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Russia - Education and Schools

If you’re heading out to Russia as an expat family with young children, schooling will be top of your list of priorities. We take a look at the options open to you.

Education Is Compulsory In Russia

Eleven years of compulsory education in Russia begins when a child is six or seven years of age. Nurseries and kindergarten facilities exist to care and educate younger children, but in the post-Soviet era, this provision is no longer state provided or universal. Many parents place their child on the waiting lists for private nurseries and kindergarten schools from birth as demand significantly exceeds supply.

Four years of elementary school are followed by five years at middle school and two years of high school. Those who do well in the final Maturity Certificate exams have hundreds of Russian universities from which to choose.

Sending Your Child To A Russian State School

Education was an important priority when Russia was part of the USSR. As a result, the general level of education is higher than in many other countries. Russian people continue to see education as the key to future success.

Pupils are enrolled at a state school and remain with their cohort until the end of their school years. Some newcomers arrive and some children leave, but there is no big stepping stone at the end of primary or middle school when all pupils split up in large numbers to different school destinations. As a result, cohorts can form close-knit communities which continue into lifelong friendships.

The biggest issue your child will face at Russian state school is that all lessons are delivered in Russian. If this is to be their home for the long term, becoming completely fluent in the native language will be a strength. However, in the short term, this language barrier makes life much harder for your child, especially if they have had little or no exposure to the language beforehand. This is an issue which is particularly important during the secondary school years, when exams loom ahead.

The quality of the school’s teaching and facilities will depend on where you live. In affluent areas, the focus of the school may reflect your own, whereas an unpopular school may be struggling to cope with tight budgets and disengaged pupils.

While Russian schools are almost always co-educational, conservative attitudes may be an issue for your child. Racism and homophobia spark verbal threats and physical assault in the country, even on the streets of Moscow. There are complicated responses to the issue of religion which vary according to where in the country you are. The generally liberal educational environment provided in most schools in Western Europe and the US means children can experience a culture shock when transferring to a Russian school.

School Uniform In Russia

In 1994, the requirement for state school pupils to wear school uniform was abandoned. However, most schools still specify a school uniform and insist their pupils adhere to it. This includes state, private and international schools.

A white shirt and dark trousers or skirt tend to be the school uniform throughout the country. Shoes are expected to be sensible and free of logos.

Grading In Russian Schools

Russian schools are strict and pupils are expected to work hard. Test grades and homework feedback are announced by teachers to the class as a whole.

In the UK, pupils are monitored according to a level number for each subject. In the US, subject scores are amalgamated to reach a Grade Point Average (GPA).

In Russian schools, however, a completely different grading method is used. In each subject, a pupil is scored a 2 for fail, 3 for satisfactory, 4 for good and 5 for high achievement. The lowest score in any of the subjects is the one which determines their overall grade category, without any reference to their higher achievements. This system doesn’t give any leeway to a bright child who struggles with only one subject.

The overall grade categories are:

otlichniki - high achievement;
horoshysty - good pass;
troechniky - average pass;
dvoechniky - fail.

It’s also worth noting that the Russian syllabus in state schools is based on traditional, academic subjects. Pupils don’t take media studies classes, for example, but instead focus on history, literature, maths, science and languages.

ExtraCurricular Studies In Russian

Taking part in sports and music activities is a typical past-time for Russian children. The breath-taking achievements of Soviet-era athletes is still a source of national pride and talented young people today aspire to emulate them.

There are many musicians, dancers and sports leaders running clubs, classes and private tuition sessions. In cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, there are wonderful facilities for after school and weekend sessions. Most private and international schools provide a range of quality after-school activities.

International Schools In Russia

International schools offer the curriculum and teaching environment of an overseas country, delivered in the official language of that nation. Popular choices are American, British, French and German schools.

Expat teachers and support staff are actively recruited by international schools so that the language and teaching methods accurately deliver the school’s core principles.

These schools attract expats looking to educate their children in a familiar structure and language. Working towards or completing the nation’s official qualifications means expat children can return home for work or university confident that employers will recognise and value their achievements.

International schools also attract local families looking for something different for their children’s education. Being able to fluently speak a foreign language, having internationally valued qualifications and a different approach to the classroom are all assets to be valued.

The International Baccalaureate In Russia

Many international schools offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) qualifications in addition to their specified international qualifications such as IGCSEs. In addition, 30 schools in the state sector offer the IB.

Some 44 of the 46 IB schools in Russia teach in English, with the other two teach in both Russian and English.

You can find more information about this topic on the IB World Schools Yearbook.

International Schools In Moscow

Moscow is a large and wealthy city which is home to most of Russia’s Western expats. It is no surprise, therefore, that a number of international schools are located there, along with private schools whose curriculum and facilities may be of interest to expat families.

Your options include:

The Anglo-American School of Moscow
The British International School
CIS (Cambridge International School) Russia
Deutsche Schule Moskau
The English International School Moscow
• European Gymnasium
• Hinkston Christian Academy
• The International Gymnasium of the Skolkovo Innovation Center
• The International School of Moscow
• Lycée Français de Moscou Alexandre-Dumas
• Moscow Economic School, Odintsovo
• Moscow Economic School, Presnya Campus
• Moscow International Gymnasia
• President School, Odintsovski
• Russian International School
• Slavic Anglo-American School 'Marina'
• XXI Century Integration International Secondary School
• International Schools Outside Moscow

Although the number of expats drops once you head out of Moscow, there are enough in other cities to sustain a number of international schools, especially in St Petersburg. In addition, there are plenty of boarding and IB schools to investigate.

Your options include:

• The British American School, St Petersburg
• Alabuga International School, Yelabuga
• CET International Primary School, Tyumen
• CIS Russia, St Petersburg
• Education Through Dialogue School, St Petersburg
• International School of Herzen University, St Petersburg
• International School of Kazan
• International School of Samara
• Istochnik International School, Ulyanovsk
• Kaluga International School, Voskresenskoe
• Lyceum-Boarding School No. 2 - Municipal Autonomous Educational Institution, Kazan
• Private Lomonosov School, Nizhny Novgorod
• Seymour House School, Sokol
• The British International School at Rosinka, Angelovo

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