Administration and governance at local level
At local level, the provinces and municipalities have responsibilities in different areas and at different levels of the education system.
Provinces have specific functions for the upper secondary education only. In particular, they are responsible for the premises, for the organisation of the school network (institution, aggregation or suppression of schools), suspension of school activities, constitution, control and dissolution of collegiate bodies, organisation of services to assure the right to study (e.g. transport to sport centres outside the school, support for the purchase of textbooks, etc.). From 1st January 2015, the provinces were transformed in "institutional bodies of second level" and 10 special metropolitan cities have been created (Law 56/2014).
Municipalities, often representing small residential communities and restricted areas, are distributed throughout Italy. They carry out their own functions or have responsibilities regionally or provincially delegated.
Municipalities have specific functions for pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education. In particular, they are in charge of the ordinary and extraordinary maintenance of school premises. Moreover, they supply services such as transports, canteens, vouchers for textbooks and financial grants, etc., according to the general regulations laid down by the State and by Regions. Finally, municipalities are responsible for the institution, aggregation and suppression of schools and for the organisation of school networks at the education levels of their competence. In order to improve services, small Municipalities sometimes join as consortia or associations of municipalities.
Provinces and municipalities carry out their specific functions through dedicated educational offices (Assessorati).
Administration and governance at institutional level
Pre-primary, primary and secondary education
The school autonomy and the Three-year educational offer plan
Schools at pre-primary, primary and secondary level have teaching, organisational and research autonomy.
The ordinary form of organisation of schools from the pre-primary up to the lower secondary level of education is the so-called 'comprehensive institute' (istituto comprensivo). The comprehensive institute is an administrative unit that groups one or more pre-primary, primary and lower secondary schools. The purpose of comprehensive institutes is to assure didactic continuity within the same cycle of education. A single school manager is responsible for the managing and administration of the whole comprehensive institute. Comprehensive institutes gain autonomy when they have at least 1 000 pupils enrolled, lowered to 500 in schools in rural areas, small islands and areas with linguistic specificity.
Schools that are not grouped in comprehensive institutes, i.e. upper secondary schools, gain autonomy if the number of students enrolled is likely to remain constant for five years and ranging from 500 to 900 students.
However, central regulations establish that schools with less than 600 pupils (400 in schools in rural areas, small islands and areas with linguistic specificity) cannot have their own school manager. Instead, they have the school managers of other autonomous schools that reach the minimum number of pupils required (art. 4.69 of law 183/2011).
Comprehensive institutes were introduced in 1994 as an alternative organisation of schools in mountain areas. In the subsequent years central policies and regulations boosted this form of organisation up to law-decree 98/2011 (converted into law 111/2011) that established the comprehensive institute as the only form of organisation of schools up to the lower secondary level.
Each school draws up its own plan called ‘Three-year educational offer plan’ (Piano triennale dell'offerta formativa - PTOF) which is the basic document setting out the cultural and planning identity of the school. The PTOF must be consistent with the general and educational objectives set at national level and, at the same time, it must reflect cultural, social and economic requirements at local level.
The priorities in the PTOF of each school should be the development of digital competences as well as of competences in languages, arts, music, mathematics and sciences, sports, active citizenship. Moreover, schools should give priority to the increasing of traineeship experiences, tackling early leaving, gender inequalities and discriminations. Finally, the plan must also include training initiatives for students, like first aid technics, and training initiatives for the school staff.
The teachers' council (collegio dei docenti) draws up the school plan on the basis of general objectives defined by the school manager and the school council approves it. The plan covers a period of three school years and can be revised annually. Schools should give suitable publicity to their own plan, which is also published on the Portal on school data of the Ministry of education and merit.
According to their teaching and organisation autonomy, schools can adopt the flexibility required to adapt the curriculum and teaching paths to pupils' specific learning needs. For example, they can opt for a flexible organisation of the total and/or single subjects teaching time, or adopt teaching units (lessons) not corresponding to teaching hours, they can organise activities for groups of pupils of different classes. Finally, they can widen their offer with optional subjects and activities chosen taking into account the cultural, social and economic context.
Schools can promote networks for teaching and research purposes, purchase of goods and services, temporary exchange of teachers. Furthermore, schools, individually or through a network, can draw up agreements with public or private universities, organisations, associations or agencies as well as special arrangements with voluntary associations and organisations of the private social sector.
Schools have administrative and accountancy autonomy, except for what concerns the school staff that falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of education and merit.
The management and administration of State schools is distributed among several subjects and collegiate bodies that involve also students and students’ families. The description and the functions of the collegiate bodies and the role of students and parents at school are included in the D.Lgs. 297/1994 and in the DPR 275/1999.
The School manager and the Director of general and administrative services
The school manager (Dirigente scolastico – DS) is the head of the school with managerial functions. The school manager is the legal representative of the institution and is responsible for the management of financial and material resources and the quality of the service provided.
In compliance with the competences of the collegiate schools bodies, the manager has independent powers of direction, coordination, and enhancement of human resources. The aim of the manager’s action is to organise school activities according to criteria of efficiency and effectiveness and to promote actions to ensure the quality of the educational process and the collaboration of cultural, professional social and economic resources of the territory. The school manager can delegate specific tasks to teachers.
For further details on school managers' recruitment and professional status, please refer to the section 'Management staff for early childhood and school education'.
The school manager works with the collaboration of the Director of general and administrative services (Direttore dei servizi generali e amministrativi - DSGA), who is the administrative manager of the school. The DSGA oversees, with operational autonomy, the administrative and general services of school within the general directives and the objectives issued by the school manager, coordinating the relevant staff.
The DSGA directly issues certifications that do not involve discretionary evaluations, prepares projects and proposals for the improvement of the functionality of the services of competence and takes care of the preliminary activity directed to the stipulation of agreements, contracts and conventions. He/she is a member of the executive board and the school council (see below).
The School council
The School council (Consiglio di istituto) is a representative body in comprehensive institutes and in secondary schools. In the few primary schools that are not yet part of a comprehensive institute, this representative body is called ‘district council’ (Consiglio di circolo). The members of the School council are elected every three years among the teaching and non-teaching staff, parents and, only in upper secondary schools, students. The composition of the council varies from 14 to 19 members according to the number of students of the school, i.e. less or more than 500 students respectively. The school manager is an ex-officio member. The Chairman is elected by all members from among parents’ representatives.
The council has guiding and managing functions on general economic and functional aspects of the school. It has decision making powers on the following issues:
- budget and the balance and on any use of financial resources;
- adoption of the internal regulation that establishes the rules for the use of the library and of other cultural, educational and sports equipment;
- criteria for planning of out-of-school activities, complementary activities, etc.;
- school calendar and school timetable;
- general criteria on the creation of the classes;
- approval of the three-year educational offer plan (Piano triennale dell'offerta formativa - PTOF) of the school.
The council gives its opinion on the general administration of the school.
The Teachers' council
The Teachers' council (Collegio dei docenti) is made up of the permanent and temporary teachers from each school. It is chaired by the school manager.
The Teachers’ council has, among the others, the following decision making functions:
- drawing up of the three-year educational offer plan in compliance with the general guidelines issued by the school manager;
- planning of the teaching activities;
- evaluation of the general development of teaching to verify its effectiveness in line with the planned objectives;
- selection of textbooks and, within the financial limits established by the School council, of other teaching materials;
- proposal, wherever necessary, of appropriate measures to improve educational activities.
Finally, it submits proposals to the school manager on the grouping of children into classes, on the teaching timetable and the on allocation of teachers to the classes.
The class councils
Another representative body that is made up of teachers, parents and, in some cases, students is the class council.
In pre-primary schools it is called ‘inter-section council’ because at this level children are organised in groups called 'sections'. In primary schools it is called inter-class council. At these two levels, the councils consist of the teachers from all classes or sections from every school and one parent elected for each class or section.
At lower secondary level it is called ‘class council’. It is made up of all the teachers of a class, four parent representatives, elected from among the parents of all the pupils in the class, and the school manager who chairs the council meetings or delegates this task to one of the class teachers. Two student representatives and two parents' representatives also serve on the council in upper secondary schools.
The main function of these councils is to facilitate the relations among stakeholders in the school community. They also submit proposals on education and teaching activities of the class to the teachers' council.
The councils also plan activities and carry out the periodic and final pupil assessments. In this case, students are not allowed to participate at the meetings.
The Committee for the evaluation of teachers
Every school has a Committee for the evaluation of teachers. Its function is to express its opinion:
- on the service of teachers during their induction period. In this case the Committee is integrated by the tutor of the teacher and does not involve parents and students;
- on requests for reinstatement of teachers who have undergone disciplinary action.
Finally, the Committee evaluates, upon request of individual teachers, their service for a period not longer than the previous three years. The Committee is made up of four teachers and the school head.
The role of students
Besides participating in the school council, students of upper secondary schools can exercise their right to democratic participation in the school’s activities by holding meetings that can be held at both class and school level. Students’ meetings provide an opportunity to analyse educational and social problems for enhancing the cultural and social development of the students themselves. In their meetings, students also elect representatives for the class and school councils. Student representatives in the class council can form a student committee authorised to express opinions and make proposals to the school council.
The 'Charter of students' in secondary schools (Statuto delle studentesse e degli studenti, D.P.R. no. 249/1998 and D.P.R. no. 235/2007) establishes the rights and duties of pupils and students at school.
Students have the right to a qualified cultural and vocational education, the freedom to learn, transparent and rapid evaluation and respect for cultural and religious life of the community they belong to.
On the other hand, students have a duty to attend school regularly, to fulfil study requirements in a consistent manner, behave correctly towards the school manager, teachers, school staff and their fellow students and comply with the organisation and safety rules of each school.
As autonomous entities, all schools have regulations establishing which behaviours constitute a breach of conduct, taking into account the basic principle that disciplinary measures must have educational aims, i.e. must always be temporary and aim to redress an injury.
Students can be offered the chance to convert disciplinary measures into services performed for the school community. Temporary expulsion from school can be decided by the school boards only for serious and repeated breaches of discipline and cannot last more than 15 days. For particularly serious offences, such as violation of dignity or respect of other people also by endangering their lives, the school Council can also decide to expel students for periods longer than 15 days. For serious crimes, or relapse, expulsion can last up to the end of the school year and lead to the exclusion from final evaluation procedures including the final State exam.
It is possible to appeal against disciplinary measures to the internal guarantee body. This body falls within the regulations of the institute; however, among its members there must be also one representative of the students of upper secondary schools and one representative of the parents of pupils attending the lower secondary school. It is possible to appeal against the decision adopted by the internal guarantee body addressing to the head of the Regional School Office that issues a definitive decision.
At provincial level, the Students council is made up of two students from every upper secondary institute and has the functions of ensuring debate among students from all schools in the province and of making suggestions and expressing opinions to educational authorities, local authorities and territorial committees and boards.
Finally, the National Forum of the most representative student associations is headquartered in the Directorate General for students, within the Ministry of education and merit. The Forum aims at fostering the dialogue between the Ministry and the student associations; it represents the students’ needs, formulates proposals and expresses opinions either upon request of the Minister or on its own initiative.
The role of parents
Besides participating in the collegiate bodies described above, parents can exercise their right to democratic participation in the school’s activities by holding meetings that can be held at both class and school level. Parents’ meetings can be attended by the School manager and teachers, who have no voting rights.
Parents can autonomously form associations outside the school depending on their educational aims, ideology or religion and they can stand for election with their own symbols to become representatives in the committee and boards.
Finally, the National Forum of the most representative parent associations, has tasks similar to those of the Forum of students associations. The Forum sits at least three times a year and adopts its own internal regulations. It is headquartered is at the Directorate General for Students.
Universities and institutions for Higher Education in fine arts, music and dance (Alta formazione artistica, musicale e coreutica - AFAM) have regulatory and organisational autonomy. It means that they can issue their own charters and teaching regulations.
Higher education in fine arts, music and dance
In the institutes of the Higher education for the fine arts, music and dance (Alta formazione artistica, musicale e coreutica – AFAM), the Director is responsible for the educational, scientific and artistic performance of the institution. The Director has legal representation for the matters within his/her competence, i.e. for collaborations and activities on behalf of third parties concerning teaching, research, testing and production. Directors are elected by the teaching staff of the institute.
The President is the legal representative of the institutions (with the exception of the responsibilities of the Director). He or she is appointed by the Minister among a number of three persons designated by the Academic council, which is a board made up of the Director and students' and teachers' representatives.
The Rector is the legal representative of the university and has functions of orientation, initiative and coordination of scientific and educational activities. The Rector is responsible for pursuing the aims of the university according to quality criteria and in compliance with the principles of effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and promotion of merit. It proposes the university's three-year planning document, the annual and three-year forecast budget and the final account.
The Academic Senate formulates proposals and mandatory opinions on teaching, research and student services. The Senate approves the university regulations and ethical code and can activate, modify or suppress courses, offices, departments and structures, as well as propose a motion of no confidence towards the Rector. Its members are the Rector, an elective representation of the students and at least two thirds from tenured professors. The number of members is proportionate to the size of the university, but always less than 35. The Senate remains in office for a maximum of 4 years and the mandate is renewable for one time only.
The Board of Directors oversees the administrative, financial, economic and asset management of the university, as well as the management of technical and administrative staff. In particular, it approves the university budget. It is composed of a maximum of 11 members, including the Rector and an elective student representation. The designation of the other members takes place according to the modalities foreseen by the statute. Candidates are identified among Italian or foreign personalities with proven management skills or with a high level of professional experience. The Council and its members remain in office for a maximum of 4 years, with the exception of student representatives who hold office for 2 years. The mandate is renewable only once.
The Director General is at the head of the administrative system and is responsible for the overall management and organisation of the university's services, instrumental resources and technical-administrative staff. The General Director participates in the Board of Directors without voting rights. It is chosen from highly qualified personalities and proven experience with managerial functions. The Director has a fixed-term contract, lasting no more than 4 years and renewable.
The Evaluation Unit is a body made up of highly qualified professional subjects, mainly external to the university. It verifies the quality and effectiveness of the educational offer and of the research activities carried out by the departments.
Each university has its own statute. It provides for other bodies which are placed side by side with the governing bodies of the university.
The Departments conduct scientific research, teaching and educational activities, as well as additional external activities. The Departments promote and co-ordinate research with due respect for the independence of individual researchers.
Furthermore, committees made up of students and teaching staff members are responsible for assessing the activities of individual Departments.
The main direction and management bodies, autonomously set up by universities are usually the following:
- the Department council made up of teachers, researchers, representatives of non-teaching staff and students and chaired by the Director of the Department;
- the Director of the Department who is selected among professors and represents the department.
Finally, universities can crate intermediate structures, usually named 'schools' or 'faculties', for the organisation of the educational offer and student services. These structures have their own management that includes the Directors of departments belonging to them and representatives of the teaching staff and of students. As for Departments, Faculties can establish teacher-student committees for monitoring the activities.