So far the figure in Malta stands at around 32.57% (Q2, 2011, NSO), but Prof. Grima
is optimistic that the figure can decrease.
"I'm optimistic that with the new strategies in place and the commitment of all schools to ensure that students succeed, the number of early school leavers will decrease," Prof. Grima
said, explaining that the reforms are being implemented in a way which will mean a cohort of students move with the changes.
The whole reform is focused on ensuring that all students experience success during their compulsory education, she
The idea of the reforms is basically to remove the selectivity concept, and work towards a more inclusive system, where the same age cohort gets to continue their schooling together, Prof. Grima
said, adding that in line with these changes Church schools removed the Common Entrance examination.
Another important aspect of the reforms is that of the National Curriculum Framework, she
went on, adding that the benchmarks introduced in June 2011 were compulsory for state schools, although Church and independent schools were invited to join.
"In effect 93% of students participated in the benchmarking exercise, and the response was very positive from all sectors," she
explained, adding that the difference with benchmarking is that separate language skills are assessed and mathematics includes a written and mental paper.
The results of this exercise will be used to feed in to the teaching/learning process, rather than to determine the school the children will go to.
Removal of streaming and selectivity ensures children do not experience failure from a young age, she
"In its very nature this is very different from a whole class approach and teachers will only become more confident with experience, as they widen their repertoire of strategies and resources," Prof. Grima
In fact a series of timetables in which professional development features every week were prepared, Prof. Grima
Furthermore the implementation of a core-competencies policy ensures that all children in the first three years of primary have access to literacy, numeracy and e-literacy skills, and will have in-class support offered.
Where there are difficulties the school can develop a one-to-one action plan for the next three years, to ensure that all students have access to these skills by the time they leave primary school, Prof. Grima
Commenting on the curriculum, Prof. Grima
explained that an ethics educational programme will be offered to children who opt out of religion.
When asked about the hours Maltese children spent at school, Prof. Grima
said the NCF was developed around the current agreement the government has with the MUT and respects it in every way.
The NCF tries to encourage a learning community, where schools are seen as learning centres in the community, taking on a much wider role than their current one, she
Commenting on the MUT survey which found that almost 90% of teachers said too many reforms were taking place concurrently, Prof. Grima
said one must acknowledge that in all only 29% of teachers responded to the survey.
"My comment would be that teachers' concerns are real and have to be taken into consideration, however the Directorates are doing their best to include consultation at every step of the way," she
went on to say that the reform was planned in a phased in approach and things will take place over a number of years, but admittedly reforms do mean work and having to move away from comfort zones to update strategies and approaches.
All the feedback will be considered in the refining of the National Curriculum Framework, Prof. Grima
stressed, adding that after the National Conference all feedback received in writing by the end of the year to be published in an online volume.
"In January 2012 the Committee is to start reviewing all the feedback and refining the document, and so far there has been a very high response rate in terms of feedback," she
There will also be feedback from the different departments at the Faculty of Education
, a faculty-wide seminar and ongoing departmental meetings.
The curriculum was sent to Learning and Teaching Scotland and the New Zealand Ministry of Education for feedback, following which it will also be refined, Prof. Grima
Turning to complaints by some teachers that they were presented with a fait accompli; Prof. Grima
explained that the first phase of the consultation process included meetings with all heads of schools.
Associate Professor Grace Grima - B.Ed (Hons.), M.Ed. (Otago - NZ), Ph.D. (Otago - NZ)
Director General - Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education,
Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family, MALTA
Grace Grima was born and still lives in Mellieha.
She attended the local Primary and Secondary schools and graduated from the University of Malta in 1990 with a B.Ed (Hons.) degree.
She completed her Masters' and PhD degrees in New Zealand as a Commonwealth Scholar.
For her doctoral work, she was based at the Educational Assessment Research Unit (EARU) of the University of Otago, New Zealand, where she worked on the National Educational Monitoring Project (NEMP) of the New Zealand Ministry of Education.
In Malta, she worked as a secondary school teacher and a teacher trainer at the Faculty of Education.
She has also occupied the position of Principal Research and Development Officer at the MATSEC Support Unit.
She chaired the MATSEC Review Committee (2005), the Transition from Primary to Secondary Review Committee (2007) and The National Curriculum Framework Working Group (2011).
Since 2007, she
has occupied the position of Director-General in the Directorate of Quality and Standards in Education, within the Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family.
The responsibilities of the directorate are to regulate, establish, monitor and assure standards and quality in the programmes and educational services provided by schools.
current role, she
is responsible for updating the curriculum framework which was launched on 17th May 2011.
is also working on several other initiatives related to current education reform in Malta.