Education and Schools in Sao Paulo

Expats will find that there are many different options when it comes to education and schools in São Paulo. As a multicultural melting pot, the city has a variety of schools catering for a multitude of nationalities and education levels. 

Public schools in São Paulo

Public schooling in São Paulo is free to all permanent legal residents. Schooling is mandatory for children between the ages of six and 14. These compulsory years of education are known as the Ensino Fundamental

The standard of education at public schools in São Paulo varies and is often dependent on the socio-economic environment within which a particular school is located. Children attending public schools will attend the school closest to their place of residence, and parents wishing to enrol their child in a public school need to visit the school in person to start the registration process.

Due to the demand for space, and in order to accommodate the high number of students, schools in São Paulo often run three separate school sessions per day. Children attend one session per day.

Classes at public schools in São Paulo are taught in Portuguese, so parents wanting to enrol their child in a public school will need to consider this option carefully. 

Private schools in São Paulo

São Paulo’s private schools generally follow the Brazilian national curriculum. Some private schools have a Christian foundation and many offer bilingual instruction. Some expats prefer to send their children to these schools due to the higher level of education compared to public schools and lower fees compared to international schools. As classes may be predominantly taught in Portuguese, it’s important that children have at least some proficiency in the language. 

International schools in São Paulo

International schools in São Paulo follow a variety of international curricula, including British, American, Japanese, French, German and Italian, and are usually sponsored in some way by their home governments. Some international schools in São Paulo are locally run and offer the Brazilian curriculum. Many of these schools also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. As demand for a place at international schools is high, parents are advised to begin the application process as soon as possible.

Fees at some of the best international schools in São Paulo can be exorbitant and added to the already high cost of living in the city, can stretch an expat’s budget to the limit. It is therefore vital that anyone moving to São Paulo with school-aged children ensure they factor this in when negotiating their relocation contract. On top of the high fees, other expenses may include textbooks and stationery, extra-curricular activities, uniforms and school lunches. Most private schools contract private bus companies to transport children to and from school, which is an additional expense that parents will have to contribute to. 

As can be expected in such a densely populated and sprawling city, heavy traffic congestion can affect commute times to and from school. Expats should therefore carefully consider their proximity to their child’s school when deciding where to live in São Paulo. The better schools tend to be in the more affluent areas, where housing will be expensive. Other factors to consider include the language of instruction, general academic standards, tuition costs and the quality of the school’s facilities and extra-curricular programmes offered. It is a good idea to visit the school in person to request a tour and have a meeting with the head teacher to have any final questions answered. 

Homeschooling in São Paulo

For expats coming to São Paulo on a short-term assignment or for those not wanting to enrol their child in a Brazilian school, homeschooling is an option. However, special permission is required from both the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education and this can be a slow and frustrating process.