Malta Public schools are fully funded offering free education to expat children. Whilst children can enter the education system from the age of 3 years, it is not compulsory until the ages of 5-16. There are four stages to state schools, plus childcare centres for children aged 3 and under.
Maltese Education System
Whilst it is not compulsory for children to enter school the age of 3, it is beneficial for them to interact with peers and to become familiar with education from an early age. Unlike compulsory school age education, there is no formal curriculum for children aged under 3. Whilst the education system shares some similarities with schooling in England, there are some differences that it would help to become familiar with before enrolling your child in school.
The Four Stages of Malta Public Schools
Education in Malta can be divided into five stages. These are:
- Early Childhood Education (Kindergarden). This is for children aged 3-5. It is not compulsory but offers children the opportunity to mix with children of his/her own age.
- Primary Education. For children aged 5-11, children are taught core subjects such are social studies, religion, maths, English and Maltese. If you do not wish for your child to participate in religious learning, international parents have the option to excuse their children from these classes.
Upon completion of primary education, children will sit a standard national examination. The results of this examination will help determine which secondary school the child will attend.
- Lower Secondary Education. For children aged 11-16. Here, students will learn an array of subjects and will be given a fundamental education. In the later years of lower secondary, students are able to choose certain specialisations to study more in depth. Upon completion of lower secondary education, students will sit examinations, much like in England. Successful completion of these examinations will result in the child being awarded a Secondary Education Certificate (SEC).
- Upper Secondary Education (Sixth Form). Children aged 16-18 can continue in education in specific subjects that they have chosen. Successful completion of upper secondary education awards the child a Matriculation Secondary Education Certificate.
- Vocational Education. For children aged 16-20. Children may opt to pursue a number of vocational courses, learning a trade or developing personal skills.
Like in England, children of compulsory school age in Malta public schools are required to follow a national curriculum. English is an official language in Malta so many lessons will be conducted and taught in English. However, a number the wide range of subjects that make up the national curriculum are taught in Maltese.
Schools within the country are grouped into 10 colleges. Each college is responsible for a number of primary and secondary schools in various localities. For example, St. Margarets College serves the following regions: Cospicia, Kalkara, Senglea, Vittoriosa, Xghajra and Zabbar. There are seven primary and three secondary schools under this college.
Enrolling your Child
To enrol your child in a Maltese school, parents need to contact the local council in their region to ascertain availability within the schools and to register their child. In order to register, identification documents are required. These include a birth certificate, immunisation records, parents’ identification documentation and proof of address and residence.
Choosing from Malta Public Schools
Some regions will have more than one primary school, giving you the option of choosing the setting you feel best suits the needs of your child. Considerations when choosing a primary school may include teacher to pupil ratios, class sizes, and the school’s performances in previous examinations. You can contact your local council for a list of the best performing schools in your area.
If your child performs well in their end of primary examinations, they will have the offer of attending a junior lyceum. These are regarded as more prestigious than other state secondary schools. Students who do not perform as well will attend a secondary school in their area. Whilst primary schools are coeducational, secondary schools are single sex.
Transportation, exercise books, educational materials and textbooks are funded by the state, however, compulsory uniforms must be purchased by parents.