Expat children are allowed to attend Turkish public schools. However, the standard of education varies and due to the fact that Turkish is the language of instruction at all public schools, most expat parents choose to send their children to a private or international school in Turkey.
Public schools in Turkey
Education in Turkey is compulsory for all children between the ages of six and 13, with both primary and secondary education in public schools 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, 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.
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 one of the three mentioned.
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 runs from mid-September or early October through to May or early June.
Private and international schools in Turkey
Private schools in Turkey follow the Turkish national 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 curricula and teaching in a number of foreign languages. 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 another popular choice with expats in Istanbul. There are also schools catering to German and French children in the older part of Istanbul. In Ankara, two popular choices are the Bilkent University Preparatory School and the Oasis International School, among others.
Spaces are often limited at international schools in Turkey, 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 Turkish culture and society.
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.