The school day in Cyprus
As with many warmer countries, schools in Cyprus begin their days fairly early. This is typically between 7.30am and 8am, depending on the school. They then end the day at lunchtime (usually around 1.15pm at primary level, a little later for secondary schools). There are a couple of recesses during the mornings. During these, children can play outside and eat a snack, if they have brought one. But they mostly go home for lunch. Cypriots tend to eat at around 2pm, followed by a siesta.
This doesn’t mean that school children have the rest of the day to themselves, however. Teachers give extensive homework at most schools. This starts with the very youngest children who must do up to an hour of language and maths work each day. By secondary level students have to do at least two hours of homework each day. In some schools, much of it is ‘busywork’ – long pages of examples of the day’s lessons to be done alone.
Children at schools in Cyprus mostly work at the same level within a class. If they do not achieve the expected grades through the year, they can be kept back to repeat a class with younger children. This is very different from the British system where children stay with their peers and work in ability groups or streams within a class.
All the schools in Cyprus have a compulsory school uniform, which is nearly always either black and white, or navy blue and white. Children usually have to wear tracksuits in grey for sports during the winter. Girls can usually wear trousers as an alternative to skirts, but each school will have its own requirements. Parents can buy school uniform at most standard children’s clothing shops, and some supermarkets, particularly during the Summer.
There are a few special schools in Cyprus for those with disabilities. However there is not the wide variety that you can find in Western European countries. There is a school for the deaf in Nicosia, for instance. But as far as possible deaf children integrate into ordinary classrooms at secondary level. There is also a school for the blind in Nicosia, and ‘New Hope School‘ for children with general learning disabilities.
Unfortunately, there is not much provision for children with special needs in other areas of Cyprus. Here is the official Cyprus policy on education for those with special needs.
Education in the Arts
Despite a wonderful heritage of theatre, art, dance and music, these subjects are barely touched upon in the state schools. Instead they tend to focus more on academics.
Although there are no full-time schools devoted to the Arts, there are many small institutes. These are, confusingly, called schools (or ‘odeons’) and provide teaching in music. This is mainly voice, piano, guitar and violin. Many of these teach students for British music exams in RSM or Trinity/Guildhall. You can find them in residential areas in most of the cities.
Teaching in brass or woodwind instruments is less common, although the Larnaka Municipal Band has a training school for these instruments. It’s also sometimes possible to find a private teacher. As with many things in Cyprus, word of mouth and personal recommendations are best. Costs of music lessons in Cyprus are often less than in the UK. Currently they range from about €15 per hour up to around €25 per hour or more.
There are schools for dancing of various types. There are also a small number of theatre/drama schools. We were very impressed with the drama teaching of children and teenagers is at Little Muse Theatre (formerly part of Antidote), in Larnaka. Sometimes you can find art classes at weekends, too. You will need to check the local papers, or adverts in the supermarkets to find what is available. Or ask your neighbours and friends.
Tertiary education in Cyprus
There is an official University of Cyprus, and several other colleges offering tertiary education to Cypriots and foreigners. Most of the courses are in business studies or information technology of some kind, and the quality is variable. Students other than Europeans are not permitted to be employed in paid work alongside their studies, despite what they may be told in their home countries. Europeans are allowed to work, but unless they are fluent in Greek as well as English it’s not very easy to find a job, and the pay tends to be very low.