Information about schools in a particular area can be obtained from the local education office (provveditorato) or the town hall (comune). This may simply be a list of schools with addresses and phone numbers, and it's up to parents to apply to schools directly. If your child has already attended school in another country, a translation of his qualifications and previous school experience is required for enrolment in the Italian school system, together with a letter from the previous school's principal. You also need to contact the Italian consulate before arriving in Italy and obtain an evaluation certificate (dichiarazione di valore). Once this has been done, getting started in an Italian school is relatively straightforward, as schools are generally flexible about accommodating foreign students. However, it's difficult or impossible to organise state education in advance from your country of origin. A visit to Italy before your arrival is recommended, particularly as places may be limited, and you may end up ferrying children long distances to school if the one nearest to your home has no vacancies. Bear in mind that all schools and many public offices are closed during August.
Enrolment in an Italian state school doesn't depend on your living within its catchment area, as is the case, for example, in France and the UK. You can make an application to the school of your choice and, provided a place is available, your child will be admitted, although when places are limited, priority is given to those who live in the local area. Schools have a deadline (around 25th January of the previous school year) by which they need to know the number of students who will be attending school the following September. Most schools have a flexible attitude to pupils who need to start school or change schools during the academic year. Provided you have a good reason, it's possible for a child to change schools within the same area or to another part of the country; a request must be in writing and be signed and approved by the principal of your child's previous school.
To enrol a child in an Italian school, you need to complete an application form and provide the following documents:
- Certificate of family status (certificato di stato di famiglia â€?see page 277);
- Your child's birth certificate (certificato di nascita) and proof of immunisation against hepatitis B, polio, diphtheria and tetanus (with relevant translations, if necessary);
- A photograph of your child and your permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno) or residence certificate (certificato di residenza). Alternatively, written proof of your intention to move permanently to Italy (if you haven't already done so) is acceptable.
Parents can declare that they possess the necessary documents without
actually producing them (a process called autodichiarazione). However, you
can be prosecuted if details on an application form are subsequently found to
This excerpt has been republished with permission from Survival Books. Some of the information may apply to EU citizens only. If you would like to get the inside track on moving to Italy, pick up your copy of this great book by clicking here.