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Finland:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

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Overview Finland

Contents

Finland:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Finland:Historical Development

Finland:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Finland:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Finland:Political and Economic Situation

Finland:Organisation and Governance

Finland:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Finland:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Finland:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Finland:Organisation of Private Education

Finland:National Qualifications Framework

Finland:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Finland:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Finland:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Finland:Funding in Education

Finland:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Finland:Higher Education Funding

Finland:Adult Education and Training Funding

Finland:Early Childhood Education and Care

Finland:Organisation of early childhood education and care other than pre-primary education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in early childhood education and care other than pre-primary education

Finland:Assessment in early childhood education and care other than pre-primary education

Finland:Organisation of pre-primary education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in pre-primary education

Finland:Assessment in pre-primary education

Finland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Finland:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Finland:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Finland:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Finland:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Finland:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Finland:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Organisation of Vocational and Technical Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in Vocational and Technical Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Assessment in Vocational and Technical Upper Secondary Education

Finland:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Finland:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Finland:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Finland:Higher Education

Finland:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Finland:First Cycle Programmes

Finland:Bachelor

Finland:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Finland:Second Cycle Programmes

Finland:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Finland:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Finland:Adult Education and Training

Finland:Distribution of Responsibilities

Finland:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Finland:Main Providers

Finland:Main Types of Provision

Finland:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Finland:Teachers and Education Staff

Finland:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Finland:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Finland:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Finland:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Management and Other Education Staff

Finland:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Finland:Management Staff for Higher Education

Finland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Finland:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Quality Assurance

Finland:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Finland:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Educational Support and Guidance

Finland:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Finland:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Finland:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Finland:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Finland:Mobility and Internationalisation

Finland:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Mobility in Higher Education

Finland:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Finland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Finland:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Finland:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Finland:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Finland:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Finland:National Reforms in School Education

Finland:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Finland:National Reforms in Higher Education

Finland:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Finland:European Perspective

Finland:Legislation

Finland:Glossary


Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours


National core curriculum

The national core curriculum is determined by the Finnish National Board of Education. It includes the objectives and core contents of different subjects, as well as the principles of pupil assessment, special-needs education, pupil welfare and educational guidance. The principles of a good learning environment, working approaches as well as the concept of learning are also addressed in the core curriculum.


The national core curriculum also provides guidelines on how to adapt the curriculum in instruction in a foreign language or language-immersion instruction or instruction based on Steiner pedagogy. Instruction given in the school's language of instruction and instruction given in a foreign language or the language-immersion, language must form an integrated whole. The objectives and contents of the different subjects are the same as in instruction in the national languages. In Steiner-pedagogical instruction, the national core curriculum for basic education must be adhered to with some exceptions.


The present national core curriculum for basic education was confirmed in January 2004 and it was introduced in schools in August 2006. At the end of 2014 the Finnish National Board of Education completed the new national core curriculum for basic and pre-primary education. The local education authorities are now busy working with the local curricula based on the national core curricula. Schools will start working according to the new curricula in autumn 2016 for grades 1 – 6 and for grades 7 – 9 by 2019. 


The preparation is carried out in working groups that focus on structure and objectives, conceptions of learning, support for learning and the different subjects taught in basic education. Each working group consists of educational officials, researchers and teachers. The preparation of the curriculum is interactive. All education providers can follow the preparation and give feedback at the different phases. They are also encouraged to involve pupils and their parents in the process.


Local curricula

The education providers, usually the local education authorities and the schools themselves draw up their own curricula within the framework of the national core curriculum. In the local curriculum the objectives and contents specified in the national core curriculum, as well as other factors bearing on provision of the education, are specified. The local curricula must define for example the values, underlying principles as well as general educational and teaching objectives. Further, questions such as the language programme, the lesson-hour distribution to be observed locally, cooperation between home and instruction of pupils requiring special support or belonging to different language and cultural groups must be addressed.


Syllabus of basic education

The Basic Education Act regulates the subjects included in the curriculum and student counselling. The Government decides on the overall time allocation by defining the minimum number of lessons for core subjects during basic education. In grades 1–6 pupils usually receive the same education, but schools may focus on different subjects in different ways due to the flexible time allocation. In grades 7–9, more optional subjects are included in the curriculum. The curriculum also includes an introduction-to working-life period. Pupils’ parents or other guardians decide which of the optional subjects on offer the pupil will take.


The syllabus of basic education includes the following subjects common to all pupils:

  • mother tongue and literature (Finnish or Swedish)
  • the other national language (Swedish or Finnish)   
  • foreign languages     
  • environmental studies     
  • health education   
  • religion or ethics 
  • history 
  • social studies
  • mathematics
  • physics      
  • chemistry
  • biology     
  • geography
  • physical education   
  • music 
  • visual arts
  • craft
  • home economics


In addition to these, pupils may also have the option to study other subjects suitable to basic education, according to the provisions of the curriculum. These subjects may be partially or completely optional for pupils.


Distribution of Lesson Hours for Basic Education

The Government decides on the overall time allocation. The present distribution of lesson hours was confirmed by the Government on 2001 (see table below) and it was implemented together with the national core curriculum. The Government has issued a new distribution of teaching hours in basic education in June 2012 and it will be in use in schools as of August 2016. The ongoing reform of the national core curricula is based on this distribution of lesson hours. There are not major changes in the new distribution of lessons compared to the current one.


The subjects or subject groups in basic education are grouped into sections combining several grades. For each section the minimum number of lessons has been defined in terms of annual weekly lessons. There are 38 weeks in a school year so one annual weekly lesson adds up to 38 lessons, of which at least 45 minutes of a 60-minute lesson should be dedicated to instruction. For example in mathematics the distribution of lesson hours means that there must be at least 38 x 32 lessons = 1216 lessons during the nine years of basic education. These 32 lessons are divided into three sections: at least six annual weekly lessons (= 228 lessons) must be taught during grades 1–2, 12 (= 456) during grades 3–5 and 14 (= 532) during grades 6–9. Local authorities or schools may decide on how to allocate the lessons to different grades inside a section.


Table 5.2.Distribution of Lesson Hours for Basic Education 

Grades
1 – 2
3 – 5
6 - 9
Total
Mother tongue and literature
14
14
14
42
Mathematics
6
12
14
32
Grades
1 – 2
3 – 6
7  9
 
A language 1)
------
8
8
16
B language 2)
------
------
6
6
Grades
1 – 4
5 – 6
7 - 9
 
Biology and geography
9*
3
7
31
Physics and chemistry
 
2
7
 
Health education
 
 
3
 
History and civics
------
3
7
10
Grades
1 – 5
6 – 9
 
 
Religion/Ethics
6
5
 
11
Grades
1 – 4
 
5 - 9
 
Music
4 -
 
3 -
56
Arts
4 -
 =26 30=
4 -
 
Craft
4 -
 
7 -
 
Physical education
8 -
 
10 -
 
Grades
1 – 6
7 – 9
 
 
Home economics
------
3
 
3
Student counselling
------
2
 
2
Elective subjects
------
(13)
 
13
 
 
 
 
 
Grades
1 - 3
4 – 6
7 - 9
 
Minimum number of lessons
19 19 23
23 24 24
30 30 30
222
Grades
1 - 2
3 – 6
7 - 9
 
Optional A language
------
(6)
(6)
(12)

1) Language begun in grades 1-6

2) Language begun in grades 7-9

 ) In grades 1–4, biology, geography, physics and chemistry as well as health education are integrated into a subject known as environment and nature studies.

--- = Subject is not taught in the grades unless otherwise stated in the local curriculum.

( ) = Taught as an elective subject.

Perusopetuslaki

Perusopetusasetus

Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet

Government Decree on general national objectives and distribution of lesson hours in basic education, June 2012


Teaching Methods and Materials


In the core curriculum for basic education from 2004 the learning environment has been identified as the central means to achieve the objectives set in the curriculum. The aim is to diversify teaching and develop different types of operating models for learning that will facilitate the pupils’ acquisition of knowledge and skills. These learning arrangements should support learning taking place inside and outside the school. In addition, utilising authentic learning materials, tools and environment are considered essential as these will help the pupils to both acquire and deepen their knowledge and skills in real and authentic situations.


Teachers can choose the approaches and teaching methods they apply in order to achieve the objectives stated in the curriculum. The national core curriculum includes very general guidelines for choosing the methods. According to the core curriculum the chosen approaches and methods should, for example, create a desire to learn, motivate the pupils to work purposefully and develop skills for acquiring, applying, and evaluating information.


The national core curriculum emphasises the active role of the pupil. The teacher’s role is to be the one who directs the studies and plans learning environments. The core curriculum stresses that teaching and working methods should foster the readiness to learn and the development of cognitive skills as well as the skills to acquire and adapt information. Teaching must also take into consideration the individuality of the pupils and the meaning of social interaction in learning. There are no official recommendations for the amount of homework for pupils. The Decree on Basic Education, however, does specify that after school day, travelling to and back from school and completing homework, the pupil must have enough time for rest, hobbies and recreation.


Finland has just reformed the national core curricula for Pre-Primary and for Compulsory Basic (= primary plus secondary, grades 1-9) Education . Schools will start working according to the new curricula in autumn 2016.


Developing schools as learning communities, and emphasizing the joy of learning and a collaborative atmosphere, as well as promoting student autonomy in studying and in school life – these are some of our key aims in the reform. In order to meet the challenges of the future, there will be much focus on transversal (generic) competences and work across school subjects.


In the new national core curriculum, the learning goals of the transversal competences are described as seven competence areas. The areas are

  1. Thinking and learning to learn
  2. Cultural literacy, communication and expression
  3. Managing daily life, taking care of oneself and others
  4. Multiliteracy
  5. ICT-skills
  6. Entrepreneurial and work life skills
  7. Participation and building sustainable future.


Local authorities and schools are encouraged to promote the development of these competences and to consider their own innovative ways in reaching the goals. The core curricula for subjects have been written so that their learning objectives include the competence goals which are most important for the said objectives. The competences will also be assessed as a part of subject assessment. In this way every school subject enhances the development of all seven competence areas. This is a new way of combining competence-based and subject-based teaching and learning.


In the reform, the emphasis set on collaborative classroom practices will also be brought about in multi-disciplinary, phenomenon- and project-based studies where several teachers may work with students studying the same topic. According to the new national core curriculum, all schools have to design and provide at least one such study-period per school year for all students, focused on studying phenomena or topics that are of special interest for students. Pupils and students are expected to participate in the planning process of these studies. When pupils are allowed to be active in planning of their school work, especially the multi-disciplinary study projects, studying becomes more inspiring and meaningful.


Learning materials are mostly produced by commercial publishers. The Finnish National Board of Education produces materials with a small circulation and for minority groups. There is no inspection of learning materials. The schools and teachers themselves decide on the material and textbooks used. The same applies to the use of ICT. The education providers acquire all the learning materials needed. Textbooks and other materials are free for the pupils. Teachers and education providers may utilise a national website, updated by the Finnish National Board of Education, that contains information and support for teaching, such as online learning material. The website can be found at www.edu.fi