Visit to the Italian school in San Casciano Val di Pesa

Feb 27th – mar 3rd 2006


After a safe trip we arrived Monday morning at the hotel “Mary” in the town of San Casciano. In the afternoon we explored the surroundings and in the evening we visited Florence, where we spend some time sight-seeing and enjoying diner in an Italian restaurant. There appeared to be a lot of American students in the city, as it turned out, there are 35 universities, mostly focused on art and culture.

Tuesday we had breakfast at the hotel, after which we checked out the local stores. Then we took a bus to Florence. There we visited the Galleria dell’Academica, where we studied the David, like a lot of artstudents. The physical characteristics of the statue led to a firm discussion.

After having seen a great deal of the city, we enjoyed the view in the sun on top of the Bona Fentura shopping centre. After diner we travelled ‘home’ by bus again.



The next morning we were picked op at the hotel by Gabry.. She took us to the school. The first impression was that it is a big building. There where 21 classes with an average of 20 children per class, divided over 4 sections (a,b,c & d)

The sections with the ‘old’ system were taught by different teachers, all specialized in a certain subject, such as language, religion, history and arts. The sections with the ‘new’ system had fewer teachers, with one person being the main teacher for the group.

Most children wore uniforms, though it is not obligated. Specialized teachers taught English as the second language from the 4th grade. It is possible to see French as the second language in other schools, depending on the knowledge of the teacher.

In groups 5 a,b and c there was an anti bullying project.

There are also children with special needs at the school. These children receive approximately 11 hours a week intensive aid by an extra teacher, in class. Striking was the social behaviour of the children with the handicapped children. They helped by pushing the wheelchairs through the hallway during breaktime.


Yet we wondered what the gain was in these lessons for the handicapped child. One child could only communicate by moving the head in a certain way. Because he could not write, he was helped with the aid of cards with symbols. The class was also familiar with the symbols, making it possible to write a story in pictures.



In the light of The Safe School we noticed the following:

?            The school was surrounded by fences.

?            The emergency guidance was immediately visible on entry.

?            Several fire extinguishers were mounted on every floor.

?            The hallways were very wide.

?            There were fixed locations to gather during an emergency drill.

?            During morning break the hallway was used as playground because of rain.

?            The children take their own books to school in a very large backpack. Some tables had baskets underneath them, to put the books in, however this proved not to be safe in case of ducking for an earthquake.
Hooks have been fitted at the tables to hang the packs onto. The result of this was that tables would tumble because of the weight. Now the backpacks are hung at the chairs. A better solution is being looked for.

?            In some classes a project called “feeling safe” was held. Children presented the places where they felled safe in the school.


For a period of a few weeks, a project ran in the school where a p.e. teacher teached gym. Normally teachers do this themselves. There also was a project where children went swimming. This ran for about a month. It was no swimming-class, but exercising in the water.


We noticed that most classes existed of children the same age, and teaching was quite frontal.

After the lunch, provided by school, we visited an infant school. There were separated classes for the 3, 4 and 5 year olds. In the afternoon the emphasis was on creativity and exercises. There were large classrooms and extra spaces to play. These children also received lunch at school.

We liked to see the similarities and differences at both schools and after a lot of impressions we set ‘home’ to process the day.

We closed the day with a nice diner in an even nicer restaurant with our guides Gabry and Christina.



Thursday we took the bus to Siena. There we walked around to explore the city. We visited the Piazza del Campo and the ‘Duomo’ which we also entered and viewed from within. Very impressive. We lit a candle and donated our pocket change for the renovations.

Later we found a small Italian restaurant where we ate a delicious pasta. There was a very friendly host who let us write our names on a special wall as a souvenir.

Through streets and shops we walked back to the bus station to head back again.


The following day we again had a safe trip and we arrived Friday evening at Schiphol. It has been an educational week, on which we look back with pleasure.



Corrie, Sandra and Arjan, Beatrixschool Haarlem.