Schools in Turkey

The standard of education in Turkey varies across the country and, although Turkish public schools are an option, most expats choose to send their children to a private or international school.

Education in Turkey is compulsory for all children from primary through secondary school, which is usually between the ages of six and 18. The academic year is generally from mid-September through early June and the school week runs from Monday to Friday.

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Primary and secondary education in public schools in Turkey is free to all children, including expats. High school education is comprised of different branches, including general, vocational and technical schools, with each having a different educational focus. Upon finishing their secondary education, students are awarded the Lise Diplomasi Diploma (Secondary School Diploma), which secures the right to partake in nationwide exams for university entry.

Public schools follow the Turkish national curriculum, and the language of instruction is Turkish.

Private schools in Turkey generally follow the Turkish national curriculum, with the language of instruction being Turkish, while some of the more prestigious private schools offer a bilingual education.

As private schools in Turkey offer smaller class sizes, better qualified teachers and a wider range of extracurricular and athletic activities than public schools, they are becoming increasingly popular among the local population.

A bilingual private school may be a good middle ground for expat children who will be staying in Turkey for the long term, as mixing with local children and learning partly in the local language will help them to assimilate better.

There are a number of international schools in Turkey, with the majority located in Ankara and Istanbul. These schools offer various foreign curricula, including English, German and French. Some of these schools also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.

Most international schools offer students the opportunity to learn the Turkish language and have field trips and cultural activities to assist children to integrate better into Turkish culture and society.

Spaces are often limited at international schools, particularly in Ankara, which has a large diplomatic community due to the number of foreign embassies in the city, so expat parents need to plan ahead to secure a spot for their child. Tuition at private and international schools is very expensive, so it is important to factor this into one's contract when negotiating a package for relocation to Turkey.