6.10 Current debates and reforms
The Maltese Government is developing a reform called ‘My Journey: Achieving through different paths’, which is to be implemented in lower secondary school in the school year 2019/2020 in order to move from a 'one size fits all' system to more inclusive and equity -oriented programmes, catering to pupils' individual aptitudes. The aim here is to promote inclusion and respond to diversity by allowing students to choose from several education routes among general, vocational or applied subjects for their elective subjects (beyond the core curriculum). Under the current system, students are focused mainly on areas of general education, e.g. science, business etc.
A number of vocational subjects were introduced and learning outcomes developed to be offered at levels 1-3 on the Maltese Qualifications Framework (MQF). ‘My Journey’ introduces applied subjects, thus changing the secondary education system (beyond core curriculum) into three main streams: general, which reflects current subjects offered; vocational subjects which build on existing ones; and applied subjects (Secondary Education Applied Certificates). Once the new system is in place, students will be able to choose either an individual pathway or a mixed one. The reform is intended to promote inclusion and to reduce the number of early school leavers by making education relevant to more students and to an evolving labour market.
As from 2019 the following VET subjects to be taught in schools are Retail, Media Literacy, Hairdressing & Beauty, Textiles and Fashion, Agribusiness, Engineering Technology, Health and Social care, Hospitality and Information Technology.
Options exercises for students
All state colleges will be undertaking an exercise among Year 8 students and their parents/guardians to enable them to choose the option subjects they will choose to start following during the following scholastic year. This exercise will guide them to choose between academic, vocational and applied subjects through the ‘My Journey’ reform which will be introducing a number of these subjects for the first time.
My Journey – Labs in Schools
Scholastic year 2019-2020 will also see the completion of 77 labs spread among 13 secondary schools, aimed to offer facilities for the teaching of vocational and applied subjects. The supplies for these labs are being co-financed by a European Social Fund Project. ESF funds (INVEST) to be used to finance the labs’ equipment.
As part of the implementation of My Journey, a new career guidance platform will be launched in December 2018. This interactive platform will help to facilitate career choices for secondary school students between the ages of 11 and 15. During their secondary level of education, students need to choose a number of subjects to focus their studies on and which will pave the way for their professional choices later on in their lives. This project will indeed tackle these issues and provide a solution. Through focused research, all available information will be channeled to one platform and will include a series of videos portraying ‘a day in the life of’, giving students a better idea of what the job they are aspiring for is all about.
The Reading Recovery (RR) training programme
Through the Reading Recovery (RR) training programme 14 complementary and literacy teachers are following the RR teacher training course and 8 Heads of Department (HODs) and literacy support teachers are following the Masters RR leader course consisting of 4 face-to-face sessions to the MARR course participants and 2 face-to-face sessions to the RR teachers’ course at Malta’s National Curriculum Centre.
The National Literacy Agency (NLA) has distributed all the educational resources required to the nine schools involved in the programme. The RR rooms in the same schools have nearly all been set up. When all the RR rooms are fully functional, the RR teachers and leaders will commence the RR intervention programme, circa 88 low ability Year 2 pupils will benefit from Reading Recovery.
New learning outcome programmes and syllabi
A new learning outcome programmes and syllabi was introduced for Kinder 1, Year 3 and Year 7. These programmes aim to make teaching more student-centred and all the activities set in class help to achieve the learning outcomes for that particular year programme. Children will be assessed continually since mid-year exams will be removed. New learning programmes and syllabi based on learning outcomes will continue to be introduced in other year groups during subsequent scholastic years on a year by year basis.