The system of schools and educational establishments currently in force can be schematized according to the three successive degrees or levels of education: lower, secondary, upper or university. The nursery school, intended for children of pre-school age (from 3 to 6 years), does not really constitute a degree of education. Registration is optional and attendance is free. It has the purpose of education, development of the infantile personality and preparation for compulsory school attendance, in addition to the work carried out by the family. The “guidelines of educational activity” (approved with Presidential Decree 10 September 1969 n. 647) were redesigned and updated with Ministerial Decree of 3 June 1991. They aim at a “balanced maturation and organization of the cognitive, affective, social components and morals of the child’s “personality”. There are usually three sections in each school unit, corresponding to the age groups of the children. L’ school hours are set at 8 hours, divided into two shifts (morning and afternoon). The teachers, organized in a specific role, work for 30 hours a week for educational activities and for 20 hours a month for school operations. Alongside the state schools there are to a large extent private nursery schools.
Lower education. – This first level of education essentially coincides with compulsory education, established by the Constitution for a minimum duration of 8 years. It includes elementary school and middle school. Formally the latter constitutes the first grade of secondary school. However, the compulsory attendance, the uniqueness of the course of study (i.e. the exclusion of differentiated courses for the fulfillment of the obligation), a certain similarity of the general purposes and of the didactic organization actually configure the elementary school and the middle one as two stages of the first level of education, which is common to all.
The elementary school, intended for children aged between 6 and 11, aims to develop the personality and promote the early cultural literacy of the child. The course lasts five years and is divided into two cycles, the first of which includes the first and second class, the second the other three classes. The passage from one class to another takes place by scrutiny, as well as the passage from the first to the second cycle. There are no more repair and second session exams, while the elementary license exam takes place in a single session. The current teaching programs were approved with Presidential Decree 12 February 1985 n. 104, and relate to the teaching of Italian language, foreign language, mathematics, science, history, geography, social studies, religion, image, sound and music education, and motor education. The evaluation of the achievement makes use of a personal card of the pupil for the collection of observations on the learning process, from which an informative evaluation on the overall level of maturity of the pupils is taken quarterly and illustrated to parents. On the basis of the reform introduced by l. 5 June 1990 n. 148, teachers are used according to organizational modules consisting of three teachers out of two classes or four teachers out of three classes, taking into account the schedule of teaching activities, established at 27 hours per week, which can be increased up to 30 in case of activation of the teaching of a foreign language. Special interventions are foreseen in favor of disabled pupils.
The middle school, which can be accessed with an elementary school license, lasts for three years and usually welcomes children aged 11 to 14. It is a compulsory and free school; its purpose is to promote the formation of man and citizen and to favor the orientation of young people on the choice of the next activity. His study plan includes the following courses: Italian (with references to his Latin origin); history and civic education; geography; foreign language; mathematical, chemical, physical and natural sciences; artistic education; musical education; technical Education; physical education; religion. The updated programs, issued in 1979, provide for 30 hours of teaching per class per week. The didactic program, developed by the teaching staff, it may include supplementary school activities of an interdisciplinary nature, individualized support interventions, as well as particular measures in favor of disabled pupils. Repair and second session exams are not allowed; the passage from one class to another is arranged by ballot. Middle school ends with a license exam, which is a state exam, takes place in a single session and consists of written tests in Italian, mathematics, a foreign language and a multidisciplinary interview on all subjects; the relative diploma gives access to all schools and institutions of upper secondary education.