The Best International Primary & Secondary Schools in Lisbon and Cascais
Image Source: St. Julian’s School
Considering a family move to Lisbon? Your children’s education is undoubtedly an important component of your decision. Navigating the academic system and selecting a school for your child is a daunting task for any parent, let alone an expat or international family. To help ease the process, we’ve put together the following guide, along with some top picks of international schools in Lisbon.
Each country has a unique way of structuring its education system. While most countries recognize education as mandatory for children between ages 6-18 (roughly), the way these ages are grouped or clustered may vary. The Portuguese Education system shares some similarities with both the North American and English school systems, but also some key differences. There are three key phases of the Portuguese education system (not including higher education / University):
Optional, yet highly recommended and commonplace;
Average Ages: Up to age 6;
British Equivalent: Nursery and Reception;
American Equivalent: Pre-School and Kindergarten.
Average Ages: 6 - 15;
Basic Education is divided into 3 cycles, in which the first two combine to form the Primary Education;
Grades 1 – 4: Primary Education;
Grades 5 – 6: Primary Education;
Grades 7 – 9: Lower Secondary Education;
British Equivalent: Primary and Secondary;
American Equivalent: Elementary and Junior High School.
Upper Secondary Education
Average Ages: 16-18;
Upper Secondary Education provides students with the opportunity to pursue a specific academic area of focus or vocational training path;
British Equivalent: Sixth Form or Trade Schools;
American Equivalent: Senior High School or Trade Schools.
The state education system in Portugal is considered to be of comparable quality of the US, UK, and its European neighbors. 2015 test results showed that Portugal ranked 24 on a Global Math, Science, and Reading proficiency index, following the UK (23) and followed by France (25).
However, Portuguese public schools are subject to many of the classic shortcomings of state funded education systems, including lack of resources and a high student teacher ratio. Additionally, public schools do not offer extra-curricular activities, and while English is often taught in schools at a young age, the curriculum is in Portuguese.
Consequently, most foreign or expat families opt for a Private School education for their children. Private schools are also a common option for Portuguese families in Lisbon who prefer a more rigorous or worldly education for their children.
Of these private schools, you can find both secular and faith-based education. However, unless you specifically choose an international school, the curriculum will be in Portuguese.
International Schools in Portugal
International schools are the top choice for expat or international families living in Portugal.
There are many international schools in Lisbon and Cascais due to its high density of foreign residents and expats. While majority of these schools are focused on an English-based education, there are also schools that offer French, German, Spanish, or even Chinese curriculum. Additionally, many of these schools maintain the curriculum of their origin country, instead of adapting to the Portuguese system.
Due to size, majority of the international serve children from early education all the way through their secondary education. To help with your selection, we’ve compiled a list of the best international schools in Lisbon and Cascais that offer compulsory age education. For standardization, we will use “Primary” and “Secondary” as the main school stages, although some schools refer to these differently.
The Top International Schools in Lisbon and Cascais
PaRK International School
About: At PaRK International School we teach children the skills and give them the tools to become bilingual, curious, collaborative, caring, autonomous and agile learners while achieving their personal best in a fast moving world. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Lisbon (Alfragide), Lisbon (Praça de Espanha), Lisbon (Restelo), Cascais Language: English and Portuguese Learn more:https://www.park-is.com
St. Julian’s School
About: Our aim at St. Julian’s is to establish a framework for students and teachers to be engaged and challenged, for parents to be assured and excited by the opportunities we provide to ensure that our students develop the attributes which will allow them to become the creative, curious, committed, collaborative, compassionate and creative thinking citizens that the world needs. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Carcavelos (10 min from Cascais Center) Language: English and Portuguese Learn more:https://www.stjulians.com
United Lisbon International School
About: In establishing the United Lisbon International School, a strong passion for families and the younger generation combines with long-standing experience and a successful track record in international education. This is deeply embedded in our philosophy to nurture the individual learner: by providing a rich environment of opportunities to grow academically as well as personally; working towards globally acknowledged diplomas that open doors to university or other higher education institutions; already gathering real-life experiences and entrepreneurial skills to make a difference in tomorrow’s world; and being able to forge positive personal relations in a globalized society. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Lisbon Language: English Learn more:https://www.unitedlisbon.school
Lisbon Montessori School
About: All our classrooms are led by an AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) accredited teacher from the USA or Europe, as well as a Portuguese assistant teacher. AMI Montessori teachers have a deep understanding of child development and have been trained to guide children through productive and challenging experiences that will provide a firm foundation for their future. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Primary Location(s): Cascais Language: English with support in Portuguese Learn more:https://lisbonmontessori.org
The British School of Lisbon
About: At The British School of Lisbon, a student’s academic results and progress is evaluated using established examination and assessment procedures. These procedures are typical in most UK and top international British schools worldwide. Students in all previous Trustee schools have performed exceptionally well. As a result, the vast majority of former pupils achieved at or above the expected requirements of the English National Curriculum. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Primary Location(s): Lisbon Language: English Learn more:https://britishschool.pt
St. Peter’s International School
About: St. Peter's International School is an international school that provides a competitive, high-quality response to the needs of a diverse population. Its fundamental principles are centered on the integral development of the child, valuing academic and professional success, based on attitudes, practices and values that contribute to the growth of the individual. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Palmela (40 min. from Lisbon City Centre) Language: English and Portuguese Learn more:https://st-peters-school.com
International Sharing School
About: At International Sharing School, we offer an international, multicultural and multilingual education for lifelong learners aged 4 months to 18 years, based on the International Baccalaureate Organisation Model. We aim to form individuals that help create a better and more peaceful world. We strongly believe that only through sharing knowledge and experiences this goal can be achieved, always prioritising mutual and intercultural respect in every human relation.) Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Oeiras (between Lisbon and Cascais) Language: English and Portuguese Learn more:https://www.sharingschool.org
Astoria International School
About: The Astoria International School is a private school located in Lisbon that has a vanguard educational project based on language teaching and aims to develop innovative teaching for children aged 4 months or older. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Lisbon Language: English and Portuguese (up to year 2)/English, Portuguese, German (year 3+) Learn more:https://colegioeuropeu-astoria.com
St. John’s School
About: At St. John's we follow the English National Curriculum. Children aged from three to five years follow the Foundation Stage. The importance of the ‘Foundation Stage’ is very important because it gives children a secure educational foundation for later learning. The goals covered that the Foundation Stage creates cover the six main areas of young children's development and learning; Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Cascais Language: English Learn more:https://www.stjohns-school.com
International Preparatory School
About: Our curriculum is based on the National Curriculum of England and is planned and taught in such a way as to allow children to discover and develop new ideas. We aim to enable children to think broadly and creatively, and to consider a wide variety of options available to them. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Primary Location(s): Alcabideche (between Lisbon and Cascais) Language: English Learn more:https://www.ipsschool.org
International Christian School of Cascais
About: With over 30 years of experience in providing an unparalleled North American academic education based on Christian principles and morals, our primary objective is to educate tomorrow’s leaders, enabling them to contribute positively to the world’s society by applying knowledge grounded in fundamentals in various fields such as sciences, mathematics, social sciences, languages, and others. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Cascais Language: English with support in Portuguese, Chinese, and Afrikaans Learn more:https://icsc.pt
St. Dominic’s International School
About: The educational programme and learning at SDIS is inspired by, and constructed from, the twin influences of the International Baccalaureate Organisation and its IB Learner Profile, and the Dominican motto of ‘Veritas’ held by the founders of the school which value the commitment to learning through inquiry and an on-going search for truth. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): São Domingos de Rana (between Lisbon and Cascais) Language: English Learn more:https://www.dominics-int.org
Carlucci American International School of Lisbon
About: CAISL is a student-centered educational community in which we challenge ourselves and each other to do our best and to make positive contributions to our diverse and ever-changing world. Being the only school in Portugal with support from the Department of State, CAISL works closely with and is guided by the Office of Overseas Schools and its designated Regional Education Officer (REO). The REO stays in regular contact and pays on-site visits to ensure that we are providing students with an excellent American educational program coordinated with other American schools around the world. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Sintra Language: English Learn more:https://www.caislisbon.org
About: Redbridge is an innovative primary school, which inspires creativity, a love of learning and international mindedness through a challenging and playful multilingual learning environment, where children feel happy, valued and secure. We are an inclusive school with a nurturing, holistic and child-centred approach to education, seeking to develop key attitudes and transverse skills to support children in achieving academic mastery through inquiry-based learning and foreign language immersion. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Primary Location(s): Lisbon Language: English, Portuguese, French Learn more:https://www.redbridgeschool.com
International Schools in Lisbon and Cascais with Non-English Curriculum
Lycée Français Charles Lepierre
About: Lycée Français Charles Lepierre is a French school in Lisbon’s teaching a classical French curriculum. Majority of students are of French or French-Portuguese backgrounds, with around 10% from other nationalities. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Lisbon Language: French Learn more:https://lfcl-lisbonne.eu
Deutsche Schule Lissabon
About: Deutsche Schule Lissabon was founded in 1848, making it the second oldest German school in a foreign country. The school offers a nursery for children ages 3-6 in their Lisbon campus, but they also have a campus in Estoril for children starting at the kindergarten level. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Lisbon Language: German and Portuguese Learn more:https://dslissabon.com
Instituto Español Giner de los Ríos
About: The Instituto Espaõl Giner de los Ríos is an international school operated by the Spanish Ministry of Education. Ages/Grades Served: Early Childhood to Secondary Location(s): Lisbon (Algés) Language: Spanish Learn more:http://ginerdelosrios.educalab.es
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