Education in Valletta

School system in Valletta

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The educational system in Malta is closely linked to the British system. Education in Malta is compulsory from ages five to sixteen and is structured in three stages:

  • Primary (ages 3-11)
  • Secondary (ages 11-18)
  • Post secondary/tertiary (ages 18+)

The State, church, and private/independent institutions provide all three levels of education in Malta. The standards for education in Malta are very high and are comparable to other Western countries. At the State level, education is fully funded and textbooks are provided to children free of charge. Church and private institutions charge tuition and other fees

Homeschooling is illegal for Maltese students. However, non-Maltese children of expats are permitted to homeschool.

School Schedule

Most Primary and Secondary schools begin at 8:30 am and finish by 2:30 pm, with the school year running from September to June. Students in Malta receive the highest number of days off of all school students in Europe. School holidays include 15 days in December for Christmas, 8 days in April for Easter, three days in November, two days in March, plus public holidays and summer break.

For a list of public holidays in Malta, see Malta's Department of Information's web site.

Languages in Schools

The official languages in Malta are English and Maltese. Learning English is obligatory in Malta's education system. English is the primary language of instruction at State Schools, but Maltese is widely spoken as well. Secondary and tertiary education is provided exclusively in English. Other language classes, such as French, German, and Spanish, are offered at State and private schools.

Maltese and religion classes are not compulsory for non-Maltese expat students. If the non-Maltese children of expats chose not to participate in these classes, alternative studies or free study time is provided. However, as of this writing, Maltese language proficiency at school leaving level is a requirement for university entrance. Students educated in Malta for four years prior to their SEC exam must also take and pass an exam in Maltese.

Choosing a School

It is common and recommended to arrange tours and interviews with several schools in Malta in advance of your child's expected enrolment date. Most expat parents choose to send their child to a private school in Malta (as do about 30% of Maltese parents).

Admissions and registration processes vary from school to school, therefore it is highly recommended to contact prospective schools for specific information.

Registering Expat Children for School

To register your child at a State run school, you may be required to present some of the following documentation. Registration procedures vary by school, therefore it is highly recommended to contact schools individually to obtain specific enrolment procedures.

  1. A passport and/or ID card
  2. Original birth certificates of the child/children in English, or a legal English translation
  3. A letter from you indicating your request to enroll your child/children at the school

Kindergarten and Primary

Primary schools provide education to students aged 2 years and 9 months to 11 years.

In Primary Schools, children ages 3-5 may attend Kindergarten. While Kindergarten is not part of compulsory education, almost all parents in Malta choose to enroll their children. In Kindergarten, the focus is on informal learning, socialization, and play.

Primary schools are found in all villages in Malta. Attendance at primary school is compulsory from the age of 5. Most State run primary schools are co-educational, while Church run primary schools are normally single-sex.

Secondary Schools

In Year 6 of their Primary School education (age 11), students sit an Eleven-Plus exam, which places them in a Junior Lyceum (prestigious Secondary School) or less competitive area Secondary School. Junior Lyceum and area Secondary Schools are single-sex.

Junior lyceums are divided into two grade stages:

  • A two year introductory stage which provides foundational knowledge
  • A three year specialist stage in which students study a common core curriculum as well as elective subjects.

Area secondary schools are also divided into two grade stages:

  • A three year introductory stage
  • A two year specialist stage

Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) exams are taken at age 16 (the school leaving age in Malta). Students who continue their studies (just over half of Maltese students) take matriculation examinations (based on the International Baccalaureate) at age 18 to determine university entrance eligibility.

Post-Secondary and Tertiary Schools

The State, Church, and private institutions offer post-secondary and tertiary education in Malta.

State institutions are fully funded and include:

Church schools offer Sixth Form Education through a number of Colleges.

Private School

Private schools (Skejjel Privati) provide all three levels of education in Malta. Most Primary and Secondary schools begin at 8:30 am and finish by 2:30 pm, with the school year running from September to June, but private schools may follow different schedules. English is the main language of instruction at private schools. Private institutions offer post-secondary, tertiary, foreign, vocational, and ESL/EFL qualifications. All private institutions in Malta are registered and monitored by the State.

Demand for church and private schools in Malta is high. Entry to Church schools in Malta is based on a lottery system. Entry to private schools requires application and early booking, months or years in advance, depending on the institution. Most expat children attend private schools, although it isn't uncommon to enroll your child in a Church or State school.


Tuition at church and private schools is fairly inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe. Costs include:

  • Registration fees
  • Tuition fees
  • Uniform and transportation costs
  • A refundable deposits or contributions to the school's bond or annual fund

Average fees for private schools vary widely, and are more expensive at international schools. However, fees in Malta are generally less than those in the rest of Europe, approximately €1,000-€2,000 per term (there are three terms per year).

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The IB program is offered by a number of private schools; including two international schools in Malta (see our section on International schools below).

It is taught under the supervision of the International Baccalaureate Organization. All students study languages, social science, experimental science, mathematics and arts.

The IB is divided into three programmes covering the following age ranges:

  1. Primary Years Programme (PYP) ages 3-12
  2. Middle Years Programme (MYP) ages 11-16
  3. Diploma Programme (DP) ages 16-18


There is one university in Malta - The University of Malta - with campuses in Msida (the main campus), Valletta and Gozo. University of Malta Bachelor degrees take three years to complete, Junior College courses take two years, and MCAST courses vary from one to three years. English is the language of instruction at the University of Malta, which also offers ESL/EFL classes during the summer months.

There are no housing facilities on the university campuses in Malta (a university residence for international students is located in Lija) and most Maltese students live at home during their studies. The university has a variety of extracurricular activities for students but does not have competitive sports teams.

The University of Malta also offers study abroad and Erasmus programs.


Most villages in Malta have public libraries. In some village Maltese and other adult education courses are taught at these libraries.

Malta's National Library is located in the capital city of Valletta, and boasts an impressive archive of historical books (special permission is required to view them).

A full listing of libraries in Malta, and their opening hours, can be found on the Government of Malta's Libraries Department web site.

Update 25/05/2013


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