Education in Greece
There are a small number of English speaking schools in Greece but these are all located in Athens, with one located in the country’s second city of Thessaloniki. If you choose to settle elsewhere in the country then your children will be taught in Greek. Even on the largest island of Crete there are no English speaking schools despite the high concentration of British Expats located there.
Here is a link for some of the English speaking schools in Athens: http://cobis.org.uk/index.php?option=com_sectionex&view=category&id=35&Itemid=116
Despite the economic troubles ravaging the country the Greek education system is still highly respected and boasts a literacy rate of 97%. Funding for many schools has been cut as the government seeks new ways to save cash so the school buildings and equipment may not be up to the standards you could find in the UK. You must also consider where to send your child as Greek is a very difficult language to learn as their written alphabet is very different to English and other Western countries. In general, the younger the child, the easier it will be for him/her. Toddlers and small children adapt and absorb a new language quite easily.
Older children, and especially those coming up to their teens, may have a very hard time adjusting. If they are not fluent in Greek they will be placed in a class with younger children to cover the language basics, and they are likely to be kept back throughout their schooling.
Pre-school (Vrefonipiakoi Paidikoi Stathmoi)
Sending your child to a pre-school tends to be voluntary in Greece but in recent years the Greek government has gradually made it compulsory in many regions of the country. Children are admitted to pre-schools at the age of two and a half years of age. The school year begins on September 1st and runs until June 21st. Pre-schools tend to open from 8am till 16.30pm, whilst crèches and nurseries close at 12.30pm.
Primary school (Dimitiko)
When children reach the age of six they have to be enrolled in an elementary school. Primary school is compulsory in Greece, with pupils attending for six-years. Children learn about maths, history, PE, art, Modern Greek, IT natural science and as there is legal separation between the church and state religious studies.
The school term start on September 11th and ends on June 15th. The school day typically lasts from 8.15am to 13.30pm.
Lower secondary school (Gymnasio)
A pupil attends this school from the ages of 12 to 15. Unlike the primary school you choose what time your child attends the school. There are morning sessions, afternoon sessions and evening sessions. Every day, pupils have to complete oral work, written assignments and other projects. Written examinations are held at the end of each term. The grading system runs on a scale of 20 to 10, with 20 being the highest, 10 being a pass and 1 being the lowest possible grade.
Upper secondary school (Lykeio)
After pupils finish lower secondary education they have the choice over whether to leave education or to continue by attending the Upper secondary school. Students who want to continue their studies at a university usually enrol in these schools. They can attend for three or four years and have a choice over whether to take vocational courses or general courses. There are also vocational training institutes (Institouto Epaggelmatikis Katartisis – IEK) at the upper secondary level providing a formal but unclassified level of education. Teaching at IEK is based on vocational specialisation. The selection of students takes place twice a year early in September for the winter semester, and at the end of January for the spring semester. Students have to be at least 18 years old.
There are several Private higher institutions in Greece and these are backed by universities from the UK and USA. These offer degrees accepted by the parent country. As with most private schooling, tuition fees are considerably higher than for the public universities in Greece. As an expat these institutions may be a better option for your children.
Mainstream Greek universities are dotted all over the country numbering in at 22 all-in-all. There are 30 Technology institutes scattered over a vast area of islands. Classes are taught in Greek and a typical undergraduate degree course can last up to five years. Admission of students into universities depends on their performance in nationwide exams taking place in the third grade of upper secondary school.