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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.7 Skills for innovation

Last update: 28 November 2023

Innovation in formal education

In 2017, in the Major Planning Options (2016-2021), framed by the Europe 2020 Programme, goals for the reduction of early school leaving were established. One of the measures to be implemented is the modernisation of educational system, in particular the learning models and instruments used.

In the framework for autonomy of schools and design of their own educational projects, there are a number of ongoing measures/programmes:

  • Pilot Project for Pedagogical Innovation (Innovative Schools Project) under way in 6 school groups/single groups, for further implementation in the National Programme for Innovation in Learning;
  • Student’s Profile by the end of compulsory education;
  • Autonomy and curriculum flexibility (applied at national level after a pilot project in the first grades of each cycle);
  • Innovation plans within Ordinance no.181, 11th June 2019
  • Core curriculum competences/essential learning;
  • National Citizenship Education Strategy (ENEC);
  • Digital Educational Resources, for creation, dissemination and use of digital content in the learning process;


Pilot Project for Pedagogical Innovation

 Six schools develop a unique pedagogical project so that all students can achieve school success, without extra resources. The ME gave more autonomy to these schools regarding the organisation of the classes, the resources and the curriculum, according to the conditions of their geographical and cultural backgrounds and student´s needs.

The implementation of this project can be seen as a way to know what can be successfully done with a different approach, giving full autonomy to schools and it was an effective foundation for the development of the Ordinance no. 181, 11th June 2019 which allows some schools to manage more than 25 % of the curriculum with innovation plans tp address their specific issues.


Innovation plans within Ordinance no.181, 11th June 2019

Some schools present to the ME proposals of innovation plans to address their specific needs and context. Ordinance 181, 11th June 2019 outlines the main conditions: each school must manage more than 25% of the curriculum, creating new subjects, groups of students, defining their needs, commitments, parents, students and stakeholders’ involvement, capacity building plan and monitoring of the whole strategy. These innovation plans are to be approved or not by The ME. 74 innovation plans were approved for the school-year 2020-2021.


Student’s Profile by the end of compulsory education

The achievement of a quality education for all students implies the implementation of specific political measures by the Ministry of Education (ME) in order to promote school success and a successful integration of young adults in the society of the 21st century.

Within the scope of the priorities defined in Government's Programme for the area of education, Portugal defined the Student’s Profile by the end of compulsory education which presents a vision of what young people are expected to achieve. The vision for the students to achieve integrates several purposes that are reinforced by a schooling model aiming the individual qualifications and the democratic citizenship.

Developed by a working group on the curriculum, the profile of the 18 year-old learner by the end of 12 years of compulsory education presents a matrix for decision-making on curriculum development options, and intends to be a reference guide to the whole curriculum. It is oriented for life and longlife learning by integrating the curriculum and citizenship in a thoroughly combined way. Thus the focus is on ensuring a quality inclusive education which will enable learning lifelong opportunities for all. In fact, it allows a flexible management, as well as a contextualized and integrated curriculum in compliance with international project definitions of a key learning profile, social and relational skills. These are substantiated in a predisposition to learn throughout life regardless of the diversity of students and training courses they followed in secondary education, as well as respond to social and economic challenges of today's world, in accordance with the development of skills of the 21st  century.


In accordance with the lines defined in the document "Profile of students finishing Compulsory Education", curiosity, reflexion and innovation must be present in the culture and ethos of the school, in order to encourage children and young people to put them into practice.

At the end of 12 years of compulsory education, students should have developed a set of skills, in 10 competency areas, namely in the field of critical and creative thinking, being able to develop ideas and creative projects regarding the context at hand, using their imagination, inventiveness, resourcefulness and flexibility. Therefore, they must be willing to take risks to imagine beyond the existing knowledge, with the objective of promoting creativity and innovation (Profile of students finishing Compulsory Education - Document elaborated by a Work Group created under Order no. 9311/2016, of 21th July and published by the Order no. 6478/2017  – Profile of Students Exiting Compulsory Education). The Student’s Profile by the End of Compulsory Schooling respects the inclusive and multifaceted nature of school, assuring that, regardless of the school trajectories, all the knowledges are guided by principles, values and by an explicit vision, defined with the social consensus.


Autonomy and curriculum flexibility

As one of the strategies defined by the current government, a pilot-project was runned in the school year 2017/2018. This pilot project enabled a 25% curriculum flexibility that could be managed by schools, regarding their context and their school education project, such as flexible instruction time and/or approaching current issues/events within the contents of the different subjects or by adding other subjects aiming to tackle the time lag dilemma. The purpose of the project was to the experiment the reinforcement of school autonomy, promoting diversity in teaching methods, fostering project-based learning approaches and stimulating the development of assessment tools compatible with the student’s profile.

After the experience of a pilot project involving about 230 schools (2017-2018),since the school year 2018/2019, all the schools, at national level, have the opportunity to carry out a flexible management of instruction time within the different subjects, and/or blending subjects, creating new subjects on behalf of a deeper learning. within DL 55/2018, of 6th July.

The increased of school autonomy regarding the curriculum flexibility is supported by a structured team with different levels of decision and activity that  follow-up the work in progress in schools, during the pilot-project as well as during the implementation of these measures at national level. These team integrates  representatives of several entities of the Ministry of Education in order to assure the cover of all areas involved in the implementation of this measures, namely the Directorate-General for Education (DGE), the Directorate-General for Schools (DGEstE), the General Inspection of Education and Science (IGEC), the National Agency for Qualification and Professional Education, PI (ANQEP, I.P.) and the Directorate-General of School Administration (DGAE).


Core curriculum competences/essential learning

Simultaneously, Portugal developed a process of curriculum redesign and the core curriculum competences/essential learning per school year/subject  have been concluded by the various teachers’ associations/societies within a collaborative work with the DGE/ME and in line with what has been developed in the Student’s Profile.

These core competences/essential learning are clearly highlighted in the curriculum and the main goal is to make them available to everybody (students, teachers, families, experts, politicians, etc.). These documents have been validated by a group of experts and are available at the DGE website and have been in force since 2018. The core curriculum competences are aligned with the Students’ Profile and they have been extended to  vocational courses in secondary education.

The publication of the correspondant legislation (Order n.º 8476-A/2018, 31st August) provided the framework for their aplication in schools with General Basic Education, Basic Specialised Artistic Courses and General Secondary Education in the year 2019/2020. In the year 2020/2021, following the publication of the legislative orders n.º 7414/202 and n.º 7414/2020, 24th july, the core curriculum competences/essential learning were aplied to the professional courses and to the specialised artistic courses.


National Citizenship Education Strategy (ENEC)

Also within the scope of the priorities defined in the Government's Programme and resulting from a proposal elaborated and presented by the working group on education for citizenship, the National Citizenship Education Strategy (ENEC) was produced. It is a reference document implemented since the 2017/2018 school year in the 230 public and private schools that integrate the Pilot Project for Autonomy and Curricular Flexibility, and actually in all schools at national level, in convergence with both the student’s profile at the end of 12 years of compulsory education and the core curriculum competences/essential learning.


In the school curriculum

In the school curriculum, the promotion of innovation is linked to entrepreneurship, under the European Commission’s strategy that defines the "Key-competencies for Lifelong Learning" (EC, 2005).

Education and training for the development of entrepreneurial spirit rests on six principles:

  • Autonomy
  • Flexibility
  • Innovation
  • Change 
  • Participation
  • Cooperation .

In Portugal, within the framework of the National Strategy for Citizenship Education, the different domains of Citizenship Education are organised into three groups with different implications; the implementation of the Entrepreneurship domain (in its economic and social aspects) is optional in any grade level.

Entrepreneurship is one of the domains included in the National Strategy for Citizenship Education that should contribute to the development of principles, values and areas of competences identified in the Students’ Profile for Compulsory Schooling.

The promotion of an entrepreneurial culture in the school, in convergence with the National Strategy for Citizenship Education, acts in the classroom, the whole school and the community. It emphasises the collaborative work among teachers, students, learning processes and assessment, including essential entrepreneurial competences (cognitive, social and emotional) and methodologies. The pedagogical practices facilitate entrepreneurial experiences in real contexts, adjusted to different levels of education and the in-service teacher training is conceived accordingly to identified needs and connected to the community.


Educational support tools for teachers

Entrepreneurship Education

The theme of Entrepreneurship Education is not covered in most of the teachers' initial training, nor in their continuous training. 

The General Directorate of Education provides teachers with educational resources, with each school/teacher having the autonomy to adapt and adjust the learning materials and other available resources, among which the document Entrepreneurship Education - Guide for educators (European Commission, Directorate-General Enterprise and Industry, Brussels, 2014) - (cross-reference chapter 3.8 Development of Entrepreneurship Competence - 4. Educator support in entrepreneurship education).


Other evaluation tools

Regarding evaluation, teachers have at their disposal the ASTEE tools, which are questionnaires to evaluate the entrepreneurial skills of students in different formal education cycles and are also adapted to non-formal education.

Among other dimensions, it is possible for the teacher to evaluate, within the entrepreneurial Skills framework, the Creativity (and innovation), which is understood as the ability to create opportunities (ability to read reality, create solutions and transform them into opportunities), the design of new ideas and planning of original approaches from reading the situation and development of new ways to solve problems, revealing open thinking and resilience/persistence (Evaluation tool of the entrepreneurial skills of students, DGE). (cross-reference with chapter 3.8 Development of Entrepreneurship Competence).

In line with the measures described above, Students´assessment must be applied on the basis of the competences developed, not only mobilising their knowledges but also their social skills. The civic conduct of each student in the educational community is also recognised and accredited.


Higher Education

In higher education, on one hand, entrepreneurship education is promoted by the establishment of synergies with the business network and the creation of businesses, and, on the other hand, the promotion of transversal skills integrated in the curriculum and in extracurricular activities.

There are some higher education institutions that promoted the integration of business incubation and startups programmes.

Under the Strategic Framework "Education and Training 2020" for the period of 2010-2020 and within the framework of the European agenda for the modernisation of higher education systems in Europe in 2011, a set of goals for 2020 were established, among which the promotion of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.  Key priorities for higher education in Europe were established, including the strengthening of the "knowledge triangle", therefore establishing a link between education, research and innovation.


Fostering innovation through non-formal and informal learning and youth work

Portugal supports the promotion of innovation skills developed in schools or independently by students. From the DL 55/2018, secondary school students can see these skills recognized by mentioning the projects and initiatives in which they were involved in the graduation diploma. In this context, it is worth highlighting the Citizenship and Development subject as a fundamental factor in promoting innovative projects that seek to reach the school community.


In the context of a set of extracurricular activities, national programmes or initiatives that involve the participation of external partners, the skills for entrepreneurship, including skills for innovation, are developed mainly at the local level, through projects on the basis of non-formal and informal education (Eurydice, 2016).

There is a set of entities that play an important role in the development of projects, many with financing from European funds and with collaborative partnerships with Public Entities of the Local and Central Public Administration:

For more details, refer to Chapter 3. Employment and Entrepreneurship (3.8 Development of Entrepreneurship Competence - 1. Policy Framework


Regarding the non-formal Education there is a series of initiatives that promote the education for entrepreneurship, particularly the practical experiences of entrepreneurship, in accordance with the guidelines of the European Union Memorandum - Rethinking Education (European Commission, 2012).

Youth Programme for Green Entrepreneurship and Employability (JEVE)

The Youth Programme for Green Entrepreneurship and Employability (JEVE) is targeted at young people between the age of 18 and 30 and intends to the develop entrepreneurial skills, knowledge and attitudes within the scope of the Green Economy. 

Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas)

Within the scope of entrepreneurship and training of young people, the “Choices Programme” developed a web portal – entrepreneurship, a choice with a future (empreendedorismo – uma escolha de futuro) – with an area for trainers and one for young people between the age of 14 and 24, where manuals in the field of entrepreneurship are available. 

Support and training of educators

Under the promotion of entrepreneurial skills and its key competencies, such as innovation, a set of initiatives and events are also developed, namely fairs, promotion activities and developments of networks and partnerships, through business incubators and startups.  

For more details, refer to Chapter 3. Employment and Entrepreneurship 3.10 Promotion of Entrepreneurship Culture-1. Special events and activities


In addition, through measures promoted by the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth (IPDJ) or its financial support, there are several initiatives that aim to promote innovation through business and social entrepreneurship, as well as innovation through science and art, namely:

National Contest of Young Creators

The National Contest of Young Creators aims to promote the creation of effective opportunities for the dissemination of the work of young creators in the country, usually deprived of access to cultural circuits. This contest aims to promote the artistic development of young national creators and encourage their participation in cultural and artistic activities, and is made up of a competition from which results a selection of projects and an exhibition. Young creators can present works in the following areas: plastic arts, comics, dance, graphic design, photography, jewellery, literature, fashion, music and theatre.

Young Scientists Contest

The National Contest for Young Scientists has been developed by the Youth Foundation since 1992, with the aim of promoting the ideals of cooperation and exchange between young scientists and researchers, stimulating the emergence of young talent in the areas of science, technology, research and innovation. With a national scope, this competition aims to promote the implementation of innovative scientific projects in schools, encourage qualified entrepreneurship and promote the economic use of scientific and technological knowledge. The projects must fit into one of the following areas of study: Biology; Earth Sciences; Environmental Sciences; Medical Sciences; Social Sciences; Economics; Engineering; Physics; Informatics/Computer Science; Mathematics; Chemistry and Bioeconomy.

Good Practices in Youth and Student Associations

The Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth, I.P., within the scope of the "Youth Associativism" awards has promoted over the years the implementation of the "Good Practices of Youth and Student Associativism", thus launching the invitation for associative participation in this initiative. This contest, where social innovation plays a central role, intends to select, in each region, an association that, due to its activity and characteristics, has stood out, in different areas such as: impact on the community; dimension of internationalization; performance characteristics; quality and innovation; consistency and capacity of expression as schools of active citizenship and civic and democratic participation of young people. Youth associations and their respective federations effectively registered in the National Register of Youth Associativism may apply for this contest. One association per region is awarded, and honourable mentions can still be given.

Empreende JÁ

"Empreende JÁ" is a programme designed to foster the creation and development of enterprises and social economy entities, as well as the creation of jobs, by and for young people. The "Empreende Já" was intended to support the employability of young NEET and has the following objectives: promote an entrepreneurial culture focused on creativity and innovation by supporting the development of projects aimed at the establishment of companies or social economy entities; support the training of young NEET through training, increasing their employability levels; support the establishment of companies or social economy entities; support job creation by and for young NEET. This program comprises two actions: Action 1 - Support the development of projects for the creation of companies and entities of social economy, based on their own ideas or made available through the Business Promotion Network and Action 2 - Support the sustainability of entities and jobs created under the Program, resulting from projects developed in action 1.

Support to Youth Associativism

The Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth, I.P. supports youth associativism through three measures: The Student Support Programme; the Infrastructure Support Programme and the Youth Support Programme. Youth and student associations and other similar associations and informal youth groups are entitled to support from the State for the development of their activities. The support takes the following forms: financial, technical, training, logistical and informational. The Portuguese Sports and Youth Institute, I.P. values direct intervention with young people, and the associations can find various opportunities to support their projects. The various measures to support the development of youth associations have as their main objective the appreciation of the quality and innovative character of the projects presented.