Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting
Children can start attending Childcare Centres when they are three months old and until they reach the age of 3 years. Parents’ choice of Childcare Centres is determined by several factors including vicinity to the home or workplace and the opening and closing hours of the centre. Parents are free to choose their preferred day-care facility (whether state, church or independent).
Children are admitted to Kindergarten 1 (the first year of Kindergarten) in October if they are three years old by the end of December that year. Kindergarten classes are grouped according to age, with Kindergarten 1 catering for three-year-olds and Kindergarten 2 for four-year-olds. In February of each school year state Kindergarten Centres accept a new intake of children who will be three years of age by April. The choice of setting of a State Kindergarten Centre is usually restricted to the one located in or nearest to the parents’ residence listed on the Identification Card (ID Card) Parents would require the permission of the college principal to school the child in a different setting run by the state.
Every year, the demand for the admission of children in Kindergarten Centres run by the Church exceeds the supply of places available. The admission procedure is based on a set of three criteria, the appropriate application for which must be submitted by the parents. Precedence is given to children from church homes, children of employees in the same school and siblings of children already attending the school. Several places are reserved for children considered as serious cases, including social cases, children who shall require the service of a Learning Support Educator (LSE) and asylum-seeking children. Children not falling under categories granted precedence are chosen by lot to establish the rank order. Children are offered the choice of a place in a Church Kindergarten until all places have been filled-up, with remaining children placed on a waiting list.
Parents who feel aggrieved during the process can lodge a complaint with the Archbishop's Delegate for Church Schools, who is the Chairperson of the Admissions Supervisory Board. The board shall appoint a number of competent individuals to carry out the respective investigations (Maltese Ecclesiastical Province 2012).
Independent Schools have a waiting list available in case of overdemand while State Schools will first try to open another class and if not possible, students may be asked to join another school in the same college.
Group size and child/staff ratios
Childcare Centres provide a safe environment where children learn through play, one-to-one and group interaction. Educational activity is aimed to develop the children's social attitudes, language and communication skills in preparation for primary education. The ‘National Standards for Child Day-care Facilities’ (2006) require that persons involved in children’s care and education at Childcare Centres, known as child carers, should have a minimum Level 4 MQF (ISCED 4) qualification in early childhood education and care.
The child to carer ratio is established in The National Standards for Child Day-care Facilities as follows:
• One child carer for up to three babies under the age of 12 months;
• One child carer per five children aged between 13 and 24 months;
• One child carer per six children aged between 25 and 36 months;
• It is also established that one carer supervises up to six children in a group of different ages however only one child can be under the age of eighteen months in such group .
Educators at Kindergarten level are known as Kindergarten Educators (KGEs) with the following requirements:
Kindergarten Educators I (KGE I) : until end 2020 - A National Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development MQF Level 4 (ISCED 4) (with a minimum of 240 ECTS) ; as from 2021- An MQF Level 5 (ISCED 5) in Early Years with a minimum of 30 ECTS.
Kindergarten Educators II (KGE II): An MQF Level 5 (ISCED 5) in Early Years with a minimum of 60 ECTS.
Kindergarten Educators III (KGE III) – An MQF Level 6 (ISCED 6) in ECEC with a minimum of 180 ECTS
At present, staff to child ratios in Kindergartens are as follows:
• Kindergarten 1 classes have a maximum of 14 pupils per class (this being reduced to 12 if the group includes a pupil with a statement of needs);
• Kindergarten 2 classes have a maximum of 19 pupils per class, reduced to 16 if the group includes a child with special education needs.
• In the event of shared classes (two classes in one room), children shall not exceed 22 pupils for Kindergarten l, and 30 for Kindergarten ll.
Annual, weekly and daily organisation
Childcare Centres run by the state operate between 07.30hrs and 16.30hrs, however, owners of non-state Childcare Centres can choose their own opening and closing times, and thus these vary. Opening times range from 0600hrs to 0900hrs with the majority of non-state Childcare Centres opening between 07.00hrs and 07.30hrs. Similarly, closing times range between 12.00hrs and 20.00hrs, though most centres close between 16.00hrs and 17.00hrs. Two centres offer their services 24 hours a day, but the service must be booked in advance.
All Childcare Centres offer a service from Monday to Friday excluding national and public holidays. These centres are open during the summer period and Christmas holidays. However, a number of centres are also open during weekends.
Childcare Centres are flexible in organising their activities and they do not follow a standard time-table.
State Kindergarten Centres usually form part of primary schools and they fall under the responsibility of the same Head of School, with the responsibility for their day-to-day running is usually delegated to an Assistant Head of School. The organisation of the annual kindergarten schools’ timetable is flexible, and it is not regulated by law or other official regulations. However kindergarten classes follow closely the same school calendar as the primary school of which they form part. The scholastic year usually starts year two weeks after primary school (Early October) and finishes at the end of June although there may be slight variations particularly in Independent Schools.. The school calendar includes a two day mid-term holiday in early November; Two week Christmas Holidays; Two Day Carnival Holidays at end of February and Two week Easter Holidays.
Children attend kindergarten from Monday to Friday, from 08.30hrs to 14.30hrs, except for the month of June when the school day ends at around noon. Different schools may have differing opening and closing times, but the school day is still of six hours. Kindergartens do not have a fixed time-table; thus Kindergarten Educators adopt a flexible approach in the management of time with groups of pupils. Non-state Kindergarten provision follows more or less the same grouping arrangements, school calendar and opening times as state kindergartens. However, they may have more flexibility in deciding their school day with some opening later and some finishing earlier than state schools. Independent kindergartens may provide extended childcare till 17.00hrs.
'Out of hours' provision
The Government has, since 2009, been operating an outside-school hours’ service children between 3 and 16 years, namely Klabb 3-16. The service is run by the Foundation for Educational Services (FES) and it bridges the gap between school and parents’ work finishing times. It provides a safe, stimulating environment with appropriate adult supervision and facilitation during non-school hours, both in the afternoon and during school holidays. The Klabb 3-16 programme delivers activities based on a variety of arts and crafts, sports, drama, music, cooking and free play. Parents who are in employment can take children who are at kindergarten level to school before the opening time as all Primary State Schools offer a Breakfast Club Service which starts at 07:00hrs. This service gives the opportunity to students to have a healthy breakfast before school commences, as well as interact with other students through play and other activities.
Out-of-hours provision (before lessons)
Lessons (starting and finishing times in the morning)
Lunch break (mid-morning)
Lessons (starting and finishing times in mid-morning)
Lunch break (mid-day)
Lessons (starting and finishing times in the afternoon)
Out-of-hours provision (after lessons)
Monday to Friday
Optional - 14.30hrs to 18.00hrs during school days; 07.00hrs to 18.00hrs during holidays