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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Administration and governance at local and/or institutional level


2.Organisation and governance

2.7Administration and governance at local and/or institutional level

Last update: 28 March 2024

Decree-Law No. 7/03, 15 January, amended by Law No. 41/03, 22 August, regulates the responsibilities, make-up and management of the municipal education boards, and the procedures for the preparation and approval of the Education Charter.

The municipal education board is a coordination and advisory body that oversees education policy at municipal level, articulating the actions of interested educational agents and social partners, analysing and monitoring the education system, as well as proposing measures to promote greater efficiency and effectiveness in the educational system (Decree-Law No. 7/2003, 15  January, Art. 3).

At municipal level, the Education Charter is used for prospective planning of educational facilities, according to educational and training needs to ensure a better use of the educational resources according to demographic and socio-economic development of each municipality.  

To this end, the Education Charter aims to ensure the suitability of the network of pre-school, basic and upper secondary education establishments so that the educational provision available at municipal level meets demand (Decree-Law No. 7/2003, 15 January).

Decree-Law No. 75/2008, 22 April approves the autonomy, administration and management of pre-school and compulsory education in public education institutions, establishing the following school administration and management bodies:

  • The general council is the senior strategic management body, responsible for defining the guidelines of school activity, ensuring the involvement and representation of the educational community.
  • School head: administration and management body of the school, or school cluster for educational, cultural, administrative, financial and asset-related areas.
  • Pedagogical council: the body responsible for pedagogical coordination and supervision, defining the pedagogical direction of the school, or school cluster, namely in the pedagogic/didactic and student guidance and monitoring fields, as well as in supervising the initial and continuing training of teaching and non-teaching staff.
  • Administrative council: the body responsible for taking decisions on administrative and financial matters.  

Parents are represented by parents’ associations that defend and promote the interests of their members in all matters concerning the education of their children who attend public, private or cooperative pre-school, basic or upper secondary education. Parents' associations are independent of the state, political parties, religious organisations and any other institutions or interests.

Regarding adult education and certified training, provision is managed locally by the Employment and Vocational Training Institute’s employment centres which, in conjunction with the local authorities and the business sector, autonomously define training programmes that meet the needs of the local labour market. Something similar occurs with vocational schools which, most being dependent on local council initiatives, seek to offer non-higher training provision according to local needs.

Basic and upper secondary schools also offer adult education and training provision with school certification and dual certification, academic and vocational, in response to needs identified locally and also by Qualifica Centres. This provision is free of charge and taught during after-work hours (or, when requested, during the day or a combination of the two).

In 2019, the 22nd Constitutional Government implemented the transfer of duties regarding education to municipal and inter-municipal bodies (Decree-Law No. 21/2019, 30 January, rectified by Declaration of Rectification No. 10/2019, 25 March and amended by article 189 of Decree-Law No. 84/2019, 29 June, by article 422 of Law No. 2/2020, 31 March and by Decree-Law No. 56/2020, 12 August). This legislation conducts the new transfer of powers from the direct and indirect governance of the State to local government, operated by Law No. 50/2018, 16 August, implementing and developing the principles of subsidiarity, the autonomy of local authorities and the democratic decentralisation of public administration, set out in paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.

With regard to education, the responsibilities transferred covered all municipalities from 1 April 2022. The XXIII Constitutional Government’s Programme prioritised the implementation of a people-centred education policy that ensures equal access to public schools, thereby promoting educational success and equal opportunities, while combatting territorial inequalities. Such designs have been guaranteed via the adoption of various educational policy measures, which includes providing communities with the school equipment, human resources and educational provision they need to provide quality education and training that meets students’ expectations and aspirations. That said, due to the small number of students, 33 municipalities in the interior have no upper secondary school provision, obliging students to travel to other areas that offer this level of education. Considering the principles of equity, universal compulsory schooling, equal access to education and school success - as stipulated in the Education Act -, municipalities now have the power to provide transport and support for accommodation needed by students whose families live in municipalities with no upper secondary education provision. This allows such students to complete upper secondary education and go on to work as qualified professionals or attend higher education, combatting early school leaving, correcting geographical inequalities, as well as promoting greater territorial cohesion, regional development and boosting the interior. As such, Decree-Law No.125/2023, 26 December, makes a fifth amendment to Decree-Law No. 21/2019, 30 January, amended by Decree-Law No. 84/2019, 28 June, Law No. 2/2020, 31 March, and Decree-Laws Nos. 56/2020, 12 August and 16/2023, 27 February, which transfers responsibilities to municipal and intermunicipal bodies with regard to education.