The Özel Bilkent Schools form part of the national curriculum system of the Turkish Ministry of Education (Milli Eiğetim Bakanlığı or MEB). The national curriculum in Turkey is specified in detail for all schools; primary, middle and high, and regular general inspections by members of the inspectorate ensure that the national curricula for all subjects are being adhered to. The inspectorate for all schools is attached to the Local Authority of MEB; the district of Çankaya within Ankara city.
Curricula are specified for each subject area and each level, from Kindergarten to Grade 12. These are contained in special books published by the Ministry and change on a regular basis as national requirements are updated or re-thought. High schools in Turkey cover Grades 9 to 12. Grade 12 is a recent addition to the school system as previously, up to the 2006-7 academic year, students graduated in Grade 11. The first Grade 12 graduating class was at the end of the 2008-9 academic year. Students have approximately 42 contact periods (40 minutes each) per week over 180 days per year. The number of hours may vary according to program and grade year.
Teachers can choose extra resources for their subject teaching in addition to official textbooks. At the beginning of every academic year teachers are required to draw up a yearly plan which takes the curriculum as specified by the Ministry and puts it into a teaching plan over the whole academic year. This plan is then submitted to the Principal of the school for approval; this then forms the basis of the teachers programme over the year and their assessment schedule. In the English department, for example, where several teachers may be teaching the same level, these plans can be worked on together and shared by those staff members.
The International Baccalaureate has diversified practice in this respect and a challenge has been to integrate the objectives of the national curriculum into the IB programmes that the school offers. This has been successfully done and has resulted in a synergy in which the strengths of both curricula have contributed to the learning programme.
The grade 9 curriculum covers Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Turkish, English, Social Studies, Sports and a choice of 1 elective subject from Music, Art, Computing, Psychology or any of the aforementioned main subjects. All students are required to take these courses and performance will be a deciding factor in which areas they specialise in Grades 10 to 12.
At the end of Grade 9 students need to decide which areas they wish to specialise in. This is an important decision for students and families as it determines, to a large extent, those faculties that students will be able to apply to for their university studies. The four major choices available are: Science and Mathematics; Turkish and Mathematics; Turkish and Social Studies; Languages. The Science and Mathematics option is considered by many to be the most desirable section to be in as this opens up potential study in medical and engineering faculties.
The Özel Bilkent High School currently has programs mainly in Science and Mathematics, or Turkish and Mathematics, both of which offer the widest access to desirable career destinations. In the past, however, some candidates have taken the other two options and the school is obliged to run these, if there are enough students wishing to present these subject areas at the university exam.
Students in the high school also have the option to study the IB DP programme. Students who are interested in the IB DP have to accomplish the requirements for the program. Grade 10 is a pre-IB programme for those students who are candidates for the full programme in Grades 11 and 12. The Language of instruction in the non-IB classes is Turkish; in the IB classes (except Language A Literature in year 11 and 12 in the IB programme) it is English.
The chosen field of study determines the subjects studied. The Science and Mathematics stream focuses mainly on Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, along with Turkish and English. They also have elective choices which are similar to those in Grade 9. The Turkish and Mathematics stream studies Turkish Literature and Language, Social Studies (Geography and History), Psychology, along with English and another foreign language (French or German). Again students have a choice of elective courses, too.