Schooling in Greece

Hi Everyone :)

My husband and I are considering a move to Greece with our two daughter whom are 4yrs and 1yr old. I was hoping to get some advice on schooling for my 4 year old. We are from Australia where our 4 year old attends Preschool.
Can anyone recommend some good school in Thessoloniki or Serres? I was looking into a private school for her, one that teaches in English but after reading some feedback on those types of schools I am thinking public schooling is the better option.
Our daughter doesn't speak much Greek, she only knows the basics so I am very concerned about sending her to a public school.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Sorry can't give you any advice on schools in that area. But i would recommend to enroll them in a public school, unless you only plan to live in Greece temporarily. If you are planning to stay for a long time, they have to learn Greek and a public school is best for that. Your kids are still so young, they won't have any problems learning Greek, and better, they have all the time for that. We have experience with this, our daughter who only spoke Dutch went to a Romanian public school when she was 4 and learned the langguage very fast.

Now we are also moving to Greece and our children are 8 and 4 years old. We started lessons in Greek with them online, so they are at the very beginning, but we will send them to a Greek public school. Being in a Greek language environment all the time will make them learn the language very fast, which is important for their social lives (we are planning to stay in Greece for a long time).

So my advice would be a public school, we have seen this works great for language and this way your kids (and the parents) will be excepted much quicker than being at a private school, which are normally a bit 'outside' society, if you get what i mean.

Don't be scared by horror stories about the Greek educational system, which are mostly opinioned by people who have left the country and are therefore by definition a bit more sceptical about local things than others (no offense ment btw).

All the best,

You have to remember that teenage Greek children have to go to Frontisteria here for extra lessons so as to be able to sit many exams,they sit for the school exams and the Frontastiria exams,its mighty grueling for them but has to be done and parents have to find the money,they are very well educated in the end.Frontasteria placement is a must because their school years do not have enough hours of teaching so as to cover all the lessons.But in Athens there are private schools for the small ones,they are not the expensive private,local sweet schools and have sweet usually yellow vans which pick up and drop off the kids,their day is longer than the state school,the fees are not huge,smaller classes and probably no bullying, Thessaloniki will have the same thing there.

Thank you for giving me some insight, very appreciated.
I just have another question, Matthijs- I worry about my daughter not "fitting In" because she doesn't speak Greek did you find your daughter struggled or didn't adjust and like school because of this? I just worry she won't like it and won't find some friends to help make the transition smoother for her.


I know of options in Athens for schooling and I will inquire about Salonica and Serres. My opinion is that a public school if there is a frontistirio or such for English of good standard. At home do you speak English or Greek?

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Hi Tori,

No, she had no problem at all with fitting in. She was accepted from the start, even though she was the first foreign child ever on this school (we live on the countryside). And by attending class with them, it got here accepted immediately also outside school hours. I am sure it will be the same in Greece. Children do not judge another kid because they come from somewhere else, and as you know, children do not need language to play with each other. But they will learn the language very quick.

Are you planning to stay just for a short time? In that case you could think about a private school. If you stay for a long time, your kid of course has to make local friends, and learn the language as best she can, and both will be easiest on a local school, imo.

And i see your kid is very young, and then it is even easier, and a perfect age to be immersed in another language. Our son is almost 5, he will learn also quick. Our daughter will be almost 9 when she start Greek school, so it will be more difficult for her, but we have all the confidence in it, judging also by how fast she learns now with her 3 hours a week Greek lessons.

Did you find a school?
My son goes to the American International school called Pinewood in Thessaloniki. Great school, they teach in English, Greek lessons 3 days per week.

My advice to any expat in Greece: do not send your child to a Greek public school, and if you do decide to go private, research the school very carefully.

As much as I love Greece, and Greeks, they are intelligent or educated IN SPITE of their education system and not because of it. The Greek Education system is broken and has been for a long time, but no one will fix it.

Most Greeks are obliged to also pay to send their children to the local private Frontisteria to supplement the schooling they receive within the school system. This 'fact' of Greek life, alone, is evidence that the school system itself is failing.

Most public Greek schools have no, or very little, experience of teaching 'foreigners'. And even if they welcome you in, and tell you all the things they do to help a non-native Greek assimilate into their system, you will quickly learn that this was all 'happy talk' as you realise that very few school teachers have much English or any other language, and no allowances are being made for your child's struggles with the language and cultural issues they will most certainly experience.

Greek school teachers use the old 'pre-war' schooling method of show and repeat, it is tedious repetitious work, day in and day out. Somehow, Greek children do it and some do well, but most western countries moved away from that teaching style many years ago because of its limitations.

Teachers themselves are a mixed bag. You will find some lovely, child-friendly, compassionate and empathetic teachers who genuinely try hard within the 'straight-jacket' environment of Greek schools. But you will also experience emotional outbursts, fits of anger, random punishments for minor infractions and occasional displays of aggression. Your child will learn, through the example of their teachers, both the very best and very worst of the Greek temperament. And if you are a non-Greek, you might wonder if some of these teachers would have been fired long ago if they were teaching in your home country.

Additionally, they are probably underpaid, and many will express disatisfaction, if you talk with them. I believe it is a secure job, but thankless. We found that many had trained for one type of job but were placed in completely different jobs: for example, they may want to teach middle or high school but find themselves teaching junior. And are perhaps ill-equipped or simply uninterested in the level they are teaching.

If you are lucky, you might get a good math teacher, and perhaps a good Greek teacher. Many of the English teachers I met hardly spoke English, and one was teaching English by Google-translating Greek into English and my child was marked down because he couldn't figure out how to conjugate the verb 'do I do'...

He bought that 'test paper' home with him, he's bilingual in English and Greek. Although better in English than his English teacher. His test paper was all marked in red for getting it all wrong and I couldn't understand any of it myself! And struggled to think of a situation where I might ever say 'do I do...'

Of course he was also punished for pointing out that 'do I do' made very little sense, and was not a common grammatical usage.

Gym class is generally just a period in which the children get to play with a ball. Nothing has ever been taught in 'gym class' to my knowledge. Greek public schools generally seem to have little, if any, interest in sports of any kind. And like the Frontisteria, that's for others to teach, and pick up the plentiful slack.

But teachers in Greece are not 'educators', they do not appear to display an awareness of leadership skills or their roles as role models or as examples in behaviour for their students. They simply run children through the curriculum, line by boring line, and punish. I have never seen any joy in any of it.

Headmasters and headmistresses do not have the role they have in other countries. They are mainly administrative, and some teach also. But they appear to have very little or no real control or leadership position within the school, other than titular.

Even if your child gets through the younger years, learns Greek well, and moves into middle school, you will find that more and more of what they are learning are simply the Greek words for what they are learning, more than the topic itself. The Greek vocabulary is large and multiple. And there is very little room for acceptable error. You might find your child is losing points simply for missing accents or apostrophes, or mispronunciation, or just thinking about things differently.

Convention is everything in a Greek school, if you stick out, if you think or act differently, if you wear odd socks or don't fit in somehow, you will find both teachers and fellow pupils will find it strange, and perhaps even punish you for it.

Bullying is almost built in to the system. When you go to visit a Greek school you will see anti-bullying posters, and if you ask about the school's policy you will get an emphatic rejection of the concept. And come away convinced. But the reality is that your concept of bullying and theirs is very different. And your concept of bullying goes on daily, even by teachers.

Overall, in my experience of sending a British child to Greek schools, I have been desperately unimpressed, and frequently appalled. I can only advise non-Greeks to avoid the Greek school system entirely. You may be lucky, of course, and it appears that some in this thread have been. But if you are unlucky, it will be one of the worst experiences of your life. I can promise you that.

I think a lot of this is true,however,Greek teachers are not obliged to speak English for your children and there is no time or money to allocate a member of staff just for one or two perhaps,children, who are not integrated fully into the Greek language.School hours here are appallingly short which is crazy and holidays are far too long,which makes life very difficult for parents.But Greek children get their head down and study especially where there is a good family encouragement.Unfortunately they are not taught about life,the world,environmental issues,politics,neither empathy or nature because of being totally molycoddled in a protective nest and not allowed to speak,mostly mumma and grandmother speak and shut the kid up.violence is not generally something they wish to partake in,neither rape but it goes on and it gets covered up so as to maintain the..wonderful non violent greeks...dont want to disturb tourism which appears the only way to keep the country running. Send children to the little private schools with the yellow buses which pick up outside your door,not crazy expensive.British schooling has many problems and teachers want out of that job,so we must all find the best way for children and that depends mostly on finances,talking to ones children very regularly allows us to hear their mind and thoughts so as to gauge  their happiness in any situation.Moaning too much and generalisations are probably not the best way to move forward.

What you do get here is...Greeks love to speak English...unlike the French who will totally ignore and are unwilling to help you in situations where you cannot speak the lingo and you are getting stressed,any Greek person who speaks to me in English always gets my thanks profusely because they studied like mad things for that ability and Im amazed how good they are.They watch films and try hard to not watch subtitles, instead they listen intently.We must think ourselves lucky for this because it helps our lives here until we master this beautiful and unique Greek language.

@quornroast going through the exact same situation with my 4 year.

Totally opposite experience here; my children love the -public- elementery school. Good lessons, nice teachers, no bullying at all. They even dislike the holidays because school is closed!


I am 59 born in Uk - Greek parents - moved to Greece (Thesaloniki) when I was 10 - went through the Greek state school system but when 16 also went to night school at British Council to get my pre-university Alevels before studying in the Uk.

my brother was two years older and went the private route via Pinewood English school as he struggled with the language

very difficult to recommend anything as it all comes down to the luck of the draw and despite the Greek education system being broken - some of their teachers are excellent and better than private teachers

the reason they have evening frontistiria is because in general the school education system is broken and of poor quality but it is also because many parents don't bother to take the time to also educate their kids at home (some are not able to due to work or because they are themselves uneducated) but many simply think it is not their job as this is what the state system of schooling should provide

some suggestions…

  • if you want your child to learn the language and plan on being in greece for at least three years go to a state school
  • find the best school you can and if needed supplement their education with focused frontistiria
  • see if the British Council still offers evening school and check this out
  • make the time to educate your child at home - both academically and socially (sports / art / theatre / history / travel)
  • the first year of learning Greek will be hell but then it quickly gets better

in short you get what you seed with kids and a lot of this comes down to the child

My brother never properly mastered the language despite being in Greece for 7 years and had a so so outcome from going to a private school and never got the Greek culture

i on the other hand a fluent in the language - culture and traditions and have many great friends in Greece

i would rate pinewood (English only school)  as 6/10 overall (education, Greek language and experience quality versus cost )

I would rate Anatolia (Greek first and English as compulsory second language) 7/10 against the same criteria 

in short if you have the money and want the child to learn Greek faster go Anatolia but it is very expensive and hard to get in to

personally I would go best state school I could find and pay for focused lessons in Greek and other subjects in the evening

hope this helps


Congratulations on your wonderful choice to move to where your children will be raised in sunshine, in a safe country relative to the US and Australia for everyday life, and where they have the sea and the mountains and wonderful people, culture, lifestyle and history.

Our group of Greeks and expats researched long and hard about schools, and we chose what we feel is a perfect school for our kids. we also chose an ideal neighborhood. We are building a cohousing village called “Greek Village Cohousing,” and cohousing is an ideal place to raise kids.***********************

We chose the wonderful, Greek speaking, private school called Polykronokou in Sparta and find it ideal. You can see a long video interview with the director and a tour of it on our website under the page called About Our Area Services. We research and thought about it what was important to us, and we chose this area of Sparta because there are not as many expats and is really gorgeous, and we chose this school because, while it is still rigorous, it emphasizes social emotional growth and is more flexible to individual children compared to public schools, which around the globe are more one size fits all. the kids get plenty of time in nature too. It is a Greek speaking private school where kids play longer in nature and the curriculum is rigorous but the emphasis is more wholistic.

You have to be guided by your own individual kids and where those unique kiddos would thrive rather than by some philosophy of education. Many expats join the rat race of private International baccalaureate schools, but that is a waste of money unless you plan to move to another country every few years and want consistency, and putting the kids there segregates them and is very costly and leads to the same volume of homework that the Greek kids have. In our group, we decided we did not want that IB expat rat race for our particular kids. We wanted Greek public or Greek private schools. All the different kind of schools have advantages and disadvantages, and our particular and unique kids needed a gentler place with emphasis on social emotional and nature and fun too. We wanted them to be with Greeks.

All you have to do is speak to most Greek children, and their high level of education is clearly demonstrated. Greeks are per capita some of the most highly educated kids in Europe, and per casita they get more advanced degrees. Choose public school if you feel your particular kids are flexible generally and able to manage the longer days with two different schools happening - as you read above. they are young and will soak up the language like a sponge, and kids in Greece begin English by 4 and by 6 can talk to your children well. They will be fine.

If you want more flexibility and nature for them, and a bit more emphasis on individuality of their needs and social emotional growth, then consider getting out of an expat type town and coming with us to the smaller and very Greek environment of Sparta and trying Polykronokou! We have both Australians and Europeans and Greeks in our village who can tell you their experiences at this school.  We love it.

Whatever you choose, they will be just fine and you are choosing a generally more healthy and better lifestyle for them in my opinion. Good luck!

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@PhilIpZ20201   Hi Phillp this is all really position is that i am British living in the UK, i have a 16 year old son (my youngest of three) and I am moving to Athens and thinking of educating him in one of the international schools in Athens...I have looked at St Lawrence's, St Catherine's and Byron College. I cannot really suss out how good they are - the reviews seem to veer from super positive to downright worrying!  Just wondering if you have any thoughts or views at all on the international schools?  Many thanks Nicola

@nicolagoodridge sadly no - try to talk to some of the parents at these schools - in general they will be miles better than any state school in Greece