A former British colony, the system of education in Malta takes its cue from its former parent country and will be familiar to many expats. The education system is divided into public and private sectors. Expat parents who want their children to continue with a globally recognised curriculum will be pleased to know there are a number of international schools in Malta.
School is compulsory for children between the ages of five and 16 years old, and the education system is divided into public and private sectors.
Public schools in Malta
In Malta, a child’s education is split between kindergarten, primary school, secondary school and high school. Although state education is free, including transport and textbooks, parents are responsible for buying their children’s uniforms.
Except for English lessons, the language of instruction in state schools is Maltese, so older expat students may have difficulty adjusting. However, families in Malta for the long haul may find this a useful method of integration, particularly if children are still young enough to pick up a new language relatively easily.
Private schools in Malta
Private schools in Malta are either affiliated with the Catholic Church or independent, but all of them are overseen by the Ministry for Education and, like state schools, offer the national curriculum. They typically use English as their language of instruction, which gives expat families an alternative to Maltese-language state schools.
English is used as the language of instruction in independent schools, making them much more expat friendly. They follow the same curriculum as state schools, but are considered to offer a better education. However, while the quality of independent education is high, so are the costs. Tuition fees are far from cheap and additional costs such as study materials and transport aren't included.
By arrangement with the government, church schools in Malta do not charge tuition. However, parents are obligated to pay an annual donation of a specified amount, although this is still far below the cost of private schools.
Spaces are limited and children are often enrolled through a lottery system. These institutions are usually same-sex schools.
Families aren't required to follow the school's religion to be admitted, but children are generally expected to attend a religion-education class. It is possible to obtain permission for the child to opt out of these classes, though.
International schools in Malta
There are several international schools that cater to foreign students in Malta. All teach in English and offer a range of curricula including that of the International Baccalaureate, the US and the UK. These education systems are widely offered around the globe in international schools, with one of the main advantages being an easier transition between schools.
International schools usually have high standards, highly qualified teachers and excellent facilities, but expats will naturally have to pay for this privilege. Fees can be exorbitant, and expat parents moving to Malta for work are advised to bring international school fees into their relocation negotiation as a possible benefit.
Special-educational needs in Malta
The Maltese government operates on a principle of inclusion when it comes to students with special educational needs. There are four Resource Centres on the island, once known as Special Schools. The name change reflects a change in focus – where once these institutions were run separately from mainstream schools, today they largely operate as support services for special-needs students attending mainstream schools.
Services offered include providing teachers for children with hearing or visual impairments, offering specialised support for Autism Spectrum Disorder and running early intervention services.
Tutors in Malta
There isn't a major tutoring culture in Malta as yet, so options are limited as the industry is still developing. There are a few online directories of tutors in Malta, such as LearnD, as well as specialised companies like Online Tutoring Malta. Some tutors advertise their services in Facebook groups.
Parents should be aware that some tutors hold classes of 10 or more students rather than one-on-one lessons. This is less than ideal for a child who needs individual attention. Concerned parents are advised to find out details regarding the nature of lessons before deciding to hire a particular tutor.
►For more on taking care of your expat family, see Healthcare in Malta
Are you an expat living in Malta?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Malta. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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