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Italy:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

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

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

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

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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

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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

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

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Italy:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

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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

Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours

Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Technical institutes offer courses in economics and technology sectors.

Economics-based courses are organised in the following branches of study:

  • Management, finance and marketing
  • Tourism

Technology-based courses are organised in the following branches of studies:

  • Mechanics and energy
  • Transport and logistics
  • Electronics and electrical engineering
  • ICT and telecommunications
  • Design and communication
  • Chemistry, biotechnology
  • Fashion design
  • Agriculture, food and agriculture, agroindustry
  • Construction, environment

Vocational institutes offer courses for the service sector and for the industry and crafts sector.

Courses for the service sector are provided in the following branches of specialisation:

  • Services for agriculture and the development of rural areas
  • Social and health services
  • Hotel and catering
  • Commerce

Courses for industry and crafts are provided in the following branches of specialisation:

  • Industrial and craft products
  • Maintenance and technical assistance

For teaching purposes only, the five years of study at technical and vocational institutes are organised into a two-year period and a three-year period; the latter is in turn organised into a two-year period and the final year. In the three-year period, besides deepening their knowledge in the general areas common to all branches, students are expected to acquire and develop content that is specific to their branch of specialisation, in order to fully achieve the specific competencies of their professional sector, as set out in the educational, cultural and professional profile (PECUP). Once acquired, these competences enable students to go further in their studies at a higher level or to go directly into their professions.

The first two years of upper secondary level of education, whether general or vocational, are compulsory. Thus, in order to ensure that education and training is the same in all types of school (general or vocational), the Ministry has defined what knowledge and competencies all students are expected to have acquired on completion of compulsory education. This knowledge and competencies integrate the current upper secondary curricula, specific for each type of school.

These knowledge and competencies are organised into four 'cultural areas': languages, mathematics, science/technology and historic/social studies. Knowledge and competencies are also the basis for building learning pathways aimed at acquiring key skills that can help students in adulthood and for lifelong learning. Key competences are: learning to learn, planning, communicating, collaborating and participating, acting autonomously, problem solving, creating connections and relations, acquiring and interpreting information.

The curricula of technical and vocational institutes are defined in National Guidelines (Linee guida) issued separately for technical and vocational studies.

The National Guidelines set out the specific knowledge and skills a student is expected to acquire, for each sector and branch of specialisation, in each subject included in the relevant study plan. In addition to knowledge and skills necessary for building the competencies of students, the National Guidelines also include the student's educational, cultural and professional profile (PECUP), representing what a student should know and be able to do at the end of his or her technical or vocational education.

The curriculum also includes the teaching of 'Citizenship and Constitution' and schools are required to include it in their educational offer plan (POF). It is not a separate subject and contents are developed by individual schools through teaching projects included in history and geography.

Timetables for all sectors, branches of specialisation and options in technical and vocational pathways show the compulsory number of teaching hours for each subject in the study plan. The duration of lessons is 60 minutes, although schools can decide to have shorter lessons, providing that the compulsory annual amount of teaching time for each subject is met.

Catholic religious education is optional for students and the specific learning objectives are defined separately by Presidential Decree in agreement with the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).

Timetables for technical institutes are published in the Annexes B and C of the DPR no. 88/2010.

Timetables for vocational institutes are published in the Annexes B and C of the DPR no. 87/2010.

Through their educational offer plan (POF), institutions can offer additional courses which must be consistent with the Educational, Cultural and Professional Profile (Pecup) of each technical and vocational study plan. Such courses are optional for students. Once a student has chosen an optional course, attendance is compulsory and a performance is assessed on a par with all compulsory subjects in the study plan.

Optional courses must not account for more than 20% of the overall timetable. Moreover, both technical and vocational institutes can activate optional study plans within specific limits:

Technical institutes: 30% of the overall timetable (third and fourth grades) and the 20% (fifth grade).

Vocational institutes: 35% of the overall timetable (third and fourth grade) and the 40% (fifth grade). Vocational institutes can also activate additional activities in the first two years, within the limit of the 25% of the overall timetable, in order to integrate courses organized within the regional system of vocational education and training (IFP).

Optional teachings are included in the student’s digital curriculum, which collects also all data on the student’s course of studies, the acquired competences, alternance training experiences and all extra-curricular activities (culture, arts, sport, voluntary service).

In all types of technical and vocational institute, students attending the last three grades have the opportunity to spend a total of 400 hours in alternance training activities. Alternance training aims at deepening students’ knowledge and competences in order to increase their job opportunities and to facilitate their choice of further study.

Sectors involved in the alternance training experiences range from enterprises to public and private bodies, the third sector included, to professional associations, to public and private institutions operating in the artistic heritage, cultural and music sector to recognised sports societies.

Students can experience the alternance training during their holidays or during the school year in the form of practice enterprise, also abroad.
At upper secondary level, schools organise courses on the protection of health and safety in the workplace for students engaged in alternance training paths.

The national register for alternance training taken by the Chambers of Commerce lists enterprises and public and private bodies offering posts for alternance training and, for each of them, the number of posts available and the periods when it is possible to carry out the activities. This area of the register is open and free for consultation. Enterprises interested in offering posts for alternance training should enroll in a specific area of the register of enterprises. The school manager chooses the enterprises from the register.

At the end of each school year, the school manager evaluates the enterprises or the other bodies that have signed alternance training agreements with the school.

The Ministry will publish a Decree containing the Charter of rights and duties of students in alternance training, for example the right to evaluate the efficiency and coherence of the experience with their studies.

Regional Vocational Education and Training (IFP)

Three-year and four-year IFP courses do not refer to national study programmes that are specific to the different subjects.

The main IFP offer, which is an alternative to the school offer, is organised in two large areas: courses organised and run by training agencies accredited by the Regions and courses organised and run by upper secondary vocational institutes in partnership with training agencies. In the second case, schools follow the guidelines of their Regions for the organisation of these courses.

Training providers prepare teaching projects based on the tasks and skills that are specific to the relevant professional profiles. Generally, teaching projects are modular and cover basic, transversal and technical or vocational skills.

The first two years of IFP courses correspond to the last two years of compulsory education. So, as in mainstream general and vocational upper secondary education, the curricula include key competencies for citizenship, which learner should have acquired by the end of compulsory education (please see above). In courses organised by vocational upper secondary institutes, school teachers usually teach general subjects and technical and vocational subjects are usually taught by trainers from partner training agencies. Conversely, trainers on courses organised by training agencies, including those specialising in key competences, are mainly recruited by the training agencies themselves, according to the criteria set for the accreditation of agencies.

In most Regions, guidance activities are incorporated and spread across the years of study, with a concentration of career guidance time in the third year. In  other Regions, individual courses include an additional block of time for guidance and teachers decide how to tailor this time to the specific needs of individual learners.

Learning and training objectives refer to the technical and professional standards set for 22 three-year vocational qualifications and 21 four-year vocational qualifications. These standards are organised into work processes/activity and the acquisition of the competencies that are typical of the professional qualification. Competencies are described in terms of skills and knowledge.

At present, the 22 three-year vocational qualifications areas are:

  • tourism promotion and reception
  • agro-food production
  • wellness
  • administration
  • retailing
  • warehousing
  • graphics
  • construction
  • wood
  • pleasure boats
  • engine vehicles
  • thermo-hydraulic systems
  • electrical systems
  • electronic systems
  • mechanical systems
  • clothes
  • shoes
  • food
  • agriculture
  • art
  • chemical production
  • marine and inland waters

Some Regions also provide four-year IFP courses, leading to a vocational diploma, in the following 21 vocational qualification areas:

  • tourism promotion and reception
  • agro-food production
  • automation systems
  • retailing
  • industrial automation
  • beauty treatments
  • graphics
  • construction
  • wood
  • waiting staff and bar services
  • engine vehicles
  • thermal systems
  • electrical systems
  • electronic systems
  • services for enterprise
  • clothes
  • food
  • agriculture
  • art
  • leisure time and tourist activities
  • hairdressing

The purpose of three and four-year vocational training courses (IFP) is to qualify 14/17-year olds who wish to enter the labour market after a short period of training.

However, these courses ensure that students acquire the key competencies and skills required on completion of compulsory education.

Teaching Methods and Materials

Vocational Upper Secondary Education

The Constitution of the Italian Republic establishes the principle of freedom of teaching. The choice and use of teaching methods and materials must be consistent with each school's educational offer plan (POF), which, in turn, must be consistent with the general and educational objectives of the different branches and levels of study established at national level.

Schools generally plan their teaching activities at two different levels: at department level for the objectives of each subject and each grade; and at class council level for cross-curricular objectives. In the last decade, special focus has been given to student drop-out prevention, study methods, catch-up activities and increasing the use of information and communication technologies. Schools are usually equipped with a gymnasium, library, science and computer laboratories and laboratories for the specific courses offered by individual schools.

Teachers choose textbooks and teaching tools. Teachers may confirm the textbooks adopted the previous year, or they can adopt new textbooks. In the latter case, textbooks can be in digital or mixed format (mixed format means paper, paper plus digital or digital, all with integrated digital content). In all events, textbooks and teaching tools must be consistent with the curriculum and school’s educational offer plan and should comply with total cost restrictions. Teachers can submit their choices to the Teachers’ assembly that formally approves the choice. However, the formal approval is not mandatory for teachers and schools.

Textbooks are not free for parents. Every year, the Ministry of education sets the total maximum cost of textbooks. Teachers should choose the textbooks within this total price limit. Measures introduced to help parents deal with the cost of textbooks also include rental and free loan of textbooks, as well as the partial reimbursement of costs.

Schools can also create their own digital teaching tools for specific subjects, which students will use as textbooks. Teachers can develop such tools in class during teaching hours and in collaboration with other class teachers and students. They will work under the supervision of a teacher who will ensure the scientific and didactic quality of the product. Schools should register their work, get the relevant licence and send their didactic tools to the Ministry of education within the end of the school year, in order to share and distribute their textbooks free of charge to other State schools.

Regional Vocational Education and Training (IFP)

The main teaching aspect of IFP courses, especially on courses organised by upper secondary vocational institutes, is the use of guidance-centred teaching methods. This teaching approach makes it possible to: a) link training to the future profession more clearly and emphatically; b) rethink students’ choices, if they do not correspond to their training needs and their initial training path.

In addition to this aspect, the Regions also provide training agencies with methodological guidance on approaches and techniques based on active teaching, particularly through projects, simulated business experiences and other simulation techniques (e.g. role play and case studies). They also strongly recommend the use of problem-solving methods.

Hence, in addition to traditional active teaching methods, training institutions are often open to local opportunities and participate in extracurricular initiatives such as study visits, competitions and twinning experiences.

These methods aim to facilitate the learning process and meet the needs of learners to acquire cultural and technical/professional competences through practice. In this regard, work placements are a much appreciated learning experience for learners.

The Regions establish the length of work placements, taking into account individual qualifications. However, in the first year, placements are guidance-oriented and take place through visits to local enterprises. In subsequent years, placements have a practical and training focus. Learners work within the company and their training is organised and coordinated by the placement tutor in the training institution and the tutor at the host company.

The publishers of textbooks for vocational training are the same as those of school textbooks. Teachers are free to use textbooks and other teaching materials.

Legislative References

Law 28 March 2003, no. 53 (reform of the education system, alternance training)

Law 30 October 2008, no. 169 (Citizenship and Constitution)

C.M. no. 86 of 27 October 2010 (Citizenship and Constitution)

DPR 15 March 2010, no. 87 (organisation of vocational institutes)

DPR 15 March 2010, no. 88 (organisation of technical institutes)

DM 22 August 2007, 139 (competences compulsory education)

Directive 15 July 2010, no. 57 (Guidelines first two years of technical institutes)

Directive 28 July 2010, no. 65 (Guidelines first two years of vocational institutes)

Directive 16 January 2012, no. 4 (Guidelines last three years of technical institutes)

Directive 16 January 2012, no. 5 (Guidelines last three years of vocational institutes)

Law 6 August 2008, no. 133 (textbooks)

Law Decree 18 October 2012, no.179 (textbooks)

Ministerial Decree 27 September 2013, no. 781 (textbooks)

Law 13 July 2015, no. 107 (reform of the education system, alternance training)