Turin, Italy

There’s a teacher in Italy who has very few problems controlling her class - because there’s only one pupil in it.

In fact, there’s only one pupil in the entire school. The elementary in the tiny town of Alpette, Turin, is believed to be the smallest in the world and is attended by eight-year-old Sofia Viola.  

The third-grade student is taught all her subjects by 33-year-old Isabella Carvelli - the only teacher at the school. And she admits it is sometimes so lonely she has to imagine there are other children in the classroom. Sofia said: ‘I take a jacket and put it on a chair next to mine, then I open a book on the desk and I pretend there is someone there.’

Sofia hasn’t always been the only student at the school, which used to be the city hall. Last year there were four older pupils but they moved on when they finished fifth grade. Next year, she will be joined by some pupils from kindergarten - but for now she has the whole classroom to herself.

And, as long as there is at least one pupil at the school, officials have decided to keep it open.

Ms Carvelli said: ‘When I was asked to teach in Alpette I didn’t know where it was or even that it had a school. ‘But I accepted it and it has been an experience that has given me so much.’

Lessons are conducted just as they would be in a class with 20 pupils. Ms Carvelli joked: ‘Everything is exactly the same - except it’s a little calmer than a normal school.’

Sofia’s favourite subjects are Italian and English and she loves school outings in to the surrounding mountains. She also gets to visit a larger school twice a week where she socialises with other children her age.