How the Italian educational system is structured
The Italian school system is divided into five levels: nursery school/kindergarten/pre-school, primary school, lower secondary school, upper secondary school, and university.
- Nursery school/Kindergarten/Pre-school (scuola dell’infanzia) is optional and usually lasts for two or three years (2-5). There are private schools and some public nursery schools for kids from a few months old up to 3 years of age.
- Primary school (scuola primaria or scuola elementare) is compulsory and lasts for five years (6-10)
- Lower secondary school/middle school (scuola secondaria di primo grado or scuola media inferiore) is compulsory and lasts for three years (11-13)
- Upper secondary school/high school (scuola secondaria di secondo grado or scuola superiore). There are two main types of upper secondary schools in Italy: licei (academic schools) and istituti tecnici (technical schools) (14-18)
- University (università) is not compulsory and lasts for three to five years (19 -)
- Postgraduate course (Master’s degrees and Doctorates)
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Compulsory education is required for at least 10 years and applies to the age group between 6 and 16 years old.
The purpose of compulsory education is to obtain an upper secondary school degree or a professional qualification with a duration of at least three years by the age of 18.
Compulsory education is free.
Compulsory education can be fulfilled in:
- State and private schools
- Facilities accredited by the Regions for vocational training
- Through homeschooling.
The school year usually runs from September to June.
School terms are usually two: the first term runs from September to December, and the second term runs from January to June. However, oftentimes schools divide them into 3 subterms called “trimesters”.
Students have a few weeks of vacation in the winter and from June to September in the summer. However, university students usually have exams until the end of the month of July.
There are national exams at the end of lower secondary school, and upper secondary school. Universities usually have a few months of in-class courses, then a break for exams for those courses, which can be written or oral, and then again in-class courses followed by exams.
The Italian language is the language of instruction in all schools at every level, although English is thought in schools from first grade. Then, some schools and universities have English-speaking courses or classes.