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Schools in Portugal have more favourable disciplinary climates in science lessons compared to other OECD countries, according to students’ reports in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, with an index of disciplinary climate of 0.07 (the OECD average index value was 0.00). Student truancy was close to the OECD average: 20.8% of 15-year-olds reported skipping at least one day of school in the two weeks before the PISA 2015 test, compared to the OECD average of 19.7. However, students in Portugal were the most likely to report that their science teachers adapt their instructions more frequently than the OECD average, with an index of adaptive instruction of 0.53 (the OECD average index value was 0.01) (OECD, 2016[1]).

The PISA 2015 index of instructional educational leadership (measuring the frequency with which principals report doing leadership activities specifically related to instruction) was lower than the OECD average at -0.07 (the average was 0.01) (OECD, 2016[1]). The proportion of lower secondary teachers in 2016 aged 50 or over was 40.5%, which was higher than the OECD average of 35.4%. In 2017, teachers in Portugal had fewer net teaching hours for general programmes than the OECD average: 779 hours at primary level and 616 hours at lower secondary level, compared to OECD averages of 784 and 696 hours, respectively (OECD, 2018[2]). According to school principals’ self-reports in PISA 2015, Portuguese schools have lower levels of autonomy over curriculum compared to the OECD average: 67.5% of principals reported that the school has primary autonomy over curriculum, compared to the OECD average of 73.4% (OECD, 2016[1]).

Lower secondary teachers in Portugal earned 135% of the average salary of a full-time, full-year worker with tertiary education in 2016, which was more than the OECD average of 91%. According to the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018, 64.8% of teachers in Portugal said that if they could choose again, compared to an OECD average of 75.6%. Furthermore, 9.1% of teachers felt that the teaching profession was valued in society, compared to an OECD average of 25.8% in 2018 (OECD, 2019[3]).

According to school leaders’ reports in PISA 2015, school leaders in Portugal are more likely than average to conduct self-evaluations of their schools (99.7% of students were in schools whose principal reported this compared to the OECD average of 93.2%). They are also much more likely than average to undergo external evaluations of their schools (97.4% of students were in schools whose principal reported this, compared to the OECD average of 74.6%) (OECD, 2016[1]). Teacher appraisal levels as reported in in the earlier cycle of TALIS 2013 were below average, however: 26.6% of all teachers had reported then having received a teacher appraisal in the previous 12 months, compared to 66.1%, on average (OECD, 2014[4]).

The share of students enrolled in secondary schools whose principal reported that standardised tests are used to make decisions on students’ promotion or retention was 56%, compared to an OECD average of 31% (OECD, 2016[1]).

In 2017, the central government was responsible for all decisions related to resource management (allocation and use of resources for teaching staff and principals) whereas, on average across OECD countries, responsibility was shared across various levels with central government taking 21% of decisions.

Annual expenditure per student at primary level in 2015 was USD 7 380, which was less than the OECD average of USD 8 631. At secondary level, Portugal spent USD 9 518 per student, compared to the OECD average of USD 10 010, while at tertiary level (including spending on research and development), Portugal spent USD 11 766 per student, compared to USD 15 656. The proportion coming from private sources (including household expenditure, expenditure from other private entities and international sources) was close to the OECD average (16.3% compared to 16.1%) (OECD, 2018[2]).

Evolution of key education policy priorities

Portugal’s key education policy priorities have evolved in the following ways over the last decade (Table 8.23).

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Table 8.23. Evolution of key education policy priorities, Portugal (2008-19)

Identified by

Selected OECD country-based work, 2008-191

Evolution of responses collected by the Education Policy Outlook, 2013-192

School improvement

The OECD identified the need to make approaches to student learning more systematic across schools and classrooms, and to ensure that the national curriculum does not constrain pedagogical autonomy and innovation. It was found that there was little guidance provided for pre-school teachers on leadership and management in their classrooms. The exposure of teachers to international best practices could be improved, as could participation rates in professional development. New teachers could also receive stronger support from schools; Portugal has the lowest rate of access to formal induction. [2012; 2017; 2018]

Portugal previously reported the priority to clearly define professional pathways for teachers and school principals to enable reform within the teacher-training system. Portugal reconfirmed the priority, while also emphasising the organisation of teacher training and its role in developing teacher quality and enhancing the professional outcomes of teachers and school administrators. Portugal has also recognised improving learning conditions to support all students as a priority through making teachers, schools and curricula more responsive to the needs of students. At the ECEC level, curricular guidance has been an area of government action. [2013; 2016-17]

Evaluation and assessment

The OECD identified a need to effectively implement an assessment system and strengthen the evaluation framework including at policy level. Another priority is to reinforce the improvement function of evaluation and assessment. Several components are still under-developed in the current evaluation and assessment framework. Teacher appraisal requires further adjustments, securing consensus for it to be meaningfully implemented. A need was identified for systematic evaluation and assessment in early childhood education and care (ECEC), and improved quality assurance in vocational education and training (VET). [2012; 2018]

Portugal previously reported a need to develop an integrated evaluation and assessment framework that places students’ learning at the centre and provides clearer information on how schools, principals and teachers can improve in the classroom. More recently, Portugal confirmed that this need had been reinforced due to the primacy of the national exam in student assessment and school evaluation, and higher rates of student retention. Improving internal and external school assessment tools remains a focus. Portugal’s policy efforts at the ECEC level have been ongoing as well to develop more systematic evaluation of ECEC. [2013; 2016-17]


According to the OECD, the education system remains fairly centralised. Teachers are centrally deployed via a ranking system that does not reflect the specific needs of rural schools or those with a high share of disadvantaged students, which often have a high turnover and employ early-career teachers on temporary contracts. Although all VET pathways and programmes follow a common framework (catálogo nacional de qualificações), ruled by a single public agency (ANQEP), their provision and management are carried out by different institutions, creating a risk of overlap. At tertiary level, the strategic policy framework is crowded and fragmented, and co-ordination mechanisms lack coherence. [2012; 2017; 2018; 2019]

In Portugal, the challenge to increase schools’ autonomy and sub-national levels of governance remains. This includes a focus on clarifying the distribution of roles and responsibilities between national and local authorities and schools. [2013; 2016-17]


Current mechanisms for allocating funding to schools have been found to be inefficient, opaque and insufficiently tackle equity issues. In higher education, funding should be better aligned with national priorities, regional needs and policy goals. The funding of both VET and adult learning relies heavily on EU funding. [2018; 2019]

In Portugal, the policy priority of optimising the use of financial resources remains. [2013; 2016-17]


1. See Annex A (OECD publications consulted).

2. See Reader’s Guide (years and methods of collection).


Selected education policy responses

School improvement

  • The National Programme for the Promotion of School Success (Programa Nacional de Promoção do Sucesso Escolar, PNPSE, 2016-19) aims to ensure quality education for all of Portugal’s students and reduce early school leaving through focusing on early intervention at the classroom level, driven by collaboration among teachers (OECD, 2018[465]). The PNPSE centres on the principle that local actors within educational communities are best placed to find solutions to the obstacles to school success in their own contexts. Besides the general provision of resources and monitoring impact, the Ministry of Education’s primary role in the implementation of the PNPSE is to co-ordinate and ensure the provision of professional development to build capacity among local actors and support the development of school-level, strategic action plans (Conselho de Ministros, 2016[466]).

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Progress or impact: The National Programme for the Promotion of School Success (PNPSE) has a total approved budget of EUR 32 million (EUR 29 million from European funds and EUR 3 million from national funds) for the programme period (2016-19) (Liebowitz et al., 2018[467]). The schools taking part in PNPSE must develop strategic action plans that both identify issues specific to their local contexts and design appropriate interventions.

A review following the first year of implementation found that an average of 92% of these actions had been implemented nationally (Ministry of Education, 2018[468]). By 2017, 663 schools had submitted such plans, covering 637 000 students, and a total of 2 913 planned actions (Ministry of Education, 2017[469]).

The reform has played a significant role in the reinvigoration of the 91 Schools Association Training Centres (Centros de Formação de Associação de Escolas, CFAE) across Portugal, which is responsible for providing locally responsive professional development for teachers and school leaders.

The training plan accompanying the implementation of the PNPSE is structured in three phases. Phase 1 (completed in April 2016) focused on training future trainers to support strategic action planning in schools. This took place across 3 locations and covered 160 trainers (Verdasca, 2017[470]). Phase 2 (completed in May-June 2016) saw the CFAE run a total of 156 workshops with 2 811 school leaders and their management teams to help them prepare their schools’ strategic plans (Eurydice, 2018[471]). These workshops were further intended to form the basis of the collaborative networks, which school leaders continue to draw on across the project. Phase 3 (ongoing) involves the CFAE running tailored training programmes for teachers and other educational professionals informed by the strategic action plans for schools in their geographical area (Verdasca, 2017[470]). In 2018, 14 regional seminars also took place, bringing together around 2 800 local actors to discuss strategic actions. An annual national seminar has also been established (Eurydice, 2018[471]).

The OECD has commended the reach of the PNPSE and its design approach. At the same time, concerns persist about the adequacy of funding levels and about the tendency of evaluations to focus on inputs and outputs as opposed to impact (Liebowitz et al., 2018[467]).

  • Portugal has implemented several measures to strengthen the teaching profession. In 2014, the government introduced more stringent admission conditions for Teacher Education Programmes, reinforced the scientific curricula within Teacher Education Programmes and established a lifelong training framework for teachers that aims to improve the quality of teaching through updating teachers’ pedagogical and scientific knowledge. The framework links continuing professional development to career progression by requiring teachers to engage in 50 hours of training across the four-year career programme and 25 hours of training in the two-year career programme in order to advance.

    Much of the ongoing teacher professional development in Portugal is carried out by the 91 School Association Training Centres (Centros de Formação de Associação de Escolas, CFAE) in place across the country. In 2014 and 2015, decrees were passed to clarify the role of these centres as formal institutions in order to support the implementation of the new framework. This included giving the CFAE greater autonomy in working with local schools and school clusters to determine training needs. These are then integrated into annual or multi-annual training plans for the centres, which are accredited by the Scientific-Pedagogical Council of Continuing Professional Development.

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Progress or impact: The impact of the new lifelong learning framework for teachers was severely inhibited by a freeze on public sector career progression (2011-17) as part of austerity measures following the economic recession (Liebowitz et al., 2018[467]). In 2018, measures were introduced to ensure a full-time skeleton staff within each CFAE and to better align their work with the main pedagogical and curricular reforms and initiatives being rolled out across the system.

A recent OECD report praised the locally responsive nature of the CFAE but found that the potential of the training centres is still not being sufficiently realised. Too few teachers take advantage of the training provided by the CFAE, and the offerings need to be more aligned to the priorities of schools and teachers. One reason for this may be insufficient resources within CFAE, which prevents the programme from hiring external training providers to target specific needs, for example. Instead, the CFAE recruits a cohort of volunteer teacher-trainers from local schools and tertiary institutions (Liebowitz et al., 2018[467]).

  • Prior to 2008, pedagogical leadership within Portuguese schools was uncommon. The School Leadership Reform (Decree-Law 75/2008, 2008) created the position of school director (leader) (Santiago et al., 2012[472]). This reform modified selection processes and responsibilities for principals, from a primus inter pares system where teachers were elected to the positions by their peers and functioned mainly as administrators. Leaders thus became responsible for the pedagogical, cultural, administrative and financial management of the school or school cluster. School management now consists of four main bodies: the school leader; the General Council (with representatives of school staff, teachers, parents and local authorities), which is in charge of operational and strategic planning; the Pedagogical Council, which supervises and co-ordinates pedagogical activities; and the Administrative Council, which is responsible for administrative and financial matters. Specialised mandatory training for school leaders was reinforced through an amendment to the law (2012). Leaders are now appointed on a four-year basis by the school or school cluster’s General Council, composed of teachers, non-teaching staff, parents, secondary students and representatives from the municipality. Their performance is evaluated internally by the General Council, based on the successful accomplishment of the goals outlined in their proposed educational project (70%), as well as a qualitative assessment of their leadership, strategy and external communication skills (30%).

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Progress or impact: A 2012 OECD review found that the exercise of pedagogical leadership remained under-developed (Santiago et al., 2012[472]). More recently, the OECD found that while Portugal has made progress and there are formal structures in place that aim to strengthen leadership in schools, adequate and sufficient levels of instructional leadership practices still need to be strengthened at the school level (Liebowitz et al., 2018[467]).

New postgraduate programmes and qualifications for school leaders, intended as pre-service training, have been introduced by several universities across Portugal. In any school-principal appointment process where one or more candidates has such a qualification, all candidates who have not participated in the training must step down. This, according to national information, has acted as a strong incentive for incumbent and prospective principals to enrol in the postgraduate programme (National information reported to the OECD). However, the OECD found that the school leader role needs a professional pathway separate from that of teachers, and by remaining an elected office, leaders are still potentially ultimately responsible to fellow teachers rather than student interests (Liebowitz et al., 2018[467]).

Evaluation and assessment

  • Portugal’s Comprehensive Model for External Student Assessments - Basic Education (Modelo Integrado de Avaliação Externa das Aprendizagens no Ensino Básico, 2015-16), introduced national assessments in Grades 2, 5 and 8, and a national examination in Grade 9, at the end of basic education (primary and lower secondary). The model is based on a clear set of premises: 1) the aim is to improve student learning and academic success; 2) continuous assessment should be the main instrument of internal school evaluation with external evaluation used to enhance approaches to assessment applied within the school; 3) external assessment focused on only a few disciplines leads to an impression of curricular narrowing among teachers and families; and 4) there should be a strong commitment to the quality and pertinence of the information returned to schools, families and other stakeholders in order to create opportunity for more concerted action and build trust in the system (National information reported to the OECD).

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Progress or impact: The introduction of the Comprehensive Model for External Student Assessments signalled a move away from high-stakes testing in basic education in Portugal. Previously, Portugal had national examinations for Grades 4 and 6 of basic education (2011/12). These provided the basis for assessing and monitoring learning progress and replaced the National Monitoring Educational Progress Test (2001). The tests for Grades 4 and 6 were discontinued as this type of early examination was found to be dissonant with practice in the majority of European countries.

The first implementation round of the Comprehensive Model took place in a number of schools in 2016 (European Commission, 2016[473]). Results of the assessments have no impact on final grades; instead, schools and families use them to improve understanding of the students’ learning processes and to target teaching and support to reduce school failure. Oral communication skills are also assessed (European Commission, 2016[473]).

  • In 2016, Portugal created a working group of external experts, staff from the Inspectorate-General of Education and Science (IGEC), representatives of other educational administration services, and government advisors to continue to improve the External School Evaluation (Avaliação Externa de Escolas, AEE) programme. In 2016/17, following two evaluation cycles with the current framework, the group focused on revising the evaluation model and enhancing its formative character (IGEC, 2018[474]).

    The first evaluation cycle started in 2006 when 24 school clusters across the country were evaluated under the guidance of a newly-established group of academic experts and inspection representatives. The evaluation system was then extended to all public schools (except those in the overseas autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira), with external evaluations to be carried out on a five-year basis. The first cycle (2006-11) used a five-dimension analysis (school outcomes, processes, organisation, leadership and self-development), then reduced to three dimensions (school outcomes, education service, leadership and management) for the second cycle (2011-17) (Ministry of Education, 2010[475]; IGEC, 2016[476]).

    Implementation is under the responsibility of the IGEC, which prepares an annual report with the main results, and provides targeted feedback to schools and evaluators (IGEC, 2018[474]) The National Education Council (CNE) has been following this process and holding commission meetings, working groups and seminars to enhance the analysis, discussion and use of evaluation data (CNE, 2015[477]).

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Progress or impact: Evidence available to the Ministry of Education suggests some improvement in school development, teaching and learning and student outcomes. School self-evaluation has also helped promote professionalism in schools and enhance public knowledge of schools’ work. Furthermore, having a qualitative and comprehensive evaluation process was considered beneficial in supporting schools to improve their internal organisation and self-evaluation. Portugal reported greater trust in schools, their institutional mechanisms and their leaders.

One implementation challenge lies in establishing a system that is objective and produces substantive results, while at the same time recognising and promoting the specificities of schools and their autonomy and empowering them. Another is to avoid an excessively administrative focus, putting more emphasis on the work in the classroom. Across evaluation cycles, ensuring the involvement of a wide range of participants (teachers, parents, students, experts and institutions) was also a challenge (National information reported to the OECD).

Given the diverse backgrounds of its members, the working group is a positive example of increased alignment among system-level administration services. In 2018, following their review, the working group of external experts presented a proposal to improve the AEE programme and the third evaluation cycle launched in 2019 with a revised model widening the programme’s goals and the scope of its action, as well as extending the process to private schools (IGEC, 2019[479]). This is intended to deepen the information garnered from evaluations and provide greater support to schools, enhancing their capacity to ensure quality learning for all students and across all the competencies defined within the new Profile of Students at the End of Compulsory Schooling.


Selected education policy responses


  • The Educational Evaluation Institute (Instituto de Avaliação Educativa, IAVE, 2013), a fully autonomous body specialising in external evaluation, replaced Portugal’s Office for Educational Evaluation (Gabinete de Avaliação Educacional, GAVE, 1997). IAVE aims to generalise the use of external evaluation in primary and secondary education and evaluate the impact of school clusters on learning outcomes and their surrounding communities. IAVE mainly focuses on the development of the national assessment programme in the context of present policies. Evaluation and monitoring guidelines for pre-school education were established in 2011, and an external evaluation of pre-school education in 2013 led to curriculum revision.

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Progress or impact: Quality assurance depends on direct relationships between school cluster leaders and the Ministry of Education, and on the school councils for clusters, where stakeholders give their views and input regarding school development plans. In addition, to ensure that schools have a clear understanding of what has to be done, external and internal evaluation standards for each grade have been established.

However, a significant obstacle remains in enhancing awareness and ownership of quality assurance indicators. This entails clear definitions and shared understanding of “quality” as well as a guarantee that quality assurance is focussed on improvement (European Commission, 2017[478]).

  • Portugal’s Legal Regime of Higher Education Institutions (Regime jurídico das instituições de ensino superior, RJIES, 2007) defined the aims and scope of autonomy for tertiary education institutions (TEIs) (OECD, 2018[479]). The RJIES allows the government to provide TEIs with autonomous status and to increase the autonomy of all tertiary institutions to make decisions on curricular, research and financial administration. TEIs can also become public foundations governed by private law. This gives greater autonomy in staff recruitment and dismissal, financial management including procurement, asset and property management, borrowing and carrying forward unspent funds (OECD, 2018[479]). Foundation status is awarded by the Council of Ministers on the recommendation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) (National information reported to the OECD).

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Progress or impact: OECD research indicates that, as of 2018, only 5 (out of 15) public research universities and university institutes had adopted foundation status and, so far, no polytechnic institutions have. At the start of 2018, foundation institutions employed fewer than 29% of the public higher education faculty workforce. Few institutions with foundation status have made full use of the flexibility their status offers. By 2016, in the three institutions that adopted foundation status first, in 2009, only 12% of the instructional faculty held private law employment contracts. This is likely due to persisting legal ambiguity concerning key aspects of foundation status, including the management of human and financial resources (OECD, 2018[479]). Recommendations to improve uptake include placing TEIs outside the state budget perimeter, permitting multi-annual management of budgets, and exempting foundation institutions from public procurement procedures up to EU limits (OECD, 2019[480]).

  • Portugal issued a law in 2015 giving municipalities (Concelhos) more autonomy over education policies, school administration, curriculum management and development, administrative and pedagogical organisation, resource management and relationships between schools and the local community (Republic Diary, 2015[481]). This follows an extended period of increasing decision making at the sub-national level, in Portugal, as part of broader efforts to improve the efficiency of public services. In 2008, the government decided to expand municipalities’ funding responsibilities to include lower secondary schools (municipalities have managed funding for pre-primary and primary schools since 1999). Responsibilities of school governing bodies were also reinforced, especially with regard to the selection and evaluation of the school principal. Additionally, a growing number of voluntary autonomy contracts have afforded some schools and school clusters greater autonomy for pedagogical and curriculum organisation, human resources, school social support and financial management. Conditions for granting an autonomy contract include approval of school self-evaluation reports and positive external school evaluations (OECD, 2014[482]).

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Progress or impact: Following the 2015 law, 14 municipalities have been taking part in a four-year pilot programme assessing their capacity to manage the funds provided. Monitoring commissions have been appointed for each contract, and a final evaluation at the end of the pilot will determine the potential to scale up this system of localised control (Liebowitz et al., 2018[467]). However, given the ongoing decentralisation processes within the school system, conditions of the contracts with municipalities may change to the point of becoming redundant.

In terms of school autonomy, a first group of 24 autonomy contracts were granted in 2006 among school clusters, and schools already evaluated through the external evaluation system. This increased to almost 30 schools in 2010 (National information reported to the OECD).

In 2012, legislation was published to define procedures to follow and evaluate these autonomy contracts, and legislation in 2014 allowed school clusters with autonomy contracts to manage some parts of their curriculum organisation. By 2014, at least 212 school clusters and schools had autonomy contracts (OECD, 2014[482]).

More recently, important national reforms such as the Profile of Students at the end of Compulsory Schooling (2017) and the PNPSE (2016) have adopted implementation models, which centre on stimulating innovation at the school level through supporting greater school autonomy.

Nevertheless, within the Portuguese education system, several key areas remain under central authority, including teacher recruitment, placement and pay, as well as curriculum and the planning of the school network. Furthermore, OECD research indicates that a lower share of decisions was taken at the school level for lower secondary education in Portugal (15%) than on average across OECD countries (34%) in 2017 (OECD, 2018[2]).

  • As part of broader efforts to rationalise public services (through the Plano de Redução e Melhoria da Administração Central, PREMAC, 2011), in 2013, Portugal reduced the resources and competences attributed to the Regional Directorates for Education, which until then had been responsible for co-ordinating policy implementation within their respective regions. These Regional Directorates for Education were then converted into Regional Delegations within the Directorate General for Schools (Direcção-Geral dos Estabelecimentos Escolares, DGEstE). Concurrently, school networks were granted more autonomy through autonomy contracts. According to national information, other services merged to create a more cohesive governance system. For example, the Directorate General for Education also took over the responsibilities of the Directorate General for Innovation and Curricular Development (OECD, 2014[482]).

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Progress or impact: According to the final report on the implementation of the Plano de Redução e Melhoria da Administração Central (PREMAC), within two months of implementation, the plan had reduced the number of management positions by 27% (Government of Portugal, 2012[483]). In addition, upper-level structures in central administration decreased by at least 40%. Over the same period, 168 entities were discontinued or merged with others, and 26 new entities were created. PREMAC formed part of the austerity measures following the 2008 economic crisis and was discontinued under the XXI Constitutional Government of Portugal, which took office in 2015.

  • As of 2016, Portugal’s InfoESCOLAS Portal (2015) provides data for all public and government-dependent schools and students from Grades 5-12 (end of primary education through secondary education, excluding students in vocational training) (Liebowitz et al., 2018[467]). It also provides access to the results of internal and external assessments. In addition, students have access to information about school partnerships and student involvement, as well as links between schools and the community (European Commission, 2018[484]). InfoESCOLAS replaced the previous education web portal, which provided statistics including data on education participation and completion (National information reported to the OECD). All information is publicly available and provided via graphical dashboards.

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Progress or impact: In 2018, the OECD recognised InfoESCOLAS as a valuable practice for education. It recommended that Portugal employ a similar tool providing publicly accessible information concerning adult learning. This could improve the collection, use and dissemination of information on skills performance and the returns to skills investments related to adult education (OECD, 2018[485]).

Additional education policies of potential interest to other countries


  • A 2018 OECD report found that at least 235 Portuguese primary and secondary schools voluntarily joined the pilot for the Project for Autonomy and Curriculum Flexibility (PACF, 2017) at the start of the 2017/18 school year following the adoption of Legislative Order No. 5908/2017 (OECD, 2018[465]). PACF provides schools with support and guidance for curriculum development and management for better teaching and learning practices. The project’s framework centres on autonomy and trust within schools and their responsibility for providing quality education to students. It also acknowledges schools and teachers as agents of curriculum development, enhancing the depth of all students’ learning through greater flexibility and autonomy. Components that reinforce curriculum development include autonomy and flexibility in curriculum management (the Ministry of Education has encouraged schools to use 0-25% of their total curriculum time to introduce innovative curriculum design); inclusive learning environments to integrate the diverse personal needs of all students; and improving alignment between primary and secondary education. The OECD has identified some ongoing tensions between the flexibility offered by the project and the national curricular expectations (Liebowitz et al., 2018[467]; OECD, 2018[465]).

  • In 2017, Portugal – in co-operation with the OECD Education 2030 project –developed a new encompassing framework for teaching, learning and assessment, as part of its efforts related to the PACF. Based on evidence about 21st-century conditions, the Profile of Students at the End of Compulsory Schooling (Perfil dos Alunos à Saída da Escolaridade Obrigatória) articulates the broad set of skills, and knowledge students should have acquired by the age of 18, establishing Essential Learning Objectives for each education level. The profile embraces the idea of transversality: each curriculum area helps develop all competencies. The profile also acts as a strategic reference document for the organisation of the entire education system and aims to define strategies, methodologies and pedagogical-didactic procedures to be used in teaching. The new framework was tested in the 2017/18 school year in the 235 public and private schools participating in the PACF pilot. Implementation is monitored and supported by higher education institutions, in collaboration with the OECD. It is being extended alongside PACF, nationally in 2018/19. An OECD review of the implementation of the Profile of Students at the End of Compulsory Schooling and PACF reform identified strengths such as the consensus-building efforts during the development and pilot phases, the breadth of the project’s aims and the ministry’s openness to feedback and reflection. There are concerns among some stakeholders about balancing the profile’s competencies and the demands of national examinations (OECD, 2018[465]).


  • As part of Portugal’s Schools Participatory Budget (2016) all public schools providing lower and upper secondary education receive an additional amount from the state budget to be used according to the democratic will of students. Groups of students develop proposals for school improvement, secure a minimum number of signatures from their peers and then submit to the school principal. Once approved, these proposals are voted on by all students. This aims to reinforce students’ engagement with the community and their civic values.

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