Primary school

All children in Italy must start school by the age of 6 years old. Primary school (scuola elementare) is for children from age 6 to 11.

In Italy, public primary schools are free for Italian and newcomer children. They are paid for and run by the government. Here is some information about primary school and how to enroll your child.

Children begin primary school at age 6. Parents must start their child in the year that they reach the age of 6. If they reach age 6 before April, they can start in the September before they turn 6.

For reasons of health or other serious issues it is possible to delay and not enroll your child until he or she is 7 years old.

How do I send my child to primary school?

For public schools, you will apply online. Learn how to register your child for school.

The first time you access the registration site, you will create an account with your information. You will enter your child’s personal information.

You will also choose which school you would like your child to go to, but you may not get a place there. You can choose a first, second and third choice of school. If your first choice school cannot take your child, your application will be sent to your second and third choice schools. You will need the codes of each school that you can find in scuola in chiaro.

You do not have to fill out the registration form all at one time. You can fill out the form over many different days. Just remember to save your application! If you have questions, you can ask for help on the website.

How much does primary school cost?

Primary school is free (except for private schools, where families pay fees). But you will have some expenses. Read about the costs of school and help with expenses from the ISEE.

What are the days and hours?

School runs from mid-June to mid-September. Schools organize weekly classes on a half-day schedule (27-30 hours) or full-time (40 hrs). School calendars and opening hours for schools may be different depending on where you are. Ask the school for all the information you need about dates and hours.

How big is the class in primary school?

Primary school classes have 15–26 children. Classes that include children with serious disabilities have a maximum of 20 students.

What do children learn in primary school?

  • For the first two years, children learn basic skills, such as reading, writing and mathematics.
  • Later, students study more complicated subjects. Their lessons are: Italian, English, history, geography, mathematics, sciences, music, arts and crafts, physical education, technology, Citizenship and Constitution.
  • There is one hour a week for learning about the Catholic religion, but this lesson is optional. That means you can choose for your child to do something else during that time. The school will tell you what things you can choose.

Every year the children get a report card to show how they are doing. In very rare cases, a student will not do well enough in school to go on to the next grade. This only happens when all the teachers agree that it would be best for the student to repeat the grade they have just finished instead of going on.

What do children eat?

In some places, students are automatically signed up for school lunch when they enroll in school. In others, you will need to sign up at the school lunch service. In Italian this is called the Servizio di Refezione Scolastica. The cost for this will depend on your family income.

School lunches generally have pasta or bread, meat, vegetables and fruit. If you prefer, your child can bring his or her own lunch. Children in primary school can also bring a snack for their morning break.

What if my child cannot go to school?

You should always let the school know if your child is sick or cannot go to school. You will be asked why your child is not in school. The law says your child must go to school. If your child does not go to school for a long time, the school must tell the school authorities.

Do you need more information?

Here some useful Italian words that could help you if you want to do more research on the internet:

  • “informazioni scuola elementare/primaria”
  • “scuola primaria/elementare (informazioni, iscrizioni)”

Remember to add the name of your city!