You may have moved to Italy along with your family, including young children of school age. In such a case it is important to understand the Italian school system including the various levels your children can easily fit in.

According to the Italian law, it is compulsory for all children until 16 to attend school (free state education). To be enrolled in school the parent is required to provide the following documents:

  • the child’s birth certificate
  • a resident document for EU citizens or the Permesso di Soggiorno for non-EU citizens
  • immunization documents
  • passport photos
  • a family status certificate.

A child can still be enrolled under “temporary enrollment” if the documents have not yet been provided. Enrollment is usually done at the school’s Registry Office.

Photo from archer10(Dennis)

The Italian education system has five main stages:

1. Kindergarten or asilo (also called scuola materna), a 3 year period of nursery school which is not compulsory.

2. The Italian primary school stage, which is also commonly referred to as scuola elementare. It takes 5 years with a uniform educational curriculum for both private and state-funded schools. Before 2004, pupils were required to pass an examination before they could proceed to lower secondary school. The exam was discontinued allowing pupils to enter lower secondary school, equivalent to Middle School, directly after completing primary school.

3. Lower secondary is usually referred to as ‘Scuola Media’. It takes 3 years and is attended by children aged around 11 to 13 years of age.

4. From age 14 to 19, most children are in upper secondary school, also known as Scuola Superiore similar to high school stage. There is an examination known as esame di maturità at the end of the final secondary school stage. The student will be required to pass this final exam in order to access university education.

5. University education is available for all deserving students who have completed secondary school education with the right grade passes in the esame di maturità. Italy has a large number of both public state affiliated universities and private schools providing higher education degrees. Tertiary education in Italy is largely provided by state-run universities under the supervision of the country’s Ministry of Education. There are many Graduate Schools also known as ‘Scuola Superiore Universitaria’ in Italy which provide Masters, Doctorate, and Ph.D degrees.