The schools here are very academic and follow an 'old school' system of rote learning, which I don't agree with, but the reading problem is a social problem not an academic one. Schools are trying to encourage children to read, whilst peers and parents make their children feel ashamed about reading. I find this really strange. My daughter said the other day that her best friend's mum won't buy her books because she doesn't think she should be reading. And Italian people say to me all the time when I recommend books, 'I don't read', which to me seems such a bizarre thing to say. They have to read a lot here at school, even though it's not a reading book as such, they do an awful lot of reading and homework (italy is number 5 in the world for the amount of homework). There are sports at school; they do basketball, karate and football. And there are a lot of kids involved in after-school sports clubs, mine do rock climbing and parkour. Beyond this there are some pretty great initiatives starting here now (at least in Penne where I live), all the kids at school have mandatory chess lessons (from the third year of elementary school); free piano lessons start next year; and they are starting trinity exams in English and French for all middle school students. I think there are good schools and not so good schools - just like you would get anywhere I guess.