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Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Old Mar 10th 2011, 3:42 pm
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Default Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

After having almost made the move to Italy a few years ago having owned a house in the North (timing to move permanently then was just not right) we have decided to take a good look around Tuscany to see how it would work for us now.

We have 2 young children, 16 months old and a 4 year old, and are hoping to come out in April to see what the possibilities are and would like some help to identify areas of Tuscany to focus on. We are looking for places that have a reasonable expat community with families.

We think there is a pretty good expat community around Lucca and so we were thinking of coming out there first and would like to make contact with any of the children’s groups to see what they are like and also to be able to talk to other parents who have young children educated in the Italian system to try to find out where the best local schools are (is there such a thing as Ofsted in Italy???). We are also interested if there are many extra-curricular activities for the children as, living on the outskirts of London, our kids have a very full life in that respect and we want to try to keep that up as much as is possible.

As much as we have identified Tuscany as an area with good expat communities, are there any other areas that we should be considering. We think we would rather stay towards the North as opposed to the Southern areas.
Having spent a fair bit of time in Piemonte we know just how wonderful life in Italy can be, but before we make the jump we want to find out to what extent, on an educational level, our children will be affected. Life, we know, will be richer!!

Any input will be much appreciated and we hope we will be able to meet up with some of you during our trip in April.
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Old Mar 12th 2011, 6:23 pm
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Hi there and welcome to the forum

I dont know much about Tuscany but I'm sure there are more expats there than here in Piemonte. As for the school issue - may I suggest that you read through the Schools thread to get an idea of italian schools. Unfortunately some of it is negative but its good to have a realistic idea of what education in Italy offers.
There is no such thing here as Ofsted and things vary region to region.

Good luck
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Old Mar 14th 2011, 7:50 pm
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Thanks Patty, no one seems to reply much on these forums,

Yes, that is one of the reasons why we have chosen against Piemonte as wonderful as the region is, I really hope that Tuscany will be better....this education thing seems to be a big stumbling block though...are we right to give our children a worse education for the sake of a better standard of life? I really don't know and it is tearing me up!
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Old Mar 15th 2011, 11:52 am
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

People don't reply because there isn't really one answer. Ok, no Ofsted, but where are the best schools? Hard to say. We tend to post about the negative aspects of life here and not about a fantastic teacher. And what some think good, others think bad. Will your kids get a good education? Generally, yes. Will they get the education you want for them? No. The system is too different. Schools are old fashioned where ever you go. Some people hate the rota learning, but without out that classical high school would be almost impossible. It's a 40 week hard slog + homework and if you don't make the grade, you re-do the year. Schools are seriously lacking in modern equipement. Where there is some, it is usually due to parent's subs more than goverment funding. Don't expect to help out at school as in the UK. School is the teacher's (and the caretaker's) realm. Heads have little influence on what happens in the class. Narrow down where you think would like to live and then ask around. It's worth remembering that you are not tied to a school. If you don't like it, you can change.

Last edited by 37100; Mar 15th 2011 at 12:31 pm.
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Old Mar 15th 2011, 12:07 pm
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Hi, I've hesitated to reply because it's a long long time since my kids were in school; and I'm very much out of the loop in this case. However, I'm watching my grandchildren at school, and how they are getting on. Will your children get a worse education? I don't think so - it won't be a 'modern' education as seems to be conceived in the UK. It will be a traditional one, with much emphasis on the three 'Rs' in the early formative years; and less about 'life skills' and 'projects'.They will be taught tolerance; but not at the expense of Christian values and traditions.
By the time they are 7 they will be able to read, write, and add up; which seems to be more than many UK school kids seem to achieve from what I hear.
ciao for now,
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Old Mar 15th 2011, 2:29 pm
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Originally Posted by ononno View Post
.They will be taught tolerance; but not at the expense of Christian values and traditions.
My daughter is only 2 so still at asilo nido but can you explain this? I'm not Christian so I'm not sure if I really want my daughter to be taught "Christian values and traditions" at her public school. I live in a very multicultural area of Rome so I suspect that many of the other parents at my daughter's future school might feel the same. I 'opted out' for the religious education for next year where the Catholic priest comes in to teach (or indoctrinate! ) the kids but is Christian religion taught during other classes?
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Old Mar 16th 2011, 7:56 am
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Christian values and Tolerance?????!!!!! Really????!!!!

I thought they taught: 'Look after yourself and your family and stuff everyone else values' personally...... this seems to be the Italian way from the top down....

Also, kids can read and write at seven here because the language is phonetic. The English language is not like this. It takes much longer to learn all the rules, all the exceptions to the rules, all the weird pronunciation... a lot of adults I know don't always get it right either. School is school here and home is home. Most people seem allergic to reading for pleasure. They might be able to read at seven but they don't develop an appreciation for literature. Also the education system here doesn't work for all kids. It favours the kid (normally female) who can stay sat down for 3-4hours at a time and has a strong bladder cos you are only allowed to go to the loo at allotted times because the caretakers don't want to be scrubbing toilets when they could be having a cigarette outside the school building. Also it's better for those kids who don't need a frequent 'run' because if it's too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry you end up not even being allowed to play outside for your break times. Sometimes never if your teacher doesn't like standing around outside. You hardly ever hear of kids with special needs at state school here either.... there are a lot of kids with 'family problems' though who get held back year after year and are vilified within the local community.....
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Old Mar 16th 2011, 9:18 am
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Christian values and traditions? I think you'll find that in all schools, crucifixes
are fairly prominent; and in most schools they'll be writing 'poesie' for their parents for Christmas and Easter; and observing the local patron saint's holiday, no? And San Giuseppe, and l'Immacolata, et al?
ciao for now,
'o nonno
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Old Mar 16th 2011, 11:10 am
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Originally Posted by ononno View Post
Christian values and traditions? I think you'll find that in all schools, crucifixes
are fairly prominent; and in most schools they'll be writing 'poesie' for their parents for Christmas and Easter; and observing the local patron saint's holiday, no? And San Giuseppe, and l'Immacolata, et al?
ciao for now,
'o nonno
and tolerance??

I think you'll find kids still celebrate Christmas and Easter in UK schools too... by doing much the same things and maybe Diwalli, Ramadan etc. etc. etc. which helps with the tolerance aspect and seeing there is a world outside of the place where you live too. My son is often to referred to as 'Inglesino' still by the flipping teachers!! Drives me mad!! Would you find a kid being referred to as 'Moroccan kid', or 'Jewish kid' or 'German kid'??? Talk about being made to feel different.

If what you mean is: Italian schools are pretty much like UK schools were in the 'halcyon years' of 1946-1955 then yeah, they are.....
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Old Mar 16th 2011, 12:06 pm
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Originally Posted by ononno View Post
Christian values and traditions? I think you'll find that in all schools, crucifixes
are fairly prominent; and in most schools they'll be writing 'poesie' for their parents for Christmas and Easter; and observing the local patron saint's holiday, no? And San Giuseppe, and l'Immacolata, et al?
ciao for now,
'o nonno
At my daughter's scuola materna (which goes through til media) for next year i didn't see any crucifixes. And if they do have them, they certainly weren't prominent. It's a state school for kids of all religions and of no religion - or so I'd hope. Note that we had no problems at all opting out of the religion lesson for our daughter - in fact about a third of the class did the same. We were very happy to hear from the teachers that the school we chose is the most multicultural school in Rome and around 50% of the children have at least one parent who was born outside Italy. I think it's great - probably means that the Italian parents will be tolerant and non-racist too. There's a different state school down the street which seems to be almost 100% Italian so I'd assume that anyone who had a problem with us foreigners and our kids would send their kids there. As far as I'm concerned - they can have that school to themselves.

Christmas and Easter are celebrated, yes - but mostly with Easter Bunnies and Santa Claus. I'd be pretty offended if there was any heavy bible or God talk around those holidays. And San Giuseppe is just Italian father's day.
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Old Mar 16th 2011, 12:30 pm
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

hmmm, we are not so lucky to be considering a local state multi-cultural school as I would imagine that the school my kids will be going to will be pretty much 100% Italian intake..

Christian values in themselves are fine it is preaching Christianity that we have a problem with but even putting that aside, I simply can not make it right to take my kids away from the schools in the UK with the wealth of facilities, extra-curricula activities and pastoral care.....

I feel that our Italian dream may have to hold off until the kids are out of education.....depressing but I can't see any other way around it
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Old Mar 16th 2011, 1:02 pm
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Originally Posted by Dani E View Post
hmmm, we are not so lucky to be considering a local state multi-cultural school as I would imagine that the school my kids will be going to will be pretty much 100% Italian intake..

Christian values in themselves are fine it is preaching Christianity that we have a problem with but even putting that aside, I simply can not make it right to take my kids away from the schools in the UK with the wealth of facilities, extra-curricula activities and pastoral care.....

I feel that our Italian dream may have to hold off until the kids are out of education.....depressing but I can't see any other way around it
I must admit, for all my rumbling disagreement I'm still more glad than not we did what we did and put them into state school here despite all the problems. I guess it depends on what you think you get out of school. My kids can read and write in both English and Italian now and they speak a second language. How many Anglo-saxon kids like mine in the UK can say that? They also know what it's like to live in a different culture and they have done things living here that they never would have had the opportunity to do if we'd stayed in the UK. Like learning how to ski for example or dressing up for Carnivale and taking part in the local procession.Okay so there are no 'Smartboards' or even white boards in each classroom and you're limited to two squares of loo roll when you go to the loo but living in a comunity is about more than going to school.... doesn't mean that I don't plan on having my kids back in the UK for their GCSE's and beyond though......
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Old Mar 16th 2011, 1:38 pm
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Originally Posted by indiebird View Post
doesn't mean that I don't plan on having my kids back in the UK for their GCSE's and beyond though......
How old are your children Indie and what age were they when you moved to Italy?
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Old Mar 16th 2011, 1:59 pm
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Originally Posted by Dani E View Post
How old are your children Indie and what age were they when you moved to Italy?
My kids are now 11 and 7. They were 8 and 3 when we moved.
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Old Mar 16th 2011, 5:02 pm
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Default Re: Info wanted on Tuscan move on children's playgroups and education!!

Dani E, we are in Florence. There are 100's of schools here to choose from, state and private plus a private French school, soon to be an international school teaching English, French, Italian and Spanish in Media. Plus there is an American International school.

I was brought up a Methodist and my OH has a Catholic background but has never, ever followed the religion and considers himself an atheist. Our daughter goes to a Catholic school. She does the religious classes, makes crucifixes at Easter, attended Mass on Ash Wednesday and can say a rosary...honestly, so what? She isn't going to become a nun and I'm not having her confirmed or doing catechismo. She has been there since she was 3 1/2 so all the way through Materna and she is now in Prima. At nearly 7 her Italian is fluent, she can read, do a good level of Maths and her English reading is coming along. It's not all roses but then I have a 16 year old about to take iGCSE's in the UK at boarding school and it wasn't there either...Italian elementary school when it is good is regarded as among the best in Europe. Yes, they learn by rote but it also teaches them to pay attention and get stuff done. It teaches them some discipline. Not all schools are old and decrepit. My daughter's school is a 15th century convent but you wouldn't know it from the clean, bright classrooms full of work and projects on the wall. In the media they have a lecture hall and the teachers including nuns teach via powerpoint presentations....There are 3 big playgrounds, the one for the materna is like a park playground with slides and swings etc. The school food is expensive, €5/day nearly, but 95% or more is organic...My daughter does two school plays/concerts per year. She is learning the harmonica and next year the recorder. They have a music teacher, a gym teacher and an English teacher. The care is pastoral - she will have her form teacher until she moves up into media...They go to the theatre, the trip is to a farm to see flour made...to me it isn't far short of what you would expect in the UK..At the moment we would prefer her to return to the UK for senior school, whether with me or to board we haven't decided or to go to an IB school here but that is because the IB and iGCSE's are internationally recognised qualifications although I know quite a few who have got into UK Uni's from Liceo here...It's not all bad, the problems are those you would just meet in a different form in the UK - having had my son in 3 different schools in the UK (moving house then junior and senior) I think I can reassure you on this...
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