Country information for Italy - Teacher education for inclusive education

In the Italian school system, by law, pupils with special educational needs attend common classes in which curricular teachers are supported by special teachers (support teachers).

Each year, the regional offices of the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) allocate support teachers to each school, according to the number of pupils and the type of disabilities present. Support teachers are part of the teaching team: they work with curricular teachers and participate in all activities that concern the class as a whole, such as planning and assessment. Not all teachers are support teachers, but all support teachers are teachers.

In addition to the basic training common to all teachers, support teachers must also acquire a specific qualification, awarded by universities, in which they must obtain at least 60 credits. Training includes at least 300 hours (12 credits) of traineeship activities related to the school level in which they are going to work. Each university organises and regulates training activities in compliance with general criteria established by the MIUR (CPRA – Country Report, p. 39).

Law 107/2015 delegated the government reform on initial teacher education to universities and state educational institutions (Legislative decree n. 59/2017), by introducing a unitary and co-ordinated system. This system includes both teachers’ initial training and the procedures for access to the profession. Initial training was oriented towards more inclusive practices, comprising 20% of the curriculum for curricular teachers and up to 100% for support teachers’ specialisation (Source: CPRA – Country report, p. 40).

All courses for initial teacher training include acquiring:

  • linguistic competences in English equivalent to level B2 of the ‘Common European Framework of Reference for Languages’, adopted in 1996 by the Council of Europe;
  • digital competences as foreseen by the Recommendation of the European Parliament and Council of 18 December 2006; in particular the capacity to use multimedia languages to represent and communicate knowledge, to use digital contents and, in general, to use simulated environments and virtual labs;
  • teaching competences which favour the integration of pupils with disabilities.

Pre-schools and primary schools

A four-year degree in primary school education (Scienze della formazione primaria) is required to teach at pre-primary and primary school levels.

In order to specialise as support teachers, student teachers must choose specific courses in their curricula when drafting their learning agreement.

Programmes include general and specific training activities. General training covers pedagogy, didactics, psychology, sociology and anthropology and corresponds to 78 credits. Specific activities cover both subject-related knowledge and competences and the integration of pupils with special educational needs. Training on pupils with special educational needs includes elements of infantile neuropsychiatry, psychology, law and health. Studies correspond to 31 credits.

For more information about the induction period for pre-primary and primary school teachers, see the Eurydice website for Italy.

Secondary schools

A graduate degree is required to teach at secondary school level. Since 2018, induction is part of the 3-year initial teacher education programme for secondary school teachers (FIT), who can access the programme after obtaining a second-cycle qualification.

In addition to the basic training common to all teachers, those wishing to work as support teachers must obtain a specific university qualification, worth at least 60 credits. Training includes at least 300 hours (12 credits) of traineeship activities related to the school level at which they are going to work. Each university organises and regulates the training activities in compliance with general criteria established by the MIUR.

In-service training in special needs education for curricular teachers and school principals

Law 107/2015 on the reform of the education system established that continued professional development (CPD) for teachers is compulsory, continuing and structural. The collective labour contract for school staff establishes that CPD is both a right and a professional duty for teachers.

Training activities are carried out by the MIUR and at territorial level. According to Presidential Decree 275/1999, schools are autonomous in the matters of CPD and research on didactics and pedagogy. As such, they can make training agreements directly with universities, research centres and other entities.

Schools at territorial level are organised through networks for various purposes, such as training, competencies exchange and project development. Each region has at least one pole school, which organises CDP activities according to the national CDP Plan and the schools’ CDP plans.

As pupils with special educational needs are the responsibility of both support teachers and the whole school staff, teachers and school principals at all school levels undergo specific in-service training on pupils with special educational needs. Training activities focus on topics such as early risk identification, didactic measures to be adopted both with the pupil and with the class group, assessment procedures and guidance. The specific training plans are drafted by the MIUR and by schools, according to their autonomy. Training activities may also involve universities, research institutes, scientific organisations, associations and local health authorities.

Moreover, the MIUR has founded a network of Territorial Support Centres (Centri territoriali di supportoCTS). These are schools dedicated to special needs, with teachers/researchers specialised in technologies for inclusive teaching. There are 106 CTS across Italy.

CTS work at local level to foster school inclusion. At least one school in each provincial area is set up as a CTS by the regional school offices (Uffici scolastici regionali – USR), in agreement with the MIUR.

CTS are committed to training initiatives on the correct use of technologies by teachers and other school professionals, and by parents and pupils themselves.

On a smaller scale, other schools work as Territorial Centres for Inclusion (Centri territoriali per l’inclusione – CTI). The CTIs widen the networks for school inclusion by providing teachers with contacts and references for any problems related to special educational needs.

CTS and CTI teams have specific competences related to special educational needs issues. This enables them to provide real support to schools and colleagues through ad hoc counselling and training. For example, the team in the field of disabled pupils will mainly involve support teachers, but also subject teachers who are experts in new technologies for inclusion.

Other professionals

Law 107/2015 links the Three-Year Plan for the Educational Offer (PTOF) to a national three-year teacher and school staff training plan. It considers all the training needs in each school, inclusive practices, information and awareness. (Source: CPRA – Country report, p. 41).

Speech and language therapists and similar professionals are not employed by the MIUR, but they must pass a four-year university programme to enter the profession.

Multilingual education teachers fall under the competence of the MIUR. Their initial training is the same as other teachers, with the addition of a one-year specialisation in Italian as a second language.

Special teachers for learners with visual and hearing impairments, as well as typhlologists and similar professionals (such as sign language translators) receive specific training from research centres in the field, such as the Istituto Romagnoli and Istituto Magarotto.

Assistants for autonomy and communication have usually received university training. They fall under the competence of local authorities. According to the provision of Decree 66/2017, the MIUR is working on a State–Region agreement in order to harmonise the professional profile of these assistants.

Last updated 29/01/2021


Share this page: