University of Malta

UOM Main Page
Apply - Admissions 2016
Facebook Twitter Facebook

1. What is unique to the Department of Early Childhood and Primary Education?

The Department of Early Childhood and Primary Education was set up in December 1990 as the Department of Primary Education (with its name changed in 2013) with the remit of providing initial teacher-training at primary level. The department has since striven to provide quality pre-service teacher-training leading to the formation of education professionals working with early years and primary school-aged children.  Over the years, the Department has evolved, with greater specialisation in the courses that it offers. It has reflected changes in social and educational issues, enriching its courses by the strengthening of aspects such as technology in education, inclusive pedagogies, multiculturalism and children’s rights among others. 

The Department has also been active in contributing to policy development in early years and primary education at national level. It has taken an active role in the developments of the National Minimum Curriculum of 1999 as well as the National Curriculum Framework of 2012. Its staff also contributes to the knowledge on teaching and learning in early years and primary education through research publications at both national and international level.

2. Link with the Faculty Vision

In line with the Faculty of Education Vision, the Department of Early Childhood and Primary Education recognises the challenges that the current changing and increasingly more complex societies pose on the education and preparation of future generations. The Department recognises the value of education of children, particularly at foundation level within early years and primary education as a good thing in itself.  The Department strives to foster teaching and learning which is intellectually demanding, and which supports young children in their cognitive learning, as well as their social and emotional development. In response to the current societal challenges, it promotes culturally responsive curricula and pedagogies, and, appreciates and esteems different cultures and knowledge. It also promotes the development of competences such as innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and creativity, critical literacy, entrepreneurship and innovation in line with the Framework for the Education Strategy of Malta.

3. How does the Department of Early Childhood and Primary Education function within the Faculty, University and the community?

The Department of Early Childhood and Primary Education is responsible for supporting the training of education professionals working within the early years and primary level of education. Its main role within the Faculty of Education is the provision of initial teacher training in early years and primary education, covering from kindergarten to the end of primary education.  Its members of staff contribute to the Faculty by sitting on and contributing to Faculty-wide committees.
The Department also plays a role in policy development through the representation of its members on different committees at national level. It also works with schools, supporting senior management teams and teachers in improving their practice as they strive to provide a good education within the early years and primary education. 

Members of the Department are also involved in a number of projects where they work with schools, the Ministry of Education, community organisations and other players in education.

The Department strongly believes in family and community involvement in the education process, and promotes different forms of collaboration with different key players in education through its training courses. It is also open to initiatives and embarks on projects within the community aiming to support the education and development of children, particularly those in most need of support.

4. Research and Initiatives

The department continually strives to be one of the key players in the early years and primary education sector. Members of the department contribute to initiatives and policy development in early years and primary education at national level. They sit on national committees with the remit of policy development as well as overseeing pilot projects and other initiatives implemented by government. The ‘one table per child’ is one example where the department has contributed through one of its members sitting on the national committee. 
The Department is currently striving to forge closer collaboration with kindergarten and primary schools. The aim of such initiative is that of finding ways through which the Department can support schools through provision of staff development training, strategic support in specific areas within which schools feels a need for improvement through using the expertise within the department. Schools can support the department through the sharing of physical resources as well as opening up their schools for research. Schools interested in forging such partnership are encouraged to contact the Department.
The Department is also committed to the internationalisation of its staff and educational experiences. Members of its Department participate in ERASMUS staff teaching experiences and the Department regularly receives international scholars who contribute to its teaching programmes as well as discussions at Department level. Student mobility abroad is supported with a percentage of students opting to go on ERASMUS exchanges each year. 

The following are the projects and initiatives that the Department is currently involved in:

1. ERASMUS+ Key Action 2 Project: TEST:
This project focuses on promoting teacher professional development in primary science education, particularly in inquiry-based science education. The project involves the organisation of national and international training events for primary teachers in Malta. It also includes opportunities for local primary teachers to attend training courses abroad.
Contact person: Prof. Suzanne Gatt
Budget: EUR 26,345.00
Project duration: 2015-2018

2. ERASMUS+ Key Action 2 Project : Robotics for Primary Schools in the 21st Century
This project focuses on the development and delivery of a teacher in-service training course in robotics at primary level. Putting together the expertise of a number of international partners to produce training for all primary teachers across Europe is essential if teachers educated in the 20th century are to prepare children of 21st century for new ways of learning and living enhanced by digital technology.
Contact person: Prof. Suzanne Gatt
Budget: € 26,345.00
Project duration: 2015-2018

3. Symbol Literacy Project
Children enter a world that is full of symbols, most of which have become inaccessible. This is true not only because of an unconscious positivistic attitude that views the symbols at the basis of narratives, rituals, art and poetry as nonsensical, but also because of the fragmentation that we experience. An education in symbolic literacy is essential because, as Zittoun et al. (2003) noted, symbolic elements are regulated by symbolic networks with specific boundaries. Children need to analyse, evaluate, appropriate and reconstruct the way symbols are reused. Just as children acquire vocabulary and learn the grammar of a language, so too they would need to learn a variety of symbols and the “grammar” of how they form meaning when put together. Thus, just as language education helps them to acquire the ability to express themselves through simple language, and potentially be able to formulate poetry and literature, so symbolic literacy not only helps them to read symbols interacting with each other and with the context they are in, but also to formulate a composition that uses various symbols. In so doing, enriched by their ability to make full use of the symbols present in the arts and society in general, they would slowly become aware of how symbols construct reality and be able to transcend physical reality. 

The project aims to 
  • further develop the theoretical framework of Symbol literacy
  • develop learning activities that promote symbol literacy through narratives and Art
  • offer Continuous Professional Development to Educators and collaborating professionals.
Contact person: Prof. Adrian Gellel
Budget: EUR 2,500

5. Courses and study programmes

The Department offers a number of undergraduate degree courses leading to qualified early years and primary teachers with a teachers’ warrant. It also provides opportunities for professional development of teachers through post-graduate studies in early years and primary education.

The Department currently offers a number of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees:
  • Bachelor of Education, B.Ed (Hons) (Primary Education): This Bachelors degree is at Level 6 on the Malta Qualifications Framework and provides teacher –training for ages 8-11 within primary education. Graduates of this degree can find employment as primary teachers and are eligible for a teacher’s warrant on gaining work experience. The Course is 4 years full-time. Further information can be found on the Faculty website course finder;
  • Bachelor of Education, B.Ed. (Hons) (Early Years): This Bachelors degree is at Level 6 on the Malta Qualifications Framework and provides teacher-training for children of ages 3-7 years.  Graduates can find employment with children from Kinder 1 up to year 2 and are eligible for a teacher’s warrant on gaining work experience. The Course is 4 years full-time. Students with a Higher National Diploma graduating from MCAST can obtain exemptions and complete the B.Ed (Hons) Early years course within two years of full-time study. Further information can be found on the Faculty website course finder;
  • International Master in Early Childhood Education and Care (IMEC): MEC is a Master Programme under the European Union's Erasmus Mundus Programme. IMEC is a two-year international Master Programme (120 ECTS) in Early Childhood Education and Care. IMEC is offered in cooperation between Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (Norway), University of Malta (Malta), Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland) and University of Gothenburg (Sweden). All students will follow a given structure – first semester in Oslo, second in Dublin and third in Malta. The fourth semester the students write their master thesis at any of the four partner institutions. Further information can be found here.  
  • Masters by Research in Primary Science Education: The Department also offers a Masters by research in Primary Science part-time. This qualification is at Level 7 on the Malta Qualifications Level and is based mainly on research carried out under supervision on any issue in the teaching of science at primary level. More information about the course can be obtained from the course finder.
  • Doctor of Philosophy: The Department also offers studies at Doctorate level in areas related to early years and primary level. The Doctorate is at Level 8 on the Malta Qualifications Framework and can be either part-time or full-time. Doctorate studies are mainly through research. Areas at Doctorate Level are possible depending on the availability of supervision within the Department.

As from October 2016, the Department will be offering two new courses. 

1.  Masters in Teaching and Learning  (MTL)  early years and primary education: This Masters courses is at Level 7 of the Malta Qualifications Framework and involves the new teacher-training programme for teaching ages 5 - 11 years at primary level. The course is 2 years full time and leads to a teacher’s warrant on gaining work experience.

2.  Bachelor of Arts B.A. (Early years): This Bachelor’s degree is at Level 6 on the Malta Qualifications Framework. The course is 3 years full-time. This course allows graduates to work with children at kindergarten level. It does not lead to a teacher’s warrant but is one of the entry requirements for the MTL (Early years and primary education).

The Department of Early Years and Primary Education plans to extend the courses at Masters by Research so that more areas of research can be offered. The Department of Education Studies is also planning to offer a three year Liberal Arts degree entitled BA (Hons) “Childhood Studies”. This innovative new degree will prepare students in working with children and would also be considered as one entry route into the Master in Teaching and Learning (Early Years and Primary).

Examination Timetable
Students can download the timetable for the January 2018 Examination Session from this page.
Last Updated: 3 December 2015

Log In back to UoM Homepage