Education and Schools in Turkey
Expat children are allowed to attend Turkish public schools, although most expat parents choose to send their children to a private or international school in Turkey.
Primary school education for children between the ages of 6 and 13 is compulsory for all Turkish citizens. Primary and secondary education in public schools is free to all children, including Turkish nationals and foreigners. High school education in Turkey is comprised of different branches, including general, vocational and technical schools. 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.
The language of instruction at Turkish public schools is Turkish, but some schools are bilingual, teaching in English, German or French. All children are required to learn a foreign language, normally English, German or French.
The school day is generally made up of a morning and afternoon session, with the school week running from Monday to Friday. The academic year in Turkey generally begins in mid-September or early October and extends through to May or early June.
Private and international schools in Turkey
Private schools in Turkey are required to follow the Turkish national education curriculum, with the language of instruction being Turkish. Expat children wanting to attend a private school in Turkey will have to undergo a general exam to determine their level of competency.
Most private international schools are based in Ankara and Istanbul, with these schools covering various international education curricula. The Istanbul International Community School, which has two campuses in Istanbul, is the oldest and most recognised in the city. The British International School is also a popular choice with expats in Istanbul. There is also an International French school and a German School in the older part of Istanbul. In Ankara, two popular choices are the Bilkent University Preparatory School and the Oasis International School, amongst others. Spaces are often limited at these 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 well ahead to secure a spot for their child.
Most international schools offer students the opportunity to learn the Turkish language, and have field trips and cultural activities to assist children to assimilate better into the Turkish culture and society.
Tuition at private and international schools is very expensive, so it’s important to factor this into your contract when negotiating a package for relocation to Turkey.