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Expat insights: kids moving schools

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.

Homework
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.

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