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Quality Assurance Framework​

Enhancing the quality of education is key in order to respond adequately to the Education Strategy framework 2014-2024 (MEDE, 2014) and to keep up with Malta’s commitment to reach the ambitious target of reducing Early School Leavers to 10% by 2020 (MEDE, 2014). High quality education is vital for employability, for social cohesion and for Malta’s overall economic and societal success. Quality, however, needs to be continuously monitored and improved, which calls for effective quality assurance systems covering all education levels.

Quality Assurance has been introduced in Malta since 2005 and a central/top level Quality Assurance Department (QAD) within the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) has been given the responsibility to carry out external reviews, in all educational institutions (0 – 18 years) irrespective to which sector they pertain to.

The external review in Malta post-2007 is primarily an instrument that guides and empowers schools in their ongoing quest to improve their practice and their outcomes in terms of the holistic vision of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF, 2012​) and the Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024 (2014). The external review is also, an instrument for accountability and conformity with national standards and aspirations while promoting a culture of consistent excellence and rigour in aiming for the highest possible standards. Consequently, a successful and meaningful external review is situated precisely in the delicate and dynamic balance between these complementary functions of guidance and accountability.

The QAD has invested in developing nationally agreed criteria for school quality and in aligning internal and external review processes which form the basis of its functions and which mirrors the NCF (2012:32) “Quality Assurance is to be realised through a system of ongoing self-evaluation, monitoring and review within schools complemented by an external review system that together foster school improvement.” Therefore, schools are guided to use the established standards and success criteria to steer their internal evaluation and school development planning. Success criteria are not binding, but provide clear guidance as to how one can evaluate the extent to which a standard is being achieved. This is complemented with External reviews that evaluate schools according to the standards and reports are issued outlining areas of strengths and recommend a way forward to progress in the achievement of the said standards.

This is an attempt to create a balance between autonomy and accountability and between a centralised and decentralised system of quality assurance mechanisms. At the heart of this vision is an internal review process (school self-evaluation). Effective internal review and the actions that flow from it should deliver improved educational outcomes and experience for all students. Internal review must be an integral part of the School development planning process with the resulting actions and objectives captured and mirrored in the School Development Plans while also reflecting and responding to standards emanating from national policies and strategies.​