Risk of classes chicken coop despite the Pnrr and despite the demographic decline. One month into school, the debate on the number of pupils per class, after the publication of the decree regulating the formation of classes for the next school year. The reference is Presidential Decree 81/2009 which provides for childhood classes from 18 to 26 children, for primary school from 15 to 26, which can be raised up to 27, for middle school from 18 to 27 pupils which can be raised up to 28 and a minimum of 27 high school students. To promote the right to education also by disadvantaged boys and girls in classes with numbers close to or exceeding the limits set by the legislation, the 2022 budget law provided for the establishment of classes by way of derogation, for which 6,000 teachers throughout Italy (there were 8,000 last year), of which 452 for Lombardy (628 in 2022/2023).
However, the risk denounced by trade unions and principals is that chicken coop classes are formed, which cannot be compensated for even with the classes in derogation, in defiance of the objective set by the Pnrr of reducing the number of pupils per class. “The problem is upstream – he explains Luisa Treccani, general secretary of the Cisl school in Brescia and organizational Lombardy – because the reference is Presidential Decree 81 of 2009 which is very dated and which was already very approximate”. In Lombardy, the data for 2022-2023 from the Regional School Office show that, in all the provinces, the average is below the set limit, but, as always, we are talking about a Trilussa average, which hides profound differences, from the primary schools (in Brescia we range from districts with 15-16 children per class to districts with 25 per class) to high school.
«Especially in the first years of high school – recalls Treccani – in order not to lose enrollments, they are made classes also from 30 and over, starting from the assumption that then, over the years, the numbers will decrease due to rejection or withdrawals. But this is exactly the logic that should be avoided, in order not to favor early school leaving. Courses for tutors are being held in recent weeks, who will have to do the orientation: I wonder how so many kids will be able to follow”. The demographic decline, at least for now, will not lead to an automatic reduction in classes. The risk, on the contrary, it is that the numbers increase, as the tendency is to merge those left with fewer students, with the effect of making one with many students.
Then there is another aspect: after Presidential Decree 18 of 2009, others have arrived which, deservedly, have foreseen personalized itineraries for Bes (Special educational needs) e Dsa (Specific learning disabilities), which do not include a support teacher. “We have teachers who have 30 students in the classroom with 15, 16 between Bes and Dsa and who therefore have to make personalized plans, obviously all in non-school hours”. The solution? “There is nothing to invent, it would be enough to implement the part of the Buona Scuola which provides for the reduction of pupils per class”, comments Luisa Treccani. After all, overcrowded classes do not favor learning and are indeed among the causes of early school leaving. “That part of 107 that has never been implemented should be applied”.