There are many international schools in Italy whose main language of instruction is English. These offer the best alternative for expatriates wanting their children to continue their education in the American or British system. There are also French lycées in Rome and Milan, and a number of private schools that teach in other foreign languages. When you plan to relocate to Italy with children, it’s a good idea to start by contacting and even visiting the international schools in the area you plan to move to. Only after figuring out what school your children will be attending, can you focus on the home search, thus considering the commuting distances to school, working place and facilities.
International schools in Italy are most commonly found in urban centres, especially around Milan, Naples, Rome, and Turin but also in many smaller towns where the presence of multinational companies with a high number of foreign managers has made it necessary. As Italian families are also interested in giving their children an international education, International schools will actually fill up their available places quite quickly, especially in the pre-schools and the elementary. The middle and high schools are less requested and the chances to get a place are higher.
International schools are often co-educational and range from pre-schools and kindergartens through to secondary schools, with pupils aged from 3 to 19 years. They teach a variety of syllabi, including the British GCSE and A-level examinations, American High School Diploma and college entrance examinations, and the International Baccalaureate, which is a demanding pre-university course of study that leads to examinations. It is designed for highly motivated secondary and international school students aged 16 to 19.
Class sizes tend to be small and of course include a wide range of nationalities. Many international schools offer bi-lingual programmes, enabling students to sit Italian state exams as well as English as a Foreign Language (EFL) exams if their first language isn’t English. Fees for international schools range from around euro 3,000 to around euro 11,000 per year. Very few offer boarding facilities. Admission is usually based on previous school reports and sometimes personal interview.
A list of American and British schools can be obtained from the cultural sections of Italian embassies abroad and from the European Council of International Schools (www.ecis.org). The American Embassy in Italy lists many English-speaking international schools in Italy on its website (www.usembassy.it).