St. Francis School


The Maltese Islands form an archipelago at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea and have been inhabited since prehistoric times (Thake, 1994). According to the Maltese National Statistics Office (2019), the population consists of half a million inhabitants. 

Our school is situated in the southern part of Malta, specifically in Cottonera. It is the largest of the four primary schools run by the same congregation in the Maltese Islands. Each of these four schools is autonomous and has annexed kindergarten schools.  Our annexed feeder kindergarten school is situated in Santa Lucija.

Our primary school invests its optimal potential to offer an effective high-quality education provision in order to enable our students to reach their full potential.  To this end, the curriculum programmes are grounded on the National Curriculum Framework, Learning Outcomes Framework and the official policies.


Additionally, our school participates in various opportunities offered by the Secretariat for Catholic Education, The Ministry for Education and Employment, different NGOs and the European Schoolnet. Through such participation, our school broadens the students’ prospects of national and intercultural learning. They can apply and amalgamate diverse academic skills and competencies to address the issues encountered in these experiences.  Through the eTwinning project, amongst other activities, some students have the opportunity to take part in virtual conferences together with other students abroad. Referring to the ‘Press Kids’ project, for instance, the Year 4 cohort capture some photos related to the environment when they go out on fieldwork in Cospicua and then present a detailed report.

In a direct link to the environment, the school also takes part in various projects organised by WasteServ, EkoSkola, Dinja Waħda & LEAF. The various actions which are implemented in all cohorts throughout every scholastic year led the school to win various national first prizes for best effort in favour of waste reduction and environmental conservation in previous scholastic years. In these projects, several activities were created by the students and their teachers to send messages and advice to the outer community about environmental conservation, which is an unceasing concern in today’s world. In addition, the students are also involved in learning about forestation and trees in Malta and this initiative, led the school to earn the LEAF award for the fifth consecutive time.

Besides these, our school takes part in other Healthy Eating projects such as the ‘We Eat Responsibly’. Additionally, the students are involved in projects linked to Mathematics, Science and Technology, which together are referred to as STEM. Scientix and STEM Alliance; two projects founded by the European Schoolnet, offer various opportunities to our students to participate in actions and activities organised by the school together with industrial companies, to enhance the teaching of subjects linked to STEM. Hence, through our continuous involvement, with the collaboration of the industry, the school already achieved various European awards in competitions that were opened for all European schools. All these prizes awarded in various subjects encourage our teachers and students to continue working collectively as one community whilst also broadening our knowledge.

On various occasions, we also strive to engage our students in community initiatives.  For instance, our students pay visits to the elderly who live in five different residential care homes in Malta, mainly in Cospicua, Qormi, Mosta, Msida and St Vincent de Paule.  The intention is to share experiences and to enable them to broaden their views about the past while spending some enjoyable time with the elderly.

 

School Staff


The Senior Leadership Team comprises the Head of School Dr Shirley Ann Gauci and four Assistant Heads: Sr Doreen Zammit Satariano; Ms Dorianne Mercieca; Ms Christine Grima; and Ms Tessie Farrugia. The teaching staff consists of twenty-three teachers and eighteen LSEs.  The non-teaching staff includes the IT Technician, the secretary and the clerk, the receptionist, the cleaners and the handymen.

The school is supported by Fr Tonio Mallia Milanes as our spiritual director.  Moreover, the Secretariat for Catholic Education provides the school with a team of psychosocial and inclusion support professionals. Regular visits are conducted by a medical doctor and a nurse from The School Health Service to monitor our students’ health and well-being as well as provide preventive care services. 

 

School Days


The school opens at 7:00 in the morning and closes at 13:45. The school day starts at 7:40 and ends at 13:15.  There is supervision before and after the lessons finish.

We believe that punctuality is part of the respect we show towards one another.  Thus, our students are expected to be on time and to attend regularly. The learning process is hindered when the students do not have all the necessary books, copybooks, stationery and resources.  Thus, they are expected to have everything as advised by their teachers.

 

Our Ethos


Our Mission Statement encapsulates and reflects our ethos:

Faithful to the charism of our foundress - Mother Margherita De Brincat,
we strive to educate the whole person in a value-rich environment,
transforming students into true Christians,
growing in wisdom, age and grace before God and the people of God,
mastering academic skills in order that they may contribute to
and survive in a global neighbourhood.


We believe very strongly that children learn well when they are happy and feel secure.  Accordingly, lessons and activities are planned to motivate the children to learn more and achieve their full potential.  We work hand in hand with the parents to address behaviour issues since such difficulties hinder the learning process.  For us, parents are crucial stakeholders and thus, they are highly involved in the life of the school and kept updated through regular notices on The Student Campus; the school’s online platform. 

 

The Learning Process

 

In line with the NCF (2012), our curriculum embraces the interconnection between the learning areas and the cross-curricular themes for the primary years

Such a design ensures a holistic learning experience where the children can recognise the validity of learning academic content in their everyday lives.  Learning activities give them multiple opportunities to apply what they are learning through practical experiences, both on an individual level and in a team.


Spiritual Development

 

The morning assembly sets the tone for the school day.  The students and the educators gather to say the morning prayers, which instil Christian values and the charism of Mother Margherita, our Foundress.  Special assemblies are held on Fridays during which all the students and staff members meet in the schoolyard.  Each class in turn prepares these special assemblies based on the Gospel of the following Sunday. 
Once a month, the students from Year 3 upwards attend Mass at Cospicua Parish Church.  Each year group animates the Mass in turns. 

Our Spiritual Director Fr Tonio Mallia Milanes pays regular visits to our students in their classrooms.  He addresses the Pastoral Care theme for the scholastic year while listening and discussing with the children any other topic that they would like to talk about with Fr Tonio.  Furthermore, our Spiritual Director assists the school community in all its religious activities and celebrations including the blessing of the pets, the advent wreaths, the cribs and the school, the Christmas Procession, the commemoration of our Foundress the Venerable Mother Margherita, Ash Wednesday, Easter, May Crowning, Eucharistic Day, the second Holy Communion and the School Leaving ceremony. 

 

Other School Activities

 

During the weekly special assembly, students’ achievements accomplished throughout the week are celebrated.  For these assemblies, the students are encouraged to get certificates, medals, trophies or any other token which they have achieved to show it to the rest of the school community and talk about it.  Major emphasis is laid on achievement in sports since it is a disposition that the school is trying to inculcate in the children as part of its initiative in favour of student wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle.

Other school activities include the Sports Days held per term, the blessing of the pets held on the feast of St Francis, the Christmas Party, the Carnival Party, the Open Day, the book fairs and the end-of-year party.  Other activities are held according to the scholastic year calendar and events that are organised by external entities in which the school decides to participate.
The school holds two concerts every year, one for the children in Years 1,2 and 3 and the other for the children in Years 4 up to Year 6. These are held in different school terms to suit the school plans for every particular scholastic year.

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Homework


Homework is given every day including some reading and revision.  It is based on the lessons done at school and aims at consolidating learning and checking assimilation. Parents are asked to ensure that homework is done and to leave the children to complete the tasks as independently as possible.  Students are sometimes given projects and long-term assignments as part of the assessment.

Reading


Reading is one of the main pillars of literacy, which is considered an intrinsic part of the right to education.  “The “multiplier effect” of literacy empowers people, enables them to participate fully in society and contributes to improve livelihoods.” (UNESCO, Online). 
To this end, the English and Maltese literacy programmes are highly focused on reading particularly in the early years.  The structured phonics programme of the school sets the children on the proper track to become fluent readers who are able to understand the texts.   For the school parents are salient stakeholders in the learning process of their children.  They are guided on how to support their children while reading at home and frequent meetings are held with them to assist them in the best way possible. In the past few years, the school started providing the parents of the children in the early years with tailor-made assistance on a one-to-one basis in order to ensure that the children are well supported according to their current reading level. Such support is being beneficial in enabling the children to improve their literacy levels and the school is preparing to gradually introduce these practices in the other primary years. 
At the entrance of each class, shelves have been installed to contain books that the teacher chooses for his/her students.  The latter are free to pick any book they like to read before the assembly, during any free time or when asked by the teacher. Shared reading activities in various areas of the school, storytelling sessions, reading corners and World Book Day events are some of the supplementary activities that contribute towards the nurturing of a love for reading. 

Behaviour


At our school respect and etiquette are at the heart of all interactions and communication since they constitute the foundation of trust, safety and well-being at the school. Feeling respected enables students to achieve a sense of belonging without being hindered to express themselves. 

Thus, misbehaviour is addressed by the educators through positive behaviour management ways and discussions with the students.  Parents are involved whenever this is necessary. The students are also expected to behave well on school transport. 

Upon starting to form part of the school community, the parents are given the School Code of Behaviour Booklet.  This booklet specifies the school rules, including appropriate behaviour and respect towards other members of the school community and the physical environment of the school. Moreover, it reviews the salient matters of the school policies regarding attendance, punctuality, uniforms, dress code, school hours, communication with the school, healthy lunches and school bags.

Educational Trips

Students are taken on an educational trip in relation to their curriculum programme once every term. Our students look forward to these outings since they offer them the opportunity to get first-hand experiences of the learning matter. Permissions are obtained from the parents/guardians prior to the outings and the students are supervised at all times by educators and other school personnel. 

 

Personal Items


At the beginning of every school year, the school reminds parents/guardians to label all the items of their children, from lunch boxes to school jackets.  This exercise helps in the organisation of items in classrooms and to ensure that lost property is restored to its rightful owner.

Attendance


Education literature and research demonstrate that regular attendance is an important factor for academic achievement (King, 2000, Morrissey, Hutchison & Winsler, 2014).  In view of this and of experience in education, regular attendance is considered a must. All absences of students require notification and justification.  If a student is sick for more than three days, a medical certificate is to be presented on the first day that s/he attends, showing that s/he is fit for school. 

Persistent absenteeism, even if covered by a medical certificate, has to be reported. The school discourages vacations during school days because of the impact that it has on students’ achievement since they may find it difficult to catch up and resume their studies. 

Whenever, a child arrives late or has to leave early due to an appointment, the parents/guardians have to inform the school beforehand and send a certified note to justify the absence.  The parent/guardian accompanying the child is asked to sign the Booklet that is kept for such records. 

First Aid


Whenever students fall ill or an accident occurs in school, the educators inform the Senior Leadership Team and the First Aiders who will immediately see to the needs of the student.  The parents are notified and guided by the First Aiders. 
At the beginning of every scholastic year, the parents are asked to fill in GDPR forms, on which they are asked to indicate to the school whether their children suffer from any medical condition.  It is the responsibility of the parents to inform the school.  Based on this information, the school ensures that its First Aiders have all the training that they would need in case of emergencies.  If there is a need, the parents are contacted by the school for further clarifications and meetings are held with medical professionals. 

Parental Involvement


Parents are important stakeholders and the school considers their involvement as an essential element in the success of their children.  Several meetings are held throughout the scholastic year to address academic aspects as well as pastoral ones.  
We offer an open-door policy where all members of the school community are approachable and accessible.  If parents have any questions, concerns or queries,  they should contact the school in order to set an appointment and discuss the matter. 
Two Parents’ Days are organised every scholastic year; one during the first term and the other during the second term.  Almost all parents generally attend during Parents’ Days and the insights gained by the parents lead to school improvement in most cases.  Nevertheless, whenever there is an issue, the school does not wait till Parents’ Days to communicate with the parents and the latter are always encouraged to contact the school as soon as they have any concerns.

The school ensures that parents are always informed of the investment that takes place at school.  They are kept au courant with the changes that take place; from structural ones to technological ones.  The school recognises that parents are always very supportive and this is reflected in both the help that is offered as well as through the donations that it receives.  In addition, parents help in the fundraising activities that are organised for the students and them regularly.  The money raised through these activities is used to fund new and innovative school resources. 

Safeguarding

The rights of the child are a top priority for the school, which takes safeguarding responsibilities very seriously.  As all educational institutions, the school is subject to the Child Safety Services (CSS) procedures within the MEDE, the Child Protection (Alternative Care) Act, 2017 and to the Church’s Safeguarding Policies and Guidelines published by the Safeguarding Commission.
The Head of School has the responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of every student in school without judgement and discrimination based on circumstances, family history, religion and cultural social status of both victim and perpetrator.
The school adheres to the procedures of the Safeguarding Children in our Schools Guidelines & Procedures issued by the Secretariat for Catholic Education.  The school Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) follows the reporting procedure and the follow-up intervention as stipulated in the guidelines and procedures.  The DSO reports to the Head of School and the psychosocial team meetings which are held periodically.
In 2018, all the staff were trained by the Safeguarding Commission and additional training is provided whenever there is any change in laws or regulations.