These high jinks serve as a moment of allegria before the end of term results or ‘Quadri’ are published outside the schools. Every Italian school child must pass the year. In the ‘Elementari’ it is almost unknown to fail, at middle school more students are forced to repeat the year but the problems and stress really start in the first year of high school from the age of 14. At this level, up to half a class have been known to be ‘bocciata’. Every subject must be passed with a minimum vote of 6 out of 10. Students are allowed up to 3 debit subjects where they have achieved less than the required 6. These subjects are then re-tested in September and if the required standard is obtained the student get a ‘promozione’.
The system is made more complicated by the fact that students can’t repeat a year more than twice in the same school but can transfer school. If all this wasn’t confusing enough you can also change school during the first two years of high school, if you find that you don’t like your chosen school and would like to study at a school specialising in different subjects. I should perhaps explain that in Italy school lasts a year longer than other European countries, here High school is 5 years. Final exams being taken at 19 if there are been no major mishaps on the way! The exam is more like a baccalaureate but at the age of 14 children choose either a professional school or a Liceo. At a professional school one can learn a trade and afterwards go directly into a job, if you are lucky enough to find one, where as after Liceo further education is required. The main Liceos are science, classics (concentrating on Latin and Greek), modern languages, technology and art. The most popular being science and the most prestigious classics. Though sadly this school is now less popular due to its old fashioned reputation, despite having produced many of the greats Italian scientists and writers.
Parents are as nervous as their offspring waiting for the “Quadri”; those living on the edge in year 8 and 13 must also pass the year to be allowed to enter the public exams. The parents of 14 year olds also must make certain that they are registered at their new schools as soon as the exam result come out. Holiday plans often have to be put on hold so that the bureaucracy can be navigated.
After all this I think that they all deserve their long summer break. The parents only wish they could take one as well.