Launch of new strategy to address early leaving from education and training (ELET)
A new strategy to tackle the issue of ELET was launched on 27th July 2023 by the Early Leaving from Education and Training Unit (ELETU) within the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation.
The strategy aims to reduce the rate of ELET to 9% or lower by 2030, aligning with EU2030 pathways to school success and EU ELET aims. The strategy revolves around three main pillars: prevention, intervention during the educational journey, and compensation: assistance for persons who have finished compulsory schooling with achievement level of up to ISCED2 level (lower secondary education).
Various activities and measures to ensure the strategy's success have been outlined. These include:
• developing a whole school approach to tackle ELET risk factors,
• implementing an early warning system to tackle ELET risk factors,
• addressing students' aspirations to prevent dropouts,
• allocating funds and resources based on educational needs,
• implementing strategies to provide ongoing support during the academic journey,
• creating a second chance at education for those who left school early.
The measures also target an increased effort to work together with all stakeholders, that is children and salient adults within their lives (parents/guardians and educators) and develop opportunities for all within school and the community.
Launch of The National Quality Standards in Education (3-16 years) and A Quality Assurance Framework for Education in Malta (0-16 years)
In July 2023, the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) within the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation, is responsible for the quality assurance of ECEC and compulsory School education launched two documents namely The National Quality Standards in Education (3-16 Years) and A Quality Assurance Framework for Education in Malta (0-16 years).
The National Quality Standards in Education (3-16 Years) define success criteria and quality markers for three sets of standards, namely: Educational Leadership and Management, emphasizing the importance of fostering a shared vision among stakeholders and promoting schools as professional learning communities.
The second set of standards targets Learning and Teaching, highlighting the fulfilment of learners’ educational entitlement as outlined in the National Curriculum Framework.
The third set of standards deal with School Ethos, emphasizing learner support, school climate and culture, and parental engagement.
These standards serve as a guiding framework for schools for both internal and external quality assurance, aiding in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of their school development plans. The standards and criteria have been developed in line with national frameworks, policies, international literature, and good practices observed in schools.
A Quality Assurance Framework for Education in Malta (0-16 years) aims to develop and share a common understanding among stakeholders about what quality assurance in educational institutions entails. It seeks to promote good practices in Quality Assurance as well as inclusive and equitable opportunities for all learners. The Framework supports a systematic monitoring and evaluation system through its evaluative practices, monitoring exercises and constructive feedback. It is meant to inform and guide all educators in their efforts to offer quality education to learners.
School-Based Assessment for Year 9 students from 2023 onwards
From academic year 2022/23, school-based assessment (SBA) was implemented in secondary school. SBA is being implemented with students in Year 9 (that is, the first year of secondary school) in this academic year, extending to Year 10 in 2023/24 and Year 11 in 2024/25.
The SBA is any type of assessment set by the school. There is flexibility of content, format and timing, but must be relevant to the respective Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) or Secondary Education Applied Certificate (SEAC) syllabi. Hence, it contributes to the student’s SEC/SEAC attainment at the end of compulsory schooling. The weighting of the SBA in the SEC/SEAC exam varies by subject (see Table 1 below).
Academic subjects (SEC)
Vocational subjects (SEC)
Vocational subjects (SEAC)
Table 1: Weighting of Coursework and Controlled Assessment in SEC and SEAC Subjects
In academic subjects, the contribution of each secondary school year towards the MATSEC mark is outlined in Table 2 below. Being the first year in which SBA is being implemented at secondary level, SBA will not contribute to the SEC/SEAC attainment of the 2022/23 Year 9 cohort. Subsequent cohorts, starting with Year 9 in 2023/24, will have their global SBA mark based on Years 9, 10 and 11. The SBA mark to be included as part of the SEC/SEAC each scholastic year is identical to the end-of-year assessment mark that students and parents receive and will contribute to students’ Secondary School Certificate and Profiling certification.
For Year 9
For Year 10
For Year 11
Year 9s starting September 2022/23
No Percentage is to be submitted
Year 9s starting September 2023/24 and thereafter
Table 2: Contribution of the SBA towards the MATSEC result of academic subjects, by school year
In vocational subjects, the contribution of each secondary school year towards the MATSEC mark is still under discussion
Launch of the National Quality Assurance Framework for Education in Malta (0-16) and the National Quality Standards in Education (3-16)
In March 2023, the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) the national regulator for pre-compulsory and compulsory education within the Ministry of Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation launched for Public Consultation, the National Quality Assurance Framework for Education in Malta (0-16) as well as the National Quality Standard in Education (3-16).
Language Policy for the Junior Years in Malta and Gozo
The Language Policy for the Junior Years in Malta and Gozo, published in January 2023, promotes the bilingual development in Maltese and English of pupils (7-11 years) in Malta and Gozo. It is intended to provide national guidelines for bilingual education for this age group. It seeks to promote agency where children, parents and educators are empowered to make informed decisions that promote bilingualism at home and within educational settings so that the two settings support and complement one another in children’s linguistic development. It also provides for continual training to parents and Community of Professional Educators (CoPE) Sessions and literacy support to educators. Other initiatives will be promoted through the Language Policy Unit at the National Literacy Agency, with support from language teams within schools.
Revision of A National Inclusive Education Framework and A Policy on Inclusive Education in Schools: Route to Quality Inclusion
In 2022, two steering documents in the field of inclusive education, A National Inclusive Education Framework and A Policy on Inclusive Education in Schools: Route to Quality Inclusion, both of which were published in 2019, were revised. These documents invite schools and education stakeholders to embark on a journey towards the development of high-quality inclusion through implementing, reviewing and committing towards inclusive policies and practices. Thus, providing high-quality education for all learners to embrace social equity and achieve an inclusive society.
A National Inclusive Education Framework provides a clear direction to schools on their journey towards inclusion with a view to provide effective and efficient service to all learners, educators, parents and to the wider community. This framework embraces the principles of Ownership, Diversity, Autonomy, Planning and Research. It addresses inclusion through ten themes: Inclusive and Strategic Leadership; Whole School Development Planning; Whole School Inclusive Environment; Collaboration with parents and community; Individual Education Planning; Teaching and Learning; Learner and Staff; Continuous Professional Development; Positive Behaviour Management; Support Structure and services.
A Policy on Inclusive Education in Schools: Route to Quality Inclusion provides Education stakeholders with a guiding plan towards a more just and holistic education. It among others promotes a collaborative culture where all stakeholders work hand in hand towards the removal of all barriers to learning. This can be achieved by working on various goals related to disability, attendance, gender, promoting a healthy lifestyle and managing behaviour in schools that will address inequalities in schools. The policies Managing Behaviour in Schools Policy and Addressing bullying behaviour in schools were completely rewritten to reflect the current situations in schools and adopt proactive approaches. A working group was set up with different stakeholders working in schools with students exhibiting challenging behaviour and / or bullying. The revised document was published in January 2023.
The two documents are complementary and were developed within the context of the Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024, the National Curriculum Framework for All and the Respect for All Framework. They also draw on several international commitments to the provision of education for all to which Malta is a signatory, namely, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). Furthermore, it was developed in the context of Council Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030), which establishes as its first strategic priority improving quality, equity, inclusion and success for all in education and training. This policy also adopts a whole-school approach philosophy of how schools are to develop conducive learning environments for all stakeholders supporting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Ensure Inclusive and Equitable quality Education and Promote lifelong Learning opportunities for all (UN, 2015). Hence, it offers flexibility to schools to transform existing pedagogical, personal and professional beliefs, attitudes and discourse, as well as re-design processes and practices in a manner that respond effectively to all learners’ needs and social realities.
Restructuring within the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation
In November 2022, following an analysis of its operational structures, the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation announced a renewal and restructuring exercise affecting a number of Departments and Directorates. Such renewal is critical for the public service to continue transforming its operations so that it is more effective in addressing the needs of both its internal and external stakeholders. The former Strategy and Support Department has been redesignated and it now carries the title of People Management Department. This Department will incorporate the areas of human resources, education resources, scholarships, and logistics. The role of this Department will also include the necessary monitoring structures to ensure the attainment of the Ministry’s goal of a holistic people-centred approach. The Examinations Department, the Finance Directorate and the Students’ Maintenance Grants Unit, which were previously part of the Strategy and Support Department, have been re-assigned to the Office of the Permanent Secretary.
In addition, the Education Strategy and Quality Assurance Department has been newly established, incorporating the new Policy Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate, the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education, the International Relations and Programme Implementation Directorate and School Internal Review and Audits Unit.
Furthermore, the Educational Services Department will retain the College Networks and will also encompass the National School Support Services, Transport services and Migrant Learners Unit.
The Curriculum, Lifelong Learning and Employability Department will remain intact, incorporating the Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills, and the Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability Directorate and the Directorate for Learning and Assessment and Programmes (DLAP). DLAP has been split into two entities: the Directorate for Early Years, Languages and Humanities Programmes, and the Directorate for STEM and VET Programmes.
A new laptop for each seventh-year student
As from Scholastic year 2023/24 seventh-year students will receive a free laptop to use throughout secondary school. This was announced in October 2022, as a national Budget 2023 measure. This measure aims to promote digital equity amongst secondary school students. Laptops are considered as an essential tool for learning.
Review of key policy documents in education
July, a committee was set up to review the Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta: 2014-2024 and develop a new Strategic Framework for Education and Training 2030. This committee led to the establishment, in 2022, of the National Curriculum Framework (2012) Review Board and four thematic committees dedicated to key areas: (i) prevention of early leaving from education and training; (ii) lifelong learning; (iii) literacy; and (iv) digitalisation and simplification. The Committee brings together all stakeholders in education (state, church and independent schools; workers’ unions; further and higher education establishments) with a view to improve communication between stakeholders, provide strategic focus and direction, as well as outline the strategic priorities of the National Curriculum Framework.
The National Curriculum Framework Review Board is tasked with reviewing the existing National Curriculum Framework and creating synergy between the National Curriculum Framework and the Learning Outcomes Framework.
Three of the four thematic committees are respectively tasked with reviewing and making recommendations on the future policies, while the Committee on digitalisation and simplification is tasked with creating Malta’s first strategy for digitalisation and simplification in education.
MEYR set up 4 working groups to review the Learning Outcomes Framework. Each working group was focused on one of the following school years: Years 1-2, Years 3-6, Years 7-8, Years 9-11.
Glossary with bilingual terms in the subject of mathematics for early years and primary school years - Public Consultation
In July, the National Literacy Agency published a Bilingual Glossary of Mathematics Terms (Glossarju Bilingwi ta’ Termini tal-Matematika), for public consultation. The glossary provides words and expressions used in mathematics communication according to the curriculum, in both Maltese and English languages, that can be used as part of bilingual communication of mathematics at the Early Years and Junior levels of education (ages 3 – 11 years). The glossary will be an important tool for teachers, helping them explain mathematical concepts and processes. The document provides bilingual terms in the areas of Number (counting, number relationships, place value, addition and subtraction), Measurement, Shape and Spatial relationships, with a view to be extended in the future.
Institute for Education - Development of initial teacher training qualification for Resource Centre Teacher
The Institute for Education (IfE) , in collaboration with the National Student Support Service is in the process of developing an accredited teaching qualification specializing in teaching students with disabilities. This programme will provide educators working within Resource Centres with the opportunity to develop their competences in this very specialized field.
Artificial Intelligence in Education pilot project
The Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation is implementing the Artificial Inteligence (AI) in Education pilot project as proposed in Malta: The Ultimate AI Launchpad – A Strategy and Vision for Artificial Intelligence in Malta 2030. The project consists of two parts:
Part 1 – The development of an AI-powered adaptive learning system. This system aims to support students’ outcomes through personalised learning programmes based on student performance, ambitions and needs. Teachers will be supported in building more formative assessments of the pupils’ capabilities. 50 educators and 1,000 students across primary and secondary education shall be participating in the project.
Part 2 – The construction of a rich data set and use AI analytics for State Schools to assist in driving insights and actions to enhance the education system. Its focus will be on delivering predictive insights to assist in identifying potential early school-leavers. This shall help educators take preventative actions to drive better educational outcomes for all students and reduce the risk of early school leaving complements components 3 and 5 of Malta’s Recovery & Resilience Plan (RRP) namely, Fostering a digital, smart and resilient economy and Enhancing quality education and fostering socio-economic sustainability, respectively.
Primary students' assessment reform
In accordance with the Core Competences Policy and Strategy (2009), as from scholastic year 2022/23 alternative annual examination papers for Maltese and English subjects will be discontinued for primary students with learning difficulties in Years 4 and 5. These students will be invited to sit for the standard examination paper. However, the alternative annual examination papers for the Maths subject will be used in Scholastic Year 2022 – 2023 but will be discontinued as of 2023-2024.
Summer Catch up educational programme
During scholastic year 2020-2021 the Ministry for Education in Malta re-opened all its State Schools with all the necessary preventive measures for all school children from childcare to Year 11. The Ministry provided around 12,000 lessons on demand accessible on teleskola.mt (Recorded Lessons) free of charge covering all syllabi from pre-primary to Year 11, opened three virtual schools for vulnerable students from primary, middle and secondary schools, and opened a summer catch up educational programme.
Around 90 educators were engaged to run the catch up programme and 500 students from Year 1 to Year 10 are benefitting from an eight-week educational programme during the summer holidays. The lessons are being delivered face to face in 7 centres around Malta and Gozo and also online in a virtual school. The initiative set up by the Ministry for Education is another bid to help eligible students catch up on education lost through the pandemic.
The specific programme includes a variety of academic and enrichment activities, from Maths, English, Maltese, Science lessons to activities designed to build confidence, friendships and improve wellbeing.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Education pilot project
The Ministry for Education is working towards the implementation of Artificial Inteligence (AI) in Education pilot project as proposed in Malta: The Ultimate AI Launchpad – A Strategy and Vision for Artificial Intelligence in Malta 2030. The proposed project will consist of two parts: Part 1 – The development of an AI-powered adaptive learning system. This system aims to support students’ outcomes through personalised learning programmes based on student performance, ambitions and needs. Teachers will be supported in building more formative assessments of the pupils’ capabilities. 50 educators and 1,000 students across primary and secondary education shall be participating in the project. Part 2 – The construction of a rich data set and use AI analytics for State Schools to assist in driving insights and actions to enhance the education system. Its focus will be on delivering predictive insights to assist in identifying potential early school-leavers. This shall help educators take preventative actions to drive better educational outcomes for all students and reduce the risk of early school leaving.
Public consultation on A National Literacy Strategy in Malta and Gozo 2021-2030
In June 2021, the Ministry for Education, through the National Literacy Agency launched the National Literacy Strategy for All in Malta and Gozo 2021 – 2030 for public consultation. The strategy’s goal is that to reduce the number of individuals who are socially excluded because of a lack of or a low level of literacy skills. It aims to consolidate and extend further the strategic goals and actions of the 2014 Strategy, build on the successful actions, recognise the challenges of an ever-evolving world, and address ways in which these can be overcome.
Public consultation on Early Leaving from Education and Training (ELET) - The Way Forward 2020-2030
In June 2021 the Early School Leaving Unit within the Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability submitted the policy document entitled Early Leaving from Education and Training (ELET) – The Way Forward 2020-2030. The policy document has been developed following extensive research and stakeholder consultations. It is based on the principles of prevention, intervention and compensation. These include ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning; reducing the gaps in educational outcomes between boys and girls and between students attending different schools, decrease the number of low achievers, raise the bar in literacy, numeracy, and science and technology competence, and increase student achievement; supporting the educational achievement of children at-risk-of- poverty and low socio-economic status; raising the levels of student retention and attainment in further, vocational, and tertiary education and training; and increasing participation in lifelong learning and adult learning.
Towards Becoming a Dyslexia Friendly School - Guidelines for schools
In May 2021 the Specific Learning Difficulties Service (SpLD Service) within the Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes (DLAP) launched a set of guidelines for primary schools interested in becoming a Dyslexia Friendly School. A Dyslexia Friendly School is an inclusive school which caters for the diverse needs of students within the classroom. It functions within the social model of dyslexia, which instead of accentuating on the deficits of students, it focuses on removing barriers to learning and on the adjustments required in teaching methodologies. While promoting understanding of the implications of dyslexia, such schools subscribe to multisensory teaching across all subjects. The Guidelines encourage positivity and belief in the potential of each individual thereby inspiring students to develop their abilities in a supportive and holistic environment.
Guidelines for educators and school leaders on online teaching
In April 2021 the Directorate for Quality & Standards in Education (DQSE) in collaboration with the Directorate for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills (DDLTS) published two sets of guidelines, for educators and school leaders respectively, focusing on online teaching and learning. The guidelines for educators provide a practical reference to guide and support educators in lesson planning and delivery of online learning and teaching experiences. It also complements the guidelines issued by local authorities on schools’ re-opening as well as the Teachers’ Code of Ethics and Practice, which sets out the key principles of good conduct and practice for educators. The guidelines for School leadership teams are supported through their respective guidelines in their key position to guide and support the school community in the successful adoption of technology for blended teaching and learning. Among others the guidelines provide practical tips aimed to facilitate the process and implementation of a shared school digital literacy strategy. These tips are about the Organisation of the School Timetable; Access to Devices – ICT Infrastructure; Digital Environment/s – Platform/s for Teaching & Learning; Digital Tools; Parental Involvement; Supporting Staff (to develop and enhance educators’ digital pedagogical competence in order to make effective use of digital technologies)
Supporting learners online through digital technology
The Institute for Education (IFE) will also be offering an Award in Supporting Learners Online through Digital Technology whose aim is to provide educators with the skills and competencies to apply such digital technology in their teaching and learning.
The Foundations of a Family literacy Intervention Programme (Award)
The Institute for Education, in collaboration with the Literacy Agency is offering an accredited 12 ECTS award at MQF Level 7 dealing with The Foundations of a Family Literacy Intervention Programme.
Lessons on Demand for all students in Malta
At the beginning of school year 2020/2021 the Ministry for Education, as part of its systemic action plan for the re-opening of schools and after re-opening all schools for all students and during all school days, took the decision to create a repository of recorded lessons that will be accessible free of charge to all students and especially aimed to assist students who were not able to attend school during the pandemic. This project, which is now nearing its completion, resulted in the filming of in excess of 10,500 lessons covering all subjects taught in Maltese schools from the pre-primary level to secondary Year 11, that is the last year of secondary school.
The filmed lessons are available free of charge online. Students may access them at any time of the day every day of the week and may be referred to as often as required. The lessons are available on Teleskola.mt under the ‘Recorded Lessons’ section, a dedicated educational website run by the Ministry for Education.
School closure to limit COVID-19 contagion
On Wednesday, 10 March 2021, the Prime Minister announced that schools will be closed from 15 March to 11 April to limit the spread of coronavirus. The Ministry for Education responded with several initiatives to ensure that children continue enjoying their right to education. Synchronous online lessons, corresponding to children’s regular school timetable, are offered to all children attending Kindergarten to Year 11, and are delivered through one platform, with information being sent through this platform and the school’s regular channels. This uniform system implemented across all state schools addresses several of the challenges encountered by students and parents during the 2020 school closure, notably not having enough synchronous lessons, having different subjects taught through different forms of e-learning, not receiving correspondence, and having to juggle several platforms.
The Ministry provided computers and/or internet connections, for the duration of school closure, to disadvantaged students who do not have these resources. This scheme is applicable to students who benefit from Scheme 9, those whose family income is equivalent to or less than the minimum wage, whose family relies solely on social benefits, or to students with more than one child whose annual income is below €15,000.
The Directorate for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills provided online training for educators, students and parents on the e-learning platform.
As a consequence of the closure, Year 11 exams were halted and expected to resume when schools reopen on April 12.
X'hemM? STEM popularisation initiative
The Science Centre within the Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes recently launched the 10th edition of the annual STEM popularisation initiative entitled X’hemM? This initiatives aims to provide primary students educational opportunities to apply mathematical and scientific concepts through engaging, problem-solving activities in a non-formal setting.
The Science Centre within the Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes launched the educational programme entitled Xkatapum Physics Experiments on 4 March. The programme comprises 20 episodes of experiments related to themes and topics within the Physics SEC syllabus. Xkatapum addresses a range of scientific queries related to everyday life and explains the underlying physics concepts. Xkatapum videos are published on the Teleskola.mt website and the end-of-episode questions motivate and engage viewers to seek further depth into the concepts.
A language policy for the Junior Years in Malta and Gozo
On 17 February 2021, A language policy for the Junior Years in Malta and Gozo was launched for public consultation, with the overall purpose to promote and enhance bilingualism among children aged 8 to 11 years in families and in schools.
Literacy assessments in Year 3 and Year 4
In view of the possible risk of learning loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic the College Literacy Teams within the Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes, in conjuction with the National Literacy Agency, has carried out literacy assessments in Year 3 and Year 4 state primary classrooms to provide a snapshot of learners’ literacy achievements and to identify learners who are struggling with their literacy and who would need additional literacy support. Different literacy skills in both Maltese and English were assessed to support class teachers in providing follow up interventions that are appropriately matched to the learners’ needs.