Lower Secondary School

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Attendance at lower secondary school (scuola media, literally 'middle school' and equivalent to a junior high school in the US) is compulsory for all children between the ages of 11 and 14. As with primary school, there's a national curriculum that must be studied by all children. In addition, the numbers of hours each subject must be taught each week is stipulated by the Ministry of Education. For the first and second years, the weekly requirements include:

  • seven hours of Italian (including lessons in literature, grammar and writing);
  • six hours of mathematics, physics, chemistry and natural sciences;
  • four hours of history, geography and social studies;
  • three hours each of a foreign language (usually English) and technical drawing;
  • two hours each of physical education, music and art/design;
  • one hour of religion.

In the third year, pupils lose one hour of Italian in favour of an extra hour of history, geography and social studies. Each subject is taught by a different specialist teacher, with the exception of Italian, history, geography and social studies, which are generally divided between two teachers.

The timetable totals 30 hours per week, schools having the option of extending this to up to 40 hours for extra-curricular or subsidiary study activities if there's sufficient demand from parents (e.g. computer studies or learning a second foreign language). In recent years, schools have introduced a number of optional, experimental classes. These classes, which are generally financed from a school's own budget, take place in the afternoons and may include sports, music lessons (instruments must usually be purchased by parents), film, computer and chess clubs, and foreign language conversation classes.

As at primary school, a report is completed by teachers each term on all subjects, which provides an overview of the aptitude, behaviour and achievement of each pupil. A separate, shorter report is produced for a student's performance in religious instruction. Assessments include excellent (ottimo), very good (distinto), good (buono), satisfactory (sufficiente), and unsatisfactory (non sufficiente). At the end of the third year, pupils sit a state examination comprising written papers in Italian, a foreign language and mathematics and science, followed by an oral exam in all subjects except religion. Successful students are awarded their lower secondary school diploma (diploma di licenza media)and graduate to upper secondary school.

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.


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