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Greek Education in Britain 

Brief History

The first known Greek who arrived in Britain and wrote about his discoveries was Pytheas in the 4th century BC, followed  two centuries later by Poseidonios Stoikos, who was the second famous Greek explorer of Celtic Britain. The later arrived in England in his search for the originating country from which the zinc was arriving in the Mediterranean. Many years later Aristovoulos the Cypriot at the beginning of the 1st century AD was sent to Britain to preach Christianity and the Gospel.


wpe1.jpg (8059 bytes) PYTHEAS
The first know Greek to visit the British Isles and write about his discoveries was PYTHEAS from Marseilles who arrived in Britain in 325 B.C. This courageous seaman was a well known astronomer, mathematician and a geographer at his time. He was send by the Authorities of Marseilles in charge of an expedition to visit those countries which were often visited by Phoenician merchants  and from which they were supplied with tin, but were keeping the source of their supplies secret.  During his travels to a number of northern European countries he landed at Scotland and from there he walked with his team the whole of Britain up to Canterbury, from where they sailed for Marseilles. The findings  of his journeys Pytheas wrote in GHS PERIODOS  and  TA PERI WKEANOU.
During the Roman rule many Greeks were serving in Britain at various posts (doctors, priests, etc.) under the Romans. Thereafter many Greeks arrived in Britain as merchants and seamen.
aristovoulos.GIF (59560 bytes) ARISTOVOULOS THE CYPRIOT
St. Aristovoulos the Cypriot, brother of St. Barnabas (founder of the Church of Cyprus) and of Maria (wife of St. Peter) was a student of St. Paul. In the 1st century AD he was ordained by him as Bishop of Britain where he was the first to preach Christianity. Finally Aristovoulos became a martyr of Christianity since he was tortured to death by "wild men". However the many followers he brought with him were able to carry on his apostolic work. Therefore Aristovoulos may be considered as the founder of Christianity in England.

The first Greek School in Britain - Oxford c.1690

During the Roman and Byzantine periods many Greeks came to Britain mainly for education in the famous British schools but also as missionaries of Christianity. In 669 AD the Greek Theodoros from Tarsos, was appointed the Head of the Anglican Church as Archbishop of Canterbury. He is considered as one of the most influential figures of the the English history. He built churches and monasteries, he founded the first library and established the Greek, Latin and Theological studies in England. In 1399 AD the emperor of Byzantium Manouel II Palaeologos (1391-1425) arrived in London to ask for British assistance against the emerging ottoman danger. Approximately fifty years later, after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, a vast number of intellectuals, engineers, scientists and merchants arrived in the Western Europe, looking for a new life. Some of the grandsons of Constantinos Palaeologos, Georgios Ermonymos, the author Niandros Noukios and strategos Thomas Argeios with his soldiers arrived in England.

But it was nearly two and a half centuries later when at the end of the 17th century Dr. D. Woodroffe attempted to establish a Greek School at Oxford or more precisely a school for Greeks at Oxford. But the life of the school was very short since Catholic priests accused the Greek School as heretics, and many were abducted and transported to Rome for trial. They were set free only after the intervention of the British diplomats in Italy.

The first 19th century Greek Schools in Britain

The Greeks of the 19th century who lived in London and in Manchester attempted to organise the first daily Greek School. Finally they succeeded and the school started running in 1870  with Ioannis Valetta as its headmaster. However the school closed fourteen years later due to lack of funds but also due to the reluctance of the parents to send their children to a Greek School which, as they believed, would isolate them from the British society.

A second attempt for a full time Greek School was made only a century later when in 1981 the Greek College was founded at Knightsbridge in London, with the financial help of the abdicated king of Greece Constantine and some of his well off Greek supporters living in Britain. This College initially had eight students (King Constantine's three children and five other children) in the church hall of St. Andreas of Kentish Town in North London. But its life as a recognised school by the Greek Ministry of Education was short (1982-1983) since the Greek Government in 1983 terminated its recognition and the provision of Greek teachers. However the school is kept open but as a private institution rather than as public school. In response the Socialist Greek Government founded a new Greek Daily School, based on the Greek Educational system.


Part Time Greek Schools

In parallel to the attempts for a full time daily Greek school, the Greek communities in Britain felt the need for part time Greek Education, especially as the number of children of Greek origin was increasing. This resulted over the years in the formation and the running of part time Greek schools. These schools were organised either by the various Committees of the Greek Orthodox Church or by Parents Associations which were formed with the aim to set up, administer and run the part time Greek Schools. The lessons of these part time Greek schools usually take place once or twice a week and last for two hours (18.00-20.00.) during the week days and three hours during Saturday morning (10.00 - 13.00) or afternoon (14.00 - 17.00). Church halls and auxiliary church buildings, or English School buildings hired from the Local Authorities are used as classrooms for Greek teaching during these hours.

Children of  ages 5 to 17 or 18 attend the Greek lessons. The main lessons of the curriculum are: Greek language (speaking, reading, writing and comprehension), Religious Education, Greek History, Geography and Culture, Greek Music, singing, acting and Greek dancing. Once the children have successfully completed the first six years, they then proceed to the GCSE classes which last for two further years. After taking their GCSE examination children are encouraged to continue a further three year preparation for their A Level exams in Greek. The majority of the children choose willingly this option.

Both the Greek and the Cypriot Governments contribute to the Greek part time education in the United Kingdom by providing  books and other teaching material as well as teachers from Greece and Cyprus. Both Governments have since the 1980s established educational missions in London resourced by qualified teachers who teach in the Part Time schools. To cover the teaching needs of the Part Time Greek schools additional part time teachers are employed from the Local Community

Approximately 300 part time Greek schools work in Britain today and these are almost totally funded by the Greek Community with substantial help from Cyprus and Greece..

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