Cyprus has state-sponsored education as well as private and international schools. The public and private systems are both open and accessible to expats, and parents usually decide according to their expectations surrounding cost, language and curriculum.
Education in Cyprus is mandatory for all children aged 5 to 15, and is separated into primary school, gymnasium and lyceum – secondary school is composed of the latter two levels.
Public schools in Cyprus
State-school standards are inconsistent and expats generally describe the system as 'hit or miss'. That said, it is certainly possible to find good public schools on the island.
Many expat parents find that the main drawback to sending their children to state schools in Cyprus is the language barrier. Younger children have the ability to adapt quickly, but older kids – and parents themselves – often struggle to succeed and communicate fluently.
That said, those who intend to stay for the long-term often prefer their children being immersed in Cypriot culture.
There is no fee for expat children to attend state schools in Cyprus.
Private and international schools in Cyprus
Most expats living in Cyprus, especially those whose first language is English, send their children to private international schools. The most obvious benefit of these institutions is that children will be surrounded by others who speak their language, and will often have a better selection of extra-curricular activities to take part in.
Private schools are present in all of the country's larger cities (Paphos, Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca), but the curriculum taught and the standard upheld in each of the institutions vary considerably.
Private schools in Cyprus can be costly, with tuition depending on the age of the child and the requirements of the school. Parents should also anticipate supplementary costs such as registration and enrolment fees, books, uniforms, lunch and school bus expenses.
Special needs education in Cyprus
In Cyprus, special education policies favour inclusion and integration into mainstream schools as far as possible. The goal is for special needs students to attend mainstream classes, following the same curriculum as the other students with accommodations being made for their needs. If more support is required, special needs students may receive part-time or full-time tuition in a separate unit within a mainstream school, where classes are limited to few students. If neither of these options is suitable, students may attend a dedicated special school.
Tutors in Cyprus
Tutors can be highly useful for new arrivals to Cyprus, particularly those whose children need to adapt to a new curriculum or language.
Expat parents with older children often employ tutors to help with exam preparation. The Cyprus school-leaving certificate does not always equate to certain levels of testing in the UK and the US, and students who wish to attend tertiary schools in these countries may need to sit for additional exams.