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Italy:Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Education and Training

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Overview Italy

Contents

Italy:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Italy:Historical Development

Italy:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Italy:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Italy:Political and Economic Situation

Italy:Organisation and Governance

Italy:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Italy:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Italy:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Italy:Organisation of Private Education

Italy:National Qualifications Framework

Italy:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Italy:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Italy:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Italy:Funding in Education

Italy:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Italy:Higher Education Funding

Italy:Adult Education and Training Funding

Italy:Early Childhood Education and Care

Italy:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Italy:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Italy:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Italy:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Italy:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Italy:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Italy:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Italy:Primary Education

Italy:Organisation of Primary Education

Italy:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Italy:Assessment in Primary Education

Italy:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Italy:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Italy:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Italy:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Italy:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Italy:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Italy:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Italy:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Italy:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Italy:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Italy:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Italy:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Italy:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Italy:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Italy:Higher Education

Italy:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Italy:First Cycle Programmes

Italy:Bachelor

Italy:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Italy:Second Cycle Programmes

Italy:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Italy:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Italy:Adult Education and Training

Italy:Distribution of Responsibilities

Italy:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Italy:Main Providers

Italy:Main Types of Provision

Italy:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Italy:Teachers and Education Staff

Italy:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Italy:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Italy:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Italy:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Italy:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Italy:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Italy:Management and Other Education Staff

Italy:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Italy:Management Staff for Higher Education

Italy:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Italy:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Italy:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Italy:Quality Assurance

Italy:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Italy:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Italy:Educational Support and Guidance

Italy:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Italy:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Italy:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Italy:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Italy:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Italy:Mobility and Internationalisation

Italy:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Mobility in Higher Education

Italy:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Italy:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Italy:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Italy:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Italy:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Italy:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Italy:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Italy:National Reforms in School Education

Italy:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Italy:National Reforms in Higher Education

Italy:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Italy:European Perspective

Italy:Legislation

Italy:Glossary

Basic Skills (Literacy, Mathematics, Science and Technology), Languages

As for the curriculum in primary and lower secondary education, the document to refer to is the National Guidelines for the curriculum, applied from school year 2012-2013. The guidelines indicate for each subject the goals for the competences development that pupils should reach at the end of primary and lower secondary education. In particular:

  • key competences for lifelong learning as defined by the European Parliament and the Council of EU (recommendation of 18 December 2006) are taken as a reference point to aim at;
  • schools are bound to take goals for the development of competences into account in their planning of curricular activities. Such goals are linked to the external evaluation of students’ learning outcomes carried out by the National institute for the evaluation of the education and training system (Invalsi);
  • learning goals related to foreign languages are linked to the Common European Framework of reference for languages (A1 for the primary level, A2 and A1 for the first and second foreign languages respectively at lower secondary level).

The recent reform of the second cycle of education (2010) foresees, in the general paths, a strengthening of the mathematics-scientific area through an increase in the number of teaching hours of mathematics and sciences.

As for technical and vocational institutes, the reform foresees the reinforcement of both general basic competences and skills specific of each branch of studies, also through the tesching of the integrated sciences (earth sciences, biology, physics and chemistry) .

The Reform has also given strong prominence to language teaching/learning in the Italian upper secondary schools.

As far as the second language is concerned, the National Guidelines for general upper secondary schools (Indicazioni nazionali per i Licei) suggest developing linguistic and communicative competences alongside the acquisition of cultural notions referred to the country where the language is native. Moreover, the Reform states students should reach a B2 CEFR level of competence at the end of their upper secondary school courses. The Ministry of Education has promoted some projects with the aim of helping teachers and students achieve this target, also in the frame of the “eight key competences”.

Among these projects, “E-English”, ended in December 2012, has had the aim of fostering language learning through digital devices, also including recurrent synchronous meetings with international experts.

The reform of 2010 has  introduced CLIL in the upper secondary schools, starting from school year 2012-2013. In upper secondary schools specialising in languages (Licei Linguistici), Clil is used as a teaching method starting from the third grade, whereas other Licei and technical institutes will use the CLIL method in the fifth year.

In order to help teachers and students better understand CLIL methodology, strategies and effectiveness, the Ministry has implemented, for school year 2012/2013, a project named “E-CLIL”, with the aim to lead upper secondary school towards CLIL and to simultaneously promote the digital competence.

In January 2013, the project ‘Read on! for e-clil’ has been launched with the aim of promoting extensive reading in English connected with Clil. The project involves upper secondary level schools.

Professional Development of Teachers, Trainers and School Leaders

Law Decree n 104/2013 foresees the allocation of 10 M euros for mandatory CPD activities. Such activities are addressed to teaching staff working in areas where schools had low results in national and international surveys and where the risk of social-educative disadvantage is higher.

In particular, training activities focus on how to reinforce knowledge and competences of students, to strengthen teachers’ competences working in areas with higher immigration rates, to increase management and planning skills, to increase digital competences and special competences for teachers working in schools using ‘alternance training’ paths. The organisation and management of such CPD activities will be defined through another decree, as well as methods for allowing the free access of teachers to museums and arts and cultural sites will be defined together with the Ministry of finances and the Ministry of cultural heritage.

To be effective, Decree no. 104 shall be converted into law by the Parliament within 60 days from its publication.

Modernising Higher Education and Increasing Tertiary Attainment Levels

Within tertiary education and training, it is important to highlight the establishment of Higher Technical Institutes (ITS), which, since school year 2011/2012, are part of the education system as tertiary level paths. ITSs are ‘high level specialisation schools’ aimed at train highly specialised technicians in strategic fields. In ITSs courses, the 30% of timetable is devoted to on the job training activities and 50% of teachers belong to professional sectors and to the handcraft field (Source: NPR 2013, p. 147). Such institutes are defined as ‘Foundations in participation’, according to a public-private management model for non-profit activities. ITS Foundations are born from partnerships between public and private subjects, including enterprises. Foundations established according to decisions adopted by 17 Regions are 62, made up of 184 upper secondary institutions, 332 enterprises and relevant associations, 88 universities and research centres and 152 accredited institutions for higher education. ITS offer 139 courses and are attended by 2 996 students (Source: Indire, data at 15 May 2013).

The offer at ITSs is financed through founds established by the Ministry of education (Miur), with a mandatory co-financing from Regions and autonomous provinces corresponding to at least 30% of the fund. This fund is also used for monitoring and evaluating the system. The control on the administration of the Foundations is carried out by the Prefect of the province where the ITS is located.

As for university education, law 240/2010 has introduced important changes in the organisation of the Italian university system, going in the direction of assuring an efficient and sustainable management of Universities and of introducing mechanisms for improving quality and efficiency levels as well as for monitoring and evaluating them. Moreover, it goes in the direction of making such mechanisms the basis for the distribution of resources.

The objective of the reform is to increase the efficacy and transparency of internal decision-making processes of universities and to allow these latter to diversify their own structures of governance according to institutional missions to pursue, although maintaining a minimum standard of coherence at national level.

Within the frame of the reform, the  measures adopted mainly refer to:

  • The procedures for professors’ national qualification;
  • The self-evaluation procedures, the recurrent evaluation and the accreditation of study courses and of universities;
  • The system of the right to study and university students’ promotion based on merit;
  • Dispositions on the new financial management of universities;
  • The regulation on the accreditation of Doctorate programmes.

In March 2013, the Ministry of education has approved the Regulation on research doctorate (Decree no. 45/2013). Starting from academic year 2013/2014, Doctorate courses offered by universities should meet the qualitative requirements defined in the mentioned Regulation. In particular, the composition and qualifications of members of Professors assemblies, the availability of grants, the availability of facilities and laboratories suitable to research, the inclusion, in candidates’ activities, of subject training and training on research methods. Moreover, the decree defines the conditions to obtain the relevant doctoral qualification as well as the rights and duties of candidates to doctoral courses (e.g. grants are higher in periods of international mobility).

The new regulations also give universities the opportunity of sign agreements with other universities, research bodies and enterprises for developing and realise doctoral courses. Agreements may also involve foreign institutions. Following this new opportunity, the Decree also introduce two new types of courses: the ‘industrial doctoral courses’, i.e. courses made in collaboration with bodies and enterprises and the ‘international doctoral courses’, i.e. courses made in collaboration with universities and research institutes of other countries.

Finally, the decree facilitates the synergy between doctoral courses and health specialisation schools, through the recognition of activities carried out by students in specialisation schools, and between the different financing resources available to students (e.g. grants for candidates to doctoral courses may be awarded using research allowances made available by universities).

Finally, universities have completed the revision of their Statutes, have made up their own governing bodies according to legislation and have approved their programmes as well as their internal organisational rules.

Attractiveness and Relevance of VET

The vocational education and training system actively participates at the activities of the National Reference point for quality carried out by the Institute for the development of the professional training of workers (Istituto per lo sviluppo della formazione professionale dei lavoratori, Isfol), both for the reception of European directives on the quality of the national system (EQF, EQARF), and for experimenting innovative methods for improving the quality of the training system, in particular for its evaluation.

Members of the Board of the Italian Reference Point, under the direction of Isfol, are the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Education, university and research, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces, Trade Unions, representatives of school and training institutions.

The Board, which is an important example of cooperation within VET, training centres and enterprises, coordinates the activities at national level and plans the activities of dissemination of results and of promotes the spread of consciousness of benefits of quality assurance among stakeholders.
The competence/learning outcomes-based approach is a real innovation in the Italian VET system, which has had a boost forward also with the adoption of the EQF. Such approach has become the reference for the drawing up of the new curricula for technical and vocational education and for higher technical training paths. In order to guarantee the quality of training, importance has been given to what students can do using what they have learned, in real life. The re-organisation process activates the didactic and organisational innovation, through the spread of active didactic usual procedures – lab-based approach, integrated sciences, alternance training, CLIL – and bodies such as Departments, and Scientific Committees. The process is completed by guidance actions, aimed at reducing drop-outs and to increase students’ motivation.

Efficient Funding and Evaluation

In March 2013, the Council of Ministers has definitely approved the Decree regulating the national system for the evaluation of the education and training system (National Evaluation System, SNV). The system is made up of three elements: the National institute for the evaluation of the education and training system (Invalsi), which task is to prepare tests for the external evaluation of pupils’ learning outcomes, to take part in international surveys and of carry out national surveys on national standards; the National institute of documentation, innovation and research in education (Indire) which is committed with the support to improvement and innovation processes, the continuing professional development of staff and the documentation and research in education; the inspectorate, which is autonomous and independent and is committed with the evaluation  of schools and school heads.

In fact, according to the approved regulation, the school evaluation process starts from self-evaluation, while external evaluation should be carried out preferably in critical situations needing support. In fact, the results of the evaluation should be the base improvement plans that should be created with the support of Indire and of other qualified subjects.

The phases of the process are:

  • schools self-evaluate on the basis of data released by the informative system of the Ministry, on the results of Invalsi’s surveys on pupils’ learning outcomes in terms of added value (i.e. net of the influence of the socio-economic-cultural background) and of other significant elements; they then draw up a report within the frame delivered by Invalsi and put forward their improvement plan;
  • schools to be externally evaluated are chosen on the base of efficiency and efficacy indicators established by Invalsi;
  • external evaluation carried out by teams made up of one inspector and two experts chosen from a list created by Invalsi; evaluation procedures follow a protocol jointly defined by Invalsi-Indire-inspectors’ representative;
  • possible redefinition of the improvement plans on the basis of the results of teams’ evaluations and their realization;
  • statements on results achieved and its publication

As for the university system, the decrees issued in application of law no. 240/2010 on the self-evaluation system, the recurrent evaluation and the accreditation procedures have given new inputs to the evaluation system and to the distribution of available resources based on merit criteria.

Starting from school year 2013/2014 the ‘Self-evaluation, recurrent evaluation and accreditation system (AVA)’ will come into force. The system groups together all the activities to be carries out for the initial and recurrent accreditation of university courses and of university institutions, for the recurrent evaluation of quality, of efficiency and of results obtained by universities, and for the strengthening of the self-evaluation system of university. The system has been first foreseen by law 240/2010 and by the subsequent legislative decree no. 19/2012.

The system is based on European Standards and Guidelines (ESG-ENQA) approved by the European Ministers in the Bergen conference of 2005 and adopted through the Parliament and Council Recommendation (2006/143/CE).

Responsibilities of involved bodies are distributed as follows:

  • the Ministry makes an ex-ante accreditation of courses and of universities;
  • the National university Council provides its opinion at the moment of the institution of the courses or in case of modifications to the course;
  • the National Agency for the evaluation of the university and research system (Anvur) defines methods, criteria and indicators for the accreditation and for the recurrent evaluation. Anvur also verifies and monitors such accreditation and evaluation criteria and indicators.

Criteria for the accreditation of courses include the transparency, the number of professors involved, the level of definition of didactic activities and their diversification, resources, the internal quality assurance system and the economic-financial sustainability.

The criteria for the accreditation of universities include transparency, the sustainability of teaching and the presence of a quality assurance system.
The recurrent accreditation, i.e. verifying that the course/institution still meet the requirements, is carried out annually while the recurrent evaluation of courses and universities is carried out every three and five years, respectively.

The recurrent evaluation is focused on the results obtained by single universities. It takes into account the results obtained in the evaluations made by the internal evaluation teams, the results obtained in occasion of the visits of external experts and several predefined indicators specific of research, teaching, sustainability, etc.