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Lisbon’s international schools provide a sound alternative to sending your children to boarding school back home and are particularly strong at primary level.  

Best school in Lisbon Portugal

Education in Lisbon 

Until recently, the choice of international schools was fairly limited, but several new schools have hit the educational scene, while two of the established schools have moved to purpose-built campuses and one day care centre has expanded into the largest group of international schools in Portugal. In total, there are now around a dozen international schools for consideration. 

Portuguese state and private schools are also open to foreign residents and they usually have a smattering of international pupils (often the children of migrant workers from eastern Europe). 

Although the state schools are reputed to set very high academic standards, only a minority make the grade. Private schools are often run by (Catholic) religious orders and teach to the same standards but have smaller class sizes and place more emphasis on old fashioned discipline and pastoral care (the latter can border on the obsessive/smothering). 

Choosing a school in Lisbon 

It’s almost always the curriculum that parents consider first and foremost. In Lisbon the International Baccalaureate Diploma is on offer in all the English-speaking schools that go through to 18. The American High School Diploma is also provided by at least one school. At primary level, the English national curriculum is available, making it easy for British children to transition to prep or secondary schools in the UK. Non-English speaking schools include French, German and Spanish schools (the latter two with subsidies from the home-country governments, keeping fees relatively low), plus a small Swedish school. 

None of the larger international schools are situated in the popular expat community hotspots, but most schools operate bus services, and there are over 20 independent min-bus companies that compete on price with the schools’ own services. For families who decide to live in central Lisbon, the school run is not much more arduous, at around 30 minutes to most of the international options.  

Special education needs in Lisbon 

Edificio Cadin ( is not a school as such but was set up in 2003 in a purpose-designed building in Cascais. A unique resource in the area, if not in the whole of Portugal, for children with a wide range of SEN including ADHD, autism, specific learning disabilities, epilepsy, dyslexia etc. Supported by several local businesses as a charitable institution, it offers subsidies to those that cannot afford the fees so that it is within the reach of poorer families in the Cascais area. The 40 staff/consultants include SEN teachers, child psychologists, SALTs, OTs, paediatricians, child neurologist, a geneticist and a neuropsychologist. Many speak English. A sign of how desperately this type of body was needed, it has already helped over 5,000 families. Children come for periodic appointments, many of them after school.  

In the mainstream, the International School of Cascais has established a good reputation for helping SEN children, even when the problem is quite severe. 

Pre-schools, kindergarten and nurseries in Lisbon 

There are local pre-schools, including the billingual nursery Colégio Cachabui, as well as the tiny (under 60 students) International Christian School of Cascais (half an hour’s walk from the centre) and PaRK International School is also on the edge of the town. 

Best schools in Lisbon 

Carlucci American International School of Lisbon

Adapted curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 690 students

Founded in 1956, in a wealthy suburb on the Portuguese Riviera and now on a campus, inaugurated by Hilary Clinton in 1998. Largely, Portuguese nationals followed by Americans and students from over 40 other nationalities including 10 per cent Chinese. Highest number of graduates head to UK universities but they also move on to Portuguese, Dutch and US institutions. Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA).

Click here to read our full review of Carlucci International American School of Lisbon.

International Preparatory School

Adapted National Curriculum for England; ages 3-11; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 290 students

Now on a brand new campus in Cascais. Two classes per year group, from nursery onwards, with a maximum of 20 per class. British nationals in the majority, closely followed by Portuguese with a smattering of others from all over the globe. Leavers tend to continue their education at St Julian’s although some British children go back to the UK.

Click here to read our full review of the International Preparatory School.

St. Dominic's International School Lisbon

PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 750 students

Originally established by Irish Dominican nuns as St Dominic’s College. Only school in Portugal to offer the full International Baccalaureate programme and accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Approximately 50 per cent of students are Portuguese nationals but they also come from over 50 other nationalities. The number of students registered for the IB Diploma has trebled in recent years with graduates scoring just above average points.

Click here to read our full review of St. Dominic's International School Lisbon.

St. Julian's School

Adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,100 students

Founded in 1932 and still hugely popular with British expats. Colonial in appearance and offering an alternative to sending children back to board in the UK. Dually accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Small Portuguese section up to age 15. Serious academics with average International Baccalaureate Diploma scores in the mid-thirties.

Click here to read our full review of St. Julian's School.

These schools have been brought to our attention, but until we have more reports from parents, we are unable to consider reviewing them.

British School of Lisbon

National Curriculum for England; ages 3-11; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit

Opened in 2019 and run by The Schools Trust, a British non-profit organisation, specialising in setting up international schools. Located in a historical building in downtown Lisbon. Initially, teaching children in English from nursery until year six of the British system, but intending to expand upwards.

International Christian School of Cascais

Small (under 60), and overtly evangelical Christian in character, this school is not for everyone, but mentioned because, in the past, it has had a good reputation for helping SEN children. Family owned but an unaccredited and uninspected school, so no way of knowing from an arms-length agency about the quality of teaching or fiscal soundness.

Lycée Francais Charles Lepierre

French curriculum/ Brevet/ French Bac; ages 3-18; day; co-ed; independent; state

One of the oldest of the AEFE (French Agency for Education Abroad) international schools, founded in 1907 and located on its present site since 1952. Teaching a French curriculum and accredited by the French Ministry of Education. Around 90 per cent of the students are either French or French-Portuguese.

Oeiras International School 

MYP/ IB Diploma/ IB Careers; ages 11-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 350 students

Established in 2010 and moved, in the following year, into a converted 17th century Quinta outside Lisbon, featuring an extravagantly decorated chapel, which is a 'national monument'. Whilst academics are not ignored and they also include the International Baccalaureate Careers Programme, there is a definite emphasis on ecology. There are plans afoot to expand as most year groups are over-subscribed.

PaRK International School

Adapted curriculum/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 1-18; day; co-ed; independent; privately owned; 1,430 students

Owned by the British Inspired Group. Started in 2005 as a day care centre, growing up to be the largest group of international schools in Portugal. The schools are still bottom heavy with a much larger number of nursery and primary pupils than in the secondary system. However, they have recently been authorised to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma so this balance will almost certainly change.

Prime School 

Cambridge International Primary Programme (CIPP)/ Cambridge International Secondary 1 Programme/ Adapted National Curriculum for England/ Cambridge International Advanced Programme; ages 3-18; co-ed; day and boarding; Independent: privately owned 

St George’s School

Adapted National Curriculum for England/ Portuguese curriculum; ages 10-14; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit

A small international bilingual school, now in partnership with St James’s school. Students tend to move on here from St James’s School at the age of ten or eleven and stay on for the second half of their preparatory schooling. Slightly hard to understand whether they are really one school or two.

St James’s Primary School

Adapted National Curriculum for England; ages 6-10; co-ed; independent; privately owned

Recently moved into partnership with St George’s School, basically providing the first four years of preparatory schooling, after which they progress to St George’s for the rest of their time before secondary school. Not entirely easy for outsiders to understand the relationship between the two schools.

TASIS Portugal

Adapted curriculum; ages 4-11; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit

The fourth of the TASIS schools to be opened, initially teaching pre-kindergarten to grade 5 but intending to expand upwards from 2021. The original school was founded in 1956 in Switzerland and has been followed by schools in England and Puerto Rico. Located in Sintra, a very picturesque town, 45 minutes west of Lisbon by car.

United Lisbon International School

Adapted American curriculum/ candidate school for IB programme; initially for ages 3-15; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 150 pupil capacity (2020)

International Schools Services (ISS) will operate the school which is owned by entrepreneurs Roman and Chita Stern. Applying to be an IB World School and for accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The founding head of the school will be German, Dr. Nils Remmel who has been director of a Swiss boarding school and is a member of the Council of International Schools (CIS) accreditation scheme.

For more information on the schools above, please go to each school’s individual entry on the Good Schools Guide international search.



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