Basic education of the future Let's turn the trend!
Finnish education has received international acclaim for its high quality. In recent years, however, national and international evaluations have indicated a decline in the learning outcomes of pupils completing their basic education. The significance of competence and learning in future society and motivation and teaching were selected as the flagship themes of the project Basic education of the future – Let's turn the trend!
The first signs of this decline in the learning outcomes were already detected some ten years ago. These observations were isolated and localised, but more recently, indications of deteriorated learning outcomes have cropped up in several studies, both national and international. The share of young people with poor basic skills in different cohorts has grown. The ways in which young people live and think have also changed. Attitudes that obstruct learning have grown stronger, and the gap between girls and boys is wider.
A total of 45 experts of various fields were appointed to the working groups of the Basic education of the future – Let's turn the trend! -project. After examining their themes for almost a year, the working groups produced a description of the current status of basic education, the phenomena associated with it and the reasons for the deteriorating learning outcomes.
The working groups, which mainly consisted of experts professors and researchers, put together reasoned proposals arising from the development needs of basic education that will support a social structure based on education and culture and contribute to improving the prevailing situation in the future.
Updating skills to meet future requirments
The development proposals prepared on the basis of the working groups' efforts were formulated so that, where applicable, they can be exploited in drawing up the government programme after the parliamentary election in spring 2015 and possibly also used later.
The themes aiming to develop basic education and improve learning outcomes and attitudes that support learning produced by the working groups on competence and learning and motivation and teaching are:
- Holding on to the principle of local schools. Basic education must continue to be public, free of charge and non-selective. The structures and practices of basic education must strive to eliminate links between a pupil's learning outcomes and his or her social background, living area or gender.
- Securing financial resources. Education demonstrably has a strong impact on income levels of individuals and growth of the national economy. Allocation of resources adequate to guarantee a high standard of teaching in basic education must be ensured in the future. Efforts to reduce teaching group sizes must continue and be backed up by adequate resources to prevent any further increases in group sizes.
- Development of learning and pedagogy. The development proposals related to this theme seek to highlight the need to find new pedagogical solutions that would support both communal and individual learning.
- Developing the operating culture of the school and the structure of the school day. The operating culture and structures of the school must support the pupils' learning, wellbeing and participation. The school will be developed as an ethical and a learning community where pupils have a voice and a choice, and also responsibility for their own learning.
- Developing teacher education. Research-based teacher education will be developed further in cooperation with universities and municipalities to form a continuum of initial education and professional development of teachers. In order to ensure that our teacher education is of a high quality, a national development programme to support teacher educators' professional competence will be launched.
- Supporting teachers' lifelong professional development. Systematic continuing education activities are a precondition for developing the professional competence of teachers. To achieve this goal, the concept and contents of continuing education need to be redefined. The national continuing education structure and funding system must be updated to support both teachers' systematic professional development and the development of schools.
- Developing teachers' working time models. An effort will be made to continue and expand various experiments concerning teachers' working time models.
- Developing leadership and ensuring adequate resource allocation to management. Principals' qualification requirements must be reviewed in the light of the changes in their job description. Principals' education will be developed and management skills improved, and a personal plan will be prepared for all principals to support their professional development.
- Development proposals concerning educational research, including a broad and long-term national programme of follow-up studies that will also support longitudinal studies related to teaching and education.
Tomorrows comprehensive school - Leaflet in English (PDF)