School System in Finland

Primary school in Finland
Photo by MichalKnitl | — Two young boys do their exercises at primary school in Finland.

The phenomenon of Finnish school education is that it allows children to study and squeeze less and, at the same time, increase their knowledge!

Finland education system has been getting impressive results compared to students in the rest of the world. And it is worth to mention that the success begins with the school education. Moreover, the education system connects all institutions, from kindergarten to university.

Lower secondary education or basic education is compulsory and is subdivided into two parts: junior general school (1-6 class) and elder general school (7-9 class).

During these 9 years, the education is free. Meals, books and stationery, tablet computers and museum visits are free as well. If a school is more than 2 kilometers away from the place a child lives – pupils are provided by school buses. The collection of money from parents is strictly prohibited. It is a rule.

The first 6 years teaching of all subjects is a duty of one teacher. Still, in elder classes, there is generally a teacher for every subject. It is normal when junior and elder school buildings are suppurated from each other belongings. It is also worth to mention that school buildings are designed by the leading architects of the country, taking into account the opinion of pupils (the senior classes) and their parents.

It is surprising that Finnish pupils are spending just a few hours at school. Also, according to the OECD, Finns have the most democratic amount of school homework in the world. In average, their homework takes about half an hour a day.

An educational approach is to prepare children for their future life,  but not for exams. That is why classes are mainly focused on developing practical skills and there are no exams (the only exam they need to pass is the exam before university, taken at the age of 19).

Just imagine how many creative things you could do if there were the same amount of tests you would have to pass on a regular basis in Finland. Imagine all freedom, fun and pupil’s participation at the lessons, when the goal is to cover more information, but not to pass the test. Finnish pupils do not have a clue about the pressure of passing tests, so the learning process is mainly aimed to prepare successful and independent individuals.

Almost all schools are state and all of them have equal financial support from the government. It means there are no privileged schools in Finland. Training differentiation, the allocation of some subjects and their profound studying to the detriment of others is not welcomed. All kids are considered as special, so classes are combined with different pupils with different levels of knowledge. In extremely rare situations, there are classes for the most talented students, children who are the best in this or that discipline.  There are also situations when a class is formed for those who have special needs because of some diseases. This system works with the help of an individual education plan, individually created for each student. So every child gets its own marks in accordance with his or her own tasks and missions. There is also an opportunity to attend supporting classes for those who are left behind. Also, there are correction classes for those who make a success of studying.

The main principle of Finish education is respectful attitude and no punishments. There are no punishments even for the laziest students. If there is one, individual tendencies for various professions are to be discovered. Identification of such tendencies for every pupil is the main mission of the school.

Such attitude and approach require teachers to be the best professionals and, for sure, good psychologists. Parents trust teachers because they are always highly qualified and do love their job. Becoming a good teacher is not something you can learn; teachers are usually very passionate about their job and that is why the process of studying in Finland and its results are the best ones in the whole world. If you still doubt about the qualification of teachers in Finland, you have to note that only 10% of college graduates are able to receive the master’s degree, and all teachers in Finland must have it. And what is more, it is necessary to pass a series of interviews and personality screenings when you apply for the job. That is why teachers in Finland are respected as much, as doctors and lawyers.

All the above mentioned provokes a lot of confidence and trust to school education in Finland, which focuses on pupils and teachers, but not on statistics.