De La Salle 6th Form History

The Sixth Form as an issue is of intrinsic significance to a college such as De La Salle; as an educational concern it mattered to all the Brothers in Malta. To a certain extent, having a Sixth Form was a goal in itself: a sure foundation on which academic expansion could be based. There is evidence to suggest that what could be termed as the first phase of this study was concerned with the establishment of a Sixth Form as a joint venture of the two Brothers' Colleges: De La Salle and Stella Maris. Brother Dominic in his second directorship (1961-3) had first broached the idea in the Malta Council in 1963. It was stated that "our colleges could unite to create a combined Sixth Form."

Members agreed that this was desirable as it would raise the status of both colleges. If sufficient numbers were found among our fifth formers, such a project would certainly be commendable. It was suggested that a Committee, composed of Brothers Directors and interested Brothers from both colleges would study the project and work out the details. At its meeting of 28 March 1965, the Sixth Form Project was again discussed by the Malta Council. It was suggested to combine efforts and have the Arts Section at De La Salle with the Sciences being taught at Stella Maris. Several problems cropped up and a Committee was set up to go into this question under all its aspects and report to the Malta Council.

At its April 1965 meeting, Brother Visitor introduced this topic by emphasizing that a Sixth Form exacts heavy expenditure in manpower and finance. The Malta University was planning to establish a Sixth Form College within the next four years, a plan which, some members argued, could not be ignored. Henceforth, this topic was dropped from discussion at Malta Council level; but the De La Salle Community decided to carry on with their study of the project.Brother Edward, director from 1963 till 1968, was as keen as ever. He mentioned the prospect of starting a Sixth Form in his speech on successive Prize Giving ceremonies. One need not belabour the question of dates. We are told that it all started with a small number of students and a limited range of subjects in June 1966, for the first time, English and History were taken at G.C.E. Advanced level. On 18 July 1968, Brother Edward addressed a Circular to parents of fifth form students, stating that "a regular Sixth Form would be held as from September. The course would be of one year's duration". Students were to choose one or two subjects from the following list: History, English, Italian, Pure Mathematics and Maltese. Brother Louis, director for three years starting in September 1968, continued where his predecessor had left off.

As from September 1969, the college was offering, in addition to the Arts subjects and Pure Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology if the number of candidates warranted it. His Circular stated: "the course is of one year's duration except in Mathematics and Sciences where the course extends over a period of two years".This pioneering work bore fruit because more students joined the scheme. In September 1970, for the first time in history, De La Salle accepted the first three girl students in the Sixth Form. (Josette Felice Gay, Denise Portelli and Victoria Cassar). They all studied Physics, Chemistry and Biology. The novelty did not seem to have caused much of a stir; in fact it went almost unnoticed. Two of the girls finished the two-year course whereas one left school after her first year. Other girls occurred at the start of scholastic year 1971-2. There were enough students to divide the Sixth Form into Upper and Lower. Eventually, it would become Uppers and Lowers split up into yet two more groups: Arts and Science.

Thus were the Brothers' aspirations turned into reality. The Sixth Form as an integral part of the curriculum demanded an 'elite' who were to conduct themselves not only at pre-university pitch, but were also imbued with some of the privileges and responsibilities of grown-up students. The presence of Sixth Formers at De La Salle became a matter of course, and results achieved in public examinations meant that the Brothers' foresight and faith in youth paid rich dividends.