State vs Private School

My son is the tender age of four months and private schools in Malta are already booking up fast for his entry year. In fact if he had been born just two weeks earlier we would not be able to get a place at all... Crazy!!!

We went to visit San Anton School today and loved the school. Unlike the UK there is no entry criteria - you just get on the waiting list and pay the fee.

I asked the lady who showed us around what the difference is between San Anton and other schools and she refused to say anything (I thought it was weird but!!) She said it would be unprofessional of her to comment on other schools. Wondering if anyone can enlighten me.... Do the private school kids get better grades/better university places? Do they have better teachers or facilities?? Wider subject choice? And does anyone know the difference between San Anton and other private schools (apart from possible difference in costs).

I know that some of the benefits for private school vs state school are: teaching in English , and potentially less focus on religion (we see this as a benefit as we are not religious).  And I guess maybe the prestige of going to private school. But I'm not sure why else really people would choose a private school.

Would be really interested in your opinions.


All factors considered, State schooling offers the best deal and value for money.

Can you elaborate on the factors?

You will end up paying for private lessons whichever route you go down. That's if you want the child to pass exams.

I think that teaching in English and no/little focus on religion are the two main factors actually. Also better facilities.

We've been looking at all kinds of private schools for our son (six months) in both Malta and other countries and our main requirements are: English used for teaching with local-language lessons as an extra, good results (these aren't made public in Malta), good facilities (San Anton and San Andrea have better facilities than many public schools), no focus on religion at all, healthy school meals (really varies from school to school) and an option to study for a IB diploma later on (I know that Verdala offers this in Malta).

Private schooling in Malta is very cheap (except Verdala) compared to anywhere else in Europe. Which is a big plus as teaching quality is pretty good from what I hear (no first hand experience).

I don't understand private schools, or why people would want to support such a system.

Call me an idealist, but isn't it a country's duty to provide decent, free education to its citizens? Why should people fork out thousands and thousands of euros to send their kids to school? Is it something else we want to copy from Britain?

I think there's something deeply undemocratic about private schools: if you're rich, fine, if you're poor, sod it, you have no choice but to send your kid to public school.
What's wrong with sending everyone to the same school?

Former PM Mintoff back in the days tried to ban private schools (or payment for church schools). Yet everybody went on strike, church schools shut down, there was a massive uproar, people actually wanted elitist schools and to pay through the nose for them. Go figure.

Yet I bet you have a "private" car !

Because you can afford it and "poor" people who can't have to use public transport.

Socialism and communism do not work because people are not the same.

Some people want better education for their children and some spend money on bigger cars.

Its called freedom to choose and it works in a democratic society (even one as corrupt as Malta) because it creates jobs that create money.


Private schools are a thing pretty much everywhere in the world. Just like private healthcare, private daycare, private classes/after school activities of all sorts... there's a "private" option for most things these days. Supply and demand. Banning private schools would be ridiculous.


My son went to San Andrea last year & we removed him! They do focus on religion - all schools in Malta do!
My children are now happy & settled at schools in Pembroke (Santa Klara college primary & secondary) but you need to be in the catchment area.
If you and your partner both work, there's also the free childcare scheme for children upto 3yrs when they start - it has been a godsend to us & Jolly Jumpers nursery has been fab with my son!
Like someone else said, the central areas will make it an easier transition for your kids as it more international.

Why did you remove your son from San Andrea Micat? Did you have any problems with the school?

I've heard both good and bad things about schools in Pembroke (and Malta in general)... I suppose it depends on your individual expectations? How can it be that some people report very average teaching quality at best, poor facilities, too much focus on homework and so on whilst others say the exact opposite - superb staff, excellent facilities, great teaching quality, etc. I just don't get it. Especially things like facilities - they're either good, average or bad.

My son was not learning anything and he wasn't happy there - he felt that as we are not 'really rich' (as he put it) he did not feel like he fit in. The way they teach is very different from the UK - some of the teachers were not as professional as I would have expected (I worked in education in the UK for 10 years so I know how things should be). If he wasn't sure about something and asked for help, he was told to do extra study at home - which is fine if you understand it! It seemed like they were there to deliver the lesson & that was it!
In the UK he was in the top sets for all subjects, but within a couple of months, his confidence was shattered and he was put in the lower sets - i feel it was simply because the staff weren't interested in helping him. There is a culture of having private after school lessons here and I think the teachers rely on this for students to pass. His French teacher was very arrogant - stating to me that he taught French properly, not like they do in England and that's why English kids struggle in the lessons - I am aware they can't spend time with everyone, but to do nothing is a little unfair!
There  were a couple of other things that i wasn't impressed with -there was a lot of staff absence , they were always asking for money for things too and some staff tried to pressure my son with religion, even trying to make him partake in Mass - which is totally unacceptable, especially as it we opted out!
Since moving to a state school (he has repeated last year) he is doing well and is again going back up the classes to the top sets and reaching his expected levels.
Let's just say, it was an expensive lesson

Hope that helps

I suppose it depends on what facilities there were at their kids previous schools - as that's what they have for comparison!

There has been quite some discussion of state vs private schools in this forum, but I don´t see anything about church schools. I am wondering if they are an option for a non religious expat family.
Does anybody have experience or knowledge?
Are they completely in english? How religious are they? Can the quality of education be assessed generally?


I am glad to hear your child is now back on track and doing well in school, but surprised that this is in a state school and not private. Don't all state schools mainly teach in Maltese not English?

I had heard San Andrea and San Anton were the best private schools, but I was not able to get my sons into either of them due to the waiting list.

We have managed to get them into St Catherines and hope that they are able to settle in and do well, but we will probably add them to waiting lists elsewhere, just in case we need to move them at a later date.

Any views on St Catherines or suggestions on other good schools to go on waiting lists at would be great.

Finally, there were also places at QSI but I could afford the huge fees they charge, its on a par with UK private school fees! Does anyone have any additional about on QSI?

Thanks in advance for all the help

Savak :

Don't all state schools mainly teach in Maltese not English?

my son's go to state school in Gzira, and older (finishing y4) listens in Maltese:
religion (which you can opt out)

rest of the subjects are in english, or at worst part maltese and mostly english

You can opt out of religion class? That's pretty good news. We don't really want to send our kid to a places with a huge religious focus but seems here even from kindergarten it's indoctrinated

our younger son just finished K1, no religion was involved so I have no idea from where you get your info

and ofc you can opt out on religion - kids who do that go to ethics lesson

Duxx :

our younger son just finished K1, no religion was involved so I have no idea from where you get your info

and ofc you can opt out on religion - kids who do that go to ethics lesson

the option to opt out and take religion is not in all schools or regions, multiple news stories this week about a batch of new schools getting it this term - but still many not.

So it's far from 'ofc you can'.

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