As a former British colony, Malta’s education system takes its cue from its former parent country and will be familiar to many expats. Malta's education system consists of the public and private sectors. School is compulsory for children between the ages of five and 16.
Expat parents who want their children to continue with a globally recognised curriculum will be pleased to find that Malta has plenty of international schools.
Public schools in Malta
Public education in Malta runs from kindergarten to primary, secondary and high school. Although state schools are free, including transport and textbooks, parents are responsible for buying their children’s uniforms.
The language of instruction in public schools is Maltese, except for English lessons, so older children may have difficulty adjusting. That said, this may be a fantastic opportunity for cultural assimilation for expat families looking to stay in Malta long-term, especially if the children are young enough to grasp a new language.
Private schools in Malta
Private schools in Malta are either affiliated with the Catholic Church or are independent. But, they are all overseen by the Ministry for Education and, like state schools, offer the national curriculum. They typically use English as the language of instruction, which gives expat families an alternative to the Maltese-language state schools.
Independent schools are considered better than state schools, and while the quality of the education is high, so are the costs. Tuition fees are far from cheap, and additional expenses, such as study materials and transport, are not included in the tuition.
By arrangement with the government, church schools in Malta do not charge tuition. However, parents are obligated to pay a set annual donation, although this is still far below the cost of private schools.
Spaces are limited, and students' eligibility for enrolment is through a lottery system. These institutions are usually same-sex schools.
Families aren't required to follow the school's religion to gain admission, but it is generally expected of children to attend a religious education class. It's possible to obtain permission for the child to opt-out of these classes, though.
International schools in Malta
Several English-language international schools cater for expat students in Malta, and they teach a range of curricula, including the International Baccalaureate and the US and UK syllabi. These education systems are widely offered around the globe in international schools, with the main advantage being an easier transition between schools.
International schools often have high standards, qualified teachers and excellent facilities, but expats naturally have to pay for this privilege. Fees can be exorbitant, and expat parents moving to Malta for work should negotiate for international school fees to be subsidised in their relocation package.
Special-educational needs in Malta
The Maltese government operates on a principle of inclusion concerning students with special education needs. The island has four Resource Centres which were once known as Special Schools. The name change reflects a change in focus – where these institutions once operated separately from mainstream schools. Today, they run as support services for special-needs students attending mainstream schools.
Services offered include providing specialised support for Autism Spectrum Disorder, specialist teachers for children with hearing or visual impairments and running early intervention services.
Tutors in Malta
There isn't much of a tutoring culture in Malta yet, so options are limited. There are a few online tutor directories, such as LearnD, as well as specialised companies like Online Tutoring Malta. Some tutors also 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 should confirm the details of the lessons before hiring a tutor.