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If you speak to local artists there is a common theme among most of them. They loved learning when they were young, but the classroom set-up was just not for them. Some persisted, others simply didn’t.

Every person is different. I do believe that some people are born to do and work in some areas, others are not cut for it. We had seen this, for years, in the national sports school in which the school curriculum is integrated on a daily basis specialised lessons in sports. Such lessons brought out the best in the students and made school life more stimulating and engaging.

This is how the Malta Visual And Performing Arts (MVPA) school was born in September 2017.

The MVPA is a new concept wherein the five performing art forms of music, dance, media studies, drama and the visual arts are integrated within the secondary-level curriculum and timetable.

All students from State, Independent and Church schools who have ended their primary schooling in Year 6 can apply for entry into the school. 48 students are selected each year via an audition (60%) and interview (10%) process as well as taking into account students’ benchmark results (30%) at the end of Year 6. Students can apply for only one art form. Currently, the school hosts Year 7 and Year 8 students.

The school specialises in the visual and performing art forms but also teaches the usual academic subjects as stipulated by the Education Act, meaning that all students will, like anyone else, sit for SEC and MATSEC examinations. The timetable is specific to the school in that ten out of the forty lessons per week are devoted to the visual and performing arts. Eight of these lessons are in the students’ selected art form and the other two lessons give exposure to other art forms on an eight-week rotational basis, ensuring a holistic educational approach to all art forms.

There are 3 classes per form and each class hosts 16 students, ensuring teachers can give individual attention to their students. Students are then divided into groups of 10 for lessons in dance, music, drama and visual arts and into groups of eight for lessons in media studies. The vision of the MVPA is for it to be a highly regarded, effective secondary school which excels in nurturing students’ academic, social and creative potential and elicits an artistic and cultural contribution.

To this effect, all teachers at the MVPA school facilitate the students’ artistic skills and talents within their classroom, thereby making lessons more creative, engaging and relevant. The school is only in its second year of operating but it is already clear that performing arts lessons are having a very positive effect on the teaching and learning of academic subjects.

Daily life at the MVPA school is full of sound, colours, images and movements from early in the morning till when the bell rings for the students to go home. It is full of creativity and it is dynamic in all aspects. It is full of smiling students because it is the school where they can feel at home and know it is bringing out the best in them. It is a school in which intelligence is having fun.

The school was officially inaugurated by the Prime Minister on 16th March 2018.

Last year, it participated in the Trikki Trakki Youth Festival organised by Teatru Malta. Three performances were produced: Wakatanka, directed by Josette Ciappara, The Shadow Monster, directed by Christ Gatt and Fil-Bosk tas-Sahhara, directed by Dr Isabelle Gatt. The Festival was a success and the school looks forward to further collaboration with Teatru Malta.

I think this model is the future of schooling, where we understand students’ aspirations and build upon them. We often hear stories of how a child feigns sickness, just to have a day at home. It just does not happen in the MVPA school. Why stay home when you can be pursuing your passion?

Corinne Cilia

Head of School