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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of Primary Education


5.Primary Education

5.1Organisation of Primary Education

Last update: 30 January 2024

Geographical Accessibility

Most towns and villages in Malta and Gozo have their own primary school. Children living more than 1.0km away from primary schools are provided with free transport. As a result, primary schools are accessible to all children, wherever they live.

In most cases, pupils attend the primary school within their locality of residence. However, parents who would like their child to attend an alternative school may make their request to the Office of the Head of College Network, citing and justifying the grounds for their request.

Admission requirements and choice of school

In Malta, the primary and secondary education cycles are separate. The primary cycle, marking the beginning of compulsory education, is of six years’ duration, running from Year 1 to Year 6. For pupils, the primary school year runs from the fourth Monday of September to the end of June. Children are enrolled in Year 1 during the year when they reach their fifth birthday, with the possibility that children are only 4 years 9 months old when they begin compulsory education.

Age levels and groups of pupils

In Malta, “compulsory school age" means any age from five (5) years to fifteen (15) years, both inclusive, and accordingly a person shall be deemed to be of compulsory school age if he has attained the age of five (5) years and has not attained the age of sixteen (16) years or has not yet completed the last year of secondary school. (Education Act, Cap.605). 

Pupils start the six-year primary cycle when they are 5 years old and end primary schooling at age 11, following which they move to middle school and, later, Secondary school. The table (Table 2) below gives information on the age levels and grouping of students as per year group: 

Table 2: Age Levels and Grouping of Students per Year Group in Primary Schools in Malta
  Primary school
Year Group Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6
Age of Students 5-6 years 6-7 years 7-8 years 8-9 years 9-10 years 10-11 years

Students in primary schools are generally taught by one class teacher who is responsible for the teaching of core subjects. Some schools have introduced subject teaching in the last years of Primary. Throughout the Primary, additional subjects are taught by specialised, peripatetic teachers, who may not be based in any one school but visit schools within the college network on a roster basis. Pupils have three to five lessons per week delivered by peripatetic teachers.

Subject entitlement at Primary level includes Maths, Maltese, English, Religion or Ethics, Science, Social Studies, Music, Art, Physical Education, Drama and Personal, Social and Career Development (PSCD). Furthermore, cross-curricular themes include literacy; digital literacy; learning to learn and cooperative learning; education for sustainable development; education for entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation; and education for diversity. 

An Education Officer (Curriculum) is assigned to each College whose role is to support leadership teams and educators within the school in areas related to teaching, learning and assessment, serving as the link between schools and the Department. Heads of Department and support teachers in various subjects and cross-curricular themes provide demonstration lessons and support the primary school leadership teams, classroom teachers. and other educators in their respective areas. They also reach out to other stakeholders such as parents.

Furthermore, children attending state schools who are in Year 2 and who have the lowest achievement in literacy learning are supported through the Reading Recovery Programme. Reading Recovery aims to support children to develop effective English reading and writing strategies to be able to work within the average range of classroom performance. Children are taught individually for 30 minutes a day, for 12-20 weeks. In 2022/23 250 pupils were supported through this programme.

Finally, a host of professional support staff are available at primary level including college counsellors, guidance teachers, psychotherapists, psychosocial specialists, and specialised staff offering support to pupils having special educational needs.

Throughout their primary education, but especially in the final two years, pupils are prepared for a smooth transition to the secondary cycle.

The maximum number of pupils in each primary class is twenty-eight. In Years 1 to 6 when a class has at least one student with a Statement of Needs, the student population in class does not exceed 24 students. Classes are divided into smaller groups of not more than sixteen pupils during Personal, Social and Career Development (PSCD) lessons, which lessons are provided to pupils from Year 3 upwards. 

The Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation (MEYR), through the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) establishes the parameters of the school year at primary level. In Primary Schools the number of learning hours per scholastic year is 836.5 hours.  Community of Professional Educators (CoPE) Sessions, Parents’ Meetings/Days and Prize/Celebration days are not to be calculated as part fulfilment of the above entitlement. Educators’ working hours are negotiated with the trade union which has the right of representation. The current sectoral agreement came into effect in December 2017.

The students’ school year runs from the fourth Wednesday of September to the last week of June, with days being shorter during the month of June. The teachers’ school year runs from fourth Monday in September until the 6th of July. 

The school year is made up of three terms: 

  • The first term runs from September until the Christmas recess; 
  • The second term runs from the first week of January to the Easter recess; 
  • The third term runs from a week after the Easter holidays until the last week of June. 

Schools have a mid-term holiday period of three days in November, a fifteen-day long Christmas recess, a two-day mid-term holiday period just prior to the beginning of Lent (coinciding with carnival time) and a week-long Easter recess. Summer holidays are 13 weeks long with 135 days. 

Organisation of the school day and week

All state and non-state primary schools operate five days a week from Monday to Friday usually between 08:30 and 14:30 hours. Some variances may occur as to the opening and closing times. However, overall, a similar weekly and daily timetable is followed. Lessons usually last between 30 minutes and 45 minutes. 

The school day is divided thus: 

Table 3: Length of School Day, Each Day of the Week: September to May
  Out-of-hours provision (before lessons) Lessons (starting and finishing times in the morning) Lunch Break Lessons (starting and finishing times in the afternoon) Out-of-hours provision (after lessons)
Monday to Friday Available (optional)


10:30 – 12:30



13:00-14:30 Available (optional)

State Schools start half-days in the beginning of June, each lesson is of 30 minutes’ duration with timetables in all schools adjusted to reflect this time: 

Table 4: Length of School Day, Each Day of the Week: June
  Out-of-hours provision (before lessons) Lessons (starting and finishing times in the morning) Lunch Break Lessons (starting after mid-morning break and finishing times in the afternoon) Out-of-hours provision (after lessons)
Monday to Friday Available (optional) 08:30-10:15 10:15 – 10:30 10:30-12:00 Available (optional)

Schools are used by one single group of students per day. However, state primary schools operate an after-school-hours service, Klabb 3-16, whereby students from the ages of 3 to 16 years can attend. This service, run by the Foundation for Educational Services (FES), bridges the gap between the time when school ends to when parents finish work. Klabb 3-16 is also available during school holiday periods.

A planned programme of activities is on offer, where children do their homework and take part in fun educational activities. The service provides a safe, stimulating environment with appropriate adult supervision and facilitation. This service is provided against an hourly fee, paid by the parent/guardian but heavily subsidised by the government. 

The Breakfast Club, a before school hours’ service, is run by primary schools whereby schools open from around 7am (about 60-90 minutes before lessons start) so that pupils, whose parents or guardians start employment early, can be cared for in a safe environment. This service is offered in every primary state school and gives the opportunity to pupils to have breakfast before school commences, as well as to interact with other pupils through play and other activities.