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St Clare's Pembroke

Hi
My daughter is also at this school in year 3, and I believe the children who don't speak English go for lessons in the morning before returning to continue with their class for the afternoon.
The school is very multicultural & the children mix well regardless of the language barriers and they learn from each other.
The office staff will answer any questions you have before you start if you need more information.

Was your son happy in his new school? We just moved from Isle of Man and our son is starting next week at St Clarence Secondary school.
I hope it will be a good school.  I am concerned that some have said that tells teachers do nor show up. How will they manage their exams?
Fingers crossed.  🖒

hi.  my son started at the primary last year and is in secondary this year at pembroke. 

maltese schools are a little bare bones in some ways and do not have substitute teachers.  so if your child's teacher is sick or has a personal errand or any number of things, your child will likely just be sent to another class along with another child or two.  this alternate class will likely be a different grade altogether and not in the same year as your child's regular class.  this was how it was in primary.  in secondary, it sounds like someone will mind the class in the regular classroom but there won't be any instruction.

it sounds kind of bad on the surface.  but, practically speaking, substitute teachers hardly ever do anything more than give busy work.  so when i think about it, it doesn't seem such a big deal.

i think the maltese education standards are fairly solid.  there is an annual exam for nearly every subject starting in year 4.  for the 11-benchmarks, the median scores generally hover around the mid 70s.  a score above 80 gets you into the advanced classes for the core subjects (in secondary school): english, maltese and math.

while the exam standards seem fairly high, i am not sure the teaching is particularly "concerned."  i think the attitude is that the teacher teaches and the student's job is to learn.  if a child does not learn, it is a failing on the part of the student rather than on the teacher, which i suppose is fair.

there is heavy emphasis on writing for both maltese and english.  but the grading (at least for my son) was not very helpful.  typically, there'd be a single comment along the lines of "good" or "write neatly" or something else fairly vague.  i had to do a lot of the heavy lifting on the minutiae of the actual writing.  maybe not surprisingly, the median scores for the writing portions of the benchmark exams were below 70 for english and below 60 for maltese. 

i'm not sure a private school would have done a better job with writing skills.  i do, however, like it a lot that at state schools, students are evaluated to a national standard at least once a year. 

aside from learning maltese itself, which is a daunting task for many, students are also expected to learn social studies in maltese.  but for st. clare, the education department appears to have made an exception for foreign students and the instruction is given in both english and maltese.  students have the option to take the social studies exams in english at year end.  the mid-year exams, however, are all in maltese and starting in form 3, students must take them in maltese.  i'm not yet sure how that's going to work out for my son. 

more resources for foreign students exist in the secondary school than in primary schools just because the sheer number of foreign students will be higher in the former. 

there are some frustrating details such as the lack of soap and toilet paper in the bathrooms.  but all in all, govt school education has been a surprising benefit to living in malta.  i think st. clare is a good option for many foreign families.

Thank you for this! It is a fantastic and very helpful post!

I heard from the heads of departments at Pembroke Secondary that all the social studies subjects will be taught in both Maltese and English going forward and both the mid-year and annual exams will be given in both Maltese and English. 

In addition, the Education Department has developed a Maltese language curriculum for foreigner students that will treat the subject as a foreign language, akin to learning Spanish or French, etc.  Students will likely be exempt from having to learn native-speaker level literature and writing standards for native speakers.  It is a very positive development for foreigner students.  The curriculum is ready to be implemented but there are some bureaucratic glitches  that need to be sorted out first.  It is uncertain when it will  be rolled out but sounds promising.

All of my maltese friends went to private schools here :o and they are not all rich :gloria  :D they say that for some payment it is a lot lot better... there are some problems growing in the society, unfortunately in Malta, too

Many schools do offer payment plans for residents, it is worth talking to the individual schools i would suggest. I have found the level of education in the private schools to be much better than state in my own experiences

My kid just finished first year in Pembroke Secondary.  Here are some thoughts. 

First, the curriculum is very good.  There is tracking for English, math and Maltese.  The other classes are mixed/general.  My kid is in the highest track for English and math.  So what I say might not apply to all classes. 

The math introduced beginning concepts in algebra and geometry this year.  It is certainly ambitious.  I have looked at the math curriculum for years 2 through 5 and they don't seem to ramp up too much going forward.  They continue with the geometry and algebra concepts and introduce some statistics. 

I have some problems with this type of "Singapore style" math instruction because I don't think it teaches either algebra or geometry (or statistics) thoroughly.  I would prefer courses called "Algebra" and "Geometry" and "Statistics" where each topic is reinforced in depth.  It's not happening at this school but I'm not sure it's happening at any school in Malta -- maybe at Verdala or QSI where they follow an American curriculum.  Anybody with experience elsewhere please chip in.

This brings me to a related topic in Maltese education.  The standards are high, the delivery is nonchalant.  My kid apparently gets homework most days.  But he is able to finish all of them during school hours and hardly ever studies at home.  This works OK for my kid in math, science and history where he has high interest and retention.

But it's not enough reinforcement for the languages where practice is key.  He has learned minimal Maltese and Spanish over the last year.  I was actually shocked at his level of (lack of) proficiency.  I now ascribe foreign students' inability to learn Maltese to the dearth of homework. 

The same goes for English.  There is much emphasis on writing at his level.  It is admirable but the feedback his teacher gives has been minimally helpful. 

Fortunately, I have the time to give extensive help in all these areas.  But if I didn't, I am not sure my kid would be learning any Maltese or Spanish or essay writing.  So parents have to take into consideration their child's ambition/drive and the parent's own ability to spare the time necessary for supplemental instruction if the child is lacking in self motivation. 

The education department, however, gives a lot of guidance on the topics covered in each subject area so parents can easily figure out where their child needs help.  The past annual papers go a long way. 

As a side note, the student body seems to have some rough edges.  My kid has seen some fights break out and once a trio of Maltese girls interrupted a class (have no idea why they were in the hallway) and when the teacher told them to leave, they told her to f-off.  For whatever reason, Maltese children seem to be at the center of most of these incidents.  I am not worried about the "bad element" but it's something some parents might think about. 

On the other hand, my kid has made some really great friends and really enjoys being at school. 

I still plan to continue with the state system.  Going forward, I have a better idea of what to expect from the school and I think my kid will learn a lot more next year -- with a lot of guidance from me.

Parents considering schooling options should look into how much "hand holding" is given in private schools (it might or might not be more than at state schools) and their children's level of discipline and self-motivation to decide which option to choose among state, private and church schools.

Hi guys, thanks for the information. I am still quite confused, do they have all lessons in English or is it Maltese? I am thinking about signing my son at St. Clare but since he doesnt speak any Maltese the lessons have to be in English. He already speaks 3 languages and I am afraid that he might mix them up even more with Maltese as a fourth language ;)

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