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Schooling in Turkey
Someone made a comment yesterday about problems regarding education for children of ex-pats in Turkey.

The following gives a short insight into some choices you may have to face with regard to moving to Turkey with children of school age.

'The attraction of Turkey as a nation for international expatriates has been growing as the world has awoken to the delights of this nation – from its climate and history to its up and coming economy, there is much to be said for going to live in Turkey.

Let’s imagine you have a job in Turkey so your income’s set, you’ve found a beautiful new property in Turkey in Istanbul that puts you right in the heart of all the hustle, bustle and history of this fascinating city. Your visa’s in order as well so in short you’re ready to pick up and move to Turkey. Or, are you? What about if you have a family? This is a serious article about living in Turkey and schooling British children that parents considering relocation really need to heed.

If you have children and intend living in Turkey you have a few more considerations that demand immediate attention other than those detailed above. Turkish schools are not British schools! Education in Turkey is only compulsory for eight years and although there is a full high school system, many expatriates find it does not quite meet their expectations. Even middle class and affluent Turkish citizens often find themselves seeking international school alternatives for their children for example.

For these reasons Brits living in Turkey usually opt for routes other than the public system for schooling and educating their children.
To ensure youngsters have a proper British standard and style education there are three main options available to you. The one that works best for you and your children will depend on personal preferences and finances…the three main choices are: -
Home schooling. Many British expats in Turkey and abroad choose this route for ensuring their children are properly educated.
Home schooling is not an easy option to choose however, parents and children must both have the discipline to make this work. To ensure children meet British educational standards a lot of effort will be required - if you don’t have the patience to teach demanding topics, do not consider this route, it really isn’t easy.
Tutoring. Some Britons are able to hire in tutors that can effectively home school their children for them. Keep in mind however that both of these home school options do limit children from meeting others within their newly adopted country which can stifle their social development.
International schools. In areas where expats are prevalent a host of international schools are always available. These schools tend to teach by British, American or European standards.

The British International School Istanbul, for example teaches more than 500 children in pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade and up to A levels standard. Expect to pay a fair amount for this type of education though - tuition can run up a bill of more than USD 20,000 a year in the higher grades for example.
There are a number of other international schools within Turkey catering to British expatriate children. This option does enable children to get out and socialise and it also helps ensure that some Turkish is learned along the way so children can more readily fit in within their new communities.
Living in Turkey is a choice many more Britons are choosing to make of late. Picking up and relocating with children however does come with a host of considerations - before making the final plunge, do take the time review educational options and their related costs closely. Ensuring that youngsters have the proper education to succeed wherever their lives take them in the future should be your top priority.'

Source: Offshore Savings, Investment & Health Insurance Advice For Expatriate Professionals

Here is a directory of the main schools in Turkey that offer an education in English.



Schooling in Turkey
Well, times have changed and there are a lot of options in cTurkey now.
When we moved, my daguther was a teenager, hated the move, but faced with no option, just went along with it.
It took her 6 - 9 months to learn turkish, she as very social, and luckily did well in school. she lost 1 school year, they put her back one grade cause she didnt speak the language, but all in all, she did great. It was the best thing I could have done for her. When she back to the US, she was ahead of her peers in math and scienses. she was behind in English..........
but she will catch up with the english, the foundation she rec3ived in the math and sciences is invaluable........

My education in turkey was completely differnt than anything i would have gotten in the US, UK, Australia, Italy, anywhere in the world really........ suffice it to say, interesting.........
Schooling in Turkey
Thanks to Ceemac and Pebble - moving to Turkey is on my agenda, but with a 11 year old boy the schooling issue makes me hesitate. However, with things getting worse in the UK in terms of moral issues with young people and education getting worse the idea just will not go away!


Schooling in Turkey
Jane, good luck, it will be a challenge, but as long as you keep your eye on the end result.
There are no drugs in the schools here (WELL I can only speak for the bodrum area - so you need to do your reasearch)
there are no gangs
no violence
no teen pregnancy
they learn respect for the elders
(ok you still go thru the terribble teen years.......)

now what they do have..........if they are in bodrum that is
most of the kids at Marmara where michelle went, are rich and can be snobby.......
there is no enforced drinking age, which drove me crazy.
Michelle started drinking when she was 16, out in public,
summers were spent at discos and partying. the good thing: they were always in a group.
the good thing: bodrum being small, everyone knew that michelle was the pharmacists daughter, and kept an eye on her.
She knew all the dolmus drivers, so they made sure she got home.
And as a parent, you have to be pro-active. meet the other parents. go to school conferences, get involved in school projects. volunteer at the school to tutor in english or something, find a way to endear yourself to the teachers and staff, it goes a long long way.

you have the small town feel and security...............

easy peasy isnt it???????

and just keep the bigger picture in mind. dont give up, persevere...make sure your child has extra tutoring in turkish....
i hear now marmara has edtra turkish classes for non native speakers. take advantage of it, it wasnt availble when michelle went there.
but of course, michelle did have an advantage, my husband and i spoke a fair amount of turkish (oh OK>>>we always spoke turkish to each other) and she had been the ear recipient (as we say in turkish) she had heard it all her life, so had been storing it in her memory banks, and yes, she struggled, but eventually she mastered it.
My son is doing a paper for one of his summer college classes on learning a second language in your formative years. the best years of course are birth to 3-4, then all the way up to teenage hood. I think the cut off is like 15-16 where you can learn a language with no accent, and speak it as comfortably as your mother tongue.
I believe this to be true.
my son who didnt live in turkey during the winter, and did not go to school in turkey. but spent the summers in turkey, speaks well.....I dont think he dreams in turkish, but his thought process is turkish when he speaks turkish, meaning he doesnt translate in his head, but has the original thought in turkish.

well, there you have my 2 cents worth, and then some. hope i didnt bore you to tears.........

good luck to you
Schooling in Turkey
I often read your posts and never once have you bored me to tears. Tears of laughter sometimes, but never of boredom!

Thanks, definitely food for thought.....
Schooling in Turkey
I can't comment on private education in Turkey, there are no private schools within travelling distance of Datca. We have several state schools here for both Primary and Secondary education, including a Lycee and a "special" school for gifted pupils who come from all over Turkey on state-assisted places.

The curriculum in state schools is much narrower than that in the UK - history is Turkish not world for example, English is often the only foreign language and is not taught by native speakers. Religion is Islam rather than the liberal comparative religion taught in the UK. On the plus side there is a strong compulsory maths and science curriculum.

Teaching is didactic - students learn by rote rather than by any real understanding. For example my landlord's 13 year old can read and write English very well and understands grammar better than I do, can correctly say which tense is used etc. However her comprehension of what she reads is poor, and she struggles to converse in English and to understand what is said.

Corporal punishment is allowed and common-place, ear-twisting being a favourite of my nephew's teacher (his mother says his ears are permanently twisted because he is so badly-behaved in class!).

I have had many European friends who put their children into the local schools for Primary education but elected to return to their native countries for Secondary. This is in part because university entrance is a lottery in Turkey with limited choices and because in general Turkish qualifications are not accepted as equivalent to those in Europe or the wider world. For example a student with the Turkish equivalent of A levels would not be accepted at a UK university. There is also the issue of non-entitlement to either further or higher education in the UK for students non-resident in the UK for the 3 years prior to entry - students wanting to do college or university courses have to pay full Foreign Resident fees.

If you can afford for your children to attend private schools, especially if they offer a European curriculum/qualifications, fine. If not you should think again in my opinion - and for those worried about drugs and violence in UK schools the same issues are causing concern in many city schools in Turkey and are regularly reported in the Turkish newspapers.


Schooling in Turkey
Yildez, how right you are. The corporal punishment. the learining by rote, another one is staying within the box, you cant have an original idea on your own, it is discouraged. the history is all turkish, the literature is turkish, very little world affairs etc.,
Most of what you say is true about state schools.
I was fortunate in that My daughter started school here in the US, and was able to get a good foundation, learned how to think on her own before she was thrown into the turkish system..
But from middle school on, I think she benefited from her education in turkey.

But, so true about the primary education., I had forgoten about that, cause i was concentrating on the middle/high school levels.


Schooling in Turkey
Thanks Yıldiz.
And that is interesting- Datça has a school for gifted students, being fairly isolated! I thought it was a very new idea too.
Schooling in Turkey
Hi Pebble

I think you said earlier that your daughter spoke some Turkish before she started school here? I'm sure that makes a huge difference. My personal view is that placing a teenager straight from the UK with no Turkish in a local school is a non-starter and actually quite cruel - I stress that this is my view.

Hi ChrisBobs,

I didn't know about the special school until last year, and then only because some of the English residents here support one of the students financially - she is from a poor family in Eastern Turkey and although her scholarship pays most of the school fees her parents have to pay her accommodation and living expenses, which is impossible for them. The support is very low-key, no-one wants her to feel embarassed or beholden; she is doing very well and hopefully she will be able to continue to university.


Schooling in Turkey
Our sons' turned 9 and 6yrs of age the summer before the started school here. They didn't know a word of turkish before we moved (daddy's fault :faint2:) so we put them into the private school as the classes were small and we felt they'd learn quicker there. They stayed at the school for 6 years but neither of them were happy at it. So under a lot of pleading and pleases...we took them out of there and put both of them into state school for the 2008/2009 year. I was a bag of nerves wondering how they'd get on...but I didn't need to worry as they both made the change without a problem and both have settled in very well. The oldest has just finished Lise 2, the younger 7. class at primary.

Because they are dual nationals they can take the YOSS university exam which is for foreign students..and all questions are in english. I don't regret bringing them here and having them educated in Turkey.


Schooling in Turkey
Alison, oddly enough, i too have had several friends take their kids out of private and into public with great results.

Michelle didnt really speak any turkish, but she had the vocabulary and what not stored in her memory banks cause we had always spoken turkish in the home. My husband and I, well come to think of it, my sister Moyra and I always spoke in turkish if we didnt want anyone to know what we were saying, and in front of the kids, we could have whole conversations and they had no clue. but hearing the languag, the vocabulary, the grammar, the nuances, all were being filed away.
I THINK thats what was going on.......
at.parent/teacher confreneces one teacher said, 9this was lieke 3 months into the schooll year, she said, your daughte can understand, she just doesnt have the courage to speak, and that could be becaues your turkish is flawless and she is inhibited by that..and i said, no you are wrong, she doesnt speak turkish - we never spoke to her in turkish....she was insistent.. whatever.
Schooling in Turkey
You know what, I think it is a hard call for anyone to make a decision about their childrens schooling, either in their home country or abroad. I spent months deciding on which secondary school to send my son to... he got into our first choice, but there were sleepless nights.
Each person has to way up the pros and cons for their child, whether their child will thrive and be happy with the move and whether they will live to regret it in the future. Job prospects, university places etc.

Priority has to be for the child - regardless of our own dreams/needs.


Schooling in Turkey
Hi there

i have just read your thread and am very interested in what you said. Our situ is that we are thinking f moving to Dalaman area, my boys are 6 and 9 yrs old know! and this is my stumbling block! I was interested to here that they thrived better in state rather than private! and am concerned about this. we are 100% british and do not speak turkish AT ALL!! would you mind m asking loads more questions! also do you know if my boys would have to do the national service if it all worked out ok and we ended up living there forever!!!!!

April xx


Schooling in Turkey
Dear Apen Mart It is such a nice question to ask about national service .National service is compulsary only for Turkish people ,so no worries about that.Your children will adapt probably quicker than you as long as you try to integrate the society.As a Turkish teacher I recommend you to see their teachers every now on then and never lose the contact with the school.Because families play great role on both success of children and adaptation to school.It is a difficult job but not as difficult as you think now.Wish you Good luck!!!!!!


Schooling in Turkey
Thanks for that! as I have been researching for what seems like days and days I came across your article before, extremly helpful and thanks for that!

April x


Schooling in Turkey
How lovely to hear from a Turkish Teacher!!! just what i`ve been looking for!! I will try not to pester you but I NEED to be sure my kids would be OK if we did this move!
Do you know or can you recommend any good schools in Dalaman area, private or public, if private do you have a rough idea of the costs involved. In the UK I am always in contact with the schools, and every 3 months we have a teacher and parent meeting to talk about their work and how they are doing. I am quite a proactive parent and like to know whats going on. So I would hope to do the same where ever I am in the world. Thats my job as far as I am concerned!

I think if we found a good school and the kids were happy thats half the battle!

Let me know what you think and thankyou in advance xxxx
In your experience have you taught any English children? and do most schools especially in the Dalaman area speak some English! I have emailed the Turkish Consulate to get a list of schools within the area, and what ones that either have English kids or speak/teach English, just so that would help the kids adjust and us for communication with the teachers.


New Member
Schooling in Turkey
Hi guys, I am new to the site. Looks like there is lots of good info and advice from all of you. Thanks!!! I am a U.S. citizen. I have been living in Turkey for 1-1/2 years working as a consultant. My wife and youngest daughter were here for 3 months last year. My wife had home schooled our daughter during their stay. We eventually decided for my wife and daughter to return to the states because home schooling was really tough and too demanding on my wife. Well...my wife is pregnant now...woo hooo! After 2 attempts at IVF here in Turkey...it was finally successful. Ultrasound on August 13 will be to look for a heartbeat. Back to my daughter and schooling...... Now that my wife is pregnant...we pretty much decided for all of us to live together in Turkey again. We looked into schools here in Turkey (8th grade) and the cost was around $15k-$20k. I am surprised none of you mentioned how expensive these private schools are here in Turkey. I was blown away!!! Believe me...I make a pretty decent salary but these cost are very, very high...even compared to U.S. private schools. What my wife and I would like to look into is hiring a tutor that could work with our daughter using the home school program that we used previously. It is an official home schooling program from the state of Florida...I believe it is called Florida Virtual School. All of the lessons, assignments...etc. are on the website and there is also a real teacher that you correspond with periodically. The tutor would be needed 3 days a week...maybe 2-4 hours each day. We could see how that works and then maybe increase...or decrease...the time needed for a tutor. The problem is...I cannot find any information...not even on the internet...about such a tutor. Most searches result in "English language tuturs". Can one of you guys please help...or at least point us in the right direction. I am really starting to lose hope.


Schooling in Turkey
My Niece went to a private school in Fethiye, She started when she
was seven and within 3 months spoke turkish fluently, the cost then
was vastly different from what was quoted in the last post though, it
was £1,200 per year! There were however quite a few extras, toilet rolls
one week, cushions the next ;) she was one the first english child that the
school had taken in and apart from having a turkish/english friend in the
school no one spoke English, I always suspected that the teacher did but
chose not to, not such a bad idea.
However after 2 years she was insistant that she wanted to go to the local
school and was very happy there,


Schooling in Turkey
Well, times have changed and there are a lot of options in cTurkey now.
When we moved, my daguther was a teenager, hated the move, but faced with no option, just went along with it.
It took her 6 - 9 months to learn turkish, she as very social, and luckily did well in school. she lost 1 school year, they put her back one grade cause she didnt speak the language, but all in all, she did great. It was the best thing I could have done for her. When she back to the US, she was ahead of her peers in math and scienses. she was behind in English..........
but she will catch up with the english, the foundation she rec3ived in the math and sciences is invaluable........

My education in turkey was completely differnt than anything i would have gotten in the US, UK, Australia, Italy, anywhere in the world really........ suffice it to say, interesting.........

And this was a state school she attented?

chelsea boy

Dun Goat Herding!
Schooling in Turkey
British kids get bullied,
the curriculum is so narrow it's needle thin,
kids get hit by the teachers,
most turkish go to dershanes to make up for lack of teaching in the school...including private ones!
They learn verbatim from a book,
its ataturk, islam, turkey ataturk!
They cheat in exams!
many kids dress up in the uniform and then walk around town all day!
Schools constantly sponge "extras" from you.
Girls aren't allowed to do many sports, boys is all sports.

I schooled my daughter from home and so glad I did, most kids her age thing evolution is a myth and the world stops at the Turkish border!
As for teenage pregnancies, look again. Girls are still locked up here but lie to get out of the house.
All in all, it's a big risk to drop your kids into schools here after the age of 7 or 8. especially if they don't have the language

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