Over recent years a variety of measures have been developed to aid school insertion of minorities, addressed both to second generation immigrants and young gypsies. These programs are aiming to guarantee to every child the right to education, as well as to meet the foreign people’s demand of social inclusion within the Italian community. Moving from the analysis of “integration” as a sociological concept which describes the way of dealing with differences, in terms of both social and school integration, the first part of the volume is based on school participation of foreign pupils as a means to avoid inequality and to promote their access to education and achievement. The presence of foreign pupils has a marked impact on ordinary school life, challenging the forms of living together. The impact is considered in six very relevant areas: –classroom composition criteria, –reception strategies, –language skills assessment, –protection of linguistic minorities, –struggle against illiteracy and underachievement, –curriculum revision and intercultural education.
The second part of the volume reports an empirical study carried out in Brescia (Lombardy, Italy) at the end of a three year programme in favour of immigrant pupils, promoted by the local city council (Office of Education and Integration). The enquiry was aimed to evaluate the major impact on the professionals involved (teachers and foreign linguistic mediators) and the role played by local entities such as school establishments, city administration, district administrations, non profit organisms and association. From the results of the qualitative analysis it emerges that the local administration was the most important factor; stimulating school establishments to receive immigrant children by an active involvement (bottom–up strategy) rather than with a normative imposition (top–down), which would have been more assimilative and formal.