Malta has two specialised secondary-cycle schools dedicated to achieving excellence in sport and the visual and performing arts. Students attending these schools follow a different curriculum in that, besides having academic subjects, the curricula include lessons for their specialised areas. Entrance to both schools depends on proved ability in the areas of specialisation of the schools.
The National Sport School
Malta’s first school dedicated to sporting excellence was set up in September 2012. The National Sport School is leading the way in providing opportunities for young people in Malta to develop their sporting talents as part of their schooling. The school is a co-educational institution for students who are gifted athletes.
The average school population is of 240 students aged between 11 and 16. The school offers expert coaching in a wide variety of sporting disciplines. Each year, at Year 7 there is an intake of 42 students and at Year 9 another 6 places are offered to maximise the total number of students to 48.
Students follow a balanced curriculum of academic studies together with their sports specialisation. Their coaching is carefully timetabled around the academic subjects during the school day. Great care is taken to provide students with every opportunity to maximise not only their sporting potential but also their academic competences.
Entry is by selection only. Care is taken to ensure that the expected high standards are not compromised by having a focus on identifying individuals who are both gifted and committed. Candidates need to be nominated by an accredited national sports association and must be identified as among the most talented in their area of sport on a national level and must be participating in a youth scheme organised by an accredited national sports association. Short-listed applicants for entry to Year 7 must also present the results achieved in the End-of-Primary Benchmark assessment for English, Maltese and Mathematics. Students applying to enter the school at Year 9 must sit for examinations in Mathematics, English and Maltese.
The Malta Visual and Performing Arts School
The Malta Visual and Performing Arts school (MVPA) offers secondary school students another choice in their educational journey. It offers five art forms as the primary focus of study: art, dance, drama, media and music. The school has a yearly intake of 48 students from across Malta, which students achieve a place at this school through referrals and auditions.
The school was launched in May 2017 following a Ministerial decision based on an electoral commitment by the government to enhance the Arts. In September 2020, at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, the school welcomed its fourth cohort of 48 students.
Students at the Malta Visual and Performing Arts school follow a dual pathway, namely, the artistic as well as the academic one. Indeed, this co-educational institution provides young artists with the opportunity to enhance further their artistic competences by consolidating their artistic talents without renouncing their proficiency in core academic subjects.
In Year 7 and Year 8, the first two years of the secondary cycle, each student has a choice of one primary art form of choice but will also have rotating lessons in the other four art forms spread out over the whole school year. There will be no examinations in the arts, but regular assessments will be made that will help monitor all progress. The academic subjects will follow the standard curriculum. In the final three years of compulsory education, from Year 9 to Year 11 students will keep one preferred art form of their choice.
Student progression at the end of the course of studies
At the end of the five-year course of studies students attending both schools sit for examinations set at the national level and may also sit for optional examinations that are required for proceeding to further and higher educational institutions. Students are also granted the Secondary School Certificate and Profile (SSC&P) outlining not only their academic achievements but also recognising informal and non-formal educational activities they would have participated in and followed.