General context and legislative framework
Law No 85/2009, 27 August, extends the age of compulsory education to 18 years old and establishes widespread pre-school education for children from five years old onwards.
Decree Law No 176/2012, 2 August, regulates enrolment and attendance in compulsory schooling for children and young people between six and 18 years old and establishes measures to be adopted for students to prevent school failure and dropout. This legislation deems that it is the state's duty to provide psychology services and school and vocational guidance, providing vocational counselling for young people. This takes the shape of referral to educational provision appropriate to the student's profile, allowing for a rejig of the student's educational pathway via permeability or equivalence.
According to the preamble of the Council of Ministers Resolution No 23/2016, “key principles of the 21st Constitutional Government are promoting quality education for all and combating school failure within a context that prioritises equal opportunities and increased efficiency and quality of public institutions”.
Decree Law No 54/2018, 6 July (in its current wording, conferred by Law No 116/2019, 13 September), establishes the principles that guarantees inclusion, development and participation in the learning processes for all students. This legislation identifies the support measures for learning and inclusion, the specific curricular areas, as well as the specific resources mobilised to meet all children and young people’s educational needs throughout their time at school, with the different education and training provision. One of the resources is a "multidisciplinary team to support inclusive education", which should include a psychologist among its permanent members.
Decree-Law No 14/2017, 26 January, republishes Decree-Law No 396/2007, 31 December, which establishes the legal framework of the National Qualifications System (SNQ). This legislation presents a strategic response to improve low qualification levels and enshrines "information and guidance for qualification and employment" in Article 14, providing specific information, particularly on vocational training and employment provision. This is key to individuals’ and organisations’ decisions to meet their interests and needs and should be provided by public employment and training services, specialised adult qualification centres and educational institutions’ psychology and guidance services.
School-based psychology and guidance
Psychology and guidance services (Serviços de Psicologia e Orientação - SPO), created by Decree-law No 190/91, 17 May, are specialised learning support units. They are part of the school network, operating in schools and school clusters (from early childhood education and care to upper secondary education) in three areas:
- Psycho-pedagogical support for students and teachers.
- Development of educational community relations systems.
- School and vocational guidance.
Activities in each of these areas vary according to the context and priorities identified by school management mechanisms. These areas are interconnected and complementary, focussing on student development and improving educational quality.
The psychology and guidance services follow a developmental approach. They work on a face-to-face or group basis and by distance, using ICT. They employ a set of tools and technical resources, in accordance with ethical and quality criteria.
The school psychologist and other members of the multidisciplinary team that supports inclusive education, have a key role in proposing support measures, as they monitor and evaluate. The work of these specialists is guided by technical and scientific autonomy, in accordance with the profession’s code of ethics. As specialised professionals and members of the multidisciplinary team to support inclusive education, psychologists play a key role in the holistic development of students, considering the learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and live with others and learning to be. For more information see Subchapter 10.3 – Education staff responsible for guidance in early childhood and school education
Information and guidance for young people’s qualifications
As the body responsible for coordinating SNQ structures, the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education (ANQEP) designs and promotes information and orientation activities for young people’s qualifications, involving various information and vocational guidance professionals.