Country information for Malta - Assessment within inclusive education systems
A highly-structured set of procedures, developed in Malta over time, allow the first identification of individual learning needs and possible support allocation. Various professionals work with these procedures, which increasingly involve parents and learners themselves. Schools and teachers receive support to implement screening and needs assessment processes that take a preventative rather than a compensatory approach (European Agency, 2014, p. 57). New guidelines and standard operation procedures for the Statementing Panels and Appeals Board have recently been issued.
The Child Development Assessment Unit (CDAU), which is part of the Ministry for Health, caters for very young children. It assesses children’s needs in a trans-disciplinary way. Referral is then made to the early intervention team within the National School Support Services and support for families and children begins. Some families also turn to non-governmental organisations for support.
Educational psychologists from the Directorate for Educational Services may assess children to identify their particular educational needs and recommend the service and whether additional support is needed. The Statementing Panel ensures appropriate provision for each learner with individual needs.
The State’s School Psychological Service can provide psycho-educational assessment and intervention services for learners with additional needs due to physical, mental, perceptual, emotional and behavioural difficulties. It collaborates with the CDAU in assessing and identifying learners with special needs.
From a population of about 55,000 learners of compulsory school age in 2018, 9.9% were formally recognised as having special educational needs (Source: EASIE data 2018).
Compulsory school for learners with disabilities and their provisions in resource centres
Services available in mainstream schools are also available in resource centres and to the learners attending these centres. However, generally these schools cater for learners with more severe disabilities. The segregated placement rate of 0.53% is one of the lowest across European Union countries. It includes students in non-compulsory education up to the age of 22 (European Agency, 2014, p. 29).
Learners with additional needs may be assessed by the Statementing Panel. The Panel is a state-recognised body which develops a statutory assessment of the support required to ensure quality education for learners with impairments. Two documents compiled and launched in 2019 take into consideration the recommendations made by the European Agency, following the audit in 2014:
- Standard Operating Procedures – an overview of the composition, functions and operating procedures of the Statementing Panels, the Review Panel and the Appeals Board;
- Statementing Process: Referral Guidelines for Schools – guidelines for schools when applying for an Official Needs Identification (previously known as a Statement of Needs).
When a learner is assessed, their needs are identified as there is no legal definition of special needs. Generally, a broad classification of disabilities, as documented in Chapter 327 of the Laws of Malta – the Education Act, are considered:
- Learners with a physical disability
- Learners with sensory impairment (such as hearing or visual impairments)
- Learners with psychological difficulties
- Learners with intellectual difficulties.
Other categories are also used for statistical purposes and support needs:
- intellectual disability;
- Autism spectrum disorder;
- communication disorder;
- attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder;
- behavioural problems;
- mental health and physical, medical and/or neurological impairments.
Last updated 05/02/2020