Policy dialogue must arrive at a relevant balanced set of aims describing what learners should learn and why; the development of cognitive, creative and social skills and values; respect for human rights, the environment, peace and tolerance and cultural diversity. These put citizenship, democracy and human rights at the fore.
Good use of time. Positive correlations are noted between instruction time and student achievement at both primary and secondary levels. Between 850 and 1,000 effective hours (not necessarily official hours) of schooling per year is broadly agreed as a benchmark.1
Pedagogic approaches for better learning. Child-centred active pedagogy, cooperative learning and the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills need to be present.
Language policy. Language of instruction is a policy choice affecting curriculum, content and pedagogy. A balance needs to be struck between enabling people to use local languages in learning and ensuring that they have access to global languages.
Learning from assessment. Regular, reliable, timely assessment is a key to improving learning achievement. The goals are to give learners feedback and improve learning and teaching practices. Formative assessment is needed as a complement to formal examinations.
Given our Maltese educational context, how can we provide quality education? A detailed answer to this question is beyond the brief of this short article, however, the following observations elicited from the review report give direction for quality primary education in our schools.
The current curriculum also recognises information and computer technology (ICT) skills as tools which can be used to access knowledge in all the other areas of the curriculum. It is essential that ICT skills become incorporated in the specific areas of the curriculum.
The extension of mixed ability grouping to Years 5 and 6 presents new challenges to teachers, especially those who have been used to teaching rigidly streamed classes. These challenges need to be recognised and addressed by offering teachers further training and possibly support materials to help them cope with the new challenges. Learning support assistants are also essential in supporting pupils who need special support in each class, however, this resource needs to be deployed more equitably and effectively (Spiteri et al, 2005). We also recognise that other cases may need further professional help.