The Italian education system is primarily dominated by state schools, and Milan is no exception. Expats who don’t intend to stay for the long term usually opt for private international schools, but these are expensive, and competition for places is high. The blend of Italian cultural heritage with a modern educational approach makes Milan an intriguing place for expat families to consider for their children’s education.
The school year in Milan extends from around mid-September to June, aligning with the typical European academic calendar. There is a two-week winter break towards the end of December, allowing students to celebrate Christmas and New Year with their families. Shorter breaks in February and April provide much-needed respite, while the summer break at the end of the academic year, lasting about 12 weeks, offers a substantial period for relaxation and travel.
Read Education and Schools in Italy to learn more about the national education system.
Public schools in Milan
Public schools in Italy are excellent and are free for Italian residents, although the language of instruction is in Italian, so enrolling their children in public schools isn’t an option for many expats. On the other hand, these schools offer a comprehensive insight into Italian culture and education, providing a unique learning experience.
Milanese schools, adhering to national law, provide Catholic religious education, but they also respect diversity in beliefs. Children can opt for non-religious alternativa classes, covering a broad spectrum of subjects, including human rights and mythology, promoting a well-rounded education.
In line with the national curriculum, schools in Milan are divided into four levels. Scuola dell’infanzia is equivalent to kindergarten and is for children from three to five years old. Primary school (scuola primaria) is compulsory and caters to children between 6 and 11 years old. Secondary school is split between scuola media (11 to 14) and scuola superiore (14 to 19). School is compulsory for teens up to 16 years old.
At 14, students face an important decision regarding their educational pathway, as they must choose a field of specialisation. This choice influences their future tertiary education and career prospects, highlighting the significance of Milan’s educational structure.
- For more insights into public schooling in Milan, visit the Italian Ministry of Education website.
Private schools in Milan
In Italy, private schools are often on par with public schools in terms of quality, as they receive state funding and adhere to government-mandated curricula and educational standards. These schools, however, may offer distinct educational philosophies or religious teachings, such as Catholicism or the Montessori method, providing diverse educational options for families.
Parents seeking a tailored local educational approach for their children often consider Milan’s private schools. These institutions offer diverse pedagogical approaches, catering to individual learning needs and preferences.
International schools in Milan
Milan has various international schools that teach a range of programmes, including the International Baccalaureate as well as American, British, French and German curricula. These schools can be expensive, but are an excellent way to get around language differences. Many Italians who can afford it send their kids to international schools, as this tends to expose them to broader future career and educational opportunities.
International schools in Milan are particularly renowned for their multicultural environments and comprehensive programmes that prepare students for global challenges.
Read more in our guide to the Best International Schools in Milan.
Nurseries in Milan
Milan offers a range of nursery options, including bilingual nurseries, which are particularly beneficial for young expat children. These nurseries not only assist in language acquisition but also facilitate cultural integration for families planning a prolonged stay in Italy. They also provide a social platform for expat parents to connect and share experiences.
Special-needs education in Milan
In Milan, expats are likely to find services to support children with special educational needs. Italy has a progressive take on special needs, and the rights of citizens in that education must be inclusive. Students with disabilities are entitled to receive a comprehensive range of services to ensure they still get their full education. Support for students with special needs can be received across all types of institutions, public, international and private, including Montessori schools.
- Explore services for special-needs education in Milan at AID Milano.
Tutors in Milan
Expat parents in Milan looking for their children to get extra one-on-one help with their schoolwork can easily find tutors. There are many platforms, including TutorYou, Apprentus and Preply, that parents can search through to find a tutor for a specific subject or a range of them, for example, in the sciences, mathematics or languages. Parents can also look for a tutor by contacting their school directly, as older students may be offering tuition services.
What do expats think of schools in Milan?
"The Italian schools are excellent. They do not have extra-curricular activities though. It is all about the books." To get insights into education in Milan, read Diana's interview.
"Many expats prefer to put their children through an international, fee-paying school like The British School of Milan, that use a British curriculum." Tim shares his thoughts on schooling in Milan. Read more in his expat interview.
►Not sure which school is right for your child? Read International Schools in Milan for a list of reputable international schools
►Get more information on special needs education in Italy
Are you an expat living in Milan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Milan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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