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Picture of Davis Gouveia, Education and University Specialist

Davis Gouveia

Education and University Specialist

Jan 10, 2024

Which are the Best Public Schools in Portugal?

With so many expat families moving to Portugal, the question of schooling becomes a major issue. There are a variety of top-notch international private schools that are specifically geared towards the children of higher-income expats, s but there are also some high-performing public schools in Portugal

Sending your children to public schools is an option worth considering. There is a perception that private schools are automatically better than public schools, but that is not always the case in Portugal. 

Many expats opt for international schools primarily to ensure their children can learn in their native language, easing the adaptation and learning process. Additionally, the curriculum in these schools is often a significant factor, adhering to international standards, which can be crucial for families considering global educational continuity or future relocations.  But if the goal is to live and become part of the society, then public schools are a great option and do not compromise on the quality of education. 

By integrating into a local public school in Portugal, your child can quickly absorb the culture and learn the language. This option gives children the opportunity to get out of the expat bubble, while also allowing you to avoid the expenses of a private school.

Younger children tend to transition more easily into their new environment. In fact, studies have shown that the earlier a child is exposed to a second language, the more likely they are to not only learn the language, but to also be able to master a native-like pronunciation - one of the more difficult aspects of learning a new language, especially European Portuguese.

Of course, quality can vary quite a bit between schools, but there are many excellent public schools in Portugal, some that are rated even higher than some private schools. Let’s take a look at some of Portugal’s best public schools.

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The Best Public Schools in Portugal

Arga and Lima Secondary Schools, Viana do Castelo 

They are located in Viana Do Castelo in the northern region of Portugal near the coast. They have been recognized by the Eco-Escolas, an international program that was first developed in Portugal in 1996 and promotes a curriculum of environmental education for sustainability.

Escola Secundária de Vila Nova de Paiva, Viseu

This school is listed as the top public school according to The Observador website which ranks both public and private schools in Portugal. 

Located in the picturesque Vila Nova de Paiva, within the Viseu district at the core of Portugal. Viseu, often called a garden city, is not only a hub of rich traditions, arts, and crafts but also a center of technological innovation and entrepreneurship.

This school proudly holds various certifications: Eco-Escolas for their commitment to sustainability, Aptis Learning School for English proficiency, a No-Bullying School recognition, a Digital Security seal valid through 2025, and membership in REEI, the Network of Schools for Intercultural Education.

Escola Secundária Quinta das Palmeiras, Covilhã

This is another public school that is listed high on the Observador. Covilhã, located in the mountainous central region of Portugal and often referred to as the town of wool and snow, has dramatic mountain views and has excellent opportunities for hiking, camping, hiking and skiing.

The school system has a strong emphasis on the sciences and has had many graduates recognized in the field of physics.

Teenagers at school desks in a classroom working on tablets and laptops

Why Choose to Go to a Public School in Portugal?

By giving your child the opportunity to attend a high-quality public school in Portugal, you're not just providing an education; you're immersing them in the vibrant Portuguese culture, language, and a new way of life. The speed at which your children will absorb and adapt to this environment is remarkable, opening doors for the entire family. This cultural immersion extends beyond the classroom, as school activities, especially sports, play a pivotal role in community cohesion. Through your child's school involvement, your entire family will become an integral part of the local culture, enriching your experiences.

However, it's important to note that, like many educational systems globally, Portuguese public schools face challenges, including a notable shortage of teachers in some areas. This is an aspect to consider when making your decision, as it reflects the current realities and ongoing efforts for improvement in the Portuguese education system.

This understanding adds depth to your child's educational experience and allows you to engage more meaningfully with the community. Embracing both the advantages and challenges will enhance your child's immersion in the culture.

For more assistance and guidance on enrolling your children in a Portuguese public school, feel free to contact us today. We're here to help you navigate this exciting journey.

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