (2020[6]) notes that Roma people are among the most marginalised groups in Europe. Insufficient actions of national governments within the EU in tackling challenges confronting Roma communities has led to NGOs stepping in to provide the support needed. Students from Roma communities face particularly significant challenges in Portugal (Chapter 1). Portugal has a national Strategy for the Integration of Roma Communities (ENICC), which shows recognition and willingness at the national level to better support their integration into society. It is important to carve out a strategy that can work with this community. A strategy that is implemented in some Portuguese schools and that could be explored further is the concept of cultural mediators.

The review team noticed during the school visits that some schools had employed cultural mediators that worked with the Roma families to build and strengthen relationships with Roma communities. Portugal should continue to build on this practice, broaden and institutionalise it in all schools to move the process of inclusion of the Roma community forward. The cultural mediator is a well-known concept and widely used strategy among institutions and organisations. It has also proven to generate positive outcomes for Roma students in Portugal (see Box 3.5). The Council of Europe recognises cultural mediation as a viable tool and designs strategies to adopt this approach across countries.5

Building the capacity of Portuguese schools in this way to support the inclusion of the Roma community is crucial. Impressions gained by the review team from talking to stakeholders during the online visit was that the inclusion of children and youth belonging to Roma communities in Portugal presents an important challenge. During the visit, the review team gained the impression that schools may often not know what approaches should be adopted to promote inclusion in education and society for people belonging to Roma communities.

The review team considers cultural mediation as a viable option that Portugal could explore and deepen. Many other educational contexts, such as in Colorado, United States, use such specialists to support students from diverse backgrounds (see Box 3.6) During interviews conducted with stakeholders, the review team gained the impression that Roma communities (or leaders) are committed to supporting their communities. There are several educated and brilliant young Roma people who can be mobilised as cultural mediators, serving as mentors and role models to younger generations. Decades worth of studies have shown that similarity attracts, which is a phenomenon known as homophily (Block, 2018[84]; Shrum, Cheek and Hunter, 1988[85]).

Considerable trust has been built over the years between mainstream Portuguese society and the Roma community. Portugal should consider deepening trust within the Roma community. A focus on trust can reshape integration and ultimately strengthen the foundations of the welfare state. Trust has been argued to be the “glue” binding people together in the social contract that forms the foundation of the welfare state (Kumlin, Stadelmann-Steffen and Haugsgjerd, 2018[86]). Research further indicates that ethnic diversity does not threaten the social trust and support for the welfare state; what matters is the quality of intergroup relations as well as the level of segregation of ethnic groups (Uslaner, 2018[87]).

The review team was struck by teachers’ efforts, in most visited school clusters, to modify curriculum content to meet the needs of diverse students including students with an immigrant background and from Roma communities. In moving forward with its inclusive and equitable education agenda, Portugal should continue to build on the good practice that exists in the system. One particular school cluster provided an outstanding example of how to design an inclusive book for students with SEN (see Box 3.7). Such a practice could be scaled up to benefit these students across the country. School textbooks are key sources for the study of school disciplines and are a central tool for conveying the curriculum. Research suggests that textbooks have traditionally been used to strengthen nation-building and collective national identity (Ahonen, 2012[90]; Rantala et al., 2020[91]). The selection of content to be taught in classrooms is tied to the socio-political context and therefore includes dominant culture perceptions and does not comprehensively cover those in the margins. Based on the dynamics of exclusion and inclusion, or the hidden curriculum, the curriculum reflects the broader perceptions that dominate society.

Recent changes in the Portuguese national curriculum have brought additional demands to teaching and learning and require adaptation. However, the review team gained the impression in discussions with stakeholders that school textbooks still have underrepresentation of minority social groups in, for example, history education, which could contribute to hindering efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in schools and society. To borrow the words of Nieto and Bode (2011, p. 3[57]) inclusive education is “far more than simply altering the curriculum to reflect more brown and black faces or adding assembly programmes on diversity”. It requires real actions including cautiously choosing content, using neutral language and illustrations that represent the diversity of the student body. As Goodson reflects:

“It is precisely because we are dealing with a ‘State system’ that curriculum construction has such central significance. Patterns of resource allocation, financial distribution, status allocation and career construction are all directly related to a system where curriculum definition, particularly in ‘subject’ or ‘basics’ style, has a central position (Goodson, 1995, p. 8[92]).”

It is therefore important to examine the particularities of the curriculum as they reveal what a state values within a certain space and time. In the absence of this, the current dominant practices in the school classroom can have broader and long-lasting consequences for diversity and inclusion in the education system. For example, findings from a recent Portuguese study of how geography teachers view geography textbooks (Esteves, 2019[93]) echo the need for change in school textbooks. In this study, geography teachers emphasised the need for a permanent update of scientific contents and data, learning activities and the promotion of the autonomous work of students. Teachers also found it challenging to find approved textbooks that are valid for at least six years. Reasons provided included the fact that some of these (geography) textbooks contain outdated statistical data. Portugal should undertake concentrated efforts to continue to review school textbooks and ensure that curriculum modification and adjustment become a widespread practice in order to meet not just the specific needs of students with SEN but also other aspects of diversity including students with an immigrant background and Roma students.

As part of Citizenship Education, Portugal has included topics that aim to introduce students to a broad range of issues around diversity and cultural awareness to develop respect and acceptance of other cultures, ethnicities and national minorities as well as gender identity and sexual orientation. While these are important first steps, schools need to ensure that Citizenship Education offers a holistic approach to the questions of diversity, equity and inclusion. The Citizenship Education Framework may be uncritically operating at a level of awareness that does not develop clear and fair systems actively affirming the rights of diverse students (including students with an immigrant background and students belonging to ethnic groups or national minorities) as well as developing students’ political analysis of the nature of discrimination and prejudice through the lens of equity. The review team noticed during the school visits that the principle of inclusion is widely understood in schools, and children and young people were aware of this and the ways this is influencing their thinking about differences. Portugal needs to build on this sound awareness that clearly exists to push Citizenship Education further by making sure schools introduce a critical perspective to Citizenship Education.

According to Nieto and Bode (2011, p. 5[57]):

“Multicultural education does not simply involve the affirmation of language, culture and broader aspects of identity. Multicultural education not only affirms issues of identity and difference but also assertively confronts issues of power and privilege in society. This means challenging racism and other biases as well as the inequitable structures, policies, and practices of school and, ultimately, of society itself.”

This means raising awareness and empowering students to think critically and speak up for their rights. Multicultural education is about creating a democratic environment for teaching and learning, and embracing an anti-racist curriculum aiming to improve students’ learning experiences. Portugal has achieved impressive feats in the widespread awareness and acceptance of the principles of diversity and inclusion upon which national education policies are based. It needs to ensure that Citizenship Education addresses more critical multicultural issues. This is the next phase of development to build on the good practices that exist in the field and drive school-wide changes. Box 3.8 elaborates more on critical multiculturalism and suggests some learning resources to implement this approach in the classroom.

In Portugal, teachers are required to participate in professional in-service training for at least 12 hours every year (see Section on Continuous Professional Learning). Despite this, TALIS 2018 data indicates that, in 2018, Portugal was among the two EU countries with the lowest levels of teacher participation in professional learning, well below the OECD average (OECD, 2019[13]). Across OECD countries, teachers participated in different types of professional learning activities, and a higher percentage of Portuguese teachers rated these different types of professional learning activities to be effective compared to the OECD average. These areas include professional learning opportunities being adopted to meet teacher’s personal development needs (Portugal 92.9%; OECD 78.1%); appropriately focused on the content needed to teach the teacher’s subject (Portugal, 83%; OECD, 71.9%), provided opportunities for active learning (Portugal, 85.3%; OECD, 77.9%); provided opportunities for collaborative learning (Portugal, 83%; OECD, 74%); and focused on innovation in the teacher’s teaching (Portugal, 76.8; OECD, 64.8) (OECD, 2019[13]).

However, when looking at content-specific professional learning activities attended by teachers included in TALIS 2018, Portuguese teachers reported lower attendance in comparison to OECD averages in professional learning activities with content relevant for diversity, equity and inclusion. In particular, some of the professional learning areas where a lower percentage of Portuguese teachers responded to have attended training include i) teaching in a multicultural and multilingual setting (Portugal, 14%; OECD, 21.9%); ii) communicating with people from different cultures and countries (Portugal, 17.7%; OECD, 19.3%); iii) teacher, parent/guardian cooperation (Portugal, 27.2%; OECD, 35.1%); iv) teaching students with SEN (Portugal, 30.5%; OECD, 42.8%); and v) approaches to individualised learning (Portugal, 29.6%; OECD, 46.6%). This data corroborates conclusions drawn from interviews to suggest that there is a lack of comprehensive professional learning on diversity, equity and inclusion in Portugal.

Portugal should consider providing professional learning focused on teaching in multicultural and multilingual classrooms and cultural diversity and inclusion. Resources already exist that can be mobilised to support this, such as the schools’ association centres and university departments of initial teacher education. Some forms of collaboration between researchers at teacher education departments and the schools' associations training centres could be promoted to design and implement diversity, equity and inclusion-focused courses. This could stimulate powerful synergies and ensure that inclusive education becomes a continuous process of educational transformation. The provision of expanded professional learning for inclusion will need careful planning, coordination and local leadership. The review team recommends that such arrangements are accompanied by the provision of incentives such as the ones below:

  1. i. Providing release time during regular working hours to participate in professional learning activities. This arrangement could ensure teachers are motivated to participate in these activities.

  2. ii. Providing compensation for expenses for attending professional learning activities.

  3. iii. Putting in place mechanisms that will ensure the transfer of skills and knowledge acquired through professional learning activities through local coordination and leadership. This can be achieved through various initiatives such as action research, classroom/school visits, collaborative curriculum development etc. (see Box 3.9) for more details on this and how to orchestrate them).

During the visits to Portuguese schools, the review team gathered considerable evidence of staff within schools supporting one another. However, the team heard no examples of planned school- or cluster-based programmes to promote professional learning. Portugal could draw on successful experiences from other educational contexts. The Catalogue of Good Practices on Inclusive Schools (ETUCE, 2021[73]) Annex 3.B (mentioned above provides outstanding examples in this area. Furthermore, it is important that senior staff in schools provide effective leadership to drive these developments.

Inclusive education cannot materialise without teachers. Teachers cannot teach what they do not know. Consequently, efforts at sustaining inclusive education would require a meaningful transformation in how teachers are trained. Thus, in the long term, consideration should be given to reforming the ITE curriculum to reflect today’s classroom demands. This is not a suggestion to abandon the traditional model of teacher education in Europe that emphasises the combination of subject knowledge, pedagogical theory and sufficient classroom practice (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[12]). Rather, it is proposed that issues of diversity, equity and inclusion are made visible and required for ITE to ensure that topics are incorporated in general courses by all teacher educators.

Internationally, there is a call for teacher education programmes to prepare teachers for the challenges of the 21st century classroom. Research shows that multicultural education courses can have a positive impact on teachers’ attitudes and dispositions (Acquah and Commins, 2013[97]; Banks, 2010[94]; Gay, 2010[98]; Ladson-Billings, 2009[30]). As a result, attention has been paid to the potential of multicultural teacher education to improve teaching and learning for diverse students (Banks, 2010[94]; Gay, 2010[98]; Ladson-Billings, 2009[30]). In several countries and institutions, ITE programmes and educators have altered courses, curricula and field experiences as a way to develop teacher candidates’ cultural competence (Acquah and Commins, 2013[97]; Acquah, Szelei and Katz, 2020[29]; Sleeter and Owuor, 2011[99]; Ukpokodu, 2011[100]). Evidence also presents how these courses should be designed and taught (Acquah and Commins, 2013[97]; Acquah, Szelei and Katz, 2020[29]; Sleeter and Owuor, 2011[99]; Ukpokodu, 2011[100]). Several online resources guide how to design and implement courses on diversity and inclusion. Also, Brussino (2021[50]) provides a comprehensive analysis of ways and strategies through which teachers can design inclusive teaching practices in the classroom and foster an inclusive learning environment for all students.

At the European level, a project co-funded by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union seeks to develop a model for a renewed ITE curriculum to promote supportive and empowering multilingual pedagogies, which could serve as a useful resource for Portugal (ETUCE, 2021[73]).6 In the longer term, the aim should be to develop single courses to prepare all teachers to meet the full range of diverse student needs. This might require revising the ITE curriculum and incorporating current and new thinking on diversity, equity and inclusion. This will require national policy and support as well as careful planning, coordination and leadership.

The Catalogue of Good Practices of Inclusive Schools (ETUCE, 2021[73]) provides several resources and successful projects on transforming initial teacher education for diversity and inclusion. Portugal could benefit from exploring potential interventions that fit their local context and culture for implementation in the long term.

Research shows that the process of becoming culturally competent begins with the acquisition of a knowledge base about cultural and linguistic diversity in education (Banks, 2010[94]; Ladson-Billings, 2009[30]; Lucas and Villegas, 2013[101]). This can be derived from the extensive literature on culturally relevant teaching practices, which addresses a range of topics related to diversity including, among others, historical perspective, culture and identity in education, cultural diversity in curricula, educational equity and social justice (Banks, 2010[94]; Gay, 2010[98]; Nieto and Bode, 2011[57]). Cultural competence can also be derived from participation in diversity, equity and inclusion-related courses (Acquah and Commins, 2013[97]; Acquah, Szelei and Katz, 2020[29]). Without this training and knowledge, most teachers feel unprepared to deal with culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms as international research and data show.

The recruitment, retention and evaluation of teachers have consequences for the stability of the teaching staff in schools. Teacher turnover also has implications for expertise in schools. Both stability and expertise within the teaching force are important for inclusion measures in schools. For instance, research suggests that newly graduated teachers are particularly prone to leaving the profession (Cooper and Alverado, 2006[102]; Luekens, Lyter and Fox, 2004[103]) because they are likely to find themselves working in challenging environments, such as educating students from diverse backgrounds, without prior training. In these school settings, teachers often feel not appreciated and valued, and have fixed-term contracts and inadequate salaries.

As discussed previously in this chapter, the Portuguese teaching force is gradually ageing. The average age of a Portuguese teacher is 50. If not addressed, this can impact the impressive momentum Portugal has achieved with its inclusive education movement. Portugal might consider reforming the current teacher recruitment structure and work contract in general. In this regard, the OECD review by Liebowitz and colleagues (2018[11]) of school resources in Portugal becomes important. In particular, their recommendation on how Portugal should respond to the shifting teacher demographics is compelling. Here, an overview of the recommendations by Liebowitz et al. (2018[11]) is presented as a starting point for how Portugal could ensure some rate of renewal within the teaching profession while incentivising older teachers to retire. These recommendations include that Portugal should:

  • consider pursuing a flexible retirement policy

  • pay good salaries to teachers in the initial years of their career

  • explore intensive residency models for teacher preparation

  • adopt approaches that will better match teachers’ skills and knowledge with schools

  • introduce a formal induction for novice teachers

  • develop teacher communities of practice

  • rethink educator career development, including re-imagining formal leadership roles as professional pathways.

This current report supports the recommendations of Liebowitz et al (2018[11]) and strongly encourages Portugal to consider this report that provides a much more in-depth analysis of the issue, recognising that there are many more aspects of implementation that need to be considered. Moreover, this reform process should be done in consultation with teacher trade unions. They should be regularly consulted and involved in the process.

Progress towards more inclusive and equitable education in Portugal would require greater local say in teacher recruitment. Localising teacher recruitment will directly impact equity and inclusion in education and promote teacher accountability and professionalism. When teacher recruitment is localised, teachers feel a sense of responsibility towards the community in which they work. This connection to the community can stimulate the desire to work for all students, including diverse students. In addition, these community and school partnerships can contribute to promoting dialogue and a socially cohesive climate, both of which have implications for equity and inclusion in municipalities. A cohesive society directly translates into a school setting thereby promoting a more solid equitable and inclusive education where the aspirations and contributions of every student are valued.

Evidence shows that the Portuguese teaching force has a very small number of teachers with an immigrant background. Portugal should consider taking concrete steps to promote diversity within its teacher force to realise the vision of inclusive education as projected by the 2018 legislation (see section on Context and main features). Recent data from DGEEC (2021[67]) show that during the 2019/2020 school year, about 3.5% of pre-tertiary public school teachers had a foreign nationality. The share of foreign teachers has not changed significantly since the 2010/2011 school year, oscillating between 3.4% and 4.1% (European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, 2011[47]). While it is encouraging to see that foreigners are represented in the teaching workforce to some extent, data shows that this number is relatively low, meaning the teaching force within Portugal could benefit from more diversity. Moreover, of a total of 1 302 foreign teachers during the 2019/2020 school year, the large majority was from European countries, including Spain (270), Italy (130) and Germany (120), in addition to Brazil (192), and a small number were from Portuguese-speaking African countries. About 24 were from Angola and 16 from Mozambique. The number of teachers from other African countries was low, with less than ten for each country. Besides China (23), the number of teachers from Asian countries was also significantly low (less than ten for each country) (DGEEC, 2021[67]).

Research suggests that, in European countries, the norms and values of the cultural majority form the foundation of educational institutions, and academic success is defined based on these values (Moore and Bell, 2017[89]). Moreover, the majority of teachers are from the dominant culture (Donlevy, Rajania and Meierkord, 2016[104]), which could make it more likely that teachers’ dominant norms and values still largely shape the classroom environment. These predominately monocultural educational spaces enable the reproduction of power and privilege (Moore and Bell, 2017[89]) given that students are often rewarded for conforming to prevailing school norms (Chambers et al., 2014[105]). To break the cycle of inequity, the education system should directly address diversity in education. This starts with attracting more ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse students into teacher education programmes (Carver-Thomas and Darling-Hammond, 2017[69]) and then retaining them in the teaching profession.

Research illustrates the importance of teacher diversity because of the substantial benefits teachers with diverse backgrounds provide to all students, especially students with diverse backgrounds themselves (Carver-Thomas, 2018[68]; Carver-Thomas and Darling-Hammond, 2017[69]; Gershenson et al., 2017[70]). For example, having teachers with an immigrant background in the classroom has various impacts on students with an immigrant background, including:

  • boosting overall academic performance

  • improving reading and mathematics test scores

  • improving graduation rates

  • increasing aspirations to attend higher education

  • reducing the number of absences.

Diverse teachers can also have a significant impact on the rest of the classroom. Ladson-Billings (2009[30]) explains that having more teachers with diverse backgrounds can help dispel myths and build cross-cultural respect, relationships and understanding. Expanding on the benefits all students accrue from having diverse teachers, Cherng and Halpin (2016[106]) use data sets containing over 50 000 student reports on over 1 680 teachers to understand students’ perceptions of their teachers. Specifically, they measure what they called the 7Cs: challenge, captivate, consolidate, care, control, clarity and confer. Their findings indicate that even when controlling for student demographics, academic characteristics and teacher characteristics, all students provide higher ratings for teachers with an immigrant background than teachers without such a background (Cherng and Halpin, 2016[106]).

Although Cherng and Halpin (2016[106]) do not look into reasons for these results, there is some evidence to suggest that teachers from diverse backgrounds tend to have more multicultural awareness, which leads to more positive and connected classroom environments (Cherng and Davis, 2017[107]). These classroom environments tend to be a safe place to learn and grow, thus stimulating student engagement and participation (Banks, 2010[94]; Ladson-Billings, 2009[30]). Moreover, teachers from diverse backgrounds can provide positive benefits to all students because these teachers are more inclined to purposefully speak about topics surrounding inequities and social justice (Cherng and Halpin, 2016[106]). Providing these safe and constructive conversations helps students more accurately understand society, form positive worldviews and positively contribute to social justice.

Portugal should consider building the capacity of its teaching force by improving the diversity of its teacher supply pipeline. The goals in this sense would be to attract, support, develop and retain educators of diverse ethnic, gender, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In previous decades, numerous governments have launched a variety of minority teacher recruitment programmes and initiatives, including future educator programmes in high schools, partnerships between community colleges, career ladders for paraprofessionals in schools and alternative teacher certification programmes (Hirsch, Koppich and Knapp, 2001[108]; Liu et al., 2007[109]; Rice, 2003[110]). Portugal can pursue this goal in ways similar to those implemented by the State of Connecticut, United States, which launched the Minority Educator Initiative to develop concrete, actionable plans and goals to address these needs (Box 3.10).


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The Catalogue of Good Practices is a recently developed comprehensive and exhaustive resource guide that has been gathered through various European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE)’s projects, implemented in the period 2017-2021. The main aim of this Catalogue of Good Practices is to “create a resource on building and maintaining sustainable inclusive learning environments in various national and local contexts with the view to provide education trade unions and their affiliates with concrete and innovative tools and methods of social inclusion in the education and teaching profession” (ETUCE, 2021, p. 3[73]).


← 1. “Otherness” is a term used in the social sciences and humanities to connote the way people tend to view others (people) that are different from themselves. The term can be used in a general and neutral way to signify that which is fundamentally different or can attribute negative characteristics to other individuals or groups of people, thus setting them apart as representing that which is considered to be inferior.

← 2. Percentages in this paragraph indicate the ratio of courses within the curricula that should focus on this specific subject area.

← 3. For example, the Portuguse National Association for Gifted Students (Associação Nacional Estudo e Intervenção na Sobredotação, ANEIS), which is part of the European Talent Support network, designs and gives training on gifted education to teachers and other stakeholders. ANEIS also conducts research and advocacy on gifted education-related issues. See: https://www.aneis.org/ (accessed on 24 November 2021).

← 4. See: UNESCO’s Glossary: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/glossary/educational-micro-planning (accessed on 24 November 2021).

← 5. See: https://www.coe.int/en/web/lang-migrants/linguistic-and-cultural-mediation (accessed on 24 November 2021).

← 6. See: http://listiac.org/ (accessed on 24 November 2021).

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