In Italy, school is open to everyone and free of charge. A distinction is made between compulsory schooling (Schulpflicht), which is ten years and compulsory education (Bildungspflicht), which is 12 years. This means that young people up to the age of 18 must either attend school or pursue training that leads to a professional qualification. School starts at the age of six: the age requirement stipulates that children must turn six before the end of April of their first year. Everyone gets the same base education: the first eight years comprise five years of primary school (scuola primaria or Grundschule) and three years of middle school (scuola media or Mittelschule).
At the age of 14, children generally decide between three types of school, each focussing on a different discipline: high school (liceo or Gymnasium), specialised secondary school (istituto tecnico or Fachoberschule) or vocational school (istituto professionale or Berufsfachschule).
The first two types of school last five years, and culminate with a state diploma. Vocational training ranges between three and five years in length depending on the qualification; graduates of these schools may receive either a professional qualification or a diploma. In South Tyrol, a 15-year-old has the option of entering a dual system after having completed his or her 9th year of school: the dual system means studying at a vocational school while simultaneously gaining practical experience working at a company.
Enrolment for elementary and middle schools in South Tyrol is held in January. For liceo and istituto technico, the enrolment period for the following school year runs until 10 February. For vocational schools, including those run by the province, enrolment runs until March 31.
Students who are citizens of a Member State of the European Union are enrolled based on the school year group they attended at home: children are automatically admitted to the year group subsequent to the one they last successfully completed.
To enrol a child in school, you’ll need to provide: the child’s first and last name, date and place of birth, citizenship, residency, compliance with vaccination requirements for kindergarten and primary school, educational documentation, and the child’s tax number (codice fiscale or Steuernummer).
Any declaration of vaccination history submitted in lieu of actual vaccination records must specify which health department was responsible for issuing the certificates. If neither the actual vaccination records nor a substitute declaration is submitted, the school administration must file a report with the appropriate health department here in South Tyrol. Students who are not in possession of all certificates when they enrol will be registered with conditional status.
Private Schools If you want to consider a school offering the Montessori or Waldorf philosophy, a multilingual elementary school or a Franciscan High School, there are a number of state-approved private schools in South Tyrol that offer a different programme, at least in part, from that of state schools. You can choose from German-language or Italian-language private schools.