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Education and Schooling System

If you are planning to bring your family with you, you might be interested in getting more information about the Italian education and schooling system. Here follows a description on how the Italian system works.
In Italy schooling is compulsory up to the age of 16. It is open regardless of nationality and it comprises both public or state-run schools (scuole pubbliche / statali) and private schools (scuole private). The school year usually goes from mid-September until mid-June and common school holidays are: Christmas holidays (from 23rd December to 6th January), Easter Holidays (around 6 days) and summer holidays (from mid-June to mid-September). Enrolment at compulsory schools can be done at any moment during the academic year of arrival of juniors in Italy and it is done at the Secretariat of the selected school. Every year the Ministry of Education (http://www.istruzione.it/web/istruzione/home ) publishes up-dated information on procedures and application forms for the yearly enrolments, as well as the regional school calendars. Furthermore, information about schools can be obtained from the Regional education office (Ufficio scolastico regionale) or the Municipality (comune). The list of Regional education offices is available on the Italian Ministry of Education website (http://www.istruzione.it/web/istruzione/home).
Please note that at all educational levels private schools may require the payment of specific enrolment fees.
The Italian Education system includes:

  1. Daycare Centres (crèche) (asilo nido) not compulsory (for children 0-3 years old)
    In general daycare centres are public or private. Attendance requires a monthly payment depending on the selected timetable and family income. Public daycare centre are managed by Municipalities through their Social work services
  2. Infant School or Nursery School (scuola per l'infanzia) not compulsory (for children 3-5 years old)
    Attendance at public or state-run schools is free (although a fee is required for the meals provided, depending on family income). In general schools operate from Monday to Friday with flexible timetables. Main educational activities provided are: body and movement, speech and words, space, time and nature, music, physical activity, arts and crafts, etc..
    - A list of public nursery schools in each town is available at Anagrafe scuole statali 
    - A list of private nursery schools is available at Anagrafe scuole non statali
  3. Primary School (scuola primaria / elementare) compulsory (for children 6-10 years old)
    Parents may freely choose the school if vacant places are available. Primary schools are completely free except for meals (if provided) and school transport. The municipality provides for the children’s textbooks. As a rule, no more than 25 and no less than 10 children are included in each class. Main subjects taught are: Italian, English, Geography, History, Maths, Science, Technology, Music, Art, Physical education, Information technology and Religion (optional).
  4. First Level Secondary School or Lower Secondary School (scuola media) compulsory (for children 11-14 years old)
    Although schooling is free, books must be purchased at the family’s own expense. Class size is of about 21 students. Main subjects taught are: Italian, Foreign languages, History, Geography, Science, Maths, Technology, IT, Art, and Music. Religion is an optional subject. Students must take and pass a final examination before moving on to secondary school (level two).
  5. High School or Upper Secondary School (scuola superiore) compulsory up to the age of 16 (for pupils from the age of 14 onwards) The secondary high school system is sub-divided by subject matter and the curricula vary according to the course of study chosen (i.e. Technical, Fine Arts, Scientific, Classical, etc.). Class sizes are between 25 to 28 students and tuition fees (to be paid only for the last two years) are envisaged according to family income. Students must pass a final examination in order to receive their Diploma di Maturità. This qualification entitles to university enrolment
  6. University (università)
    Enrolement is allowed after completion of upper secondary school cycle (Diploma di maturità) generally at the age of 18. An overview of the University system and teaching opportunities can be found at the “Universitaly website” (http://www.universitaly.it/) and “Study in Italy website” (in English), addressed to students wishing to enrol at Italian universities.

    See also RESEARCH IN ITALY: HIGHER EDUCATION section

    For a quick overview of the structure of the education system in Italy see Eurydice ITALIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM Overview

International schools
In Italy there are many international schools that offer education programmes in foreign languages besides Italian (taught as a second language). Some of these are listed below:

  •   German schools (Deutsche Schulen in Milan, Genoa and Rome).
  •  French lycées: (‘Chateaubriand’ in Rome, ‘Stendhal’ in Milan, ‘Jean Giono’ in Turin).
  •  British schools (St. George’s British International School, ‘The New School’ in Rome and the ‘Sir James Henderson School’ in Milan).
  •   Swiss schools (The Swiss School in Rome and Milan).

For more information visit the website of the European Council of International Schools which currently lists international schools in Italy.

Please note that there are International schools awarding I.B. (International Baccalaureate) Diplomas which is recognised for enrollment at Italian universities. The programmes go from the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) programme to the British GCSE and GCE examination systems. A complete list of schools awarding IB Diplomas in Italy can be found in the following webpage http://www.ibo.org/index.cfm.

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Last update : 13 Nov 2014 - 12:37