Compulsory through age sixteen, formal education in Malta is provided by the State, the Church or the private sector. However, many opt to send their kids in independent schools for a number of reasons. From enjoying a more individualised attention to offering a variety of activities and boasting a number of facilities that may include but are not limited to sports and theatrical facilities, an auditorium, art rooms and music halls, it comes as no surprise that they are sought after despite the hefty fees.
Why are private schools popular?
Private schools across the island are independent, co-educational and mixed ability institutions that accept students aged 3 to 16, though some may even have nursery facilities and therefore accept infants aged a few months and up. As a result, children are educated at Kindergarten, Primary, Middle and Senior School levels, eventually preparing them for the local examinations known as MATSEC and any other British based examinations. In addition, as Malta is increasingly attracting more and more foreigners, a number of international schools have also opened their doors. These are typically accredited by foreign institutions such as the US Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) and others.
Generally speaking, lessons in all independent schools are carried out in the English language - except for Maltese classes - rendering these educational institutions highly appealing to English speakers, mainly foreigners. In addition, other reasons that have made them popular include quality education that facilitates the development of pupils' intellectual, physical, emotional, cultural and social welfare and a strong focus on general life-long education as opposed to focusing exclusively on formal qualifications.
Additional activities and after-school programme
However, what truly sets private schools apart is the additional activities on offer. After school activities are available for pupils as young as 3 years of age who have just commenced their schooling right up to children attending senior school. Some of these activities include, but are not limited to gymnastics, drama, art and crafts, music classes and a series of sports activities amongst which include handball, football, cricket, yoga for kids, athletics, as well as martial arts like taekwondo. Other activities include computer programming based STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities, while a few schools also provide catechism classes in preparation for Holy Communion and Confirmation.
As more and more parents are now in employment, many require an after-school care service whereby the kids are left at school for longer, following school dismissal hours. One such service is the Klabb 3-16 offered at all independent schools. The service is available from Monday to Friday till 18.00 and parents can book the number of hours needed. During the Club, children do supervised homework and take part in educational fun activities.
Other interesting activities offered by these schools are live-ins. During these events, teachers and students live together and plan a series of fun and interesting activities carried out during their stay there.
Why let your kids' summer go to waste when they can enjoy it to the max with a series of fun and educational activities? All independent schools offer a summer programme that runs from July till mid-September for those who would like to send their kids. Available for children between 2 and 12 years of age, summer school is operated by qualified teachers and assistants who can help your children rekindle their interest in learning, develop new skills and avoid the dreaded summer brain drain.
Applications for summer school are usually available just before the scholastic year ends, however, the school will be able to provide you with further information. Note, that a fee is also applicable, whereas any supplementary activities and outings will carry additional costs.
Have a look at these tips on how to choose the right summer school.
Registration and pricing
A private school can be an expensive investment for parents who are interested in offering their kids a more individual approach to learning and the registration process can, at times, be somewhat lengthy. Applications for registration are usually processed on a first-come, first served basis, while they are subject to availability based on whether there are any vacant spots for the entry level you are trying to apply for. As a result, it is common for these schools to have a long waiting list and only a limited number of applicants are eventually accepted. So, if your heart is really set on a specific school, make sure to get in touch or visit it as soon as possible.
Typically, an introductory meeting is held between the parents, child and a school representative, whereby a tour of the school is carried out and any queries can be addressed. Parents are usually asked to bring their child's latest school report to the meeting. The next step usually involves an assessment and selection process, in which case the school assesses the children to determine their ability to cope with the requirements needed for the specific entry level you're applying for. This assessment may consist of tests in Maths, English and in any other topic that the school deems necessary.
Once the child has been selected, enrolment fees must be paid on registration. These usually consist of a registration fee, a school deposit (usually refundable once your child has completed their education at the school) and an entry fee. Although term fees vary from school to school, expect these to be well into the 1000s. In addition, you'll be expected to fork out money for transportation, uniforms, books and stationery and any other activities such as outings.