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Malta’s school system & kindergarten – the complete overview 2021

Many clients moving from other countries to Malta have children. Accordingly, there is also a great demand from potential clients to know how the kindergarten and school system in Malta are structured, how high the standard of education is, how it’s organized and how easy it is to emigrate to Malta with the family.

Sabrina Sauerborn, HR Manager at DWP, herself a mother and living in Malta, will therefore give you some basic information on the topic of “Parenting in Malta”. Finally, Ms Sauerborn will answer frequently asked questions.

Basic information about families in Malta

Generally Malta is very child-friendly. The Maltese love children – especially the older Maltese. When my children were still in a stroller, the Maltese often stopped me to look in and give me or us their blessing on the way (“God bless”). Of course, such reactions are currently limited due to Corona.

The Maltese are very family-oriented and often still live with several generations under one roof, helping each other out. Unlike e.g. in Germany, some Maltese mothers return to work after only a 4 month break, so often the grandparents of the young family take the child for the day or pick them up from preschool.

One reason for the short maternity leave in Malta is the low level of government support. Although there is a monetary benefit for parents and a parental tax rate, the support here is only €33.33 per child up to 3 years (at least it was like that with my children 4 years ago). Another government “support” for parents is the “Parental Rate” – a reduced tax rate for both parents.

Motherhood in Malta

As briefly mentioned just now, the statutory maternity leave in Malta is 4 months – so a mother usually stays home 4 weeks before the due date and 3 months after the due date, i.e. with baby.

However, the length of maternity leave varies from company to company and is handled differently by each in turn. In the end, it is always a matter of agreement over your personal situation.

Not all mothers want to put their 3-month-old baby in daycare (kindergarten). Therefore, there is the additional option for a mother to take another 6 months of unpaid “leave” – this is also regulated by law.

After this time, babies are 9-10 months old. Most babies here in Malta are transferred to the nursery/kindergarten system starting at this point at the latest.

Nursery school in Malta

The crèche is for children up to the age of 3 years and is provided free of charge by the state, provided both parents work. It does not matter to the state whether the nursery is public or private – the state will pay for either. In English, it is called a “free childcare scheme”.

Beyond that, there is no further state support (in view of the comparatively low tax rates for entrepreneurs, employees and employers, this is to be expected, in my opinion).

A brief example with numbers

A brief example on the topic of social security contributions (there is of course a bit more to consider, but the following example gives a good comparison):

An employee with a gross income of at least €458.74 per week pays €48.57 social contributions per week. These social contributions include health insurance and pension. If an employee earns less than €458.74 per week, his/her social contributions amount to 10% of the weekly income.

TAKE NOTE: the above-mentioned €48.57 is the maximum amount – that means, even if someone earns €3,000 a week, he does not have to pay more than the €48.57!

Kindergarten in Malta

We are often asked at DWP to make comparisons between Germany and Malta. Since the Maltese culture is different from the German culture, a comparison is difficult (in accordance with the motto: other countries, other customs).

For example, the Maltese way of raising children differs from the Germans when it comes to TV: for Maltese it is completely normal and okay to sit their children in front of the TV – in Germany, however, it is not (my subjective opinion). In accordance with this style of upbringing, your children will watch TV in state kindergarten in Malta. Since I did not want that for my children at that time, I searched for a long time for a kindergarten that did not have television.

Yes, you heard me right, it is not easy to find a kindergarten that does not include TV in a daily routine. Actually, I didn’t want to be that “crazy” mother who drives her child from Sliema to Birkirkara every day to go to kindergarten – but you have to set priorities. If you want to have a kindergarten without TV, you have to drive.

At that time, I chose the Casa Maria Montessori kindergarten in Birkirkara. Looking back, it was the best decision for my child. When clients ask me about a kindergarten, I recommend this one with a clear conscience.

In my opinion, this kindergarten is even better than german kindergartens in terms of education. You are probably wondering why. Maybe you’re already familiar with the principle of Montessori kindergartens and schools – if not, a short explanation: It is assumed that children between the ages of 3 and 5 have an extremely high perceptive faculty and they learn things without it being an effort. This fact is taken advantage of and children are taught things through play with peers (of course only if a child is interested in it). Thus it was that my children could already add before starting school. This knowledge advantage helps them later, in building up the necessary self-confidence in school.

The motto of Montessori is “does my child really need my help?“. As a mother, I have learned a lot from this kindergarten, such as what our children are capable of at an early age, from setting the table alone to refilling the water glasses. The children are taught this at the age of 1.5 years, without pressure, playfully, by showing and demonstrating.

The age groups are also mixed – that is, the little ones also learn such things from the big ones and do it independently and are proud of themselves.

What also fascinated me personally was that each toy had a background. For example, there was a “game” with two containers and the child had to make a container full of water and could then pour the water back and forth between 2 containers. The idea behind the game is to build up the hand muscles and to strengthen the eyesight. As you might have guessed, each game pointer has an educational element, a “background”.

I also really love the fact that my kids are growing up bilingual. I felt it was very easy for my kids at that age to learn a new language.

This is/was my personal experience and subjective opinion – of course, there are other opinions.

The school system in Malta

Even though the official language is English, some subjects are taught in Maltese in state schools.

Therefore, you might prefer a private school that teaches 100% in English (often there is also Maltese as an optional subject if you want that for your child).

However, in my opinion, this always depends on the age of the child. If the child grows up in Malta, it is of course no problem that some subjects are taught in Maltese; they have been confronted with Maltese from childhood. When the child is older when you move to Malta, it’s a bit more difficult. One should also not forget that only about 500,000 people in the world speak Maltese, which is not much.

I am often asked about a comparison of the school systems in Malta and Germany. Because children in Malta start school at the age of 5, they are of course ahead of German children. My big girl, for example, will be 6 years old in 3 months and can already read English and German (that is, on a child level).

This may sound a bit complicated for you now because everything is a bit different than in Germany. I know, especially in the beginning the whole system is a bit confusing, but once you have dealt with it a bit, it is no longer a problem.

In my opinion, the most important thing is to find a kindergarten/school where you and of course your child feel comfortable. Once you have found that, the rest comes naturally – the schools are also always happy to explain the system to you.

A practical example – experience on the topic: emigrating to Malta with the family

Let me give you another practical example of a family who came to Malta in August 2020 with their 5-year-old son. The boy, of course, had gone to kindergarten in Germany and could neither understand nor speak English. When the family came to Malta, he was then enrolled in school at the age of 5, as is customary here. In the beginning, the boy did not have it easy, because he did not understand the language yet and so, of course, he could not communicate with the students (except the Germans) or the teacher. However, other German children in the class helped him out. Although the boy was very restless at the beginning and ran around a lot (which is quite normal when you come from kindergarten), he was able to integrate well thanks to the help of the teacher, who made a lot of effort and gave the parents a daily update.

Brief interim conclusion: Yes, the early days are not easy for parents or children, BUT after 5 months this child was able to converse in English and has made friends, and enjoys going to school! What is 5 months? It’s worth it!

Malta's school system & kindergarten

Own illustration, based on Eacea.ec.europa

Conclusion

Malta is a very safe country for children. Due to the fact that there are many “foreigners” living in Malta, experience shows that it is easy for both parents and children to make connections. The fact that the children grow up bilingual (in Malta the official language is English) is a huge plus. 

If you have further questions about the Maltese school system or general questions about emigration, please do not hesitate and write your questions in the comments or use the contact form.

FAQ

As already mentioned above, children in Malta go to kindergarten earlier than in Germany – then the whole thing is called the nursery. It is up to you whether the child goes to a daycare center or a childminder before the age of 3 or simply stays at home with the parents. Kindergarten is then mandatory for children who are 3 years old. Kindergarten ends when the child is 5 years old and enters school.

Due to Corona, the kindergarten is currently only open from 8:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., regularly the kindergarten goes until 3 p.m.

There are many different daycare options in Malta. At the time, my children had a (German) daycare mother. The advantage of a childminder is the smaller group and the flexibility, which you might not have to the same extent with other facilities. Our childminder also has many German children with one parent who is German, so that the child also grows up speaking German. If anyone would like the contact info for her, feel free to comment, I’ll be happy to pass on the number.

On this island everything is mixed, both of my children have Germans in class as well as many other EU and non-EU children.

I have been abroad for over 10 years now and I always find it very easy to make contacts because you are not the only “foreigner”. In general, everyone is always happy to meet new people. Maybe it is a bit more difficult at the moment because of COVID-19, but that will pass.

Well, again it depends on the kindergarten/school. But I think that in Germany there are not always kindergartens with yards, etc. either.  Basically every kindergarten/school has an outdoor area – the size varies.

It varies from Maltese, Canadian to German interns – there is everything.

In Malta, children are enrolled in state schools according to their year of birth, so all children born in 2014, for example, are placed in the same class. Some private schools do it differently, e.g. Verdala International School sticks to the German system. There, children born between September and August go into one class. However, this case is rather rare here in Malta.

Here in Malta there are the same vacations as in Germany and even more. The summer vacations here go for 3 months because it is so hot here during the summer. To relieve the parents there are many “summer schools” in Malta during the summer. So in the summer, things run a little differently:

For example, if your child goes to ballet 1-2 times a week, he/she could then go every day during the summer – as long as the ballet school offers “Summer School”.

Schools here start regularly in September. In addition to the summer vacations, there are also normal winter, Easter and autumn vacations.

School hours vary from school to school. There are schools that close at 1:30 p.m., but the children have homework. Then there are schools that go until 15/15:30, where the children do not have homework.

If you live abroad and both parents are German, it is of course up to the parents to teach the child German. There are many simple methods. At home, for example, we only speak German, everything is read in German and you can easily find German children to play with. So with simple means the child will also maintain or learn a good German.

When it comes to writing later on, I would possibly schedule fixed times during the week for practicing or hire a teacher. You also want to give the child the chance to study in Germany, so that (my) children are confident in speaking and writing German.

Yes, school uniforms are compulsory in Malta. There are school uniforms in all state schools. It varies for private schools, some have school uniforms, some do not.

The costs are very different. It all depends on the kindergarten/school.  I estimate that you should expect to pay around €250 to €450 per month at a private institution. The state institutions are of course free.

Sure. At the moment there are even more than usual, but they are about Microsoft TEAMS.

Here the opinions also go very strongly apart and it depends very much on one personally. In my opinion, it is being handled very well here. Schools are still open as usual, with small restrictions (possibly shorter school hours).

Masks must be worn at all times; sinks have been installed outside the school so that children can/have to wash their hands upon arrival and after every break. Disinfection is done daily, etc. Again, it depends on the kindergarten/school. Through Corona, a lot of “homeschooling” has now been allowed – so it is up to the parents to decide if they want to send their child to school or prefer to “homeschool”.

Currently, due to Covid-19, the class size has changed a lot. Currently, my little one has 14 children with 2 counselors and an assistant.

The state system is based on the year of birth, so all children born in 2014, for example, are placed in the same class.

Feel free to ask me your question using the contact form. I look forward to hearing from you!

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