Prof. Valerie Sollars has been appointed Pro-Rector for Strategic Planning and Sustainability with effect from 1 July.
Prof. Sollars obtained her bachelor degree in Education in 1987 and, as a Commonwealth Scholar, pursued post-graduate studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Subsequently, she undertook doctoral research at the Royal Victoria University of Manchester. Her research focused on home and school factors impacting emergent literacy experiences as well as the teaching of English as a second language in young children’s classroom/school environments.
As a member of the Department of Early Childhood & Primary Education at the Faculty of Education, she has been responsible for introducing and promoting early childhood education and care (ECEC) through various programmes of study at an undergraduate and post-graduate level. In addition to the B.Ed.(Hons.) degree in ECEC (2009-2016), Prof. Sollars was the co-ordinator of the joint Master degree in ECEC with five European Universities (2005-2009) and subsequently the local co-ordinator for one of the first Erasmus Mundus programmes which UM participated in (2010-2016). She also proposed, co-ordinated and led several language-related projects through the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) in Graz, Austria (1998-2007) and has been commissioned by the State Institute for Early Childhood Research & Media Literacy in Munich to author country reports about the early years workforce in Malta (2007; 2017/2018; 2021-2023).
In addition to undertaking research, presenting and publishing her work in local and international fora, conferences and journals, Prof. Sollars was responsible for drawing up several key policy documents in early years, including the first national policy for ECEC (2004-2006); the early years cycle for the National Curriculum Framework (2008-2012); a document reviewing progress and challenges in ECEC ahead of the introduction of the free childcare scheme (2013) and a strategy document for the implementation of the ECEC curriculum for the Ministry of Education (2014).
Prof. Sollars has held several administrative posts at a local and international level. She was Head of Department for the then Department of Primary Education (2004-2011) and became the first female Dean at the University of Malta in 2007, an appointment which she held for eight years. She was also a member of the Council for the Teaching Profession; a member of the National Institute for Childhood within the President’s Foundation for the Well-Being of Society; a member of ENTEP (the European Network for Teacher Education Policy) and is currently the country co-ordinator for EECERA (the European Early Childhood Education Research Association). She is also a member of the Lisa Maria Foundation and a member of the Education Committee/Board of Governors at St Edward’s College.