A central component of the programme of educational reforms launched by the previous government was the autonomy of individual schools. This is a programme with great innovative potential for the organization and management of the school system. The essay analyses the difficulties that have arisen in the passage from political decisions to their formalization in law and their implementation. It considers the roles of all the actors involved in the process, from the Ministry to the regional governments, from administrators to teaching staff. By proposing an interpretative model of autonomy and the functions essential for its implementation to generate real development in public schools, the authors asks whether the actors are effectively interested and involved, or whether the current normative proposals are not merely a cosmetic restructuring of the already-existing situation.