Special features of the Finnish education system
Education is viewed positively in Finnish society. Nearly three in four Finns aged between 25 and 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. To be able to progress to further studies, you must have completed primary and lower secondary (compulsory) education.
Only approximately one per cent of each age group leave lower secondary 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 education includes teaching practice.
The Finnish education system is based on trust in teachers and teacher education. Since the quality of teacher education is consistent, teachers have extensive freedom in developing their own work. This means teachers have the power to decide which teaching methods and learning materials they want to use, for example. There is no national evaluation or registration of teachers in Finland.
Class teachers teach pupils from grades 1 to 6 and specialised subject teachers teach in grades 7 to 9.
Only the core curricula are designed for nationwide application. Since only core curricula apply across the country, this leaves room for local education authorities to organise teaching in the best way suited to local circumstances. This decentralised system is based on locally drawn up and implemented curricula, in which pupils' individual needs are taken into consideration.
A local curriculum structure at school level engages local teaching staff to develop the education system and gives them wide pedagogical responsibilities in their work as teachers.
Finnish schools place attention on individual support for pupils’ learning and wellbeing,
and relevant guidelines on support measures are recorded in the national core curriculum.
Schoolwork and teaching arrangements are based on a conception of learning that highlights 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 assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes at schools is encouraging and supportive. The assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes at schools is encouraging and supportive. The Finnish school system does not have a national testing mechanism, there are no school ranking lists and no inspection systems exist.
The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) is responsible for evaluating early childhood education and care, education and training nationally. The evaluation activities comprise national learning outcome assessments, thematic and system evaluations and evaluations of quality systems, including audits of higher education institutions. FINEEC also supports providers of early childhood education and care, education and training as well as higher education institutions in evaluation and quality management matters. FINEEC’s evaluations are based on independence, trust, openness and interaction.
Finland has an efficient library system of very high quality. For the most part, libraries in Finland provide their services free of charge. Finnish people are among the most active library users in the world by international standards. Finland’s robust literacy rate, which is virtually 100 per cent, is one reason why Finnish students perform so well in different school subjects and at various stages of education.