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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Initial education for teachers working in early childhood and school education


9.Teachers and education staff

9.1Initial education for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Initial teacher education varies according to the educational level at which prospective teachers intend to work. Prospective teachers who intend to teach at primary level receive training particular to this area. Likewise, prospective teachers intending to perform teaching duties at secondary level receive training for teaching students of this age group. At secondary level, teachers can choose to specialise in one of a range of subjects offered by the Faculty of Education  at the University of Malta or the Institute for Education. Prospective teachers can opt for double subject specialisation, , and hence undergo specific pedagogical training in this respect. Training is also provided for teachers to cater for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) both at primary and secondary level. Such training is required by law as laid out in Chapter 327 of the Laws of Malta - the Education Act and has to be followed by all prospective teachers, irrespective of whether they take up teaching in State, Church or Independent schools. In addition, teachers teaching SEN pupils in mainstream or special schools are assisted and supported by Learning Support Educators (LSEs) who are also trained in this area. Teachers working with SEN pupils attending Resource Centres (that is, students whose disability does not allow them to attend mainstream schools) undergo specialised professional training pertaining to the education of SEN students. Teacher education programmes aim to equip prospective teachers with the theoretical knowledge and pedagogical skills required for successful teaching.

The University of Malta offers a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning for those persons who are in possession of a first cycle degree. The Institute for Education offers two part-time teaching courses, the Bachelor of Education (Hons) degree for those with a full MQF Level 4 qualification and the Masters of Education Degree for those who are in possession of a Bachelor Degree.

Persons may also enter the teaching profession, if they are in possession of a Master’s or PhD degree for which they have registered before the 29th July 2008, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria in place at the time when a call for applications is issued. 

There are two programmes of studies provided by MCAST for those persons wishing to work at the pre-primary level. The first one is the Advanced Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development which is recognised at Level 4 of the  Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF), while the second programme leads to the award of the Higher Diploma in Advanced Studies in the Early Years recognised as MQF Level 5. Upon completion of this programme, graduates may proceed to the final year of the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) within the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta.

Following the collective agreement between the Government of Malta and the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) in December 2017, there are three categories of Learning Support Educators: LSE 1, LSE 2 and LSE 3. The former qualify by following a 20-week part-time course given by the Student Services Department. This course leads to the award of a Certificate in Education for Learning Support. On the other hand, to qualify as an LSE 2 one needs to follow a two-year part-time Diploma in Facilitating Inclusive Education offered by the University of Malta or equivalent. A person qualifies as LSE 3 if he/she is in possession of an MQF Level 6 qualification or higher in Inclusive Education. LSEs 1, 2 and 3 can give their services to students ranging from pre-primary to upper secondary level.

 Institutions, level and models of training

The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST)

MCAST is an educational institution providing vocational courses covering Level 1 to 7 of the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF). MCAST has six Institutes as well as a centre in Gozo. It provides universally accessible vocational and professional education and training with an international dimension, responsive to the needs of the individual and the economy on a full-time and part-time basis.

The Institute of Community Services provides the two-year full-time course leading to the Advanced Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development. This MQF Level 4 course is designed to enable students to work in a professional capacity with children in Childcare. Areas of study include Children’s Learning Activities and Play; Diet and Nutrition for Children; Promoting Children’s Development; Psychological Perspectives on Children’s Behaviour; Supporting Children’s Literacy and Numeracy Skills; Safeguarding Children together with other relevant areas. Thus the qualification provides the skills, knowledge and understanding required in an early years’ environment. The Institute also offers a two-year full-time course leading to the Higher Diploma in Advanced Studies in Early Years. This qualification is accredited at Level 5 by the MQF. 

 The University of Malta

The UM provides tertiary education in Malta and is funded by the Government. It has fourteen faculties with each faculty running its own courses. Tertiary education at the UM is open to all post-secondary students, local or foreign, who possess the necessary admission pre-requisites. The UM offers a range of full-time or part-time diploma or degree courses run on the modular or credit system of assessment.

The Faculty of Education at the UM awards the Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning, which is a two-year full time course. All graduates who intend to take up teaching as their profession require this degree or equivalent.

Prospective teachers must choose an area of study from two specified areas: Early Childhood Education (ECEC) and Primary or Secondary Education. 

Masters in Teaching and Learning Course (MTL)

The MTL is a two-year full-time course, run on a full-time and part-time basis, according to the chosen area of study. Students can opt to specialise in Early childhood and primary education, in secondary education, or specific subjects in both Primary and Secondary Education. Students opting for the MTL Secondary Education track choose to specialize in the pedagogy of one or two subjects.

During the two years, students will accumulate theoretical knowledge and practical experience in effectively managing and leading learning in the classroom. The MTL is equivalent to 120 ECTS credits and students have two field placements consisting of 20 ECTS. 40 ECTS are dedicated to Education Studies, 30 ECTS to the dissertation and other 30 ECTS to subject pedagogy specialization.

The field placement consists of a period of observation and teaching in schools. Students are required to conduct a minimum of 210 hours of supervised observations per academic year. Students are also required to take on full teaching responsibilities under supervision for a minimum of 24 scholastic days per year.

Field Placement is made up of three compulsory components:

a. Pedagogical Context Knowledge/Subject Methodology; 

b. Context Knowledge;

c. Block Practicum (this entails the 5-week period of time dedicated to school/class contact during which student-teachers are carrying out teaching duties).

The students are supervised, visited and assessed by a team of examiners appointed by the Faculty of Education.

The Institute for Education (IFE)

The IFE is a Further and Higher Education Institution licenced by National Commission for Further and Higher Education. It provides initial teacher training and professional development that injects 21st century skills and competences into the educators at all levels of leadership and infuse equity and social justice within all programmes. The accredited programmes are flexible and adopt different modes of delivery such as face-to-face lecture, online and blended learning.

The Institute offers a variety of courses ranging from MQF level 4 till MQF Level 7. The Institute for Education (IFE) is committed to the key principles of equity and social justice and strives to enhance accessibility for professional learning for all educators. IFE also invests in life-long learning to cultivate skills and competences which enable individuals to rise to the challenges posed by the ever-changing society. It fosters a philosophy whereby course participants are encouraged to explore their potential independently whilst empowering individuals to achieve personal and collective growth.

As from academic year 2018/2019, the IFE started offering teaching qualifications at Bachelor, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s degree for those who want to pursue a career in teaching or are already teaching and would like to improve their qualifications.

Primary and Secondary Education B.Ed. (Hons) degree course

All qualifications and awards offered by the Institute for Education are run as part-time courses. There are core modules in the Bachelor Degrees, such as psychology, philosophy and sociology of education, classroom management, assessment for learning and inclusive education apart from Teaching Practice, Microteaching, Research Methods and the Dissertation.  The B.Ed. (Hons.) Degree is equivalent to 180 ECTS spread over four years. Students have three field placements consisting of 30 ECTS. The students are supervised, visited and assessed by a team of examiners appointed by the Institute for Education. Students have continuous support of an in-class co-teaching tutor who will act as supporting structure throughout the years of the course.

Master of Education degree course

The Master of Education degree is a three-year part-time course and is offered for eleven different streams including primary, vocational subjects and secondary subjects. It consists of a number of core modules, and a number of modules related to the pedagogy and assessment of the particular subject. The course is equivalent to 90 ECTS. It has been accredited with two exit points: one at Postgraduate Certificate (30 ECTS) and one at Postgraduate Diploma (60 ECTS). Students have two teaching practices of 10 ECTS each during the first and second year of the course. Students have continuous support of an in-class co-teaching tutor who will assist and mentor them throughout the years. 

Admission requirements

Advanced Diploma in Children’s Care Learning and Development offered by MCAST:

Students need to have four SEC/Ordinary Level/SSC&P (MQF Level 3) passes (with passes in English language, Maltese and Mathematics being compulsory or an MCAST Diploma in Sport or MCAST Diploma in Health and Social Care or MCAST Diploma in Performing Arts or MCAST Diploma in Art and Design or equivalent.

Higher Diploma in Advanced Studies in the Early Years offered by MCAST:

Students need to be in possession of two advanced level and two intermediate level passes (2 subjects should be from Mathematics, English or Maltese at advanced or intermediate level). Students need also to be in possession of a pass at SEC/O level in the subject that is not presented at Advanced Level or Intermediate Level or of an MCAST Advanced Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development or equivalent.

Masters in Teaching and Learning (MTL) offered by the University of Malta:

Students choosing the area of Early Childhood and Primary Education shall be in possession of a first cycle degree in Early Childhood Education and Care or a first cycle degree with a main area of study that is a subject directly related to at least one subject taught as part of the Primary Education Curriculum or a first cycle degree with a main area of study in an area related to human/child development or childhood.

Students choosing the secondary track are to be in possession of a first cycle degree with 70 ECTS in the main area of study/s chosen.

Students following the MTL are requested to be in possession of a pass in the Written and Spoken Proficiency Tests in English and in Maltese

Bachelor of Education (Honours) offered by the Institute for Education: 

Students specialising in the primary sector should be in possession of an MQF Level 3 (Grade 1-5) or a recognised comparable qualification in Maltese, English and Mathematics and a minimum of one of the following:

a) An awarded MATSEC Certificate (MQF 4) with an Advanced Level at grade C or better in one of the subjects taught in the primary curriculum or equivalent OR

b) An MQF Level 4 vocational diploma with a minimum of 120 ECTS in Early Childhood Education and Care or equivalent; OR

c) Three subjects at Advanced Level (MQF 4) with two at grade C or better including one of the subjects taught in the primary curriculum and another with a grade D or better. 

Applicants can be considered under the maturity clause if they are 23 years old on the date of application. Due consideration is given to work experiences, knowledge and qualifications.  Applicants are required to sit for an interview where they will be need to present a portfolio including; full details of their career; a document outlining their knowledge development, employment record; certificates; documents; and references. The portfolio has to also include past academic assignments or documents/reports written by the applicant during employment.

Masters of Education (M.Ed) offered by the Institute for Education:

Students opting for the primary track are required to be in possession of an MQF Level 3 (Grade 1-5) in Maltese, English, Mathematics and a Bachelor degree (MQF Level 6 with a minimum 180 ECTS) with 60 ECTS related to one of the subjects being taught in the Primary Curriculum or in an area related to child education and care. In the case where applicants are in possession of a Bachelor Degree not related to a subject taught in the Primary Curriculum and already employed as a supply teacher, the applicant will be asked to attend an interview and submit a portfolio evidencing their work and accomplishments during their teaching experience.

Students opting for the secondary track should be in possession of a An MQF Level 3 (Grade 1-5) in Maltese, English, Mathematics and a Bachelor’s degree (MQF Level 6 with a minimum 180 ECTS) with a minimum of 60 ECTS in the main area of study chosen.

Curriculum, level of specialization and learning outcomes


The curricula for initial teacher education are determined by the University of Malta, the Institute for Education and MCAST respectively. Students must satisfy the general and special course requirements in order to take up a particular teacher training course. A programme of studies is available for each teacher training course for all subjects. This programme includes a detailed list of the names, themes and number of credits of all the study units to be undertaken in each year. An overall description, the mode of assessment and the outcomes/skills to be acquired after the completion of each study unit are also included and clearly specified.

The specific knowledge and skills required to manage mixed groups of pupils (culturally diverse, mixed ability groups and groups of pupils with special educational needs) are included in the compulsory curriculum of prospective teachers. A Master of Education Degree in Inclusion and Educational Needs is also available for those wishing to specialise further in this area.

Once qualified, it is the norm that teachers will teach according to their area and level of specialisation. This means that teachers who read for the MTL, Primary or Secondary Education normally teach children aged 5 to 7 years, 7 to 11 years and 11 to 16 years respectively. Teachers with a PGCE or Postgraduate Diploma by the Institute for Education teach secondary school students only in their subject specialisation unless the Postgraduate Diploma is in Primary Education in the case of the Institute for Education. However, some secondary school teachers may opt to teach primary classes when there are no posts available for them at secondary level. Such graduate teachers usually opt to do the Postgraduate Certificate (primary) with the Institute for Education to become eligible for the position of regular teacher in the Primary Sector.  .Learning Support Educators (LSE’s) are available in class to offer support for students with special needs.

Teacher educators

Teachers in the position of Teacher Educators normally possess qualifications at least at Masters Level but the established procedure is for such teacher educators to be in possession of a Doctoral Degree. In the case of MCAST which specialises in vocational training, due consideration is also given to the amount of work/trade/industrial experience accumulated over the years, though it is the norm that teacher educators at this institution also possess teaching qualifications. Teachers who are not in possession of such a qualification, are offered the opportunity to obtain such a qualification by the availability of evening part-time training courses at the same institution.

Qualifications, evaluation and certificates

To enter the teaching profession, candidates must be professionally qualified and must hold a teacher’s warrant awarded by the Council for the Teaching Profession. To qualify for a warrant, a person must be in possession of:

  • A Bachelor of Education (Hons.) Degree or equivalent;
  • A first degree together with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education or equivalent;
  • A Doctorate, or a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree, together with a teacher training certificate;
  • Or any other professional qualification deemed acceptable by the Council.

Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) must also successfully undergo a two-year Induction and Mentoring Programme during their probation period prior to being awarded a Teacher’s Warrant.

Academic personnel at MCAST who do not possess a professional teaching qualification must complete the Post-Gratuate Certificate, Diploma or Masters Degree in Vocational Education Applied Research.

All courses are based on a credit system and candidates are assessed via a variety of methods including written assignments, individual/group presentations, portfolios, research work as part of their final research project/dissertation as well as written examinations.

Alternative training pathways

In Malta there are no alternative training pathways for teachers except for those offered by the University of Malta and the Institute for Education. Persons holding degrees awarded by foreign universities and which are recognised by the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) and the Council for the Teaching Profession (CTP) in terms of eligibility for a Teacher’s Warrant, can apply for teaching posts.