As established by Decree-Law No 75/2008, 22 April, the school leadership, administration and management bodies are:
- the general council.
- the pedagogic council.
- the administrative council.
- the head teacher.
At any given moment, the member of government responsible for education can dismiss the administration and management bodies due to an evaluation by external auditors, or after an inspection revealing that the state-owned establishment has been jeopardised, or is in a clearly ruinous state, or where school management has been hindered.
The general council is the strategic leadership body responsible for defining the guidelines for the school’s activities, ensuring that the educational community is guaranteed representation and participation together with the municipal authorities, where the municipal council exercises its responsibilities in education. It is comprised of representatives of teachers and non-teaching staff, parents/guardians, students, the municipality and local community. As a rule, general council members have a four-year mandate, with the exception of parents/guardians and pupils’ representatives, whose mandate is two years.
The pedagogic council coordinates and supervises pedagogical matters, as well as the school’s educational guidance, such as pedagogic-didactic matters. It provides student support and supervision and teaching staff and non-teaching-staff's initial and continuous professional training and is exclusively made up of teachers.
The administrative council makes final decisions regarding the school’s administrative and financial matters. It is made up of the head teacher (who presides), the deputy head and two assistants who are nominated by the head teacher, as well as by the head of the school’s administrative department or their replacement.
The head teacher is the school's administration and management body in areas of pedagogy, culture, administration, finance and assets, and represents the school cluster/non-clustered school.
It is also the head teacher’s responsibility to submit pedagogic council’s educational project for the general council’s approval.
After consulting with the pedagogic council, it is the head teacher’s responsibility to:
- draw up and submit changes to the school’s rules, its annual and pluriannual activities plan, the annual report, and the proposals for drawing up autonomy contracts for the general council’s approval.
- approve the plan for training and update teaching and non-teaching staff positions, consulting the local authorities regarding the latter.
The head teacher is also responsible for:
- defining how the school is run.
- drafting the prospective budget in conformity with the guidelines laid down by the general council.
- supervising the creation of classes and timetables.
- providing teachers’ and non-teachers’ work schedules.
- nominating school coordinators or coordinators in pre-primary institutions.
- proposing candidates for the position of department curriculum coordinator, who is elected by the respective departments from a list of three teachers.
- choosing class tutors.
- planning and overseeing activity regarding school welfare in conformity with the guidelines laid down by the general council.
- managing school facilities, spaces and equipment, as well as other educational resources.
- establishing protocols and signing cooperation or association agreements with other schools and training establishments, local authorities and collective bodies, according to the guidelines defined by the general council.
- overseeing the administrative, technical and technical-pedagogic departments.
- selecting and recruiting teaching staff.
- hierarchical power regarding teaching and non-teaching staff.
- disciplinary power regarding students.
- providing the conditions necessary for teacher performance assessment and for the evaluation of non-teaching staff performance.
- representing the school.
- The head teacher is also bound to perform the duties delegated to them by the educational administration and the town council.
Requirements for appointment
The head teacher is elected by the general council. Eligible candidates should be:
- tenured teachers in public schools (i.e., permanent staff), or
- duly qualified tenured teachers at private and cooperative schools.
In both cases, the candidates should have at least five years teaching experience and should have a qualification allowing them to exercise duties in school administration and management.
Teachers meeting one of the following conditions are deemed fit to exercise administration and management duties (e.g., as head teacher):
- having attended and passed specialised training in school or educational administration at a higher education institution (HEI).
- having a master’s degree or doctorate in school or educational administration.
- If no candidates with specialised training apply, those who meet one of the following requirements may be accepted:
- teachers with experience of at least one full mandate as head teacher, a deputy head or an assistant to the head teacher, or similar positions.
- teachers with at least three years' experience as a head teacher or as a pedagogic head in a private or cooperative school.
- teachers with relevant experience in school administration and management.
To assess the candidates, the general council nominates a committee to draft an evaluation report which must include:
- an analysis of each candidate’s curriculum vitae to see its relevance to the duties as head teacher.
- an analysis of the intervention projects at the school.
- an assessment of the candidate’s interview.
After having discussed and assessed the report and heard the candidates, the general council elects the head teacher. The winning candidate receives the absolute majority of votes cast by the members of the general council.
The outcome of the election is then ratified by the Director-General for School Administration.
Conditions of service
The head teacher is assisted by a deputy head and by one to three assistants, depending upon the size of the school cluster/non-clustered school, and the complexity and diversity of its educational services, in terms of the levels and stages of education, and the kind of courses that are taught. The head teacher is substituted by the deputy head in the event of absence and impediments.
The deputy head and the assistants are nominated by the head teacher from among tenured teachers in state schools and who have had at least five years teaching experience and are still working at the school.
To support the head teacher (and based on their proposal), the general council can authorise the appointment of technical and pedagogic assistant depending on the school population and how the school operates. Assistants are nominated from among teachers working at the school.
The head teacher’s duties are full-time, exclusive and incompatible with any other work, whether public or private, paid or unpaid, except in certain circumstances foreseen in the law.
The head teacher is exempt from classroom teaching although, upon their own initiative, they can teach a subject or curricular area for which they are duly qualified.
The head teacher, deputy head and assistants are still entitled to the basic salary of their original professional category. They receive a supplementary payment for the positions they occupy (paid monthly). The value of this payment is set according to the number of students on day study within the school cluster/non-clustered school.
The head teacher has no timetable. Because of this, there is no extra remuneration for working above and beyond the normal working day. That said, they are expected to work a full day and be punctual.
The head teacher performs their duties on a service commission basis. As such, their original position is safeguarded (as well as the respective social welfare system). Their career cannot be jeopardised due to such leadership duties. This means preserving length of service in their original place while serving their commission.
The head teacher’s mandate last four years; the mandates for the deputy head and assistants also last four years.
The general council can decide if the head teacher’s mandate is renewed for a further term or whether new election should be held. This decision for a second mandate is made by absolute majority vote and the mandate cannot be renewed for a third consecutive term. The same head teacher may not be elected for a fifth consecutive term in office or during the following four years upon the termination of their fourth consecutive mandate.
The head teacher’s term in office will cease:
- at the request of the head teacher themself for good cause.
- at the end of the school year upon the deliberation of the general council. This must be approved by a majority vote of two thirds of the council members if the head teacher has been found incompetent regarding their management. Proof of such incompetence needs to be provided and a duly proven allegation presented by any one member of the general council.
- following a disciplinary process that has been concluded with the application of disciplinary sanctions terminating the commissioned service.
Once a head teacher’s mandate has terminated, a new election is held.
The mandates of the deputy head and assistants are terminated as soon as the director’s mandate ends. The deputy head and assistants may be exonerated at any time pending via reasoned decision by the head teacher.
When teachers occupying or having occupied the positions of head teacher, deputy head and assistants wish to retire, it is done according to their original positions.
The head teacher, deputy head and assistants are entitled to receive specific training suited to their duties.