8.3.2 Arts in schools
"Art and image" was established as a compulsory school discipline in 2003, replacing "Image education" in primary schools, and "Arts education" in lower secondary schools.
As for upper secondary education, there are two main categories of schools: licei (like a British grammar school), which are more academic in nature, and istituti (including Art Institutes, a particular form of professional institute which offers an education focused on art and drawing and leads to an arts qualification – Art Teacher diploma), which are essentially vocational schools. A reform law issued in 2008 by the current centre-right coalition (Law 133/2008 named "Riforma Gelmini" after the Education Minister, and came into effect starting from school year 2010-2011) introduced major changes in the education system also as far as arts and cultural education are concerned. The main innovation in this field was the creation of a new High School specifically devoted to Music and Dance disciplines (liceo musicale e coreutico), while Fine Arts High Schools (licei artistici) were reorganised into 6 specialised courses (indirizzi), down from over 40: visual arts; architecture and environment; audiovisual and multimedia; design; graphics; set and stage design.
Among other things, the "Gelmini reform" caused much controversy due to the reduction of art history teaching hours in the Classical and Fine Arts High Schools, which has prompted the National Association of Art History Teachers (ANISA) to issue an "Appeal to keep art history teaching in Italian secondary schools" in November 2008: "Particularly for students in their fifth and last year, art history plays the critical interdisciplinary role of bringing together the majority of subjects studied by our pupils. Furthermore, such a reduction nullifies the experimental curricula implemented by many Italian licei in order to reinforce the value of art history education through a weekly schedule of two hours of lessons for the whole duration of the five-year course".
Outside the school curriculum, in 1998 the Ministry of Education and the Ministry for Heritage have signed a protocol to jointly promote a better knowledge and appreciation of the heritage through a close collaboration "on the ground" between individual school institutes and the local "soprintendenze" (the protocol's foundations were laid by the work of the Study Commission which led to the establishment of the Centre for Museum and Heritage Education Services – see chapter 8.3.1). This collaboration, which has been particularly fruitful in the past, may also be endangered by the "Gelmini reform", which introduced in primary schools a single class teacher to replace the former system of three teachers rotating between two classes, making it far more difficult for classes to take part in out-of-school heritage / museum education projects.
Heritage education, through a close partnership between schools and museums, is also the focus of a number of initiatives / programmes promoted by regional and local administrations (see for example the "Educard" project, run since 2001 by Regione Veneto to promote a closer cooperation between teachers and museum professionals through joint training programmes, or the "Edumusei" and "Museiscuol@" portals, respectively promoted by Regione Toscana and the City of Turin: http://www.edumusei.it, http://www.comune.torino.it/museiscuola).
Agreements pertaining to the promotion of education in the performing arts (particularly theatre and cinema) have also been in place for quite a long time between the Ministry for Education and AGIS (Italian General Association for the Performing Arts), the latter representing professional associations of producers and distributors in the performing arts field.