The Finnish System of Education

In our recent post – about teachers quitting the profession and the dire shortage of qualified teachers in England – we said we’d publish a reminder as to why Finland’s system of education is internationally respected, and why Finland is never short of teachers.

The following is part one of a brief summary:

Finland 3

Teaching is the most highly respected and the most over-subscribed profession in Finland.

The steering of all levels of education is based on clearly defined, collectively agreed, common national objectives.

Instead of controlling and monitoring, the focus in Finland is on supporting and developing the work of schools and teachers.

There is neither an inspection system of schools in Finland nor national tests in learning outcomes during basic education – on the basis of which schools could be placed in an order of superiority.

There are no ranking lists of schools.

Learning outcomes are assessed on the basis of national evaluations based on samples, and the information gathered from these evaluations is used in the development of education and in the training of teachers.

Mutual trust is an important prerequisite for the development of Finnish education.

The national core curriculum and the local curricula are considered as constantly developing, living documents.

In-service training of teachers is based on working in networks which offers the opportunity to receive guidance from national experts and, above all, to share experiences and learn from the practices of other teachers and schools. [Very similar to the Schools Council model which existed in England not so very long ago]

The level of education among teachers is high and the profession is respected.

Teachers are involved in the drawing up of their own school’s and municipality’s curriculum.

Teachers are heard and they influence strongly the development of the national core curriculum.

A school is not left to cope alone as the challenges to secure the learning AND the well-being of pupils are growing continuously.

A very central characteristic of Finnish educational policy is giving personalised and strong support to individual students.

The assessment of pupils is formative and positive, and “its central task is to help pupils to understand and appreciate themselves as learners and to take responsibility for their own learning process”.

The central objective of Finnish education policy is to combine high standards of teaching, good learning outcomes, AND the well-being of students.

“The Finnish steering system of education is characterised by its clear and non-bureaucratic structure, flexibility and interactiveness.”

The administrative system does not include “controlling elements” such as inspecting schools. The central objective is giving support. [Similar to HMI in pre-Ofsted days]

Learning outside the school is more and more connected to school learning. Practices for recognising and acknowledging learning elsewhere are developed quickly.

Part Two will follow tomorrow.

[This post is based on an article written by Irmeli Halinen, a senior officer of the Finnish National Board of Education.]

Finland 2 flag

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
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