Education and Schools in Sao Paulo

Expats can rest assured that there are many different options when it comes to education and schools in Sao 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 Sao Paulo

Education and schools in Sao PauloPublic schooling in Sao Paulo is free to all permanent residents. Schooling is mandatory for children between the ages of six and 14. This compulsory nine years of education is known as Ensino Fundamental (Fundamental Education). 
The standard of education at public schools in Sao Paulo varies, and is often dependent on the socio-economic environment within which a particular school is located. Children attending public schools 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 Sao Paulo often run three separate school sessions per day: in the morning, afternoon and evening. Children attend one session per day.
Classes at public schools in Sao Paulo are taught in Portuguese, so parents wanting to enrol their child in a public school need to consider this option carefully.

Private schools in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo’s private schools generally follow the Brazilian national curriculum; some private schools have a Christian foundation, while others 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 Sao Paulo

International schools in Sao 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 Sao Paulo are locally run and offer the Brazilian as well as a bilingual 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 Sao 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’s therefore vital that anyone moving to Sao Paulo with school-aged children ensure that they factor this in when negotiating their relocation contract. On top of the high fees, other expenses may include textbooks and stationary, 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 Sao 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 Sao Paulo

For expats coming to Sao 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, so expats need to consider this option carefully.

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