Navigating the Italian Education System: Essential Guide for English Speakers


Moving to a new country is a life-changing experience, and if you have children, their education becomes a top priority. For English speakers settling in Italy, navigating the Italian education system can feel like a daunting task. However, by understanding the system’s structure and the available options, combined with the support of Italian Connections HCB, you can secure the right educational path for your child.

In this guide, we will provide an overview of the Italian education system and discuss the procedures required for enrolling your child in pre-school, primary school, or secondary school. We will elucidate the difference between public schools, private schools, and international schools, helping you make an informed decision for your child’s education.

Understanding the Structure of Italian Education

To navigate the Italian education system effectively, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with its structure. The system is divided into five levels:

1. Pre-school (Scuola dell’Infanzia) – age 3 to 6

2. Primary school (Scuola Primaria/Elementare) – age 6 to 11

3. Lower secondary school (Scuola Secondaria di I Grado/Media) – age 11 to 14

4. Upper secondary school (Scuola Secondaria di II Grado/Liceo) – age 14 to 19

5. Higher education (universities, polytechnics, etc.)

Attendance at primary and lower secondary schools is compulsory, while pre-school is optional. Upper secondary schools offer various specialisations, including Liceo Classico (focused on humanities), Liceo Scientifico (focused on sciences), or technical and vocational institutes.

Enrolling Your Child in Italian Schools

When enrolling your child in an Italian school, several essential steps must be followed:

1. Gather the Required Documents: These include your child’s birth certificate, family certificate (Certificato di Stato di Famiglia), passport, residence permit (for non-EU citizens), details of their previous school, and any necessary medical records or vaccination certificates.

2. Select a School: Decide whether to enrol your child in a public, private, or international school (discussed in more detail below).

3. Contact the Chosen School: Visit the school’s website or offices to follow their specific enrolment procedures, deadlines, and requirements.

Italian Connections HCB can facilitate this process by helping gather required documents, liaising between families and schools, and providing valuable insights into different institutions.

Public Schools vs. Private Schools vs. International Schools

Selecting the right school for your child is a vital decision. Italian public schools offer education in the Italian language and follow the national curriculum. These schools are free of charge, with only minimal costs for materials and lunches. However, they may not be the best choice for children with limited Italian proficiency or whose stay in Italy is short-term.

Private schools often have smaller class sizes and additional activities but generally follow the same national curriculum as public schools. Fees vary depending on the school, so it’s crucial to research and consider the costs.
International schools cater mainly to expatriate families, offering education in English (or other languages) while also providing Italian language classes. They typically follow their home country’s or international (e.g., International Baccalaureate) curriculum. These schools often have higher tuition fees, but they might be worth considering for English-speaking families in Italy temporarily or families wanting to ensure continuity in their child’s education.

Adjustment and Language Support

The transition to a new school can be challenging, particularly if your child is not proficient in Italian. Many public schools offer additional language support for children who do not speak Italian, enabling them to develop the necessary language skills.

Furthermore, you may consider enrolling your child in supplementary Italian language courses or seeking private tutoring to help them acclimatise to their new environment more effectively. Italian Connections HCB can assist with identifying suitable language programmes and tutoring services.

Navigating the School Calendar

The Italian school year typically runs from mid-September to mid-June, with holidays during Christmas, Easter, and a few national holidays. A standard school day for primary and secondary education begins around 8:30 a.m. and ends between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., depending on the region and school.

Educational support from Italian Connections HCB

Italian Connections HCB’s expert team provides invaluable support and guidance in navigating the Italian education system. Their services include:

1. Assisting with the Enrolment Process: They can help gather necessary documents, liaise with schools, and guide you through the enrolment procedure.

2. School Selection: They offer insights into different institutions and help families choose the right school for their children.

3. Language Support: They can help identify suitable language programmes and tutoring services.


Understanding and navigating the Italian education system is essential for English speakers moving to Italy. With knowledge of the system’s structure, enrolment requirements, and differences between public, private, and international schools, you can make informed decisions for your child’s education.

Italian Connections HCB offers unparalleled support in this journey, simplifying the enrolment process, providing valuable insights, and ensuring that your child’s education in Italy is both rewarding and fulfilling. Trust in our expertise and dedicate your energy to enjoying the vibrant and rich culture of your new home. 

Are you planning a move to Italy and feeling overwhelmed by the relocation process? Look no further than Italian Connections HCB, a team of bilingual relocation specialists who are dedicated to making your move to Italy as smooth and stress-free as possible. We understand that moving to a new country can be daunting, which is why we offer a range of reliable and efficient relocation and administrative services to meet all your needs. From finding the perfect home to navigating Italian bureaucracy, our team of experts is here to guide you every step of the way.

So, if you’re ready to start your new life in Italy with ease and confidence, trust Italian Connections HCB to help you make the most of your relocation experience. Contact us today to learn more about our services, and let us help you make your move to Italy a success.

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