In the enchanting Mediterranean island nation of Malta, a school stands tall, embracing a rich heritage while embracing modernity and global perspectives – St Edward’s College, where the pursuit of Virtus et Honor (virtue and honor) is not merely a motto but a way of life that shapes exemplary citizens who give more to society than they take.
Sylvana Debono, the passionate Head of Communications and Marketing at St Edward’s College, reflects on the school’s core values. “For us, the basis of any Edwardian’s frame of mind has to be that of exemplary citizens who give more to society than they take. Incorporating the ethics of self-discipline and duty, we place great emphasis on character formation, genuine intercultural understanding, and leadership.”
At St Edward’s College, education goes beyond textbooks and examinations. The students are encouraged to question, be innovative, and approach problems with a positive attitude. Nollaig Mac An Bhaird, the headmaster of the College is clear in his vision: “We firmly believe that education is not just about acquiring knowledge but also about fostering critical thinking and nurturing creativity in our students. They are encouraged to think independently, ask questions, and challenge conventional wisdom.”
One of the hallmarks of St Edward’s College is its commitment to promoting sports and physical activities. “Sports are also very much encouraged since this is an excellent way to foster both individual prowess as well as team spirit,” Mr Mac an Bhaird proudly shares. The school understands the importance of a well-rounded education that not only sharpens the mind but also nurtures the body and spirit.
St Edward’s College has evolved over the years, adapting its curriculum to meet the demands of the global education landscape. Today, the school offers a modern curriculum that leads to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) up to the age of 16 and the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma between ages 16 and 18. The IB program is renowned for its emphasis on international-mindedness, critical thinking, and community service – qualities that are crucial in shaping responsible global citizens.
While St Edward’s College has a proud history of boarding facilities, the school has embraced a more diverse and inclusive model. Irene Attard, Admissions and Boarding Co-Ordinator explains, “We have recognized that distances in Malta are relatively short, making it accessible to students from different parts of the island. However, we continue to retain a few boarding spaces mainly filled by foreign students whose parents do not live in Malta. This diversity adds to the richness of our global school community.”
At St Edward’s College, education transcends traditional methods, as they employ the “Think, Understand, Learn” technique to guide their pupils. This approach encourages students to question the ‘known’ and explore new realities and knowledge. It fosters a love for learning, igniting a passion for intellectual curiosity that lasts a lifetime.
A Journey from War to Education
Nestled within the historic Cottonera Fortifications in Malta, St Edward’s College is a remarkable institution that has traversed a fascinating journey from its military roots to become a bastion of education and British culture. The vision behind this institution was fuelled by the indomitable spirit of Baroness Strickland, the second wife of Sir Gerald Strickland, Baron Della Catena, who served as Prime Minister to the islands between 1927-32.
During that era, Malta was a melting pot of cultural influences, with the educated classes predominantly speaking Italian. However, the British Colonial government sought to promote education and British values, aiming to eradicate Italian as the primary language of communication. Baroness Strickland’s position as the wife of a prominent politician uniquely placed her to influence and advocate for a transformation in education.
St Edward’s College was envisioned as a lay, private school, free from the influence of church authorities or the government. It was to be a place where the best precepts of top UK boys’ boarding colleges would be incorporated, providing students with a well-rounded and character-driven education.
The history of the college’s grounds is intertwined with the legacy of the Knights Hospitallers, who built the Cottonera Fortifications. The College Chapel, dedicated to St Edward the Confessor, was once a gunpowder magazine during the time of the Knights. This unique transformation from a wartime building to a place of peace serves as a powerful symbol for the boys who walk its halls.
The main buildings of St Edward’s College, dating back to the 1870s, have a profound history of their own. Originally built as a military hospital, the plans for the facility were approved by none other than the pioneering nurse and statistician, Florence Nightingale. Ms. Nightingale’s familiarity with Malta and its climate, having passed through the island on her way to the Crimea, contributed to the hospital’s design, featuring high ceilings, spacious halls, and well-ventilated terraces, all essential elements to ensure the comfort and well-being of the patients.
“The hospital played a crucial role in World War I, particularly during the Gallipoli Campaign. Its decommissioning marked the turning point for Lady Strickland, who saw the potential to transform the place into an institution of education imbued with the values of virtue, honor, and intercultural understanding,” shares the college Bursar Analise Cioffi.
Under the visionary leadership of Baroness Strickland, St Edward’s College opened its doors as an educational haven, fostering intellectual curiosity and character formation. The college’s transformation from a hospital to an educational sanctuary symbolizes the transition from conflict to enlightenment and mirrors the evolution of Malta itself.
Today, St Edward’s College stands as a testament to the power of education and the enduring spirit of its founders. The college continues to embrace its heritage while nurturing global citizens equipped to navigate the challenges of the modern world. As the sun sets over the ancient fortifications, the legacy of St Edward’s College endures, inspiring generations of young minds to follow in the footsteps of those who once sought healing and now pursue knowledge and wisdom within its storied walls.
Offering A Holistic Education
St Edward’s College, Malta, boasts a diverse student demographic encompassing five distinct sections: Early Years (Nursery to Year 2), Junior School (Years 3-6), Middle School (Years 7-8), Senior School (Years 9-11), and the IB program (Years 12-13). On average, each class consists of 15 students as a whole group, but from Middle School onwards, they are further divided into smaller groups based on their choice of special subjects. Nevertheless, they remain together for common subjects such as English, Mathematics, and Ethics/Religion. The assessment process is continuous for all students and formalized from Year 5 onwards.
“Our approach to education, rooted in tradition and a strong ethos, attracts parents who value traditional teaching methods, resulting in a predominantly ABC1 demographic,” states Analise Cioffi. Currently, 30% of the college population comprises non-Maltese students, mainly ex-pats on long-term assignments in Malta. St Edward’s also takes pride in its historical connections, retaining the descendants of the ‘Foundation Boys,’ the first students who began their educational journey at the college in 1929. These generational students hold strong emotional ties to the institution.
The college’s allure extends beyond its academic offerings, particularly for students interested in boarding and pursuing the IB Diploma program. St Edward’s has achieved a high success rate in the IB program, with an average score of 32, surpassing the international average of 28.
With a commendable student-to-teacher ratio of 7:1, St Edward’s ensures a balanced environment that fosters individual attention and follow-up for both day and boarding students. Speaking of boarding students, Irene Attard, Boarding co-ordinator, says, “We follow a “home from home” approach, offering excellent facilities with individual spaces, single and double rooms on request, and access to all the college’s amenities. The boarding community is intentionally kept small to provide personalized pastoral and academic support to all students.” The college’s guiding principle of treating students like adults until they behave like children has been remarkably successful, resulting in few serious issues.
To ensure a harmonious relationship with parents, St Edward’s actively communicates and collaborates with them on matters such as weekend trips and dietary preferences. The Boarding Co-Ordinator, a qualified youth worker, is attuned to the unique needs of young adults and plays a pivotal role in creating a supportive and nurturing boarding environment.
Nurturing Well-Rounded Scholars
At St Edward’s College, a strong focus on academic excellence empowers students to excel in the IGCSE and its Maltese equivalent, MATSEC. The college prides itself on preparing students for success in a wide range of subjects, including English language and Literature, Mathematics, Maltese, and a choice of foreign languages like French, Italian, or Spanish. Additionally, students demonstrate proficiency in subjects such as History or Geography, Physics or Accounting or Business or Media Studies, and Biology or Economics or ICT, along with Chemistry or Art or PE.
“We place equal emphasis on extracurricular activities, aiming to foster all-rounded individuals. We encourage our students to explore their interests beyond academics through a diverse range of extracurricular options. These include Drama, Music, various sports activities, and artistic expression,” shares Headmaster Mr Mac An Bhaird. The college actively promotes a “try new things” mindset, inspiring students to step out of their comfort zones and discover their passions. Whether it be on the stage, on the sports field, or through artistic pursuits, students are encouraged to embrace new experiences with confidence.
The academic staff at St Edward’s College is a highly qualified team with first degrees in their respective fields, and many possess post-graduate qualifications. Their dedication to continuous professional development ensures that they remain at the forefront of educational practices. “Our staff embodies flexibility and dedication, as evident during challenging times like the Covid crisis. When the need arose, we swiftly transitioned to online teaching, with teachers embracing the challenge with enthusiasm. They adapted seamlessly to the virtual platform, providing students with the same level of care and attention they would receive in a traditional classroom setting,” pinpoints Human Resource officer Annalise Domenici.
St Edward’s College’s commitment to academic excellence, combined with a supportive faculty and diverse extracurricular opportunities, creates a dynamic learning environment that nurtures well-rounded scholars. Through holistic education, the college empowers students to not only achieve academic success but also develop essential life skills and a passion for lifelong learning.
Celebrating Heritage and Embracing the Future
St Edward’s College fiercely cherishes its heritage and embraces a bright future. The college marks the significance of St Edward’s Day every 13th of October with a lively Sports Day, welcoming parents to join in cheering on their children. This event serves as a unifying celebration, strengthening the bond between the college and its community.
Another momentous occasion in the college’s calendar is Foundation Day on the 18th of January, observed with a special Prize Day ceremony. During this event, deserving students receive accolades for their dedication and hard work, creating moments of pride for both students and educators as they celebrate academic achievements and personal growth.
“Presently, we are undertaking an extensive physical restoration of our college premises. This undertaking is not just a matter of expense and scale; the college is also a listed monument, requiring specialized skills and permits for restoration. This commitment to preserving our historical identity and providing a conducive learning environment underscores our dedication to both tradition and progress,” shares the Bursar, Analise Cioffi.
St Edward’s students are distinguished by their impeccable manners, critical thinking abilities, multilingual proficiency, athletic talents, and a strong sense of social responsibility. The college’s esteemed alumni encompass archbishops, scientists, climate activists, record-breaking athletes, Chief Justices, surgeons, and influential business leaders who actively contribute to philanthropy. St Edward’s College instils in its students the values of compassion, empathy, and global citizenship, encouraging them to leverage their unique qualities for the betterment of society.
Beyond academic development, studying at St Edward’s College fosters a close-knit community, offering students an international second family and a diverse network of friends from around the world. Nurtured within a supportive environment, students emerge as compassionate leaders and changemakers, well-prepared to face the challenges of an ever-changing world.
As St Edward’s College commemorates its history and embraces the opportunities of the future, the institution remains steadfast in its commitment to cultivating well-rounded individuals, equipped not only for academic success but also for a life enriched by character, integrity, and a global perspective. The college takes immense pride in the achievements of its students, both within and beyond the classroom, and looks forward to the promising future they will create.
For More Info: https://stedwards.edu.mt/