Special features of the Finnish education system
The Finnish society has a positive attitude towards education.
Nearly three in four Finns aged 25–64 have at least an upper secondary school certificate (a completed matriculation examination or vocational qualification) and one in three has a higher education degree. The completion of basic (compulsory) education is a requirement for further studies. Only approximately one per cent of each age group leave basic education without a certificate, and more than half of them complete their education in one way or another at a later stage.
Finnish teachers are highly educated and strongly committed to their work.
Teacher education is highly respected and very popular in Finland. Teachers are required to have a Master's degree, and their initial training includes teaching practice.
The Finnish education system is based on trust in teachers and teacher education. Because of the consistent quality of their training, teachers can be given extensive freedom in developing their own work. Teachers have the power to decide which teaching methods and learning materials they want to use. In Finland, no national evaluation or registration of teachers takes place.
In grades 1-6 pupils are taught by class teachers, whilst instruction in grades 7-9 is mainly provided by specialised subject teachers.
Only the core curricula are designed for nationwide application.
They leave freedom for local education authorities to arrange teaching in the best way suited to local circumstances. This decentralised system is based on the locally designed and implemented curricula, in which pupils' individual needs are taken into consideration. The local curriculum design at school level commits the local teaching staff to the development of the education system and gives them wide pedagogic responsibility in the teaching work.
In Finnish schools, a great deal of attention is paid to individual support for pupils’ learning and wellbeing,
and the relevant guidelines concerning this support are recorded in the national core curriculum.
School work and teaching arrangements are based on a conception of learning that emphasises the importance of pupils' own activity and their interaction with their teacher, other pupils and the learning environment. High-quality special needs education and the principle of early diagnosing guarantee that no one is left behind.
Multi-professional cooperation in order to further improve our schools
is conducted at different levels of administration, between schools, as well as between schools and other actors in society.
In Finland, school authorities cooperate actively with organisations for teachers, students and principals. Thanks to this cooperation, the development activities have strong and broad-based support.
The nature of the evaluation of learning outcomes at schools is encouraging and supportive.
There is no national testing, no school ranking lists and no inspection systems.
Finland has an efficient library system of very high quality.
For the most part, libraries provide their services free of charge. Finns are among the most frequent library users in the world according to international comparisons. Solid, virtually 100 per cent literacy rate is one of the factors behind Finns’ success in different school subjects and in the various stages of education.