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Italy:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

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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

Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours

At lower secondary level, the curriculum is defined through National Guidelines for the curriculum (Indicazioni nazionali per il curricolo) that the Ministry of education has sent to all schools before the start of the school year 2012/2013. This document replaces the National Guidelines for the personalised study plans in lower secondary education (Indicazioni nazionali per i piani di studio personalizzati nella scuola secondaria di primo grado') issued in 2004 and the Guidelines for the curriculum (Indicazioni per il curricolo), issued in 2007.

According to the new guidelines, the general aim of school is the harmonious and comprehensive development of the individual, according to the principles of the Italian Constitution and European cultural tradition, to be achieved through the promotion of knowledge, respect for individual diversity and the active involvement of students and their parents. The reference for these new guidelines is the Framework for Key Competences for Lifelong Learning established by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union through the Recommendation of 18 December 2006.

Specifically, the purpose of lower secondary education is to enable pupils to acquire the fundamental knowledge and skills to develop basic cultural competence. At this level, this is achieved by using school subjects and disciplines as a means to know, interpret and represent reality and the world.

The subjects taught for the 3 years of lower secondary school are: Italian, English, a second foreign language, history, geography, mathematics, sciences, technology, music, arts, sports science (also called body, movement and sport), Catholic religious education. Catholic religious education is optional for pupils.

Each subject has goals for the development of skills, which are mandatory for teachers, as well as learning objectives for the level of knowledge and skills needed to reach the development goals. The specific learning objectives for Catholic religious education are defined separately by Presidential Decree in agreement with the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).

After a three-year experimental phase, which began in 2009/2010, 'Citizenship and Constitution' is now included in the curriculum. It is not a separate subject and its content is developed by individual schools through didactic projects included in the history and geography area of study. According to the new Guidelines, the curriculum of the first cycle of education includes basic knowledge of the Italian Constitution. The aim of citizenship education is also to build a sense of legality and responsibility, to encourage young people to choose and act conscientiously and also to promote ideas and actions to improve individual contexts.

Below are the weekly teaching timetables for each subject according to the two different school-time models. One hour corresponds to 60 minutes. These tables apply to each year of lower secondary school.

Mainstream compulsory timetable (30 hours per week)

Subjects
Hours per week
Hours per year
Italian, history, geography
9
297
In-depth studies in literary subjects
1
33
Mathematics and Science
6
198
Technology
2
66
English
3
99
2nd foreign language
2
66
Art and design
2
66
Motory sciences and sport
2
66
Music
2
66
Catholic Religious education
1
33

30
990


Extended timetable (from 36 to 40 hours per week)

Subjects
Hours per week
Hours per year
Italian, history, geography
15
495
Mathematics and sciences
9
297
Technology
2
66
English
3
99
2nd foreign language
2
66
Art and design
2
66
Motory sciences and sport
2
66
Music
2
66
Catholic Religious education
1
33
In-depth studies in one of the subjects above
1/2
33/66

39/40*
1287/1320
  • The table shows the maximum number of hours for the 'extended timetable'. The Teachers’ Assembly can autonomously decide on a lower weekly limit of hours, which must be no less than 36 hours. The timetable always includes lunchtime, by reducing the weekly timetable of subjects with a greater number of hours.

At the request of parents and depending on the availability of school staff, the teaching of English language can be increased to 5 hours per week, using the two hours allocated per week to the teaching of a second foreign language. These can also be used for teaching Italian to foreign students.

Teaching Methods and Materials

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.

While safeguarding the freedom in teaching, the National Guidelines for the curriculum suggest some basic methodological approaches, such as, taking advantage of pupils' experiences and knowledge, promoting exploration and discovery activities, encouraging cooperative learning, developing awareness of one's own learning method, carrying out in-lab learning, etc.

The most common teaching methods used are traditional lessons, exercises and group work. Generally, schools have a gymnasium, a library and ICT, science and multimedia laboratories. Increasing numbers of classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards (IWB). 

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. Subsidised textbooks can be provided according to specific regional restrictions and certain income limitations. 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 the 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 can share and distribute their textbooks free of charge to other State schools, upon registration of the product and after sending the product to the ministry of education within the end of the school year.

Legislative References

Law 28 March 2008, no. 53 (Reform law)

Ministerial Decree 16 November 2012, no. 254 (National Guidelines 2012)

Legislative Decree 19 February 2004, no. 59 (National Guidelines)

Ministerial Decree 31 July 2007 (National Guidelines for the Curriculum)

DPR 11 February 2010 (Catholic Religion)

DPR 20 March 2009, no. 89 (timetables)

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

Law Decree 18 October 2012, no.179 converted in Law 17 December 2012, no.221 (textbooks)

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