Education and schools in Rome have roots that reach back centuries ago to the time of the classical empires. Along with the Greeks, the Romans were among the first to organise a formal system of learning that looked to accomplish more than simply promote the passing of knowledge from parents to their children.
Today that tradition of education continues in the Eternal City, and expats will find a robust state school system as well as a large selection of international and bilingual schools to choose from.
Public schools in Rome
State education in Italy is free from primary school to university (although enrolment taxes become mandatory from age 16) and is available to foreigners. This system is widely regarded as on par with the standards of its private counterpart.
Expats who predict a long-term living situation in Italy or who simply prefer their child being immersed in the Italian language and culture should consider public schools as an option.
The Italian school system is divided into four stages:
Scuola dell'infanzia (three to six years old)
Scuola primaria (six to 11 years old)
Scuola secondaria di primo grado (11 to 14 years old)
Scuola secondaria di secondo grado (14 to 19 years old)
Schooling in Italy is compulsory from the ages of six to 16. Teachers in Rome prefer to function independently with little involvement from parents. This principle may take some getting used to for expats accustomed to being active in their child's school life.
In some cases, public schools in Rome may lack funding and suffer from sub-par facilities. Overall, however, the system is highly reputed, with some Italians even preferring public schools over private schools.
Private schools in Rome
There is often not much difference between public and private schools throughout Italy as both receive state funding. This funding means that private schools have to adhere to certain curriculum and educational standards set by the government. However, unlike public schools, private schools tend to operate under a specific religious or pedagogic philosophy, like Catholicism or the Montessori method.
International schools in Rome
There are many international schools in Rome and most of these schools uphold high standards, though the language of instruction, curriculum, learning environment and educational philosophies of each may vary.
Many native Romans choose to enrol their children in these schools. For expats planning on living and working in Rome for only a short time, this is undoubtedly the best choice as the disruption of the child's education is minimised by studying a familiar curriculum in their home language.
The small class sizes and high quality of facilities do come at a price, however, so expat parents should be prepared to spend a considerable amount on fees, depending on the school and the grade level of their child.
Nurseries in Rome
As a large city, Rome caters for a variety of family needs, including daycare and nursery options for younger children. There are many nurseries in Rome, ranging from bilingual or multilingual to international and private ones. Expats may choose the nursery most suitable for them and their children based on proximity to where they live, cost or preference of institution and how they approach childcare.
Nurseries are also a place where families can meet other expat or local parents who may be part of or willing to join an informal parent support group.
Special needs education in Rome
Inclusive education is deemed important in Italy, ensuring that children with disabilities can receive a proper education integrated with everyone else. Rather than separate children with special needs, schools of all sorts, be it international, public, or private, must offer various support systems. Schools adapt to the student and can provide services for their needs. However, expat parents should contact the schools directly to discuss the sorts of needs the family has and capacity of the school to meet those needs.
Rome is a large city with many schooling options, however, families of children with disabilities need to note that the capacity of schools to provide a comprehensive range of services does vary.
Homeschooling in Rome
Homeschooling in Italy is legal but not common nor widely known about. Parents have the right to educate their children outside of an established school setting, however, they must notify their appropriate school authorities each year if they intend to do so. Parents must have both the technical and economic capacity to homeschool their children. In other words, they must have completed a schooling level beyond that which they are teaching their children as well as the financial ability to educate their children. Although these rules and guidelines are in place, they are fairly relaxed and parents need not provide documentation to justify themselves.
Because public schooling in Italy is free and of high quality, few families homeschool their children. Though this number is slowly growing as homeschooling could be more convenient for some.
Tutors in Rome
Like in other cities around Italy, tutoring is common. Many students enjoy extra support and classes from a tutor who can assist year-round or closer to exam periods, depending on the requirements and ability of the tutor. Parents can conduct internet searches, finding a range of online portals. Bear in mind that tuition must be on the terms of both the family and the tutor regarding matters like scheduling, and so a degree of flexibility on either side may be negotiated.