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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Educational support and guidance


12.Educational support and guidance

Last update: 27 November 2023

Pupils and students with disabilities attend mainstream education, from pre-primary to higher education. The principle of integration has inspired the legislation on this matter since the 70s.

Inclusion at school aims at developing the potentials of persons with disabilities in learning, communication, relationships and socialisation. The policy of inclusion guarantees the right to education, which cannot be hindered by learning difficulties or other difficulties deriving from disabilities.

The area of special educational needs includes:

  • Disabilities
  • Specific developmental disorders and/or specific learning disorders
  • Disadvantage from socio-economic, linguistic and cultural factors

The last category includes also immigrant pupils.

For pupils with certified disabilities, schools, in collaboration with the national health service and parents, draw up an individualised education plan (PEI) that describes tools and strategies  aimed to create a positive learning environment; the plan describes also interventions tailored for these pupils in a specific period of time.

Inclusion involves the whole school. Support teachers increase the number of school staff. Support teachers receive, in their initial training, a specific training for the inclusion of pupils with disabilities. Support teachers are assigned to the class group and not to the single pupil and have the main task of facilitating the integration of disabled pupils by applying specific teaching strategies in collaboration with the class teachers.

Assessment of pupils with disabilities focuses on their behaviour, as well as on subjects and activities carried out according to the individualised educational plan.

Specific support measures are foreseen also for pupils with proven specific learning/developmental disorders and special educational needs due to proven disadvantage from socio-economic, linguistic and cultural factors. In particular, schools can draw up a personalised educational plan to start personalised teaching measures that allow the use of compensative tools and exempt pupils from some activities.

Classes that receive pupils with these types of special educational needs do not have the support teachers.

Finally, education is guaranteed also to pupils who are unable to attend school for a long time due to their health problems. Hospitals and rehabilitation centres host classes that are branches of mainstream classes of state schools, in order avoid interruption of pupils’ school education path. 

Similarly, schools, in collaboration with the Regional school office, local authorities and local health authorities, identify actions to ensure the right to study to pupils/students declared unable to attend school for not less than 30 (not necessarily consecutive) days, due to duly certified serious diseases, also through projects that imply the use of new technologies. 

Guidance is a basic principle transversal to all school legislations. Guidance is, in fact, one of the main tasks of school education.

At higher education level, the support measures for students with disabilities include the use of compensative tools, agreements with specialised centres, accommodations reserved for disabled students, agreements with interpreters for allowing deaf students to attend lessons and free transports. Foreign students have the same rights to access and to study at higher level as Italian students.

Academic guidance is a compulsory provision that universities must include in their own regulation. Universities usually provide also psychological and occupational guidance.