Malta Inside Out


Expat insights: kids moving schools

Kids' schooling is at the centre of any expat family's decision to move to Malta

Kids’ schooling is at the centre of any expat family\’s decision to move to Malta

If you are planning to move to Malta and uproot with your family, it’s a life changing event, not only for you but for your young budding Einsteins. You may be able to take it in your stride, but your kids – if they’re over the age of five – will probably have an opinion about your plans and so may not be in agreement with them.

I remember so clearly the day we all sat around the kitchen table in the UK to discuss our move to Malta. The news was met with, “Where’s Malta?” and then floods of tears. Our eldest child aged 10 at that time found the news the most devastating having had a best friend from day one reception with whom he was inseparable.

English and Friendly
The first visit to a new school can be pretty daunting for any child, but for those that are on the shy side it can be more difficult. As English is the language of choice in the playground, and of teaching in most of Malta’s private sector schools, it makes it much easier for an English-speaking child to settle.

On the first day of school the Maltese children were particularly welcoming, all saying “Hello” without being prompted by the teacher and appearing genuinely interested and pleased to meet a new member of the class. The Maltese children, as well as being friendly, appear to have a strong sense of self worth and are particularly confident, a real positive attribute that I have begun to notice in my children.

How does the curriculum compare?
Our concerns about the quality of the curriculum in comparison to the UK were settled quite quickly as our eldest child was using exactly the same text books in maths and it seemed very similar in other subjects. The examination process at IGCSE levels also appears comparable to the UK, which is great if you are only here for a few years and your child is at that important age.

The homework workload during term time is particularly high. The senior school children have between one to two hours of homework every evening, this does take sometime to get used to, however, on the flip side 12 weeks holiday in the summer goes some way to compensate for it. Homework is taken extremely seriously at school and therefore is always completed in our home!

Maltese and Religion
Maltese and religion are not compulsory subjects for non-nationals, and you can decide whether you would like your child to participate. If not, then there’s some time to study or read in the library for the senior school and, in our case, a course of media studies for younger children.

Life now they’ve settled in
We have now been in Malta for 18 months and have all settled down to Maltese life. Although I know my children would never have chosen to come to live in Malta, I feel that they have grown through the experience. They have both Maltese and expat friends and have formed some strong friendships. They have friends for tea and sleepovers as we did in the past and masses of affordable after-school activities. I am sure they will find it more difficult, than they expect, when the time comes for us to return to the UK.

Helpful info & links
List of schools in Malta – independent, church and state

Photo: Leslie Vella

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92 Comments about “Expat insights: kids moving schools”

  1. Thank you for the article! We might be moving to Malta soon as well, with 2 kids (5 & 7 years old). My biggest concern on the move is how the children will handle it, so it is good to hear that it worked out well for your family.

  2. I will hopefully be moving to Malta soon with my husband and 12-year old son who is due to start high school in August. What is the best way to go about choosing a school for him?

  3. @WeeSmiler12, I need to email you directly on the ‘choice of school’ as it can be as easy or complicated as you want. There’s the language issue and the private vs state school issue, and a host of other issues such as where you will be located. I am in France on a short break but back on 16th July. I’ll contact you then with some more thoughts on this and some links to other articles on this site that will help you.

  4. We are thinking of moving to Malta from australia. I have 2 school age children 11 and 12.. My father was born inmate so have plenty of family there. We only speak English so my children will need a school only in English. They are girls. Where do I start to look for a school for them?

  5. Paula,

    Your simply query about where to find school that teach in English has a simple answer and a more complicated one. Fact 1: it’s easy to find schools teaching English – nearly half Malta’s schools teach in English – all the private ones. The state schools teach in Maltese. So this narrows your choice, but so long as you expect to pay for schooling (fees way, way below most private schools in the UK by the way), then that’s solved.

    However, now comes the legal bit: Fact 2: according to the law, children, whether Maltese nationals or non-nationals, Maltese mother tongue or not, have to sit the Maltese school leaving exam in Maltese – at what they call ‘Matsec’ (UK O Levels age) if they have been educated in Malta for four consecutive years prior to the Matsecs ie. age 12 onwards. Maltese is also a prerequisite for getting in to Malta University. This is something I find ridiculous given that the system allows around half Malta’s schools to teach in English which would require children to have a high level of English knowledge (Language 1 – mother tongue – or at least near native). The new National Curriculum Framework currently being discussed and closing debate on 14 October, explicitly says that it considers Maltese L1 – mother tongue – and English L2 – a foreign language or not mother tongue standard at least. L2s also include French, Italian etc.

    What does this mean? In reality, it depends private school to private school. The school my son is at (he’s a dual national but mother tongue English with little Maltese), seems to turn a blind eye to some foreign nationals pulling their children out of Maltese lessons despite the legal obligation; perhaps they just hope foreigners will go away, not be in Malta come Matsec etc etc. Others like my son are given a different story and told that they have to remain in Maltese lessons even though they struggle. If Maltese were taught as a foreign language, he would cope. As it is, he is slipping ever further behind and will no doubt fail the compulsory Matsec in Maltese. I see this time and effort as a waste given the lack of language support he receives. The law is an ass, the system flawed and even though some high ranking politicians know the system is failing children, it is being perpetuated in the new curriculum. Note also, that some state school pupils have very poor English!

    Some non native Maltese children will be motivated to learn Maltese perhaps, pick it up by osmosis, or have schools that deliver tailored programmes to their needs. My son fits none of these categories. So, in brief, armed with this knowledge you need to know:

    a) if you intend to be in Malta when Matsec comes along
    b) ask probing questions of any private school you approach to see if they fudge the legal obligation
    c) in theory, break the legal reqs and just pull your kids out of Maltese post age 12.
    d) there is one school that is truly international, teaches in English and offer the international Bacc. at age 16 and 18 so is outside the legal obligations re Maltese curriculum. See Verdala School. It charges commensurately higher fees. I think two others offer Bacc to A level age – 18 – but not 16 – something to do with Catholic teaching not being part of the Bacc and Article 2 of the Constitution obliges schools to follow Catholic religious teaching. If you aren’t Catholic, that might be another issue to consider. See this for more on that:

    I hope this has helped a bit. Since your children are just in senior school these issues need careful consideration. That said, there are always workarounds and it seems most children in private schools do come out with a good education. And at senior school level, most subject books are in English, which means that you find state school teachers inevitably using English in class to convey the subject. It’s a bit hit and miss though. See also our post on Adult expats learning Maltese here:

  6. Great article and good comments section.
    My daughter and 2 granddaughters came to live in Malta last May and the oldest granddaughter who is 6 now attends Naxxar Primary which we are very happy with. We all have dual nationality and a large Maltese extended family but are struggling to help her with learning Maltese. We are seriously looking for private Maltese tuition and have come up with nothing so far. I believe that learning Maltese will greatly help her when she grows older but the starting process is very hard. I should add that I never managed to pick up Maltese and neither did my daughter so we are unable to help at grass root level.
    If you have a contact that I may approach with regard to Maltese tuition it would be so helpful at this time.
    Thanks again

  7. @Fred: a difficult one this to answer. I have a dual national son, aged 9, who struggles in Maltese at his private school which teaches in English. We did think about extra lessons, and his current Maltese teacher said she might be able to give an hour a week after school extra. I suggest you start by asking the school, check the local newsagents and post offices as I find cards are often stuck up on the counter re teachers giving extra lessons – though whether they can help younger ones rather than at Matsec level, I’ve no idea. Asking in local shops seems a good route to most info of this type! So ask around her locality in Naxxar. See this article too, which while about adult learners, does have some indication of how to think through the extra lesson issues – see the bottom of the post as it has links to other articles on the education system and its approach. Check also the small classified ads in the Times. And post on our Facebook wall a query and someone might pop up to help!

  8. Elizabeth, thank you so much for your quick detailed response and I shall certainly move on it. Looks to be a major problem here but let’s see what transpires..

  9. Salve,
    mi chiamo Rosella,avrei bisogno di aiuto in quanto sto cercando una scuola per l’estate.
    Vorrei trascorrere circa 4/5 settimane a Malta, mi farebbe piacere che i miei 3 figli di 6/8/10 anni avessero l’occasione di imparare l’inglese, ma ho difficoltà nel trovare una scuola per tutti e tre.

  10. We are moving for good to Malta in August this year, my husband is Maltese and he has all his family there, my daughter is 14 and I am very worried about if she will settle at school ( she speaks English and Spanish perfect but not Maltese) . We live in Australia and I do not know how it will impact on us… does someone have a similar experience to share with me?

  11. Hi Susanna
    We moved here from England last year with two girls, 11 and 12. We found the choice of private schools to be good and at a reasonable price by UK standards. Annual fees vary from euros 3,500-6,500.
    We chose San Antoni and we are all very happy with the outcome.
    The standard of education is generally very high here, and the schools very welcoming. I am sure you will enjoy the move.
    Good luck, David

  12. Hello,
    We are a couple (Husband French, Wife dual national US-French) interested in moving to Malta with our dual national 14-year-old son. He is bilingual French-English, but better in French. He also has Spanish as LV3. We are seeking advice on good high schools. We do not want our son to have to worry about learning Maltese. He has always attended good French bilingual private schools. Any advice?
    We much appreciate it.

  13. Kate,
    I’ve replied to you on mail as well, but as my comments may guide others, I’ve copied my thoughts here:

    First, let me put your mind at rest, your son won’t have to learn Maltese unless you wish him to! All expats can opt out of Maltese. All private schools teach in English and most have their quota of foreign nationals and make arrangements for them to follow other subjects during the contact hours of Maltese. Rest assured that you won’t have any trouble in finding a suitable school. There is no French speaking school here, but do contact the Alliance Francaise in Malta to see what they suggest. I think some French nationals do attend lessons there and presumably have the opportunity to sit the Bacc. The Int’l Bacc is on offer at three private schools. Your son may need some extra help in English to get him up to speed. There are plenty of private tutors around.

  14. Hi all,
    I am delighted to have found this thread, it is a lot more helpful that most of the official sites I have come across. My husband and I will be moving from Ireland to Malta at painfully short notice this summer with our 12 year old daughter. I would really like some feedback on any of the senior schools and reccomendations if anybody is willing to give one. Ideally a non-denominational school but I think they may be in short supply! I will be over in July to try to arrange accommodation and all the other fiddly bits and am hoping to view some of the schools but at the moment I’m not even sure where I should be looking!!
    Any help or advice would be very much appreciated!!

  15. Myself and my family will be moving to Malta next year my partner is Maltese but does not speak the language we have plenty of family there our children will be 8 and 9 we are worried about school and the language barrier any advise on schools would be great


  16. We are moving to Malta early next year and would like to find a school that is sport-centric? Any ideas?

  17. we are moving to Malta St Julians- with our 2 years boy…like visitors ,can i put hem in kindergarten and what are the prices… Thank you…

  18. Hi Dona,
    I will ask around for you re prices for kindergarten. I would think it’s fairly straightforward to put your son into one, even for a visitor-length stay. Some are just pay by the day anyway, and more casual. Others are attached to schools and perhaps would expect a terms’ fee, but if you explain I am sure they’d be happy to take your son for a shorter time. I’ll see if I can get someone to comment here on the specifics of your question.

  19. Hi ,could you please tell us the name off the school , we have two boy 9 and 7 years old from USA ,me and my wife will be visiting Malta second week of January , we like to know what is better town and pravet school or where to start .we will be moving in a summer for next year school

  20. Alex,
    It’s impossible to say which school or schools, but suffice to know that around 40% of schools here at private, fee-paying – which teach in English; and the state schools teach mostly in Maltese, though this depends on which town, and at senior level since books are in English, lessons tend to be too, whichever type of school. As to actual school names, try this list on Wikipedia – you will need to scan the independent school list, as well as state primaries. Church schools are not an option as children will have been placed in them by a lottery system. Towns – well, you will need to work out what you prefer – sea front (Sliema, St Julian’s, St Paul’s Bay, for example) or inland – north, central or south. It depends on your work location and logistics from work, home, school. I would see more of Malta first, and then contact schools once you have an idea where suits you. My son attends San Andrea (another school San Anton is next door) in the north-central region. Both these independent schools have a large foreign intake including USA and Canadian nationals, among Europeans, Russians and others.
    Hope this helps a bit.
    Here’s the Wiki link:

  21. Our children, aged 7 and 10, will start school in Malta on 7th January 2013. They will go to school in Swatar. They can speak english a little bit and would need at the beginning some reinforcement for the homeworks. Where can I find a good private tutor ? A dedicated and reliable student could also do the job.
    Thank you for your help.

  22. Lawrence,

    All in good time, I say! You will have no problem finding a private tutor for English – you can just ask the school itself as many teachers will do private lessons, even perhaps straight after school on school premises. So ask the head teacher for advice. Your children will be hearing English all the time so they will get up to speed at their age very quickly. You will also see private tutor adverts in local shops – though rarely for English (more often Maltese, maths etc). However, online yellow page might help. And you can also post a comment on our facebook page if you like to ask for help. If you’re in Swedish, there’s the Swedish-Malta club that might help too. Many members are parents. Here’s a link to our post on that on Malta Insideout.

  23. Hi there,
    My husband and i are moving over to malta in june with our 2 children aged 3 and 9. can anyone please tell me if you have to pay fees for church schools? do they teach in english in the church schools. would my children fit in ok in a state school. this is the only area of my move which is worrying me. im thinking of living in mellieha or xemjia, maybe even st pauls. please help. as i need to find the best school for them as i would like at least half of the classes to be taught in english, otherwise i think they may struggle.

  24. @Gemma,
    Thanks for your comments and I’ll try to help with your queries. The Church Schools aren’t easy to get in to – they are by lottery, and only at certain ages. Your 3 year old may well qualify to enter the lottery, but your 9 yr old wouldn’t as far as I know. There are two lottery entry points – somewhere around ages 3-5 yrs. I do know of people who’ve got kids into the senior years in church schools, after returning from overseas, but they tended to have connections already in them (ie. parent was himself at school there etc).

    Re state schools, if you choose an area like St Paul’s Bay you may well find that most, if not all, lessons are in English. Pembroke and Attard too I think have primary state schools that tend to teach in English, predominantly. Private schools all teach in English – Maltese is used in the playground perhaps at times, and by some teachers to reply to the odd question from a kid asked in Maltese.

    I think you will need to a) hunt for a suitable living area and b)at the same time, ask what the local state primary schools tend to teach in in that area. (b) will probably influence (a), if you are set on state primary schools. If you opt for private (fees far less than in the UK by the way), you will have considerable choice, if some financial outlay. For my 10-yr-old, I pay around 1,100 Euro per term. The fees are incremental with age. Church schools aren’t fee paying as such though I do believe that a certain contribution per term is requested – around Euro 50 I think. Which is minimal. Church schools are subsidised by the state – don’t ask why! But it’s another bone of contention here and a legacy of the past wranglings between church and state.

    The whole language Q within schools is a minefield in Malta right now as there are so many schools, of all types, struggling to deliver the curriculum teaching multinational, multi-ability, and multilingual classes. Most expat parents do end up being quite content with their choices, and few find the teaching inadequate. So, while it is a stress for you in your move, things will pan out OK I am sure.

  25. Hello, can you help me? I have settled somewhere at the intersection of San Gwann, St, Julians, and Sliema. I am looking for a school for my 12 year old son. The only school I have passed in the area is a school called Sacred Heart. The website for them I stumbled across has no contact information. Can you give me any advice or help about a good school in this area? My son speaks only English. We are Americans, have no relatives here, and do not speak Maltese.

  26. @Wendy,
    First up, Sacred Heart is a church school for girls only, so a non-starter for your son. Your choice of school will depend on whether you wish to pay school fees or not. I am not familiar with state schools in that area to know if most/some teach mainly in English. If your son is in senior years schooling, then you might find you can place him in a state school as a lot of work will be using English text books and therefore the teaching will use English (ie. in science lessons etc). Private schools won’t necessarily be within walking distance, so be prepared to use a) school mini van transport or b) drive him yourself. I know of Chiswick House and St Martins (Kappara-San Gwann area) – they are the primary and senior schools respectively of the same private entity. Otherwise, up the road in Pembroke (coast road, heading northwards) is Verdala International School (the most expensive school among private schools, to my knowledge). It will have a near 100 per cent intake of foreign children and US citizens among them.

    This wikipedia link has all the schools in Malta. I suggest you contact the Education Ministry urgently to discuss schooling for your son. They can probably guide you on which state schools are using English to some or a greater extent at senior level. My joint British-Maltese national son attends San Andrea near Mgarr and next to that school is San Anton – both have large foreign student intakes these days and teach in English. Fees are around Euro 1,100 / term for a 10 yr old and will increase around euro 100 a year as he goes up the school. I hope this helps a bit in your search, which will be urgent as we’ve started term! .

  27. Hi,
    I am looking to move from the UK to Malta at the end of March. I will be located either in Paola or Sliema. I have two kids, 7 (school year 3) and 4 (reception) years old. My kids speak English and Italian. Could you advice on what documents I need in order to enroll them to school and in your opinion which schools are better in those areas?
    I would like my kids to be taught in English as it will make the integration process easier but they will need to learn Maltese too as we intend to settle in Malta for good. I understand private school teach in English but I need to financially plan my move so if you could help me in details with a list of both, private and non, possibly with the price or how to get that information, I would be very grateful. Thank you

  28. @Antonella,
    I think you’ll find most of your queries answered if you glance at the comments thread above.

    A good place to start would be the links I gave the commenter above – Wikipedia for all schools in Malta; and the Education Ministry. Re Maltese, it could be useful if your children wish to stay on to University level here in Malta, as it is obligatory for children to sit the Matsec- current 16 age school leaving exams – in Maltese if they have been resident in Malta for 5 years prior to those exams. If you send your children to a private school, you will need to check carefully how dedicated they are to teaching Maltese as some make more of an effort than others. If they are still young, one option would be to send them to a state primary , teaching in Maltese primarily, for the very early years and then swap them to a private school later teaching in English. They will have English at home with you, but no doubt quickly pick up Maltese in school and in extra curricula lessons. That is what a Swedish friend of mine did with her youngest – sent her to the local primary school. It will depend on how you feel about that and what standard the local primaries in your chosen area are like. For private school fees, just talk directly to those you’re interested in. They will all have websites to browse (see that wiki link above for the lists).

  29. Hi Elizabeth can you help me pls? where i can find kids club after school with reasonable price an couple activities for 7-5 years old boy ,included the assistant of the clubs helping children there to speaking english doing the homework to pls i really need ?thanks for be a kind women i am waiting for you anwer ,have a lovely day ?trudi

  30. Hi Trudi,
    More and more schools are offering these after-curriculum clubs. I am not sure it’s easy to find an after school drop in club that is independent of a school though. There are the regular after school activities – sports, drama etc but those won’t necessarily be of use if you were seeking a couple of hours support while you work. I will have to ask around for you. Perhaps the best bet would be to use our facebook page to ask the query. I’ll do that now in fact. Which area are you looking for a club in?

  31. Hi Elizabeth,

    out of interest what is the scope on english teaching and speaking schools in gozo, do they have any? what are they like etc? as we have found a few properties over there which we also quite like, so may take the plunge to live there instead of on the mainland and travel back and forth for work if necessary.

  32. Hello,

    Thank you for your valuable info.
    I have been reading through these posts, however I still wonder whether my children can attend a state run school that instructs in English. Currently we are planning to come and live in Malta this summer. My son will be attending class 11 and my daughter class 9 this fall. I will hopefully be living near Sliema/St. Julian/Gzira area. Is it possible to enroll them in an state high school instructing in English? Also I was browsing University of Malts’s pages where it stats that Maltese language is not required for Foreign students. Is it required for my children to take some kind of national exam in Maltese of any sort, while attending high school (Junior and senior secondary levels)? I must lso mention that I can’t afford to pay for schooling.

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  33. Hi Ray,
    Both your children are senior school age and the state is duty bound to provide free schooling for them. As said somewhere in the thread of comments, English is used in a great many subjects at senior level simply because the books used are in English. Teachers will be duty bound to instruct your children, and most seem to work out a system of their own to accommodate non-Maltese speakers – easier in your case, as your children are English speakers. Imagine though, some schools have a great mix of children including N African, Scandinavian, Russian etc. Teachers are not really given any official guidance on how to teach multilingual and multi-ethnic classes. This is something the govt knows is a problem, and it commissioned a study over the summer on these issues – albeit looking primarily at third-country nationals (ie. non-EU) children.

    In the areas you intend to live, you should have no problem finding a suitable state school that can accommodate English speakers. Most Maltese slip from one language to the other without noticing, mid sentence, anyway. Do expect your children to be exposed to Maltese socially- in the playground, in the banter in some lessons etc. They will no doubt pick up some of the language. The law at present requires all children to sit the MatSec in Maltese (equivalent to GCSE level) if they have been resident in Malta for five consecutive years prior to the exam date. However, this is often waivered (unofficially!) and many foreign children simply don’t do Maltese at all, however long they’ve been in the country! My son was born here but I doubt he’ll sit the Matsec in Maltese as he’s so far behind in learning it. Maltese is not instructed nor examined as a foreign language. So, you can see, it’s each school, each set of foreign parents and each foreign child for themselves on this one. I have no doubt given the sheer numbers of foreign children in the state (and private) system, that the requirements will change in time.

    I really do recommend you contact the Ministry of Education to talk about suitable schools and chat through the English issue, and that you ensure you visit a short list of schools prior to the end of the summer term, so you can assess which suits your needs best.

  34. Thanks Elizabeth, I really appreciate your reply.

  35. My pleasure Ray – this thread is constantly updated and we try to give as comprehensive an insight as we can. If you need any more pointers, just ask away!

  36. HI Elizabeth, We are moving to Malta in august and my biggest concern is my sons schooling. He is 7 years old and is in grade 2 in a english school in Denmark .He Speak danish and english.As I understand some state school teach in english except from religion and maltetisk, but how do I find out which it is? Do you have some advice about good schools what ever they are privat or state schools and who are not that expencive.
    Thank you and have a nice day

  37. Hi Majbrittd,
    You are more or less correct in your reading of the article, and the various comments in the thread. State schools do teach in Maltese – that’s the general rule. It doesn’t matter what subject. Religion and Maltese are therefore part and parcel of the teaching (unless you opt out – issues which will need to be discussed with the school you choose). As to which primary schools tend to use English more, it’s really a case of the school(s) in question seeing that they have a large enough foreign intake of pupils, and adapting their own system of juggling English and Maltese languages. I have heard that Pembroke, Swieqi, St Paul’s Bay areas tend to have primary schools using English more; Attard in central Malta too, I believe. They have international intakes – esp. in St Paul’s Bay area. Their use of English for some of the time would be very much a decision made by the school, not the Ministry of Education, I believe. This is hearsay, as I’ve not seen anything written definitively about this. I do recommend if you are opting for State schools, that you contact the Ministry (link in thread above) to confirm this, and see what they advise.

    As to expense of private schools – San Andrea (Mgarr), where my son goes (teaching in English) is around 1,100 Euro per term I would estimate for Grade 7 (10 yr olds). I will check this and let you know tomorrow in this thread. It is not the most expensive school in Malta – that would be Verdala International. San Anton (Mgarr) and Chiswick in Kappara would probably be about the same as San Andrea. There’s also St Michael’s in Pembroke – I can also find out fees for this one. I can only speak from personal experience but San Andrea and San Anton both have a good mix of Maltese and foreign children in both primary and senior years. My son has Libyan, Spanish, Italian, British and US nationals in his class of 18. So just under half the intake are foreign or have one parent non Maltese. Scandinavian children are well represented in both these Mgarr schools. I also know of a Swedish lady who sends her 6 yr old to the local village school in Mgarr so she can learn Maltese. It is very much up to you. Your child is young enough to pick up Maltese whether you opt for state or primary schooling. In theory, as said earlier in the thread, Maltese is an obligatory subject. It would depend how long you intend to live in Malta whether you decide your child should opt out of Maltese. I know of an English family whose three children all do Maltese.

    You need to work out what part of Malta suits your lifestyle intentions – distances can be short even if you send your child to a school that isn’t in the immediate area – though traffic at rush hour can be bad here!

  38. Hi
    I Have found all the above very interesting, we are moving from Wales sometime in the next six months my son is four, will be five in August. He has already started school here as they start from the term before they are four in Wales. From what I have read I am unsure , would he go to a preschool if we move before September.
    Also in your experience what is the nicest area of Malta for families, with schools in mind (fee paying and state? ) and Perhaps an area where expats are more settled or accepted? If this exists?
    Also is there any particular schools with great sport facilities? And particularly rugby for children, this is important to my welsh husband!
    Is there a best school or better then average in Malta? In your opinion.
    Sorry to bombard you, my son is my biggest concern about the move as he really struggled to settle in the school he is at, so I really want toget this right first time!
    Lisa Mary

  39. Lisa,
    I’ll be online later to reply fully to your queries, but just to say, rest assured there are loads of expats here in the same boat, and few who find schooling ultimately an issue. Your son is still so young that he will no doubt integrate well, with all nationalities here on the islands. Pre-schooling is optional – so you may as well just start him at the officially required age for compulsory schooling, which is age 5, so the start of the autumn term. I’ll reply more fully this evening. My son is about to walk in the door from school, that’s why!

    Re rugby in Malta, we’ve a post on that here!

  40. Lisa,
    some more replies your queries:

    ‘expats accepted’ – How well do you know Malta? If you’re quite familiar with the islands, you’ll know that expats are ‘acccepted’ everywhere! There are of course some areas expats congregate more than others, but even this has changed over the years. In villages, like mine, in the 60s and 70s, older Brits would tend to buy up old stone farmhouses; now, new, incoming expats tend to favour more modern buildings but where they settle depends on budget. Tigne’ Point, Fort Cambridge developments for eg, are high-end and therefore have attracted families of people working in the online gaming industry; even then, I know many families who’ve moved here on account of jobs in this sector who’ve chosen to live in the countryside or villages. Horses for courses really. St Paul’s Bay and Qawra are very popular with expats and visitors and there’s less expensive property there. State schools in those areas tend to have a large foreign intake. Down south, in Marsascala, you’ll find new developments and a lot of reasonable property and as per St Paul’s Bay, coastal towns tend to attract expats more than inland areas. I think you’ll need to explore the islands and see what type of area suits you and your budget / expectations. You can rent somewhere temporarily and then hunt around.

    Re. Rugby at school – I don’t know of any school that offers this in the curriculum. Your children can probably play it after school hours with a club. This is the case for most sports when a child wishes to take it up seriously and train. School sport facilities vary and they just offer general sports mostly. Team and club playing level is definitely an after school thing in various clubs around the islands. See my reply and link to the post on rugby above.

    As to costs of schools, again, I can’t speculate on your budget, but Verdala International is the most expensive, and other private schools you’ll need to ask what their fees are. Again, see my replies earlier in the thread for most links and info you need on this.

    Re property, see this post and if you’d like to contact Anne Muscat Scerri, who wrote it and also assists expats in their property considerations, contact me by mail.

    Hope all this helps a bit. Good luck with the move.

  41. Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for you reply. It was very helpful.
    I’m doing some research on the state schools and in Febuary we will visit a few of them including some private schools.
    Do you possibly know anything about St Cathrines and Newark school?


  42. Hi Majbritt,

    Both are private schools. I guess you have girls? St Catherine’s is a girls’ school I think. Though that might have changed. Most schools are single sex here except some private schools. I did know the deputy head a few years back and it seems a good place of learning, though someone told me via the grapevine it can be quite strict. So, it depends on the atmos you are seeking. I can’t vouch for any school in particular, and as we all know hearsay isn’t the best way to judge a school. Make sure you have a good idea of the kind of questions you need to ask when you visit any school and ensure you don’t just get the PR blurb from the head. Ask some penetrating questions if need be, and try to see lessons in action. I know of people who’ve moved schools, even to the one right next door one and others who’ve moved the other way, so whichever you opt for, you can shift after a term if it isn’t working for your children.

    Newark is not one I know of, but I think it is keen on arts. That’s about it. Do feel free to ask on our Facebook page for more info. I hope it all pans out well for your move.

  43. Hi Elizabeth, thanx for all your help about school I am in the process of contacting few public schools directly. I wonder if you could advice on something else too.
    My daughter is three months old and allergic to cow milk protein and lactose intolerant. Here in UK the geriatrician has prescribed Nutramigen AA as the formula milk for her. This is a very expensive milk, £35 for 400g which last only three days. Here I get it for free. I can’t really find information about if and where I can get this formula milk or similar (100% hydrolyzed and lactose free) in Malta. Also do GP prescribe it and is it free or how much will it cost? Sorry to bother you, if you can suggest where to look I will take it from there.
    Thank you again for your help.

  44. Hi,
    My name is Andrea and I\’m from Romania
    I am planning to move in Malta with my son
    of 14. He should starting Secondary School
    and I am looking for some State school
    where the main language used is english.
    Now, I was reading about admission policy in
    the University of Malta and I find out that is
    required a Maltese language exam.
    Could you please confirm it? Is there an
    exception for non maltese citizen in order to
    avoid this exam?
    Thank you in advance

  45. Hi Andrea,

    I’ve sent you a facebook message as you asked the Qs there too. We do keep this thread very updated, and I think a lot of your queries have been addressed above, very recently too. So do take a minute to drill back up. Let me know if you’ve more queries we can try to help with.

  46. Hi Elizabeth, it has been quite challenging to find information online for the school, state school specially. I have sent so many e-mails and no-one has replied. I have contacted the ministry of education who gave me info which I already knew and the ones that I do not know they said to contact the school authority? Is this them? I wanted to ask what documents apart birth certificates, passports and school reports I need to enroll the kids and if I need to be resident for three months before accessing the state school as someone told me but which I can’t believe. Have you got any suggestions? Also is it true that GP and medicine, at least for kids are not free over there?
    Thank you

  47. Ann,
    I’ll reply to you in person on email on this one. Re medicine, if your children use the state polyclinics for vaccinations, it’s free. There is state health care of course. The polyclinics always have a GP on duty. Out of hours, you go to the main polyclinic (Floriana, and a few other key ones), or if emergency, then the hospital Mater Dei. For everyday illnesses (colds, flu etc and other first enquiries about something nagging) then go to any pharmacy and ask when they have a GP in residence – most have a morning GP hour and run regular evening surgeries in pharmacies. The costs is around Euro 4 a visit.

    Do be aware that there is no regular family doctor system as in the UK. This is bizarre and something I’ve not really understood all my time in Malta. ie. doctors you visit in pharmacies don’t hold records of patients. Some GPs do have clinics and surgeries, and so may see the same people and therefore may hold their records – it’s more a case of if they wish to for their ease than officially needed. I think this is changing though, but I am not yet sure to what extent. This link on the government portal seems to suggest that an e-health record system is being implemented in phases.

    Do be aware also that should you need to access state hospital services for free, you will need to show you are resident and paying taxes in Malta. EU cross-border visitors are entitled to reciprocal emergency care under the EU’s scheme. But this is aimed at tourists, not residents.

    Regarding the time you need to reside in Malta to enable your children to attend state school here, I would think that once your residency is official, schooling commences. Check with the Citizenship & Expatriate Affairs unit within the Foreign Affairs Ministry on this link. They may prove more useful than the Education Ministry at this juncture as you have residency to sort first, before schooling. I know that in the UK, I’d need to be resident for around 6 weeks before my child can start school and then it would depend on places being available; I know, because I enquired a year back at some UK schools.

  48. Hello,

    I am planning to move to Malta and I am looking for a good school for my daughter. She is Slovak girl of 16. She speaks English, but Maltese at all.
    Please advise me an appropriate school for her, but not private one. I prefer church school. Elizabeth wrote that to get there is the lottery, what can I do in order to get her there?

    I have read that there is symbolic tuition 50-100 EUR per month. Is it true?

    Many thanks for your reply

  49. Hi Alena,
    Of course your daughter will have no need to officially learn Maltese at school. She is arriving at school leaving age, almost, so is not here in Malta for five consecutive years before the Matsec (current school leaving exams at age 16-17yrs). Church school will not really be an option as one enters them at set ages and on a lottery system. One may even need residency for a given period to qualify to do that, but I am not 100 per cent sure. Places at Church schools are highly sought after and for obvious reasons as one is basically getting a type of private school for minimal fees. Hence the lottery system to allocate places. If you don’t wish to look at private schools, which are quite reasonable in fees compared to almost anywhere else in Europe, then you will need to seek a state school. The comments’ thread above has the various links to the ministry of education and wikipedia’s list of all schools in Malta. I suggest you try to work out where you might wish to live in Malta, and take that as a starting point re schools in your chosen area. Of course, one can send children to schools in other areas.

  50. Hi Elizabeth,

    Hope you are well,

    I am already in Sliema, Malta for nearly two months now. I am looking for a school which located in Sleima city, Malta for my kids. I would prefer if it’s English and Maltese spoken languages.

    My son has 6 years and should start primary School this year. However, my daughter has 5 years.


    Misoun Alhajji

  51. Misoun,

    I suggest you contact the Ministry for Education and consult the wikipedia list of Malta’s schools (see links to both above in the comment thread). There are plenty of schools around Sliema area, and whether state or private, you’ll generally find a mix of both languages spoken, though, as I’ve said above, do expect state schools to teach in Maltese. English will be used at times of course in state schooling.

  52. Hi, I will be moving to Malta in May and my main concern is finding schools for my kids one 7 and one 2 .. I talked to one school and they said its year end and they might have to wait till September.. Both my husband and I will be working so we need the kids to attend some kind of summer school.. does anyone have any advice of what to do ? we will be in the St. Julian/ Sleima area..
    Any help advice is welcomed , suggestions of schools also

  53. Hi Lyasir,
    Well, it’s not quite year end as term usually finishes around 26 June or so. And so if you’re moving early-mid May, then there’s a month to go. I would think private schools would be able to arrange a pro-rata fee for those weeks. I would think that state schools could be persuaded to accept your children; I am not sure what the time period is you can be resident here with children and not put them in school though I do know of a case where a Swedish family, about to leave Malta, didn’t bother putting their children in school for at least two months. I can’t really say which schools to opt for in the Sliema-St Julian’s area, but Pembroke primary has a large foreign intake and teaches in English, although it’s a state school (as far as I know). Pembroke is not far up the road from St Julian’s. Then private schools, you have St Michael’s primary which should be fine (also a good many overseas nationals in the intake). Just consult the Wikipedia list of Maltese schools (link further up this thread) and contact the education ministry as well to discuss this. I don’t think they have a unit specifically dealing with EU nationals moves to Malta but there is someone who deals with third country nationals’ needs – so perhaps s/he can help with some info / answers. Ask at the switchboard if you get that far! Good luck with the move.

  54. Hello!

    We are a family containing 2 adults and 1 son (Marcus) at 11 (nearly 12) years. We consider to move to Malta in the month of June this year. And we want to stay in Malta for 2 or 3 years. We have contact with Phoenix handball club, where Marcus have to play handball. Therefore we have some questions that we hope you will help us with:
    1) We have to find the right school to Marcus. It is important for us, that the school is nearby the handball club. And the school must have children from other countries. He is speaking English, but he has only been teaching in English for 2 years. Can you give us a good advice to choose a school?
    2) Then we have to find a place to live – nearby school and handball. Can you recommend an area or a city nearby the handball club?
    3) We are considering that Marcus have to learn more English before the start of the school. In summer. Can you tell us which options there will be in Malta for learning English? Is there a special offer for expats members?
    4) We are Protestants, and our children confirming their religion when they are nearly 14 years old. That means it will be in our period in Malta. Do you know, if the protestant church in Valetta (or other places) can help him prepare to this confirmation? He wants to be confirmed in the church in Denmark with his friends.
    5. I can see, that Marianne from Denmark, has asked you some questions in the month of January. And she have children nearly at Marcus´ age. Would you please give her my e-mail-adress, so she can e-maile me?

    We take on a holiday in Malta from 1. to 8. April. Here we will look at school, homes, handball clubs, jobs and so on….
    We plan to move from Denmark to Malta in the month of June. Depends on different things…

    I look forward to hear from you – and thank you in advance!

    Gitte Hansen, Denmark

  55. Hi Gitte,
    I’ve emailed you to answer your queries! Tnx for contacting us.

  56. Hi all.
    I am a 21 year old but obviously I’m taking into consideration the schools, crime rate & friendliness of the area for when I get children of my own.
    I have always had a soft spot for Malta because it looks like such a beautiful place and the climate but any mature thinker will always look further into a move abroad than just “It’s hot”
    I know that you may not of been everywhere in Malta but I do hope that you would know the most ideal part of Malta/Gozo I should move to.

    Obviously we are British people so English speaking parts is preferable
    I want to be near the North so i’m closer to Britain and the rest of Europe
    Good restraunts
    I don’t want to be in a MAJOR city like the capital and I want to be in a place where there are a good amount of shops.
    Near a place that has a football (soccer) team for my future children.

    Please email me if you have an idea. Any information to these points and beyond would be very much appreciated!


  57. Hi,

    Lots of really useful information on the site and its answering a lot of questions. With regards schools and driving times. Is it possible to,live in Sliema and have the kids go to San Anton or San Andreas? Google maps says its 24 mins drive. Is this realistic? Or over cautious? We have a 6 years daughter who needs to go to school, private so it’s definitely in English. Thanks for any help or if anyone can ask around.

  58. hi Phil,
    I know a good few people who lives in Sliema – St Julian’s and have their children in San Andrea or San Anton. Out of rush hour, you can do it in 24 mins (I have, and even in less time as my son is at San Andrea and I’ve been late at a meeting in Sliema at school pick up time!). However, realistically, in rush hour allow a good 40 mins. You can easily opt to use the school transport and save yourself having to do the drive. You may find that the children have to leave home quite early though. Malta is traffic choked, and it’s getting worse each year. I live 12-15 mins from San Andrea across country but still leave at 0730 to ensure I drop the children by 8am (half an hour before school starts) to ensure I don’t get stuck in traffic. After a few runs, you’ll work out optimum time and timings. Chiswick School is nearer to Sliema (in Kappara – San Gwann) and there’s also St Michael’s in Pembroke, and probably other private schools. The two San As are in greenfield sites out of town, which is something I prefer – a bit of space for kids to enjoy and some (fresher) air out that way.

  59. Am looking to move to Malta September time (start of term) and we have narrowed our search for schools to Chiswick house and st michaels for our children 2007 and 2009. We are however trying to find equivalent uk ofstead report (independent school review) and end of primary exam results (uk Sat) but cannot find anything. Any help would be great.

  60. Hi there, my twin boys are 8 years old and myself and my husband are looking to move to Malta. One of my children has hearing difficulties and wears hearing aids. He has a statement of educational needs so he can receive support at school and is achieving very well. My other son is an amputee but manages fantastically and lives a normal life. My questions are, if we sent them to private school, could we then pay for extra support for our hearing impaired son? And how is the general attitude towards disability? Obviously if we cannot get the support for our boys then we won’t be moving so we need to get this right, many thanks.

  61. Helen,
    From what I understand, whether your child is in a state or private school, the state can provide a facilitator to assist with special educational needs. I am not quite sure how the arrangement is organised, but I could try and find out for you. I think your first port of call is the Ministry of Education. I found this link dealing with special education services: and I suggest you see if you can contact the ministry regarding the organisation of these services within private schools since you are likely to opt for private as these schools teach in English. If I find out more from my son’s school re these issues, I’ll let you know. Perhaps also contact the Commission for the Disabled in Malta as they might have some lead and links for you too:

    And see also out latest article (homepage top left column) on Accessibility issues and talk to Breaking Limits (link in article), activist group on issues relating to people with disabilities. Many of them are young and will have direct experience of the educational system from their view point.

  62. Hi Gillian,
    To be honest, I don’t think there is such a publicly known equivalent in Malta with findings so readily available online. Obviously, there is a school inspectorate and the nearest dept I can find is the Department of Quality Assurance (contact details on this link here: So see if they can illuminate you. Do post back here if you find out more as it might help future expats with their queries. It’s a good idea to browse around the Ministry of Education website as I might have missed something else of use to you. Be warned, I have heard that they don’t seem to answer very quickly, nor quite know how to respond to many prospective expats’ queries! But I could be wrong.

  63. Hi there,my name is Paulina and I am from Bulgaria. I`m thinking over to move to Malta and my main concern is finding school for my 13 yo boy. I talked to one school – St.Martin`s College.I will appreciate if you have any opinion of the school.I`m lookin of high quality education and friendly environment.Also I would like to rent an apartment nearby the school.I am confused and a little scare of all these new things that are coming..and most for my son,how he is going to feel in the foreign country.Thank you very much


  64. Paulina,
    Schooling is generally of a high standard in Malta and St Martin’s is one of those that has a good reputation – it also has a large expat intake and so your son would find he’s in a class with many nationalities. The same can be said of most private secondary level schools in Malta. If you read the comments I’ve left above to others, you will get a good idea of the atmosphere and prices for schooling. San Anton, San Andrea, etc are also good schools, though not in the immediate Sliema-St Julian’s area. You will need to decide where you’d like to live, and then sort schooling, or vice versa. It depends if you wish to live in urban seafront towns or not. Do read the above comments for more info though as there is a lot of relevant info already outlined above that can help you in your decision and move.

  65. Hi we are moving to Malta later this year, my son and dauughter are ages 10 and 8 both half maltese but don’t speak the language, we are looking at San Andrea school as I want then to be taught in English, as I feel the move will be upsetting enough. I have not had any prices but If there are three terms at 1100 euro each are there any other costs and also whats the approx cost of school transport I am trying to work out some budgets, I will be a self employed electrician like here but my partner wont work so need to crunch some numbers, thanks in advance

  66. Damian,
    I suggest you speak to San Andrea regarding the fees to date. It is around 1,100 euros per term for 10-11 yr olds. Slightly less for 8 yr olds. Incremental each year. I don’t know what school transport costs are but factor in a good few hundred (think there are discounts for sibblings, not sure). The transport fees depends on your catchment area so you would need to decide where to live as charges are more with distance. Central or northern Malta for San Andrea are the usual catchments areas for kids but people do travel there from St Julian’s and Sliema. Here’s the school’s website: and the email for Early & Middle School:

  67. Hi Elizabeth,

    this article and comments have been very helpfull. I’m moving to Malta soon and my family will follow in october. I have couple of questions:

    1. i was suggested that Swieqi is a good palce for living with family – would you agree?

    2. my boys are 5 months and second one will be 6yo in late october. Must the older one start schooling this year?

    3. he doesn’t speak english, he just started to learn it – will this be a too big handicap for him when he starts school?

    4. when does school start this year?

    5. not really related with the topic but why not ask – did you hear if croatia comunity or serbian comunity exists on Malta?

    Many thanks for your replays,

  68. We moved to Malta last week and my son has a very basic english. I am looking for a good language school to help him to improve his english until september (when school starts). Any suggestion?

  69. Hi Fabiana,
    There are around 40 language schools on the islands, so you have a vast choice. I’d suggest Elanguest, which is running an 15% discount offer via us on Malta InsideOut. See this link here: just scroll to the end of the article for the offer link.

    Your choice of language school might depend on where you are based on the Islands and how far you wish to travel. Most are in the Sliema-St Julian’s area, but some operate from St Paul’s Bay. A full list of language schools can be found on the Visitmalta website.

  70. Hi Sebastjan,
    Just to say I’ll be answering your queries in detail later today, but none of the issues you mention should be stumbling blocks to a smooth move to Malta and your elder son should be fine. You are not alone in moving with non-English-speaking children and some (private, not sure about state) schools do provide extra English for non-native, or non near native tongue speakers, usually during the scheduled Maltese classes. Yes, there is a large Serbian community and probably a good number of Croatian expats here too. The Serbian community is well integrated and numbers many creative, entrepreneurial people – Kinemastik, an arts movement here, was, I think, mainly the brainchild of members of the Serbian community. See if you can connect with them via Kinemastik. I’ll reply in more depth later.

  71. Sebastjan,
    Replies to your queries:

    1. Swieqi is very central to all the main resorts, nightlife, key shopping areas etc. It is a very urban area. I think you’d need to decide what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for as a family. It is a very popular place and can be very busy in parts but is somewhere sought out by families. Do some reconnaissance before you come here. Contact estate agents to show you a variety of places in various parts of Malta. St Paul’s Bay, further north, is also popular with expats who have families.

    2. Yes, your six-year old would have to start school this autumn. The obligatory starting age is 5 years. Most children attend school of some sort from around 4 years (if not kinder years too) in Malta.

    3. Not having English to begin with will make his life a little difficult so I suggest you plan to have extra English lessons outside school hours. He is very young and will therefore pick it up quickly. I am not sure what the state schools (which teach in Maltese) offer by way of extra English but some areas of Malta, such as St Paul’s Bay, have so many foreign national children in the class that they teach in English. Private schools teach in English. I know of several families who’ve moved here with children with no English and within a year, or less, they are settled and speaking fluently.

    4. Schools generally start late September – anytime from around Monday 23th I would think. It depends on whether they are state or private schools. My son starts back on Tuesday 24th September. I would suggest you plan to be here for the start of term if you can as that might make life easier for your son.

    5. Answered this above – short reply is that you will find compatriots here. I think the Serbian community is the largest single expat group in Malta in fact.

  72. Hi everyone. Iwould like to know what happened to your children. what schools do you recommend and which schools you have had problems with. I HAVE A SON BORN -02 and he will begin in school in Malta next We are from Sweden. Thanks

  73. Gabriella,
    Expats are moving here in droves with kids and also leaving! It’s a constant in and out flow – the person who wrote this post has now left Malta but says that their childrens’ years here (around 4-5) were valuable for life skills and not detrimental to their continuing in education back in the UK. So, I suggest you ask us or our site users some specific queries that you might have, and we’ll see how we can help with some info for you. Rest assured, most expat children do well here, settle in quickly, make firm life-long friends who they keep once they’ve left Malta, and remember the place fondly. A different country for a few years does give children an edge, I believe and standards of education are for the most past very good here (in comparison, for eg to the UK state schooling system.

  74. Hello again Elizabeth:

    First of all, thank you very much for your patience with all our questions and for taking the time to provide thoughtful insights and responses. It really helps us newbies a lot. You are an excellent resource and I cannot thank you enough.

    That said, I have a couple of additional questions I am hoping you can help me with.

    My husband and I have been in Malta for about 7 months now, and my 12 year old son has now joined us. We live in Qawra.

    My son who is now 12 has spent his entire educational life in the USA school system. He doesn’t speak any Maltese whatsoever. Neither do my husband and I. In the USA school system he was a Gifted and Talented student, meaning he performed skills higher than those for his age group.

    Considering he is in a new country, which is already daunting, I would really like his transition into the Maltese educational system to be as painless as possible.

    The first thing I should point out is that my son suffers from motion sickness, so he cannot be in a school bus, school van or transport for more than 15 or so minutes each way. Clearly, this limits our options, but I am willing to move to ensure my son gets the best education possible based on our circumstances.

    Because it was late in the term when he arrived, and due to his commuting issues, I opted to home-school him for the last weeks of the school year using an American home-school program.

    I have also thought long and hard about home-schooling him next year, but my son has expressed an interest in attending a brick and mortar school as it is lonely for him, not having friends.

    In order to make an informed decision, I searched high and low to find out which state Secondary School the kids of St. Paul’s Bay attend, but have been unable to figure it out. Can you help?

    This would be my first non-home schooling choice for my son since its local and I’m assuming the commute would be short. However, I would also like to convince myself first that the level of English taught at the school is up to par. I say or mean this in no bad way but some of the English I’ve heard spoken and seen printed in the local papers is of a very poor level (although I’m sure the English spoken by the Maltese is MUCH better than any Maltese I could ever hope to speak).

    Considering he’s at the Gifted and Talented level, I want my son to have the best education and every advantage possible BASED ON OUR CIRCUMSTANCES.

    Our circumstances are that we cannot afford most of the private schools, except for NEWARK in Sliema. That would probably require me moving to the Sliema, though, as the commute from Qawra would easily frustrate both my son and me within a week.

    If you have any information of any state Pembroke secondary schools, I would appreciate your insights on those as well. I am not averse to moving to Bahar ic-Caghaq or Pembroke if necessary. I am not very keen on living inland or the St. Julian’s to Sliema drag just because of the crowds and high traffic.

    Any insights or advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated.


  75. Wendy,
    I can understand your issues, frustrations and anxiety now that we’re just over a month before schools start again for the new academic year. However, your queries are very specific and I personally don’t have the answers you need. All I can advise is that you contact the Ministry for Education and see if you can set up a meeting to determine the best way forward for your son. Home schooling, at present, is not legal in Malta though it is probably on the cards under the current administration. State schooling is in the Maltese language, with some teachers and/or schools adopting English at secondary level according to the subject taught (science and computing for example will no doubt be more in English as text books are in English). I can’t vouch for the level / standard of English taught in the actual English language lessons. Some teachers would have heavy accented English, others not; I would hope that all teachers of English have requisite proficiency in the language, and literature, though. Really, unless you pay for private schooling your son will be exposed to a great deal of Maltese socially and in lessons. If he is bright, he will navigate his way around this and no doubt pick up enough to have a good social life in and outside school. Sadly, I fear there is no standard procedures adopted, to my knowledge (ie. a directive from the ministry) in state schools on how to approach the issues relating to teaching non-native language children, nor has there been any comprehensive studies done on the issues faced by and the specific needs of expatriate children from EU and third countries within the state schooling system. There was some effort made last year to look at third country migrant children within the state system but I don’t think any actions have emanated from it (yet). The change of government in March might see a renewed effort. I for one think Malta needs to get to grips very speedily with this educational mess. Why can’t some state schools teach in English and some private schools in Maltese? Or both recognise the parity of both languages? The legacy of history has created this anomaly and split in state-private educational systems. My son struggles in Maltese (compulsory) in a private school which teaches in English. Other EU countries ensure incoming migrants have free or heavily subsidised language courses for non native speakers. In Malta, any extra lessons in either English or Maltese languages have to be paid for privately by parents. My last word is don’t worry too much! If you are an English-speaking household, your son will have the language exposure at home even if the English he hears at school falls short of your personal standards. And I know a lot of teens from Malta who go to university in the UK and perform excellently; their qualifications here are judged as equivalent.

  76. Hi all
    All theses comments are so useful. Thanks for the interesting read. I need to ask a couple of questions myself though….I attended school in Malta as a child until I was about 11years old (born in Australia but maltese father) I have fantastic memories of that, be it 30 years ago. I have recently been over to Malta on a short vacation while travelling europe and fell in love with it again. My husband and I are considering moving over for a few years to give my daughter the experience of another country. She will be 15 when we arrive next year. I was considering coming around May to locate schools for her. I understand the summer holidays are roughly between july and sept. Will any school be available to see or enrol or to get info from during the break? (probably a silly question!) I thought that maybe if I could enrol her in a school the last few weeks of the year,(say may and June) she may be able to make a few friends before the long summer break. Do you think that is a good idea or just come closer to the new year starting.? ? I was hoping to get her into a state school so she will get the most opportunity of having friends that speak maltese and hoping she will pick up the local language as I did as a child. Also at that age, is she at the end of school age and will she have to leave school and go to University or work??In Australia at 16 she can leave school to work or do university courses. Just considering her options for the near future.
    Many thanks in advance for your help

  77. Catherine,
    First up, 15 is a dicey age to move schools as your daughter will be well into what is probably a 2-year syllabus (in Aus) to school leaving exams at age 16. The Matsec school leaving certificate in fact has a three-year lead time, so she will have a lot of work to do to catch up. Obviously, landing in a Maltese-speaking school will be tough for her though at secondary level the language will be interchanged as some subjects will follow textbooks in English and teachers will no doubt be able to translate (even if that will hold up their teaching of the entire class). I point all this out as it won’t be the easiest age to integrate your daughter into Maltese nor the schooling system if you opt for state schooling. All private schools teaching in English offer Maltese (except for Verdala International) and a good number place a great deal of emphasis on children’s ability in Maltese even if the school teaches in English. They are duty bound to enter children for Maltese Matsec – any child in education here for five consecutive years prior to the school leaving certificate has to take Maltese (though many foreign children do sit it out and school / ministry turns a blind eye). Either way, either system, your daughter will be sitting Matsec leaving exams with what seems like a lot of work to do. You’d need to look at her birthday date to ascertain which year she would enter. I suggest you speak to the Ministry for Education before making any moves and talk through all these issues with them.

    School leaving age is 16 but obviously children stay on to sixth form level and attend that either at the same school they were at or a Junior College, which is a bit like a half-way house to university. There are several junior colleges on the islands. She can leave at 16 and work of course, if she wishes.

  78. Thanks Elizabeth for the wealth of information. In Australia we no longer have the School Certificate as of last year (yr 10) or at about 16 years of age.
    So my plans were for her to get some sort of apprenticeship or attend a college course of some sort if we stayed in Australia. So i will give the ministry of education a call tomorrow for more information. Either way I will just have to hope for the best for the year or two that she attends school and decide what to do after that. Private schooling I suppose will have to be the better option for her though. Her birthday is in February. So when we arrive about May she will have just turned 15. At the moment she attends a state high school with just average marks. So we were expecting a bit of a struggle when we arrive. Didnt realize it may be more then we first thought. Thanks again for the info and I better start looking for some private schooling for her. I am assuming none of the schools will be open for applications etc during any of the holiday time. So I will need to organise that before the school year ends.

  79. Catherine,
    Schools generally do have admin and senior staff in situ during part of the summer holiday, and emails should be answered (that’s the case at the private school my son attends – San Andrea). The leaving certificate is taken at around age 16 and is obligatory. Some subjects are quite demanding though your daughter would clearly not be needing, nor sitting Maltese. Malta has a very competitive educational system and getting the Matsec is an important step in most children’s lives. If she intends to do a vocational course she will need some exams passed in Maths and English to attend MCAST (science and technology college which offers everything from design to hairdressing). So reckon on some sort of push in her education to ensure she is equipped to enter tertiary or the world of work. It depends on her motivation and interests. I think a good reconnaissance trip devoted to her needs and schooling / ministerial visits and to individual schools would be a good idea before you move more permanently. She might not like the set up her either! Best for her to suss things out, at her age, I think.

  80. Hi Elizabeth, Very interesting site and comments! We are a British family at present living in malaysia but looking to move to Malta this September. We have been searching schools but are coming up against a problem. My 11 (soon to be 12) year old daughter has just completed year 6 (she attends British International school in KL (malaysia) and would be starting year 7 but here they say she would go into year 8 because of her birth year. Do you know if year 8 is equivelant UK year 7 or would my daughter in effect be ‘missing’ a school year. The same is being said for my son who should be going into year 3 but is being told he will go into grade 4.
    I am getting awfully confused as no one seems to be able to tell me if they are jumping years or not.
    Any help appreciated.

  81. Hi Pamela,
    Your children aren’t going to be ‘missing a year’ at all. It’s probably that the Maltese system takes children in a certain grade according to calendar year birthdays Jan-Dec and not in line with the UK system of taking academic years from Sept – end following August. So, for example, my son just turned 11 in August, a week back, and will be starting senior school in a month’s time. He enters Grade 7 in Maltese parlance. Your daughter is a year ahead, hence will be in Gd 8, which is the second year of senior school. Confusingly, however, my son’s school actually call the first year of senior school Grade 8 but other schools don’t so be aware that some private schools ‘do their own thing’ on naming years! There is no missing a year at all in this, as it’s a case of how the year is divided up. Don’t worry!

  82. Thanks. We are now looking at San Andrea. We tried Chiswick school but unfortunately they didn’t have any spaces. San Andrea say most of the years are full but there may be places in my children’s year. My youngest is also an August baby so they are saying he will be in grade 4 (thanks for the clarification that it is indeed year 3) however from what you say Christina will be entering grade 9, year 8 (because if she had been born in Malta I guess she would have started school in 2006 not 2007!) I guess that is the difference with summer and winter babies!!! Still she is bright and used to being an ‘expat’ so hopefully will be fine.
    It would be nice to meet up sometime when we finally arrive!! We are really looking forward to leaving the tropics and experiencing winter again (after 7 years!!) but as everything in Malta is going to be so different compared to Malaysia it would be great to speak to someone who obviously know the Island inside out!! I will post our arrival dates (as soon as I know them! 🙂 )

  83. Hello Elizabeth!

    We are mooving to Malta with my husband and my little daughter 1 year and 8 month old! i dont know yet in which neighbourhood we will live but our work place is very near to the airport I am recearching in internet, trying to find info about kindigartens and day care facilities. now i know already about benefits (tax return) and i have a list of the schools from which we can choose one. But unfortunately i can find nowhere either costs of kindigartens, neither its work hours! If u could provide me some information according these questions i would be very gratefull!!!

  84. Hello All,
    It is great info…
    My family are going to move to Malta from Libya, I have 5, and 4 years old duaghters. Mariam my oldest has been in a british School in Libya for KG-1. till now I have no clue about where I will register them? I do not mind Maltez pyblic schools but the language will be a real problem as they speak Arabic and Fair English.

    I also have no idea about the fees? in Public or Private schools?? we are still busy with the finishing of the flat in Attard we just bought, my wife is very concerned about the schooling so do I, even in terms of budgeting our expenses.

    I would really apprecaite some advise


  85. Hi, we just arrived in malta last wednesday. My employer in italy brought me here with my husband who will be working for his company too. And we have a 9yr old daughter.
    My employer is currently working on our employment documents. But the problem is, it will take monthsss before it is released and we need to send our daughter to a state school this september. And to enrol, we need the e-id and the residence permit.
    So, the first step is to get a residence permit firts? Or should we go to ministry of education first? I know for sure they will ask for e-id. So i was thinking i should apply firts for e-id.
    Is applying for residence permit different from e-id? Or is it when we apply for residemce permit they will give us the e-id? Or are they diffrent things??? Im totally confused! Please help.
    How can my daughter go to school this sep if the processi g of ids and permits take so long? Im worried she might get stuck at home???? Please i need ur advise regarding the first step to do . I cannot wait for our employment docs bec it will take more than 5mos they say. My daughter should go to school…

  86. Hi Elizabeth,
    Wondered if you could offer some advice on internet connection and satellite tv connections in Malta. Is there a main company that deals with phones/internet/satellite?? is this a quick and easy process??

  87. Hi, we are planning to move to Malta from England sometime next year, we have a 3 year old son. Could you give me a rough idea of private school fees for when he starts school at 5yrs old?
    Thanks 🙂

  88. For me the worst school is Newark. It is a small and very strange school. It looks like an office, not a real school and the head master is not really friendly. You can see the bilding and compare with other schools..

  89. Was just wondering if anyone could help me with the start dates of the new year in 2014. We arrive 10th May 2014, and just wanted to know how many weeks my daughter may get to go to school before the summer break.
    Thanks for your help…..

  90. Catherine,
    Most schools break up late June. My son’s school diary says 27th June, 2014. I would reckon on around 6 weeks of schooling then for your daughter. But most expats arriving so late in the year, would simply cope with settling in and finding the right school for the autumn rather than worrying about a few weeks summer schooling. I think schooling would be dependent on your already having residency, which may take you all those 6 weeks to sort out. Some expats moving one way or the other simply home school (unofficially) for intermediate short period like this. You need to work backwards on a tight time frame to sort residency on arrival to ensure she has a place at your chosen school at the right time.

  91. Hi, me and my family are portuguese and we are at the present living in Spain. I have 2 daughters of 3 and 10 years age. We are going to live in Malta as soon as the school in Spain ends (probably beginning of June) and we are having some afraid about what we can find in terms of education for my daughters. Does exist equivalences between system education? Does, at least, the old one need to do any type of exam? In terms of private schools, how much can cost the annual fees? Where can we go there to look for informations?
    Thanks for your help

  92. Joao,
    Rest assured that Malta has a great many expats’ children, native English-speaking and not, in its schools; more in the private schooling system but also some in state schools (depending on the area of Malta). At my son’s private school, he actually has three Spanish children in his class this year (first year of senior), as well as Austrian, Libyan and Italian children. And there are around 30 nationalities among the students throughout the school. Expat children do get on OK here in the schooling system, and most learn English well enough within a year if not English speakers to start with. I can’t comment on any comparison of the Maltese system with that of Spain or Portugal but I would think it is rigorously academic enough and covers a wide enough range of subjects in the curriculum for you to be confident about your daughters’ futures; certainly many Maltese go on to study at tertiary level overseas without any issues arising as to comparison of exams. As to fees, I think if you read the comment thread above you will get an idea of the fees charged. I pay Euro 1,400 for a term for Grade 8 (year one in senior school, aged 11-12 yrs); the fees are incremental as children go up the school. That is among the top rates though one school in particular does charge considerably more (it is an international school with very few Maltese attending). State schooling is free.

    There is little by way of overview info on the schooling system here, so I suggest you contact individual schools – see list here. Ignore the Church Schools as you need to enter a lottery to get your children into those (they are semi-private, church-related and part state funded). Look at Independent and Private schools, and of course state if you like (bear in mind state schools teach mostly in Maltese). San Andrea, San Anton, Chiswick are those sought out most by expats. But shop around. Do also see our latest article on this site which talks about one South African couple’s experience of schooling for their then 15 year old. It will give you some advice too. Speak also to the Ministry for Education – I think you need to resident here before applying for state schools, but private schools will have their own requirements.

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