This chapter describes teachers and education staff working in early childhood and school education, in higher education and in adult education. For each of these three sectors, the description is organised on three main features: initial education and training, conditions of service and continuing professional development. The description covers public ECEC settings for children under three years of age and State settings for school education, higher education and adult education.
Given the different initial training and recruitment procedures that have been applied over the years, the sections of this chapter only refer to the most recent legislation in force.
Educators in ECEC settings for younger children are described under the sub-headings ‘Early childhood education (0-3 years)’. Teachers in ECEC settings for children aged three years and over follow the same route of initial education, have similar conditions of service, and follow the same CPD rules of primary school teachers. Therefore, they are described under the sub-headings ‘School education’.
ECEC for children under three years of age
Public ECEC services for children aged between 0 and 3 years are run directly by the municipalities in accordance with the criteria defined by central and regional regulations.
The most recent national policies on the educational staff of this level of education have focussed on raising the levels of qualification required to work with younger children.
From school year 2019/2020, educators in public ECEC settings for children under three years of age are required to hold at least a three-year bachelor's degree (ISCED 6) in education sciences specific for this ECEC phase (D.Lgs. 65/2017). Derogations apply for those with a lower qualification obtained according to regional legislation before new regulations were published.
Graduates with a master's degree in primary education sciences (ISCED 7) specific for teaching in pre-primary schools can also work as educators in ECEC settings for younger children if they have completed a specialisation course with contents of pedagogy, sociology and psychology related to early childhood for a total of 60 ECTS credits.
Conditions of service and CPD activities are established in the national labour agreements.
In its policy act for 2022 (Atto di indirizzo 2022), the Ministry has given priority to the initial training and continuing professional development of teachers and of all school staff. Initial teacher training, recruitment, in-service training and the enhancement of professional development are, in fact, considered the key feature for improving and innovate the education system and to help schools face social, cultural and economic changes. To this end, the Ministry has indicated the following priorities:
- 'strengthen initial teacher training, which should focus on a structured training model (...)';
- 'reform the teacher recruitment system to establish a new model, linked to a rethinking of the initial teacher training and career (... )';
- 'defining a new system for the continuous training of school staff, with the aim of increasing the number of teachers in training courses and improving the quality of the related training offer, in order to make it more responsive to the needs of the service and the valorisation of the experiences (...)'.
At present, teachers in State pre-primary, primary and secondary schools need to complete a master's programme at higher level and obtain the relevant qualification (ISCED 7). Pre-primary and primary school teachers must complete a five-year programme in primary education sciences that includes qualifying traineeship activities (DM 249/2010). Secondary teachers, beside a second-cycle qualification in one of the field or subjects taught at secondary level, must acquire cultural, pedagogical, linguistic and technological competences by completing a specific qualifying programme for at least 60 ECTS. Initial teacher education for secondary school teachers has been reformed and is regulated by the D.Lgs. 59/2017 as modified by law 79/2022.
Support teachers, at all levels, besides the second-cycle qualification, must attend and pass an additional traineeship programme, organised at universities (DM 30.09.2011).
Initial education of other categories of teachers working in State schools such as, for example, teachers of Catholic religion and teachers of technical-vocational subjects is briefly described in the section on initial education of teachers in early childhood and school education.
Teachers are mainly recruited through national open competitions. To access national competitions, it is required to hold the qualifications described above. Those who pass the open competition, must complete and pass a one-year induction phase to be confirmed in their position as teachers with tenure. Teachers in State schools are non-civil servant public employees and work under a private-law contract that can be either temporary or permanent. The national collective and integrative labour contracts regulate teachers’ conditions of service.
Continuing professional development (CPD) is mandatory for all teachers in State schools. According to the national collective labour contract, CPD activities are both a right and a professional duty, as they contribute to the development of teachers’ professional life. CPD is conducted during the working hours and comprises, among other priorities, also the acquisition of digital competences and the critical and responsible use of digital devises.
Recently, law 79/2022, which amended the D.Lgs. 59/2017, introduced voluntary paid CPD. This segment of the reform has not yet completed its approval procedures and, therefore, details are available in the section on National Reforms in School Education.
The same conditions apply also to teachers working in the adult education sector, as they are teachers of the State education system.
Entry to the profession and conditions of services of professors and researchers are regulated by central legislation (law 240/2010). University professors do not undergo either a specific initial training or continuing professional development activities. Access to the recruitment procedures for full and associate professors requires the possession of the national scientific qualification called 'habilitation' (abilitazione), which has been introduced in 2010. Researchers must have a PhD or other qualifications required for specific sectors.
The recruitment of professors and researchers takes place at university level through the publication of vacancies. Fixed-term professors are recruited directly by universities for integrative teaching needs. Up to 2010, professors and researchers were recruited through open competitions assessing candidates’ qualifications and publications.
Institutions of the Higher education for the fine arts, music and dance (Alta formazione artistica, musicale e coreutica - Afam) recruit their teaching staff through national lists.
Contents revised: February 2024