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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Guidance and counselling in early childhood and school education


12.Educational support and guidance

12.4Guidance and counselling in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Academic guidance

Guidance falls within the fundamental tasks of schools in general. All the legislation in force regulating the education system refers to guidance and to the role of schools.

National guidelines for the curriculum of 2012, underline that schools have a fundamental educative and guiding role by providing pupils with the opportunity to acquire consciousness of their own potentials and resources to plan experiences and to verify the results obtained. The school in general has a guiding role because it prepares pupils for taking decisions; in particular, the first cycle of education guides pupils towards their further studies at upper secondary level.

Upper secondary education assure links with universities and HEIs through specific guiding paths and self-evaluation of competences. Such activities are part of the Plan for the educational offer (POF) of each school, as well as of the Annual plan for CPD of teachers. Upper secondary schools and HEI sign specific agreements for the planning, the implementation and the evaluation of initiatives, involving also other bodies, associations, enterprises and representatives of the working and professional world.

Guidance activities are included in the last grade of the upper secondary education curriculum using time and organisational flexibility of schools.

In the National guidelines for lifelong guidance of 2014, the then Ministry of education, beside confirming the contents of the previous guidelines of 2009, suggests a new model of guidance that assures lifelong support in the challenging moments of life and fosters employability, social inclusion and growth. This model starts from the central role of the education system as a whole, as the only place where a young person acquires and strengthens basic and transversal competences, necessary to develop her/his own identity, autonomy and decisions.

In this context, schools have the central role in the guidance processes and has the task of developing basic guiding competences and key competences of citizenship and to accompany youngsters in ‘using and exploiting what acquired at school to build their own life experience and to make necessary decisions’. Guidelines also specify that, in difficult cases, the involvement of experts and external persons with professional competences is necessary to accompany students in the transition from school to work for a full working inclusion. 

The Ministry has provided students and all subjects involved in guidance with a portal dedicated to guidance towards upper secondary and post-secondary education.

Psychological guidance

Psychological guidance and support is not mandatory for schools. However, many schools provide a psychological service.

Career guidance

Career guidance at school aims at providing students with the necessary information on work and professional fields, with the opportunity of participating in laboratories in the technology and sciences sectors, of experiencing university life and new methods of studying and working also through specific initiatives in Italian and European universities.

As for regional education and training courses (IeFP), the principal centres with responsibility for offering guidance to young people and adults in the labour market, also directing them to vocational training courses, are the 'Territorial employment services'. These centres are organised at provincial level and they have many local branches that operate within the framework of active employment policies defined at regional level. The employment services provide information and guidance on the opportunities for training and work in the territory. In fact, they are also responsible for mediating between the demand and supply of jobs. The role of the employment services is particularly important in the case of young people who have not attained the diritto/dovere to education and training: in fact, they also manage the register based on training status of young people and provide information, guidance and tutoring in order to control the phenomenon of dispersion.

In addition to the employment services, within many vocational training agencies there is also a guidance service that helps young people to choose among the course options and helps them to join the job market at the end of the course.

Guidance to the labour market is also included in the curriculum of three-year vocational courses and it is carried out by teachers: throughout the course, an amount of hours is destined to guidance activities in order to detect problems deriving from students' choices, or to prevent drop-outs, etc. in the third year, a specific amount of time is destined to activities which help the student to enter the labour market by providing him/her with competences and skills, for example on how to make a research for a suitable job, how to answer an interview or how to draw up a correct curriculum vitae.

A specific module focusing on orientation to the labour market is often included also in regional post-secondary vocational courses.

Legislative references

Legislative Decree, 14 January 2008, no. 21 (guidance towards HE)

Legislative Decree 14 January 2008, no. 22 (career guidance)

Circular letter no. 43/2009 (national guidelines on lifelong guidance)

Letter no. 4232/2014 (national guidelines on lifelong guidance)