The period following Italian unification
Newly unified Italy extended the legislative system and administration of the Kingdom of Savoy to the entire nation, including the field of education. For more than sixty years Italian schools were regulated by the 1859 Casati Law, which was originally written for the Piedmont and Lombard areas. This centralized model allowed private instruction, but reserved the “right of the State to carry out university instruction” and to “oversee” all aspects of schools at every level.
The provisional Tuscan government (1859-60) nevertheless tried to safeguard the more illustrious local traditions, such as the Scuola Normale. After a long debate in the Senate and the press concerning the appropriateness of such an anomalous and unique institution, the “Scuola Normale of the Kingdom of Italy” was formally established in 1862.
Various proposals were submitted to Parliament to set up additional “normal schools for secondary instruction” (proposed by De Sanctis), or to transform and strengthen the Scuola Normale of Pisa (proposed by Matteucci). But the newly unified state was so busy providing financial assistance to public works deemed more urgent that it only approved a decree on August 17, 1862, which modified some aspects of the regulation of the Scuola Normale in order to allow it to continue functioning as the Scuola Normale of Italy.
The Matteucci Regulations of 1862 introduced the “new” Scuola Normale into the educational system. While formally maintaining the continuity of the institution under the Grand Duchy, all religious practices were eliminated, bringing it into line with the secular trend of Italian politics.
In 1863 the curriculum was defined more precisely and the years of study raised from three to four. The executive Council was divided into the two “sections” of literature/philosophy and physics/mathematics, each formed of its own instructors and headed by a “Director of Studies”. This tradition persists in the current division of the Scuola Normale into two “Classi” or Faculties.
On a policy level, the role of the “President” of the Council was defined; his duty was to oversee the moral, scholastic and financial matters of the Scuola Normale. On an organizational level, the Superintendent-Steward's role became important; he organized the various services and human and financial resources, and he had disciplinary powers over the students.
Minister Coppino made the next changes in 1877. His most notable innovations were creating equality between the academic sections by opening the boarding school to students enrolled in the sciences section and simplifying the “Regulation of Studies and Exams”.