Secondary school pupils will no longer be held back a year due to low performance, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said on Wednesday after the cabinet approved his ministry’s proposals.
Measures were also approved to combat bullying and delinquency at school.
“From now on, pupils will be promoted according to what their scores are, meaning they will be promoted regardless of performance,” he said, noting that the issue only affects a few dozen of pupils each year, out of a total of 23,000.
Prodromou explained that the purpose of this amendment is to avoid the mental pressure falling on the specific pupils which could lead to more pressure from their families and them eventually dropping out of school.
He also argued that the educational benefits of repeating a class are debatable and negligible, while the time dedicated to the re-enrolment procedures could instead be dedicated to creating a more structured lesson timeline, or making space for skills workshops covering subjects like social and digital skills, financial literacy and sex education.
However, pupils will still be held back if they accumulate too many absences, the minister stressed.
The cabinet also approved increased measures in the ministry’s anti-delinquency and anti-bullying strategies.
Prodromou said that his ministry has been in talks with teaching unions Oelmek and Oltek, parent associations and the headteachers association, collecting suggestions and ideas on combating the two phenomena in schools.
“Taking into consideration the views and suggestions that were submitted, in combination with the ministry’s policies, it was decided that some extra measures would be taken,” he said.
The new policies would see increased security in school buildings to prevent outside influences, and special training given to form teachers in both primary and secondary schools so that they are able to spot and address incidents of bullying.
This would also help them become more alert to changes in their pupils’ behaviour and thus prevent, as well as stop, any incidents, the minister explained.
At the same time, pastoral care in schools will be improved to offer more effective psychological support with direct links to the ministry’s services.
“Teachers should not be expected to handle any cases on their own, especially if they involve common criminal law offences, and the state should support them against any threats,” Prodromou stressed.