Italy:Overview

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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

 

Key features of the education system

Governance

The education system is organised according to the principles of subsidiarity and of autonomy of institutions.

The State has exclusive legislative competences on the general organisation of the education system (e.g. minimum standards of education, school staff, quality assurance, State financial resources). The Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) is responsible for the general administration of education at national level. Its decentralised offices (Regional School Offices - USRs) guarantee the application of general provisions and the respect of the minimum performance requirements and of standards.

Regions have joint responsibility with the State in some sectors of the education system (e.g. regions establish the school calendar and the distribution of schools in their territory, are responsible for the right to study at higher level). Regions have exclusive legislative competence in the organisation of the regional vocational education and training system.

Local authorities organise the offer (e.g. maintainance of premises, merging or establishment of schools, transport of pupils) from preprimary to upper secondary education at local level.

Schools have a high degree of autonomy: they define curricula, widen the educational offer, organise teaching (school time and groups of pupils). Every three years, schools draw up their own Plan for the educational offer.
Also Universities and High level arts and music education (Afam) institutions have statutory, regulatory, teaching and organisational autonomy.

Providers

The Italian education system is mainly a public State system. Private subject and public bodies can establish education institutions. Such non-State schools can be either equal to State schools (called paritarie schools) or merely private schools. These latter cannot issue qualifications.

Parental school (scuola familiare) during cumpulsory education is a possible options only upon certain conditions. Students attending a merely private school or a parental school must sit for specific exams to prove the acquisition of the expected competences.

Inclusion

Education at all levels must be open to everyone: Italian citizens as well as foreigner minors from both EU and non-EU countries. Compulsory education is free.

The principle of inclusion also applies to pupils with disabilities, from disadvantaged backgrounds for social and economic reasons and to immigrant pupils. In such circumstances, measures focus on personalization and didactic flexibility and, in the case of immigrants with low levels of Italian, linguistic support.

The State also guarantees the right to education to pupils/students who are unable to attend school because hospitalised, detained or at home for a long illness.

Teaching profession

Teaching at all levels of school education, included preprimary education, requires a higher level initial education.

Pre-primary and primary teachers should complete a specific 5-year university second-cycle programme, including traineeship activities to be carried out starting from the second year of studies.

Secondary teachers should complete a second-cycle programme lasting two years either at universities or at Afam institutions (in case of arts, music and dance teachers at both lower and upper secondary level), followed by one-year traineeship.

Continuing professional development is compulsory.

Stages of the education system

The Italian education and training system includes preprimary (ECEC 3-6), primary, secondary (lower and upper), post-secondary and higher education.

Early childhood education and care (ECEC)

ECEC for children aged less than 3 years is offered by nursery schools (nidi d’infanzia) and it is not part of the education system. Local authorities and private subjects offer nursery schools according to regional regulations.

ECEC for children aged from 3 to 6 years is available at preprimary schools (scuole dell'infanzia). Preprimary education is part of the education system and is not compulsory.

Compulsory education

Compulsory education starts at 6 years of age and lasts for 10 years up to 16 years of age. It covers the whole first cycle of education and two years of the second cycle. The last two years of compulsory education can be attended either in an upper secondary school or within the regional vocational education and training system.

Compulsory education can be undertaken at either a State school or a non-State, publicly subsidised school (scuola paritaria) or, subject to certain conditions, through home education or private schools.

In addition, everyone has a right and a duty (diritto/dovere) to receive education and training for at least 12 years within the education system or until they have obtained a three-year vocational qualification by the age of 18.

First cycle of education

The first cycle of education in made up of two compulsory levels:

  • Primary school (scuola primaria) starts at 6 years of age and lasts 5 years. 
  • Lower secondary education (scuola secondaria di primo grado) starts at 11 years of age and lasts 3 years.

Within the first cycle, students progress from one level to the other without exams. At the end of the first cycle of education students who pass the final state examination progress to the second cycle of education.

Second cycle of education

The second cycle of education starts at the age of 14 and offers two different pathways:

  • upper secondary school (scuola secondaria di secondo grado) both general (licei) and vocational (technical institutes and vocational institutes), lasting 5 years; 
  • regional vocational training system (IFP), with courses lasting three or four years organised by training agencies.

At the end of upper secondary school, students receive a Diploma that gives them access to higher education. At the end of either a three-year or a four-year regional course, learners receive a qualification that gives them access to second-level regional vocational courses. After a four-year course, learners willing to enroll in a Higher technical institute (ITS) at tertiary level, must attend an additional one-year course in the Higher technical education and training system (IFTS) (post-secondary non-tertiary education). 

Higher education

The following institutions offer education at higher level:

  • Universities (polytechnics included) and High level arts, music and dance education institutes (Alta formazione artistica, musicale e coreutica - Afam);
  • Higher technical institutes (Istituti tecnici superiosi - ITS); 
  • Higher schools for language mediators (Scuole superiori per mediatori linguistici - SSML).

Access to university, Afam and SSML programmes is solely for students with an upper secondary school leaving certificate. The Ministry of education as well as individual institutions establish the specific conditions for admission.

ITS is accessible to students with an upper secondary leaving certificate and to students who have attended regional vocational courses followed by an additional one-year course in the Higher technical education and training system (IFTS). ITSs organise short first-cycle programmes according to the Bologna structure.

Adult education

Adult education includes all activities aiming at cultural enrichment, requalification and professional mobility. Within the broader term ‘adult education’, the domain “School education for adults” (istruzione degli adulti) only refers to the educational activities aimed at the acquisition of a qualification and to literacy and Italian language courses. Adult education is provided by centres for school education for adults (Centri provinciali per l’istruzione degli adulti - CPIA) and upper secondary schools.

Useful links

Ministry of education, university and research (Miur)
National Institute for documentation, innovation and research in education (Indire)
National institute for the evaluation of the education and training system (Invalsi)
Institute for the development of professional training of workers (Isfol)
National agency for evaluation of university and research (Anvur)

Structure of the national education system

2016 diagram IT.pngsource: Eurydice 2016

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