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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in school education


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.2National reforms in school education

Last update: 30 March 2024




Teaching career progression

As part of the strategy to improve public services and reduce inequalities, the government approved a decree - enacted in late August - that establishes the terms for implementing accelerated career progression mechanisms for pre-school, basic and upper secondary school teachers. Decree-Law No. 74/2023, 25 August, establishes a special system for remedying imbalances in career progression, introducing equity factors via positive discrimination for teachers whose career has been affected by pay and progression freezes between 2005 and 2007, and again between 2011 and 2017.

This legislation is expected to affect approximately 70,000 teachers, who can now reach one of the three highest scales (8th, 9th or 10th).

SIMPLEX: better practices in everyday life for schools and teachers

For the next school year (2023/24), the Portuguese Ministry of Education is introducing an initial set of measures that reduce and simplify school procedures, methodologies and administrative processes. This framework is in line with several commitments made to schools and teachers with regard to facilitating the management of internal administrative procedures, including those related to teaching and learning processes (e.g., the duration and format of meetings, preparation of pupil assessments and teacher responsibility and accountability).

Read here for more information.

Budget increase for inclusion resource centres

The Council of Ministers approved expenditure on cooperation contracts of up to €13,112,500 for inclusion resource centres for the 2023/2024 school year, a 25% increase on the earlier budget.

This figure was agreed with social partners, signalling more robust help for students with specific educational needs, who will be provided with more therapeutic support.

Read here for more information. 

New 23|24 Escola+ Plan

Having considered the monitoring and evaluation results of the 21|23 School+ Plan, as well as the knowledge, experience and lessons learned from its implementation, the 23|24 School+ Plan (approved by Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 80-B/2023, 18 July 2023) provides schools with a set of specific measures for the 2023/2024 school year. This involves the construction and implementation of schools’ own learning recovery plans, which aim to counter the learning deficits that remain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 23|24 School+ Plan is divided into the following areas:

a) Area 1 - Reading and writing.

b) Area 2 - Curricular autonomy.

c) Area 3 - Educational resources.

d) Area 4 - Family.

e) Area 5 - Assessment and diagnosis.

f) Area 6 - Inclusion and well-being.

g) Area 7 - Supporting educational communities.

These areas take the form of measures applied to education and training provision in basic and upper secondary education, including vocational schools, both public and private.

The abovementioned resolution also extends the mandate of the Mission Group for Promoting School Success (created by the Resolution of the Council of Ministers 23/2016, 11 April) for another two school years. This group is responsible for monitoring the plan, in tandem with representatives from all the Ministry of Education departments.

Students’ external assessment: new rules for completing upper secondary education

Following the reflection and public discussion held on this subject a few months ago, Decree-Law No 62/2023, 25 July, approves the new rules for completing upper secondary school and access to higher education. This involves the new regime of student assessment, which establishes a new examinations model in upper secondary education. The list of compulsory final exams has changed, with all students taking three national exams, thus consolidating the core nature of internal and continuous assessment. The Portuguese language exam remains compulsory for all, with each student being obliged to take two other exams of their choice, according to their individual learning path and further studies.

The same decree-law alters the legal framework for inclusive education, extending the special conditions of assessment tests all students with any specific language disorder, which was previously applied only to students with dyslexia.

These changes will only come into force for students enrolled the 12th year for the 2024/2025 school year.

For more information, see the Government website

Guidelines for combating gender discrimination in schools

In June 2023, guidelines were made available to all schools on preventing and combating discrimination and violence related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sexual characteristics. The guide, entitled O direito a ser nas escolas (The right to be in schools), was presented on 17 May at the 'Right to Be in Schools' forum, which marked International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. It suggests measures to guarantee transgender students’ safety and well-being, ensuring their self-assigned name is respected in all school and non-school activities. The guidelines, which cover teacher training and other aspects, also aim to ensure that transgender students have safe access to toilets and changing rooms, as well as guaranteeing the privacy and dignity of their identity when communicating with their families.

21|23 Escola+ Plan: effectiveness and efficiency monitoring and assessment

With regard to the 21|23 Escola+ Plan, the Ministry of Education’s Directorate-General for Education and Science Statistics (DGEEC) published the third monitoring report (April 2023), which provides revised and updated data collected in January 2023 in over 92% of school clusters/non-clustered schools (SC/NCS) about 14 specific actions monitored.

Like previous reports (see subsection 2022), this document includes:

- the level of take-up of specific actions

- the resources and pupils involved

- the perception of each school cluster or non-clustered school about the specific actions implemented and the impact they had on the students' learning recovery process.

This third monitoring report adds two modules regarding the specific actions 1.3.6. Recovering with Art and Humanities and 1.6.6. Fourth Quarter - Cultural Backpack and a module on the impact of the action 1.6.3. Personal, Social and Community Development Plans, as well as on the degree of priority given to its implementation.

The data presented in this report gives us a picture of how schools mobilised the measures available in the 21|23 Escola+ Plan.

School sports on wheels

Initially set up in 2019, as part of the Instituto Português do Desporto e Juventude – IPDJ (Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth) and Ministry of Education joint initiative, the pilot project "School Sports on Wheels" will be extended to all public schools with the 2nd cycle during the 2022/23 school year. This forms part of Area 1 of the Strategic School Sport Programme 2021-25 and the Learning Recovery Plan - 21|23 School+ Plan, consolidating another cycling initiative created by the cooperation protocol between the DGE and FPCiclismo (2017) with "Cycling Goes to School", a programme overseen by the National Cycling Programme for All (PNCpT)

Boasting a national pedagogical model, the project employs a manual for the teacher and qualified technician and focusses on three cornerstones: (1) teaching-learning ('Knowing how to ride a bicycle'); (2) rules of the road; (3) citizenship. The activities are also organised transversally in each school cluster/non-clustered school, in tandem with curricular autonomy and flexibility, as well as innovation plans. This way, they reach an increasing number of students, while developing dynamics between the school and local community.

These activities are designed for students in the 2nd and 3rd cycle of basic education and upper secondary schools, provided they are enrolled in the School Sport Module.  The project’s objectives are:

  • To use bicycles in students’ education for sports, recreation and daily life
  • To make the teaching of "how to ride a bicycle safely" widespread, preferably until the end of the 2nd cycle of basic education
  • To make riding a bicycle safely and enjoyably more accessible and widespread, both as a form of leisure and as a means of transport
  • To standardise the analysis and methodologies for teaching students "how to ride a bicycle safely", in a closed and open setting

The project requires investment so that the National Strategy for Active Cycling Mobility 2020-2030 (ENMAC) guidelines and meet the objectives defined for 2020-2030. Each school cluster/non-clustered school must create the right conditions for initial development. That said, some financial support is foreseen, as well as the supply of helmets and bicycles to all school clusters/non-clustered schools on the public network (international public tender, part of RRP), undertaken in phases until 2025.

During this school year (2022/23), the «School Sports on Wheels» project will provide bicycles for 259 public schools with the 2nd cycle of basic education. This joint initiative involves the  Instituto Português do Desporto e Juventude – IPDJ (Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth), and the Ministry of Education, through the Direção-Geral da Educação (Directorate-General for Education).

By 2024, all public schools will have at least two (2) cycling kits consisting of 3 bicycles with 16" wheels, 3 bicycles with 20" wheels, 3 bicycles 24" wheels, 1 bicycle with 26" wheels and 10 helmets.

Monitoring of Level II activities is similar to the quarterly reports requested from school clusters/non-clustered schools.

Additional information can be found on the Direção-Geral da Educação website.

"Border schools project" memorandum

On 15 March 2023, in Lanzarote, Portugal and Spain signed the "Border Schools Project" Memorandum, boosting bilateral cooperation between the two countries. The initiative, which targets young people, reflects values like exercising full citizenship, solidarity through cultural diversity and democratic debate, among others.

In doing so, both countries have made a joint investment in the educational, social and economic development of border territories, providing the local populations with quality education. This includes knowledge and skills associated with bilingualism and interculturalism, which are relevant to citizenship, further studies and employability in both countries.

The project aims are:

  1. to boost quality learning, with collaboration among teachers and students, the promotion of bilingualism, the exchange of knowledge, pedagogical practices and curriculum content
  2. to shape citizens through intercultural understanding
  3. to highlight certain territories as a means of promoting economic growth and combating depopulation
  4. to promote mutual cultural and linguistic recognition, through school twinning.

The project involves five Portuguese school clusters, eight basic education schools and six Spanish Centres, with the main focus on the capacity building and continuous teacher training in plurilingual and intercultural competences. One key partner is the Organização dos Estados Ibero-Americanos para a Educação, Ciência e Cultura (OEI).

For more information about the Bilingual and Intercultural Schools Project "Border Schools" visit the DGE website.

External Assessment Dematerialisation Project - DAVE

The project (External Assessment Dematerialisation), which was launched by IAVE, foresees national tests and exams in digital format, having already started for this school year (2022/2023), encompassing standardised tests for the 2nd, 5th and 8th grades in digital format for all students, with the exception of artistic expression and physical education. During the following school year (2023/2024), students in the 9th grade of basic education will take the final cycle exams in digital format, while students in upper secondary education will take part in this new practice in 2024/2025.

This new system was tested in 2018 in an 8th-grade maths standardised test, which was taken in both digital and paper format with around 2,500 students completing it via computer. In 2019, another pilot project took place in some schools, where standardised tests were digitalised and grading took place electronically. In 2021, the "diagnostic study of learning for 3rd, 6th and 9th-grade students" also took place in digital format.

Essential learning for mathematics in upper secondary education

Dispatch No. 702/2023, 13 January, approves the new essential learning (EL) for mathematics in upper secondary education. These curriculum documents map a common set of knowledge to be acquired, which is identified as structured disciplinary knowledge. It is essential, conceptually linked, relevant and significant, including skills and attitudes that all students are expected to develop in each part of the curriculum or subject, usually denoted by school grade or year of training.

Alongside the exit profile of students leaving compulsory education, the mathematics EL for upper secondary education constitutes a framework for the decisions taken by the school regarding suitability and contextualisation in the different areas of curriculum development: the planning and implementation of maths teaching and learning, as well as students’ internal and external assessment.

To support maths teachers, the DGE has a project website, which contains a summary of the curriculum revision of mathematics EL, as well as useful resources.

INCLUD-ED learning communities project

Part of extending the INCLUD-ED learning communities project to new schools, from the 2022-2023 academic year onwards, training centres will undertake the teaching and monitoring of new teams of teachers implementing this project in their schools, using CREA certified trainers (35 were certified in 2019-2021). In 2022-2023, 16 training centres and 12 certified trainers are involved, with 18 training classes already planned, which are designed for teachers who will implement the project in 39 OUs (29 are part the project for the first time this academic year).

Digital textbooks

The digital textbooks pilot-project (PPMD), which started in the 2020/21 school year, is currently (2022/23 school year) in its third phase, involving a total of 68 school clusters. For additional information, see this topic in 2022.



Teacher recruitment

Dispatch No. 10914-A/2022, 8 September redefined the teacher training requirements appropriate to subject areas for school recruitment procedures. This legislation allows and facilitates the recruitment of students who have completed the first cycle of higher education (ISCED 6) in education or another training area, regardless of having completed a master's degree in a specialist area. This dispatch does not grant a teaching qualification, nor direct access to the profession, only allowing candidates to submit their application when vacancies are published. In fact, the dispatch allows other graduates to apply without necessarily having completed a first-cycle degree in basic education.

External Assessment Dematerialisation Project

Developed by the Institute of Educational Assessment (IAVE) and part of the Recovery and Resilience Plan’s TD-C20-i01 Digital Transition in Education investment, this project aims to develop integrated and intercommunicative preparation, distribution, application, implementation and classification processes for external assessment tests in digital format. The aim is that, by 2025, all external assessment process procedures will be undertaken digitally, from exam enrolment to results reports and curriculum certification. It will also be possible to prepare more interactive tests that are more suitable for developing skills assessment processes.

In 2022, a pilot scheme for second, fifth and eighth year standardised tests was undertaken in various schools across the country and in Portuguese schools abroad, facilitating technical testing of platforms for online use and classification. In 2023, digital standardised tests are expected to be implemented in all schools in Portugal.

School calendar for 2022/2023 and 2023/2024

Dispatch No. 8356/2022, 8 July was published, which approved the 2022/2023 and 2023/2024 school calendars for public pre-school, basic and upper secondary education, private special education, as well as test and examination schedules.

ITENS S.A. Platform - Using external assessment items in the classroom

The ITENS platform includes learning assessment tools taken from national and international external assessment tests and made available by the Institute of Educational Assessment (IAVE), helping schools diagnose students' learning difficulties. Part of Area 1 - Teaching and learning of the Escola+ 21|23 Plan, the platform's main goal is to use information regarding external assessment items to help plan and regulate the teaching-learning process, with proposals for pedagogical use of each item in the classroom.

Searchable by curriculum area/subject, each item boasts the following information:

  • characteristics (format, typology, construction techniques, formats and key psychometric data)
  • objectives (what is assessed and its relation to essential learning and the exit profile for students leaving compulsory education)
  • classification criteria
  • degree of cognitive complexity and cognitive abilities used, and
  • examples of learning situations conducive to improving student performance.

PAR.2 Project – Moving towards an assessment for learning culture

In September 2021, after the initial phase of the PAR.2 project, the priorities of each school group were defined in conjunction with IAVE: some focussed more on reflection and refining learning assessment tools; others placed greater emphasis on analysing difficulties in external assessment as a starting point for measures or programmes to improve learning. In the 2021/2022 school year, IAVE organised sessions for different participants in the project’s 62 schools: short sessions were given to teachers on constructing assessment tools (19 sessions for 1,297 participants); awareness-raising sessions were given to teachers, students and parents on the importance and added value of assessment tests (a total of 56 sessions for 6,486 participants).

PAR Project – School Support Project for the Analysis and Use of External Assessment

Organised in the 2019/2020 academic year by the Institute of Educational Assessment (IAVE), this project achieved its objectives. In addition, 2022 saw the publication of both the PAR Report on the project’s implementation and results, as well as the Practices and Suggestions Guide (GPS) for analysing and using both the Individual Testing Report (RIPA) and the School Testing Report (REPA). This always involves presenting ways and guidance on improving student learning in the first, second and third cycles.

Curricular flexibility and autonomy

The publication of DL 55/2018 means that schools have had powers of autonomy and curricular flexibility (AFC) since 2018. Reaching the end of the fourth year of implementation, it has achieved its primary objective – to encourage educational success, with quality learning for all.

The success of these measures can also be seen in the number of schools clusters (AE) drafting innovation plans, managing over 25% of the curriculum and innovative methodologies, offering students from their communities a unique curriculum, appropriate to their profile. It also means providing quality learning opportunities for all and investing in specific curricular and pedagogical responses that encourage student success and inclusion - about 100 school clusters have Curricular Innovation Plans, with obvious improvements to educational services.  

Learning Recovery Plan - 21|23 Escola+ Plan (continuation)

The 21|23 Escola+ Plan is currently being implemented and monitored. Two reports have been published that facilitate assessment of measures by those who know the situation best - schools and teachers (with a response rate of 98.1%). The overwhelming majority of schools recognise the impact of such measures as important or very important. The data collected shows schools engaging in various measures and a significant allocation of resources - number of teachers, teachers and technicians’ weekly hours, classes involved.

Learning Recovery Plan measures include the following:

  • Escola a Ler (Reading School): activities that encourage guided reading in the classroom, student contact with books that motivates and stimulates regular and continued reading and writing, with the production and availability of support materials. 82% of schools responding to the survey monitoring this plan adopted Escola a Ler, with highest implementation rates in 1st cycle schools (above 90%), demonstrating valuable investment in the key years of learning and consolidation of reading and writing skills.
  • Monitoring the implementation of personal, social and community development plans (2021/2022): collection of testimonies and around 60 videos exemplifying the practices schools believe have had an impact on the work done with students.

Inclusive education

Publication of the Inclusive Education 2020/2021 - Support for learning and inclusion report in the Ministry of Education’s public schools, which presents data from the questionnaire designed to discover how schools organise specific resources to support learning and inclusion, namely the Multidisciplinary Support Teams for Inclusive Education (EMAEI) and the Learning Support Centres (CAA).

Integration of Ukrainian children and young people into the Portuguese education system

Children and young people from Ukraine will be integrated into the education system as soon as possible. To do so, Portugal’s administrative, pedagogical and cultural bodies are being consulted regarding their contribution to an agile and simplified access process.
In Portugal, all foreign citizens between six and 18 years old, legally resident or not, have access to education with the same.
To speed up the integration of children and young people who are beneficiaries or applicants for international protection, extraordinary reception measures in school clusters/non-clustered schools have been defined:
•    Simplification of procedures regarding foreign qualification equivalences and/or positioning and entry in a given school year and educational provision.
•    Gradual integration into the Portuguese curriculum and Portuguese language support.
•    Creation of multidisciplinary teams (specialised teachers/professionals, psychologists, social workers, interpreters, monitors, etc.), according to existing resources, to propose and develop appropriate strategies for concrete situations.
These measures are monitored by a working group made up of various Ministry of Education and other bodies, such as the High Commission for Migrations.
For more information on education measures for child and young person refugees, see DGE website.

21|23 School+ Plan 

To support the implementation and development of the measures recommended in the 21|23 Escola+ Plan (see additional information below - 2021), short courses have been scheduled in schools for pre-primary teachers and first and second cycle teachers, complemented by descriptive roadmaps. 
The Plan’s page publishes national and international information regarding studies and professional training initiatives on recovery of learning. One example is The Future of Schools Beyond Covid-19 report (published in November 2021).

Digital transition of schools

Action plan for the digital development of schools (PADDE)

As part of the Action Plan for Digital Transition, the Action Plan for the Digital Development of Schools was established, based on DigCompEdu and DigCompOrg, documents developed by the European Commission. PADDE’s areas of intervention focus on different school organisation in digital technologies: professional involvement, teaching and learning, assessment of learning, continuous professional development and leadership.

PADDE aims to guide and facilitate the adaptation and implementation of digital technologies in the teaching and learning processes, as well as supporting schools to reflect and define strategies that helps them to exploit digital potential via holistic integration: 

  • Organisational – leadership, teamwork, professional development of school human resources.
  • Pedagogical - curriculum development and assessment, pedagogical practices, use of digital educational resources.
  • Technological and digital - infrastructure, equipment and Internet access; digital platforms. 

To prepare PADDE, the heads of school clusters/non-clustered schools were invited to set up their Digital Development Teams (DDT). These included the head/head of the unit, a teacher with experience and knowledge of technological infrastructures and a teacher in middle management able to work in a team, mobilise peers, with a solid background in using digital means in the teaching and learning process and participation in national and international projects. In their schools, these teachers participate in designing, implementing, monitoring, assessing and reformulating the PADDE.

Digital Ambassadors to implement the digital transition plan

Digital ambassadors with technical-pedagogical advisory roles and responsibilities for organising training were allocated to training centres. They will also be involved in the design, implementation, follow-up, monitoring and evaluation of the PADDE. This is a response to the needs identified by the schools in their areas.

Digital textbooks

The digital textbooks pilot-project (PPMD) implemented in the 2020/21 school year is in its second phase, currently involving a total of 24 school clusters. 
This initiative aims to address different pedagogical models and practices for student learning, to extend all Portuguese schools, identifying potential and constraints of the transition from paper to digital textbooks, such as defining pedagogical models in digital environments, exploring digital educational resources with guided pathways. 
This is being supported and developed with community funds, like The Human Capital Operational Program (POCH).

National monitoring, supervision and research in pedagogical assessment project (MAIA)

After the second stage of the project was completed, the second project report was published in November 2021: Towards a Pedagogical Evaluation: Dynamics and Training Processes in the MAIA Project (2020-2021), which aimed to continue the work in the areas of teacher training, pedagogical evaluation and improvement of teachers' pedagogical practices. 
A total of 81 School Association Training Centres (CFAE) participated in the project, having organised 147 50-hour Training Workshops. These workshops had 2 666 trainees and involved around 360 school clusters/non-clustered schools throughout the country. The CFAE conducted 214 short courses at national level, reaching around 10 464 teachers. 

Curricular flexibility and autonomy

With regard to the curricular flexibility and autonomy (Decree-Law No 55/2018, 6 July), Ordinance No 306/2021, 17 December, (which amends Ordinance No 181/2019, 11 June).This new ordinance consolidates curriculum flexibility and autonomy via: (i) greater flexibility in the design of specific training paths in the education and training provision in upper secondary education; (ii) simplifying proposals for innovation plans in schools; (iii) clarifying curricular and pedagogical organisation options; (iv) defining rules for assessing and certifying students’ learning covered by innovation plans, adapting them to the procedures established by Ordinance No 194/2021, 17 September.
Adopting a specific training pathway in an innovation plan is applicable to all subjects of the specific and scientific component, depending on the upper secondary education and training provision. The structure of the course with its own training pathway must include: 

a) For science-humanities courses, a three-yearly subject, two two-yearly subjects and two annual subjects of the specific component 
b) In the specialised artistic courses, two to four scientific component subjects
c) In vocational courses, two to three scientific component subjects, according to the respective qualification, ensuring the knowledge, skills and attitudes defined in the Professional Profile/Competences Reference and respective training reference.