Primary Education in Italy

Relocating to Italy involves numerous adjustments, and if you are moving with children, one of the most crucial considerations is their education. Italy offers diverse schooling options that encompass public, private, international, special educational philosophies, and even homeschooling. Understand how each system works to make an informed decision about your child’s education.

The Primary Education System in Italy

In Italy, education is mandatory from ages 6 to 16. The education system is divided into several stages, starting with kindergarten (scuola dell’infanzia) for ages 3 to 5. Primary education (scuola primaria), which concerns us here, caters to children aged 6 to 11. This is followed by lower secondary school (scuola secondaria di primo grado) and upper secondary school (scuola secondaria di secondo grado).

Public Primary Schools

Public schools in Italy are accessible to all children residing in Italy, regardless of nationality or legal status. Italian public primary education is free, though families often incur minor costs for school meals, textbooks, and extracurricular activities. The state curriculum includes Italian, English or another EU language, mathematics, natural sciences, history, geography, technology, art, music, physical education, and since 2019, civic education.

Enrollment in Public Schools

To enroll your child in a public primary school in Italy, you will need to submit an application through the official online portal of the Italian Ministry of Education and Merit, typically open from January to February each year. Required documents usually include proof of identity and residence, vaccination records, and, in some cases, documentation of the child’s previous education.

Private and Charter Schools

Non-state schools in Italy can be either completely private or recognized by the state as paritarie (charter schools). While charter schools follow the national curriculum and receive some state support, they charge tuition and often have a specific educational focus, such as religious instruction, international baccalaureate, or alternative educational methods such as Montessori or Steiner Waldorf.

Private Schools

Private schools in Italy offer curriculums that may diverge significantly from the national framework, providing a range of international curriculums and languages of instruction. They generally provide smaller class sizes and possibly better facilities but can involve significant tuition fees.

International Schools

Italy hosts numerous international schools offering curriculums from around the world including American, British, French, German, and others. These schools are particularly suited to families who are not planning to stay in Italy long-term, or who prefer education continuity in their home country’s system.

Alternative Educational Philosophies

Italy has an array of schools following alternative educational philosophies:

  • Montessori Schools: Emphasize independent learning with specially designed resources.
  • Steiner Waldorf Schools: Focus on holistic development of intellect, artistry, and practical skills.
  • Senza Zaino Schools: Promote community, responsibility, and learning without heavy reliance on textbooks or traditional homework.


While less common, homeschooling is legal in Italy. Parents must demonstrate they have the appropriate resources and curriculum to provide an adequate education at home. Children are assessed annually at the local school to ensure they meet the educational standards.

Useful Resources

This comprehensive guide should empower expatriates understanding and navigating the Italian primary educational landscape. Careful consideration of each option will help you make the best educational choice for your child in Italy.

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