Education and Schools in Israel

Education and schools in Israel The Israeli education system offers a very high standard of education, and is strongly underpinned by the goals of imparting civic values, knowledge of Jewish heritage, technological and analytical skills, and a broad general knowledge base to students.

Every school is different, but generally, schools are much more informal in comparison to American or British schools. The socio-economic status of a neighbourhood greatly affects the atmosphere in its schools. Teachers and principals are addressed by their first names. The curriculum tends to be broader than that found in North American schools, and puts an emphasis on maths, science, and foreign languages.

Kindergarten and elementary schools attempt to follow a progressive model, valuing experience and social exchange, as well as creativity, play and emotional development.

Hebrew is the main language spoken in institutions of higher education. Arabic is the language of instruction at three teacher-training colleges. Some programmes and courses are taught in English.

The academic calendar year follows the Jewish calendar.

Types of schools in Israel

There are four types of schools:
  • Public schools - religious (Jewish) and secular schools
  • Schools of the Orthodox (Agudat Israel) - operates outside the public school system, but is assisted by government funds
  • Public schools for Arabs
  • Private and international schools - The American School; Catholic and Protestant organisations

Public education in Israel

Elementary and middle schools

Israel provides free and compulsory elementary education for all children aged between five and 15 years old. Tuition is free; however, textbooks and school supplies usually need to be purchased. Other fees are required for extra-curricular activities, such as school trips, English lessons, parties, etc.

Secondary/high school

There is also an established national system of public secondary schools (high schools). Most high schools have an independent and recognized legal status, run by public bodies and local committees. Funding is received from the Ministry of Education.

Higher education

In order to gain admission to an institution of higher education, students need a full matriculation certificate (bagrut) from the national Ministry of Education. This is acquired by achieving passing grades in a required minimum set of examinations, in both compulsory subjects and electives. Receipt of a bagrut, and high test scores, greatly influences one's acceptance into elite military units, academic studies, and employment.

The other requirement for admission is the national academic admissions psychometric examination. Equivalent to SAT examinations in America, the psychometric examination consists of three components: verbal aptitude (administered in Hebrew or Arabic); quantitative aptitude; and English ability. The institutions of higher education in Israel merge the candidates' bagrut grades and their psychometric scores into a single composite score, which is then used to determine whether they will be accepted or rejected.

Private education in Israel

If expat children do not speak Hebrew of Arabic then private schooling would be the best option. There are also numerous international schools in Israel where expat children can continue with the curriculum they are used to. 
Private schools can be very expensive for those earning a local salary but the quality of education is much better than in a public school. Those earning expat salaries will find private education much less expensive in Israel than in their home country. 

Annual tuition at a private school ranges from 1,000 USD to 3,000 USD. 

Applying for a place at a private school in Israel

Private school can be very competitive and therefore many require rigorous testing before admitting a student. Typically, students will undergo a verbal reasoning test, and English proficiency test, a maths test and in some cases a science test. Often the head teacher will also interview the student. 

International schools in Israel

Most international schools in Israel are in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Most international schools provide either the UK, US or French curriculum. See our list of International schools in Israel for more information. 

Tertiary education in Israel

Israel has a total of eight large universities and most are based in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. An Open University also exists but it focuses mainly on adult learning. 

In order to be accepted into a university in Israel, students must pass the Psychometric Entrance Test which is similar to the American SAT. Students are tested on quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning and the English language. 

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