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It is not uncommon that foreign families live at Lake Garda – for whatever reason, work or pleasure – sometimes even for longer periods like years. This is why everybody moving to Lake Garda with school-age children has to find out about possible education solutions for their kids – like playgroups, nursery schools, elementary-, middle and highschools. What are the options? Are there any international schools closeby the lake? How does the Italian school system work in general?
In this article you will find some answers for these questions.
Compulsory education in Italy starts at the age of six and lasts for ten years, therefore until the age of 16. This means that attending a nursery school is not obligatory. But most people do send their children to playgroupes/crèches (asilo nido), which look after children aged up to 3 years, and also to nursery schools (scuola del infanzia/scuola materna), which look after children in the age group 3–6.
Elementary school (scuola primaria/scuola elementare) then lasts for five years. It is followed by three years of middle school (secondaria di primo grado/scuola media), after which the teenagers have the possibility to attend a secondary school/high school (superiori). There are two possibilities, which end with the graduation diploma (esame di stato) giving access to universities: Grammar/high schools (licei) and technical secondary schools (istituti tecnici) specializing in particular subjects. After middle school, it is also possible to choose a vocational school (istituto professionale). These schools offer a formation for a special qualification and last between 3–6 years.
Attention must also be paid to the distribution of the Italian school holidays: there aren’t very many days off from school throughout the school year apart from the obligatory 2 weeks Christmas holidays – but summer holidays are longer than three months. This is why working parents often make use of the broad range of summercamps (also called grest). They partly take place in the facilities of public or private schools or they are located in sports facilities, church organisations or other places, depending on the main topic of the camp – like physical education, language, animals… They are at the user’s expense. Prices vary according to the type of summercamp.
Since 2017 there is a new law regarding compulsory vaccinations: if a child wants to attend nursery school or any other school in Italy, their vaccination certificate has to be shown to prove 12 obligatory vaccinations. At the moment it is not possible to attend nursery school without these vaccinations. A fine of 500 euros per child (up to age 16) and per year has to be expected at schools in general, if the 12 obligatory vaccinations can’t be proved. At least in theory, if the latest laws will really be applied, is another question.