This guide was written prior to Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine and is therefore not reflective of the current situation. Travel to Russia is currently not advisable due to the area's volatile political situation.
Despite much debate over the education system in Russia, the country has a high literacy rate. The quality of schooling has improved greatly over time, though it is still far from perfect. Russia is known to have some of the best universities in the world, however.
Regarding school-aged children, there are public, private and international school options. Most expats choose to send their children to international schools. Expat parents often find that the teaching language and the method of instruction in public and private schools are not ideal for foreign children.
Entry requirements into schools may differ so expats are encouraged to contact the schools directly for more information. In general, expats must provide their visa, the child’s birth certificate and any academic records.
The school year in Moscow follows the northern hemisphere pattern, with the longest break being in the summer months. The school week is generally Monday to Friday, from 8am or 9am to 2pm or 3pm.
Generally, there are three stages of schooling: primary school with grades one to four; basic secondary school from grades five through nine; and upper secondary school which goes up to grade 12.
Public schools in Moscow
Public school education is free to both Russian and foreign citizens. Parents only pay for meals and school uniforms.
The quality of state schools is debatable, and classrooms tend to have many students. Regardless, expats tend to opt for international schools because the language of instruction in state schools is mainly Russian. This means, especially for older students that do not speak Russian, this option is often not feasible.
Private schools in Moscow
Private schools are less common than state schools. They provide the same Russian curriculum and teach mainly in Russian, but class sizes are smaller. Private schools are not free but are less expensive than international schools. Due to the language barrier, however, the options for expat education in Moscow remain mostly limited to international schools.
International schools in Moscow
Most international schools in Moscow are expensive. Curriculum models range from those that follow American or British teaching systems to ones that combine the Russian curriculum with international curricula. Alternatively, some offer the International Baccalaureate. There are several English-language schools to choose from, as well as schools teaching the German, French and Indian curricula.
Demand for the most prestigious schools can be high, and long waiting lists are to be expected. For this reason, expat parents moving to Moscow should attempt to enrol their children as early as possible.
Special-needs education in Moscow
There are limited schooling options for children with disabilities in Moscow. That said, efforts to develop the school system for those with disabilities are being made to avoid excluding these children. International schools are aiming to improve the possible support they could give. The Anglo-American School of Moscow, for example, makes provisions of learning support, occupational therapy and speech programmes to enable students with mild to moderate learning disabilities to continue their education.
Homeschooling in Moscow
Homeschooling is becoming more and more common in Moscow, especially in comparison to the rest of the country. Expat parents must follow certain regulations. One such regulation is that they must enrol their child into a licenced school which acts as a supervising body. In some cases, homeschooled children can get access to resource provisions such as books. The school can also act as the exam centre when children must write formal exams.
Tutors in Moscow
Being such a large city, Moscow has many options for finding tutors. Expat parents will find various online platforms and portals through which they can hire a tutor for their child in Moscow. Tutors will be extremely helpful in assisting expat children with learning Russian, with adjusting to their new school environment and curriculum, and with getting up to speed in classes.