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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teachers and education staff


9.Teachers and education staff

Last update: 21 December 2022

This chapter describes teachers and education staff working in early childhood and school education, in higher education and in adult education. For each segment of education, the description is organised on three main features: initial education and training, conditions of service and continuing professional development. The description focuses on education staff working in public ECEC (0-3) settings and on teachers staff working in State settings of school, higher and adult education.

Given the different 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.

Taking into consideration that teachers in ECEC settings for older children (3-6 years) follow the same route of initial education, have similar conditions of service and follow the same CPD rules of primary school teachers, they are described together under the sub-headings ‘School education’. Educators in ECEC settings for younger children are described separately under the sub-headings ‘Early childhood education (0-3 years)’.

Early childhood education (0-3 years)

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.

In fact, reform law 107/2015 and D.Lgs 65/2017 have established that educators in public ECEC settings for younger children should complete their initial education at higher level. Therefore, from school year 2020/2021 educators are required to hold at least a Bachelor degree (ISCED 6 level) obtained after having successfully completed a three-year programme in education sciences specific for this ECEC phase. Derogations are applied for those who have a lower qualification obtained before new regulations were published. In fact, before the reform, the Regions had autonomy for establishing the requirements to work in ECEC settings for children aged between 0 and 3 years.

Graduates with a Master degree in primary education sciences specific for teaching in pre-primary schools (ISCED 7) 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 contracts.

School education

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 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, must acquire specific competences in anthropology, psychology and pedagogy, as well as in teaching methods and technologies. To be qualified teachers they have to pass the national open competition for their recruitment and, once recruited, to complete a one-year induction period with a positive assessment (D.Lgs. 59/2017 as modified by law 145/2018).

Currently, initial teacher training and recruitment procedures are undergoing a reform process according to the framework established by Law 79/2022. The main changes under the reform are summarized in the National Reforms in School Education section. Specific regulations will contain the operational guidelines needed to implement the reform. Meanwhile, subsequent sections describe initial training and teacher recruitment under current legislation.

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 relevant section on initial education of school teachers.

Teachers are mainly recruited through national open competitions. To access national competitions it is required to hold the qualifications described above. Teachers in State schools are 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 is compulsory 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.

In-service training is also currently undergoing a reform process according to the framework established by Law 79/2022. The main changes under the reform are summarized in the National Reforms in School Education section.

The same conditions apply also to teachers working in the adult education sector, as they are teachers of the State education system.

Higher education

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.

I nstitutions 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.