Educational Reform in the Maltese Islands

Mario Cutajar

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The political change in 1964, when the Maltese Islands became an Independent Archipelago, initiated a number of revolutionary reforms that the Maltese Education sector has been going through ever since. These last ten years have been extremely significant for Maltese Education, because of the several major measures and reforms that have been introduced. Their aim was to augment the country’s intellectual capital and provide improved quality education that will help all Maltese children to succeed. Replacing the questionable dichotomy of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ has been, for the past decade, part of an extensive drive by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Employment and the Education Division to reform the education system in Malta. This paper will present a historical overview of the educational reforms aimed at devolving greater responsibilities to the schools and in particular the establishment of school networks. It will also treat the kind of leadership that has helped to sustain this transition in Maltese Education, so that schools will ‘provide improved quality education in Malta’ (Galea, 2005: xii), and the implications of educational reform in the Maltese Islands.

School–based self-evaluation: an introductory study in a Maltese Church School

Rose Privitelli, Christopher Bezzina

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Educational systems are constantly subjected to changes on many fronts. School self-evaluation has become recognized as a way of improving the quality of educational provision and simultaneously making schools responsible and accountable to various stakeholders. This paper seeks to present and analyse the implementation of a school self-evaluation process and its effect on the performance of a Maltese Church school. A case study approach supported by questionnaire surveys and a review of school documents were undertaken to establish whether school self-evaluation brought about the desired improvement and initiated a change process within the school. The main results show that whilst the students are performing well academically the school building and timetable constraints are affecting curriculum implementation and students’ potential to achieve more. Whilst there is a committed teaching staff, collaborative initiatives are still in their initial phase. Communication with parents needs to be improved and the area of differentiation and addressing the individual needs of students is also identified as an area needing immediate attention.

Overall, this case study has gone a long way to show the educators at the school site the internal potential of a self-evaluation process as it helps them to appreciate their own strengths and weaknesses and providing feedback from varied stakeholders about how they perceive things and what can be done to bring about improvements.

The making of secondary school heads: Some perspectives from the island of Malta

Christopher Bezzina

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The key purpose of this paper is to present the findings of the Maltese study which is part of a collective research project involving four island states: Cyprus, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malta. The views and perspectives that a small group of secondary school heads brings to their life and work are outlined. The study adopts a biographical/portrait-based approach to understanding headship and, thus, provides us with new insights into the growing literature in the field. It is aimed at contributing to our understanding of how heads are made and make themselves.

As such the paper briefly explores the career paths of a small group of eight heads interviewed and focuses on the first two stages of their personal and professional lives – formation and accession. The views of heads are represented and the issues and concerns identified with leading schools in times of change are outlined. The study shows that family, family experiences and the community have an important part to play in influencing the lives of prospective leaders. The study also highlights the link between vicarious learning, continuous professional development and personal reflection.

A VIEW FROM THE TOP: A Study on Educational Leadership In Roman Catholic Church Primary and Secondary Schools in Malta

Rose Anne Cauchi Cuschieri

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This paper takes a view and discusses the author’s current doctoral research on leadership in Roman Catholic primary and secondary schools in Malta. The study is taking a grounded approach in order to investigate what it is like to be a headteacher in a church-run school, through an exploration of attitudes, behaviours, leadership styles and managerial skills and approaches. The initial phase of the project involved interviews with 10 Roman Catholic school headteachers (5 primary and 5 secondary). On the basis of these interviews a questionnaire that focuses on what have been identified as key issues was constructed. This was then distributed to the headteachers of all Roman Catholic schools in Malta. The final findings of the study should give some privileged insights into the perceptions and experiences of church headteachers, providing information about positive and negative aspects of the job, indicating areas where organisational and / or administrative changes would be helpful and also highlighting areas for headteacher professional development.

Growing Leadership Potential in Primary School Teachers: the Route to Sustainability

Claudia Caruana Anastasi

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This study explores various means of growing leadership potential in primary school teachers. Central to this study is the definition of teacher leadership and a framework that outlines the main elements of the concept. Moreover, the benefits, as well as the barriers to its implementation in schools, are examined. The teachers’ willingness to assume leadership responsibilities is questioned. The research project was carried out in five Junior / Primary Schools across Nottinghamshire, England. A thirty-minute interview was conducted with four members of staff in every school. This was supplemented by observation of one staff meeting per school, as well as the distribution of a ‘Self Assessment Questionnaire’ about leadership practice. This was completed by every class teacher, resulting in a total number of fifty-three research participants. Definitions of ‘teacher leadership’ varied according to the interviewees’ formal responsibilities. There is a possible correlation between how head teachers perceive their role within the school and the degree of decision-making power given to teachers. Although it is clearly evident that not all teachers want to lead, there is no doubt that all teachers feel the need to be consulted, to be valued and to be trusted. The benefits of teacher leadership identified by participants can be divided into three categories; those affecting teachers, those affecting students and those affecting the school as a whole. The strongest barriers identified were related to classroom practice. Collaboration through networks and peer support, as well as coaching and mentoring were identified by some participants as a means of supporting the development of leadership capacity.

Response: A reaction by Joseph Gravina to the paper entitled Promoting Democratic Citizenship: an exploration of the current educational debate about what students at the beginning of the 21st century should be encouraged to understand by the concepts of ‘democracy’ and ‘citizenship’ by Philip Caruana that appeared in the last issue of JMER.

Joseph Gravina

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This paper is a critical reading of Philip Caruana’s study of citizenship education and is based on a theoretical analysis of, amongst others, his suggestion to synthesise national identity and shared fate concepts in order to improve the effectiveness of education for citizenship. The promotion of democratic citizenship is considered restrictive both because it is intended to mould as well as because it applies exclusively what it considers ‘liberal’ ideals.

The critical exercise leads to the reworking of a broader programme for which the main areas of knowledge are traced: the state, the economy and culture. This, it is claimed, along with a relevant contribution of studies about the Maltese experience related to the study, also prepares for a return of social and economic interests to citizenship education. At the same time, a wider global view of world events is attempted, away from institutionalised canonical versions. Only in this way, it is claimed, can a political education curriculum be more effective.

‘Please sir, I want some more.’
When programmes in education for democracy and citizenship do not reach out far enough.