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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of general upper secondary education


6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.4Organisation of general upper secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Types of institutions

General upper secondary education is provided by the Lyceums (Lykeia). The Lyceum makes up the final three (non-compulsory) years of secondary education. Pupils who graduate from a gymnasium may enroll in a lyceum.

The education reform has resulted in structural changes in upper secondary education have taken place through the Educational Reform. The Eniaio Lykeio and the Technical Schools – have been replaced by two new types of school, namely the General Lyceum (Geniko Lykeio) and the Technological Lyceum (Tehnologiko Lykeio) respectively. 

The Lyceum offers a study program which is subdivided into common core subjects, optional stream (specialization) subjects elective, specialization and subjects of special interest and/or enrichment. Both specialization subjects and subjects of special interest are only offered in the second and third grades of the Lyceum. Specialization subjects are offered for 16 weekly periods in grade B and 16 weekly periods in grade C where students follow one of the six options they choose. Subjects of special interest are offered for 4 and 2 weekly periods in grades B and C respectively. Pupils in grade A follow a common core curriculum and they can choose 2 courses of 2 hours each of the four (4) Group Course Streams (Specialization) that are available. There are syllabuses for every subject, which consist of goals and subject matter and specify which teaching methods and materials should be used.    

Geographical accessibility

Lyceums operate in urban, suburban and large rural communities. Because of the small size of Cyprus, no schools are considered as ‘remote’, therefore, there is no need for special provisions such as flexible hours. However, students from rural areas who are transported from their village to school are entitled to a subsidy.

Admission requirements and choice of school

The only prerequisite to enter a lyceum is the school-leaving certificate from a gymnasium and pupils are required to attend the nearest school to their home where exceptions can be made by the Ministry of Education and Culture, usually for reasons of special needs.

Age levels and grouping of pupils

Lyceums are attended by 15-to 18- year old students. Pupils are grouped together with other children of the same age (except a pupil has repeated a year) disregarding their level of aptitude and knowledge.

There are three grades in lyceums and a maximum class size of twenty-five pupils, which is reduced to twenty for laboratory-based and practical sessions. Since teachers are specialists in their own field of study and teaching is structured by discipline, a number of teachers are assigned to teach in each class. There are no regulations concerning the number of years a teacher may teach the same pupils, but ministry recommendations are that this should not be for more than two academic years.

Organization of the school year

As in the case of all public schools, the school calendar and weekly and daily timetables for the lyceums are determined by the Ministry of Education and Culture and approved by the Council of Ministers.

The school year starts on 1 September and ends on 31 August. School work starts on 1 September and ends on 30 June. Lessons begin within the first ten days of September and end within the last ten days of May, with the exact dates set annually by the Minister of Education.

According to Amending Regulations (ΚΔΠ 338/2010) applied from 2010/11, the school year is divided into two four-month terms, as follows:

The First term is from the beginning of the to January 20 and the second term is from January 23 to the end of the year.

The two days between the two terms, called Teachers’ Days, are used by schools for in-service training and planning purposes. Pupils do not attend school on these two days. 

During the teaching year schools are closed for two weeks at Christmas, for two weeks at Easter, with an additional eleven days when as schools are closed for public, national or religious holidays.As this pattern for the organization of the school year is fixed, the annual number of days on which lyceums operate is always the same - approximately 152 working days.

There are a number of days when teachers are working but not teaching, which are used for preparation purposes and for examinations. These are either at the beginning of the academic year or before and after the final examination period (June).

Organization of the school day and week

At the Lyceum, classes take place on a five-day week, from Monday to Friday. The school day starts at 7.30 and finishes at 13.35 and there is no out-of-hours provision, either before or after school. There are seven 45-minute periods every day with three breaks totaling up to fifty minutes in the Lyceum. School premises are used for one single group of pupils a day.

The establishment of a new system of school type in upper secondary education provides for a new system of organization of the school day and week. The proposed timetables provide for the replacement of the 45-minute periods will be replaced by twenty 80-minute periods per week.