Primary and Secondary Schools
The Education Psychosocial Services Section, under the remit of Student Services Department (SSD), provides the academic/career guidance and psychological support services offered by the education authorities. This section is run by a Service Manager who is employed on a definite three-year performance contract basis. They may be requested to work a six-day week with an overall average working time of forty hours according to a timetable as drawn up by the Director General DES. Service in the post of Service Manager is still considered as years of service/experience in the teaching grades and as such, retain the right to apply for posts in higher positions as a result of their progression in the teaching stream. The Education Psychosocial Services encompasses six services:
- Career Guidance and Counselling Services offering advice about choice of subjects/courses for future careers as well as personal guidance and counselling and referrals as necessary to students. It also organises parental skills courses.
- The Safe School Programme incorporating Child Safety Services, Anti-substance Abuse and Anti-bullying Section,
- The School Psychological Services promotes a healthy psychological environment that facilitates the learning and development of children and the provision of an effective therapeutic service as and when required.
- The School Social Work Section provides an effective social work service to all students of compulsory school attendance age in support of their educational and personal growth, working within the students’ education, family and social environment.
- Għożża Service (Cherish) provides a support service and an educational programme to unmarried pregnant minors. The Unit helps them to adopt a positive attitude towards motherhood while empowering them to pursue their career path.
- Educational Medical Services promotes an efficient health-promoting lifestyle and environment in the educational system and responding to student and staff medical needs in educational institutions; and facilitating primary and secondary prevention of disease and disability.
Staff working in the above sections, except the career/guidance teachers working in schools, are based at the SSD. Teachers interested in working in career/guidance units in schools, at the Safe Schools Programme and Għożża Service must be in possession of a Permanent Teacher’s Warrant and need to have at least five years’ teaching experience in order to be eligible to apply for such posts. Selection is by means of an interview after which a result will be published ranking the applicants in order of merit. There are no specific training requirements but specialised qualifications in the field they are applying for will be given due consideration during the selection process. Similarly work experience in the area applied for is considered an asset. Teachers appointed to such posts are obliged to serve for three years except for situations deemed by the Director General DES as special circumstances. Teachers working as career/guidance teachers in secondary schools have a maximum teaching load of fourteen lessons (including two lessons as replacements) to be able to carry out these duties. One guidance teacher is assigned for every 300 students. Teachers serving at the Safe Schools Programme and Għożża Service do not have a fixed teaching load at any one particular school but visit schools on a roster basis to disseminate information to students and also deliver after-school Professional Development Sessions to teachers. Teachers working at the Safe Schools Programme and Għożża Service enjoy general teacher conditions.
The Career Guidance and Counselling Services Unit is managed by a team of school counsellors who are attached to one or more colleges, providing guidance and counselling services to primary and secondary schools in the College. With the recent diversification of the Student Services into two separate fields, counselling and career guidance, school counsellors are deployed into either of the two fields according to their qualifications. New posts were also created and these include College Counsellors, Counsellors and Trainee Counsellors, College Career Advisors, Career Advisors and Trainee Career Advisors who work a forty-hour week and are assigned duties in primary and secondary schools by the Director General DES. In order to apply for the post of a College or School Counsellor applicants must in possession of a first Degree in one of the areas of education, social work, youth work, psychology or any related field, and also be in possession of a postgraduate Diploma or Master’s Degree or higher academic qualification in Counselling. The recent reform process extended and reinforced the counselling and guidance services at primary level including children at Kindergarten if necessary. Trainee Counsellors are also being allocated to primary schools in order to establish a team of professionals specialising in this area. School Counsellors work in close collaboration with the guidance teachers of the schools. They are assigned to advise the Head of School and teaching staff on how to handle and cope with students coming to school from challenging backgrounds. The working hours of School Counsellors are also subject to the general teacher working conditions. Service in the post of School Counsellor also serves as teaching work experience and this entitles School Counsellors to apply to fill vacancies in higher grades or positions as a result of their progression in the teaching stream.
Educational psychologists, social workers and doctors and nurses are employed following a public call for applications and a selective interview. These work a forty-hour week as other civil servants.
Career Guidance and Counselling services at G. Curmi Higher Secondary School in Malta and Sir M. Refalo Higher Secondary School in Gozo are provided by the Guidance and Counselling Units within these two post-secondary educational institutions. The units facilitate the students’ study pathway by providing support and skills to help them handle stress associated with their studies, intra- and inter-personal relationships with friends and family, self-esteem issues, substance abuse and road safety. Individual or group discussions are held according to students’ needs. Students are also guided about the best choice of subjects/courses for their future careers. The Learning Support Services also form part of this unit with the prime goal of supporting students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, such as the provision of special arrangements for the school and Matriculation and Secondary Education Certificate (MATSEC) examinations. The Guidance and Counselling Unit coordinates with entities such as the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC), Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) and the University of Malta in order to provide advice regarding job opportunities and requirements in Malta and abroad. The guidance and counselling staff working in this unit are teachers who have a reduced teaching load in order to carry out these extra duties.
The Junior College, a state post-secondary educational institution falling under the responsibility of the University of Malta, provides guidance and counselling services by the Guidance and Counselling Unit based at the institution. It also provides skills to help students cope with their studies as well as any social and economic problems they might be facing through individual and/or group sessions. This unit also includes the services of student advisors from the University of Malta. The normal working hours of guidance and counselling staff are usually between 08.00hrs and 17.00hrs but additional staff may be employed on an indefinite contract basis depending on the exigencies of the unit.