International schools in Greece

The history of educational institutions in Greece goes far into antiquity, and to this day, the quality of education in this country remains at a very high level. Besides, about one-third of the student population is eligible to study free of charge, and one-quarter of all postgraduate programs are free as well.

Private schools are considerably more expensive, just as they are in most countries worldwide. Yet, many of them are definitely worth paying the fees, since private schools compare quite favourably to the public educational sector in Greece. Besides, the private sector provides many international schools, as opposed to public schools, which are all in Greek.

The best international schools in Greece seem to be located in Athens and Thessaloniki, the two most significant educational centres in the country. In these two cities, kids have opportunities to study in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and several other languages, even in Russian and Chinese.

Education System

Traditionally, the Greek education system consists of the following eight levels, with some insignificant variations across different institutions:

1. Nursery

For children up to 2.5 years old.

2. Kindergarten

From 2,5 to 4 years.

3. Pre-school

From 4 to 6 years.

These three levels make the so-called pre-formal stage, and they are voluntary in Greece. Still, most parents choose to send their kids to kindergartens and pre-school institutions, probably for the same reasons they do it in most countries. There will be no Greek classes in the international schools at this stage.

4. Dimitiko

Primary school, Grades 1 to 6.

In the first two grades, there are no marks at all. Grades 3 and 4 introduce the four-grade system of A to D, where A is excellent and D is acceptable. The last two years in Dimitiko follow the ten-point system, where 9-10 is excellent and 1–4 is acceptable. There are no bad marks at this stage yet. Pupils in the international schools start learning Greek in Dimitiko.

5. Gymnasium

Grades 7 to 9.

At this stage, teachers apply the 20-point system, where 20 is excellent, 10 is acceptable and 1 is very bad. Pupils have to write exams at the end of each academic year. Predictably, 10 is the pass mark.

In the vast majority of international schools, pupils must decide whether they would like to continue their studies in their home language or enter the Greek section. In the latter, they will also study Greek language and culture and be eligible to receive the Greek secondary education certificate.

6. Lyceum

High school, grades 10 to 12.

At this stage, education becomes voluntary again, but three-quarters of Greeks choose to complete it anyway. Besides, pupils can finish high school in regular schools or various vocational and technical colleges, in which case they will receive some low-level professional diploma together with their secondary education certificates.

7. Undergraduate Higher Education

If students choose to enter universities, they will follow pretty much the same levels as in most universities in Europe. The first level is the Bachelor's degree, and it will suffice for most licensing and employment purposes in the majority of professional fields.

That might be the reason why most students stop studying at this level. However, students from the countries that follow the British education system should keep in mind that the Greek undergraduate study comprises both Bachelor's and Honours degrees and lasts 4 years.

8. Postgraduate Higher Education

Some professional fields require further certification, and depending on one's profession, one may have to obtain a Master's or even PhD. Again, there will be few surprises for foreign students from Western countries at this stage.

Study Fees

Apart from the public nurseries, kindergartens and secondary schools, which are free in Greece, tuition fees vary greatly between educational institutions, with the best international private schools being the most expensive. The table below shows approximate annual fees for 2021–2022 academic year.

Nursery and Kindergarten

€6,000–8,000

Pre-school

€7,000–9,000

Primary School

€9,000–11,000

Gymnasium

€10,000–12,000

High School

€10,000–14,000

Bachelor's

€9,000–12,000

Master's

€3,000–4,000

PhD

€1.5,000–2,000

English Schools

There will be no shortage of excellent English schools in Greece, whichever city or part of the country you choose to settle in. This section introduces some of the finest examples of English education in this country.

Byron College

Also known as the British International school, it teaches the kids from 3 to 18 years of age in the idealist traditions of Lord Byron. Currently, hundreds of students from over 50 countries across the world benefit from its highly stimulating intellectual and spiritual learning environment.

Upon graduation, pupils receive the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, and their grades compare favourably with the statistically average ones in Great Britain. The school also provides diverse extracurricular activities, ranging from drama and cooking to sports, choir and martial arts.

St. Catherine British School

Another English school in Greece that follows the UK's National Curriculum, St. Catherine's teaches over a thousand pupils who consistently enjoy good reception at the leading universities in Europe afterwards. The school strives to provide its students with a thorough knowledge of Greek culture, history and geography, and takes them on regular tours around the country's outstanding museums and archaeological sites.

American Community School

The ACS of Athens adheres to the fundamental values and principles of the US education system, focusing on the kids' social and ethical as well as intellectual development. Its diverse disciplines help the pupils to develop effective life skills and creative thinking, master a variety of technological tools and expand their social consciousness.

The school's extracurricular activities concentrate on sports, foreign languages and various interactive means of boosting the pupils' sense of personal responsibility and their awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity.

St. Lawrence College

St. Lawrence is a very popular school in the English-speaking community in Athens. Most of its well-trained academic personnel have stayed with the college for almost 15 years, offering high-quality professional services to no more than ten pupils per teacher. In addition, the school boasts the largest selection of extracurricular activities in the city, including sports, drama, photography, chess, computer labs and calligraphy.

International School of Athens

Established in 1979 to meet the educational needs of the international community in Athens, this school currently caters to pupils from almost forty nationalities as diverse as British, Chinese, Egyptian, Australian, Russian and Nigerian. Its disciplines are just as diverse and include languages, natural sciences, social studies, technology, arts and sports.

Hundreds of children of all ages from nursery to high school dive into this melting pot to explore the world around them in the stimulating atmosphere of the International School of Athens. It is no wonder then that many of its graduates continue to study in the leading universities across the world.

Pinewood School

Founded in Thessaloniki back in the 50s, Pinewood offers its pupils an impressive selection of academic disciplines and extracurricular activities to stimulate and facilitate their physical, cognitive and artistic development. Kids have access to an advanced science lab, a huge library, a spacious amphitheatre, a well-equipped gym and even a forensic science workshop.

Byron College

7 Filolaou Str., Gerakas, Athens

+30 (210) 604-77-22

St. Catherine British School

77 Sofokli Venizelou Str., Lykovrissi, Athens

9 B. Antonopoulou Str., Kifissia, Athens (St. Catherine's High)

+30 (210) 282-97-50

American Community School

129 Aghias Paraskevis Str., Halandri, Athens

+30 (210) 639-32-00

St. Lawrence College

Anemon Str., Koropi, Athens

+30 (210) 891-70-00

International School of Athens

Xenias and Artemidos Streets, Kifissia, Athens

+30 (210) 623-38-88

 

Pinewood School

14th km, Thermi, Thessaloniki

+30 (231) 030-12-21

German Schools

There are surprisingly few German schools in Greece, considering the relatively large numbers of German expats living in the country. Yet, finding a place for your kids to study in German will not be impossible, especially if you live in Athens or Thessaloniki. We have selected two schools that seem to be the best options for the purpose.

Dörpfeld Gymnasium

Deutsche Schule Athen is one of the oldest private schools in the country, providing classes to kids of 3 to 18 years of age. It is a very selective institution, and the pupil's level of German has to be pretty high for them to pass the admission examination.

At high school, pupils have a choice: to continue their studies in the German section, where they will receive German secondary school certificates, or joining the Greek section. In the latter, they will immerse themselves in an intensive study of Greek language and culture and receive Greek high school diplomas, in addition to German ones.

Dörpfeld Gymnasium provides excellent extracurricular activities, and its Schools of Drama and Greek Music are famous countrywide. In addition, the Schule has its own chess club, rock band and offers classes in more than twenty dances and sports.

The school also arranges numerous exchange programs in several European countries, Egypt and Turkey as well as educational trips to Germany. As of 2022, the study fees range from €5,000 to €6,000 per academic year.

Deutsche Schule Thessaloniki

Similar in concept and structure to Dörpfeld Gymnasium, the German School of Thessaloniki serves the kids from nursery all the way to the 12th Grade, entertaining them after classes with lots of intellectually and artistically stimulating extracurricular activities.

In addition, it focuses strongly on the pupils' personality development, works towards improving their interpersonal and social skills and aims to facilitate their creative thinking. And when the school day is over, kids can attend photography classes or play in the Schule Orchestra.

The graduates will enjoy warm reception in both Greek and German higher educational institutions, especially if they complete their studies in the Greek section, where they study Greek and German languages and cultures, with an equally strong emphasis on both.

Dörpfeld Gymnasium

6 Dimokritou Str. & Germanikis Scholis Athinon, Maroussi, Athens

+30 (210) 619-92-60

Deutsche Schule Thessaloniki

9 Thermi km, Thessaloniki-Fin

+30 (231) 047-59-00

French Schools

The educational ties between France and Greece go long way back, and there are many notable French institutions in this country. Here, we have selected the most popular ones.

Lycée Léonin in Athens

Founded in the nineteenth century by a group of monks, Lycée Léonin is a non-profit private Catholic school that offers classes to pupils from the primary school to lyceum levels. As of 2022, the school has over a thousand pupils, providing them with diverse academic disciplines and numerous extracurricular activities.

Lycée Léonin boasts several famous matriculants, including some notable Greek poets, artists and composers, and even one ex-Minister of Justice and one ex-President of Greece. The school has two campuses, in New Smyrna and Patisia, both located in Athens. The one in New Smyrna does not have a primary school, though.

École Française d'Athènes

The French School at Athens is proud to be the oldest foreign educational institution in the country. Established in Athens in 1846, it focused primarily on the study of Greek history since prehistoric times. The college has now expanded to include a variety of disciplines taught at all levels from bachelor to PhD.

Still, its most significant department remains the Ancient History of Greece, and it boasts some of the most important archaeological research projects in the country, publishing over 15 scientific titles per year. Besides, its famous library of almost 100,000 items is worth visiting, even if you choose to study elsewhere.

École Française de Thessalonique

Founded at the turn of the twentieth century, the French School of Thessaloniki serves the kids of 3 to 18 years of age at all levels, from pre-school to lyceum. A remarkable thing about this school is that its pupils have a choice of studying in French, Greek or English, and its certificates enjoy full recognition by the Greek Ministry of Education and abroad.

In addition, the French School of Thessaloniki provides opportunities to study by correspondence from the 6th to the 12th Grades. Upon matriculation, pupils receive the French National Diploma and Baccalauréat.

École Franco-Hellénique des Ursulines

Originally a school specifically for Jesuit monks, the Ursuline Greek-French School became the first educational institution for girls in Greece, thus paving the first path for Greek women toward higher education. It has been famous countrywide for the exceptional quality of its educational services at all secondary school levels since the end of the nineteenth century.

Moreover, the Ursuline Greek-French School is, in fact, a network of schools, and its 150 branches of nurseries, kindergartens and high schools make it the largest educational institution in the country.

Lycée Franco-Hellenique Eugene Delacroix

Considered by many to be the best French school in the country, Lycée Franco-Hellenique teaches pupils from the nursery to high-school levels and is particularly famous for its virtually infinite variety of extracurricular activities, from numerous sports and dance studios to theatre, music, circus and even robotics classes.

Immersed exclusively in French at the nursery and kindergarten levels, kids start learning Greek in primary school, following the French National Curriculum nonetheless. From then on, they can decide whether they would like to study in French or Greek.

Considering the exciting and intellectually stimulating atmosphere at the school, its study fees of €4,000–5,000 per year seem quite reasonable indeed.

Lycée Léonin

17 Neuilly Str., Patissia-Athènes, Athens

2 Th. Sofouli Str., Nea Smyrni, Athens

+30 (210) 941-80-11

École Française d'Athènes

6 Didotou Str., Athens

+30 (210) 941-80-11

École Française de Thessalonique

2A Leoforos Str., Thessaloniki

+30 (231) 082-12-31

École Franco-Hellénique des Ursulines

20 Efkalipton & Foinikon Str., Maroussi, Athens

+30 (210) 802-88-88

Lycée Franco-Hellenique

153-154 Chlois & Trikalon Str., Aghia Paraskevi, Athens

+30 (210) 300-91-00

Conclusion

Greece has been a popular destination for Western European expats for many years. It is good to know that your kids can complete their secondary education there in their home language, mastering the Greek language and culture at the same time.

There will be no shortage of excellent international schools to choose from, especially if you settle down in Athens or Thessaloniki. Besides, the variety of languages in the international private schools in Greece is quite impressive too. We only introduced some of the best examples in three language communities.

Your ultimate choice will, of course, depend on your home language, location in Greece and budget. Should your home language be English, German or French, we hope our article will help you make a good start in the cradle of Western education.

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