Turkish schools across the capital start their new academic year this weekend, offering language and cultural lessons to students from primary school age through to high school seniors.
Lessons take place on either on a Friday evening, or Saturday or Sunday mornings during term-time. Pupils learn about Turkish music, dance, literature and history, alongside formal studies to improve their Turkish language skills. It also gives children and parents a chance to broaden their Turkish social connections.
Last year, a record number of students achieved top marks in their Turkish ‘A’ level and ‘AS’ level qualifications. According to a report in Londra Gazete 59% scored an A*, A or B grade in their ‘A’ levels. Along with demonstrating foreign language skills, these qualifications also count towards British university entrance requirements.
Earlier this year, Turkish schools and parents had campaigned to save the qualifications when national examination board OCR decided to abolish Turkish exams from 2017. Many politicians joined in the fight to save not only Turkish, but also qualifications in Polish, Bengali, Gujarati, and Panjabi, which were also under threat.
In July, the government intervened, applying pressure on the examination boards and education body Ofqual to safeguard community languages. Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced measures that would guarantee exams would be offered in Turkish and other foreign languages until September 2018.
To find the closest Turkish school to you, visit the Üye Okullarımız (Member Schools) section of the Turkish Education Consortium’s website.
Main photo: Students from Dr Fazıl Küçük Turkish School, Catford, performing in May 2015. Photo: Facebook