Are the school terms in the Algarve really as delightful as people make out

If you have read our previous posts about getting our son into school you will know that the process took us over a year of him being absent from school. This was down to the poor system that they have in Portugal and the need for material that you would never associate with sending your child to the local school.

You live and learn though and realise that it must be done if you want your child to be educated in a t0tally different school. The more I learn about the system in Portugal the more frustrated it makes me. We are in the European Union yet their organisation skills for upholding a school have absolutely no logic whatsoever.

For example in England we have the parents evening during term time so that if your child has any problems it can be rectified and you can get back to your work without any major interruption. But NO that would be too simple for the Portuguese as they like to make things harder…..

So instead they have the parents evening after school has broken up for the summer break meaning that if there is a problem you will be stuck with it until September. Plus the meeting is held in public so if you want to discuss your child’s behaviour or say if you have concerns that your child is being bullied you will have to discuss it in fr0nt of all the parents from your child’s class.

Which unless your child has the perfect is something that most of us would not want to happen!!!!

"parents meeting"But what really ties me up in knots is the fact that nobody seems to know when school will return or what books y0u will need when the new term starts. Y0u want to prepare your child for their return to school but you have no way of doing this. We have requested our son’s new yearly books and after paying a deposit for them was told that they had no idea when they would be arriving!!!

Furthermore with chats with the school a new term start date is yet to be arranged!!!

I work from home with my internet business so I need t0 plan when I will be working so that I can enjoy the last week or so with my son before school returns.

I am not asking for a perfect school system just one were I know when he will be attending school so that I can get organised.

Thanks for reading my blog post and I hope you enjoy our expat tips. I love living in the Algarve and sharing my stories with you.

Thanks for reading




  1. Sympathies! It’s been something if a rigmarole enrolling my 2 here in Lagos this year also. The school has very specific requests about what sort of information they need from the boys’ previous school. Pass/fail wording and a rubber stamped letter! A letterhead is no good. Oh no. Anyone can make one of those!

    Still, it was reassuring to see my eldest son’s name on the class list, even if we don’t yet kniw when the term itself starts!

  2. H. vd Berg says:

    I want to move to the Algarve..
    A house is easy to rent, but now i need a job, then im off.
    I dont mind if its a mess about schooltimes.. because that is a point that makes me crazy in my own country…
    Live day by day, that is what i like about it. .. or am i to naive there?
    By the way.. maybe you can give me more information about this…
    I want to rent a house, find a job and put my son into schoo…
    Is it possible this way?

  3. Hi Heidi


    we see lots of people arrive here in a caravan without a penny to their name!!!

    You just have to want it to happen, be organised plan everything and think about what kind of work you are going to do while you get there.

    What job do you do in england can you do the same in portugal?

    It is hard work moving abroad but it is well worth it

    for an idea of prices to be 20 minutes from the cost a two bedroom cottage would cost you about £400 including gas, electric and water and there is no council tax or tv licence to worry about (saving you £1000 already!!!) or to be by the beach add another £150 to this.

    kind regards


  4. Hi tracey

    it is nice to know that i am not alone – actually found out when school returns when I saw the school teacher in the supermarket!!!

    The problem though with portugal is that they believe they are organised!!!

    kind regards


  5. Hi Samantha

    I am wanting to move over to central algarve asap with husband and 4 year old twins. My main concern is schooling. Are the schools any good, I can’t seem to find any on the internet except international which we can not afford.

    When they start a school do the teachers speak english to them at all or are they expected to pick up portuguese? What type of qualifications do they finish with is it similar to GCSE? Are they likely to fit in? Is the education any good do they have anything like the British Ofsted reports?

    Kind regards


  6. Hi mel

    thanks for your blog comment

    we live in the central algarve so we are in your area that you want to live

    first of all the international schools are worse than the state schools in england so trust me you are better off without them.

    with the teachers some speak english some dont so it can be a lottery in this sense. Our sons teacher doesn’t speak a word of it and we manage perfectly. We have translators whenever we need them and when we dont we communicate via letter and the google translator. As a result our nine year old speaks perfect portuguese though he has only been at school since september 2009.

    The curriculm is great, they work them twice as hard as the uk and they get a very long summer break (june to september).

    Yes it is similar to the gcses and the colleges and universities are very similar and reports are available in a similar way.

    If you are on a budget the favourite place at the moment as far as quality of schools is concerned is Lagoa and has a good expat community but still has lots of local culture.

    The first year at school is tough for them just because they are having to adjust to their new surroundings but after from that it is great for them.

    kind regards



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