GENERAL INFORMATION Regardless of nationality, education in Italy is compulsory from 6 to 16 years of age, and is divided into five stages: kindergarten (scuola dell'infanzia), primary school (scuola primaria or scuola elementare), lower secondary school (scuola secondaria di primo grado or scuola media), upper secondary school (scuola secondaria di secondo grado or scuola superiore). Asilo (Kindergarten) From the age of three to the age of six, children are sent to nursery school. This is non-compulsory, but most Italian families do send their kids 'all'asilo'. Children are looked after by two teachers per class, they play, start socialising and learn to recognize letters and numbers.
Scuola Primaria (Primary School) Also known as 'scuola elementare, primary school lasts five years. The educational curriculum is the same for all students who are given a basic education in Italian, English, mathematics, natural sciences, history, geography, social studies, physical education, visual and musical arts. There are three main teachers per class, plus an English language teacher who works with children across several classes.
Scuola secondaria (Secondary school) Secondary education in Italy lasts 8 years and is divided into two phases: Scuola secondaria di primo grado (Lower secondary school), also broadly known as Scuola media, which corresponds to the Middle School grades, and Scuola secondaria di secondo grado (Upper secondary school), also broadly known as Scuola superiore or less formally as Le Superiori, which corresponds to the high-school level. The scuola secondaria di primo grado follows primary school and lasts three years (roughly from age 11 to 14). The scuola secondaria di secondo grado lasts five years (roughly from age 14 to 19).
There are three types of scuola secondaria di secondo grado:
Liceo (lyceum) - the education received in a Liceo is mostly theoretical, with a specialization in a field of studies, for example humanities, science, or art; less attention is devoted to technical-practical education. Currently, most of the curricula have a similar structure and some subjects in common (such as Italian literature, history and mathematics), while some subjects are peculiar to a particular type of course (for example ancient Greek in the Liceo Classico, or scenography in the Liceo Artistico). Istituto tecnico - offering both a theoretical education and a specialization in a particular field of studies (for example economy, humanities, administration, law, technology, tourism.) Istituto professionale - this refers to vocational schools preparing people for specific trades, crafts and careers. Some schools offer a diploma after 3 years instead of 5.
Any type of secondary school that lasts 5 years grants access to the final exam, called esame di maturità or esame di stato which takes place every year between June and July and is necessary to be able to apply for admission to any university. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated in 2013 by the OECD, Italian secondary education ranks as the 21st in the world.