Finland: Strong Performer and Successful Reformer in Education

Following the publication of the PISA results yesterday (you can see Scotland’s summary here) the OECD has published a number of videos giving an insight into the education systems of the top performers. We’re hearing a lot about education in Finland these days, but few of us have been there to see for ourselves which is why I thought it was worth sharing this video.

You can see more here.

4 thoughts on “Finland: Strong Performer and Successful Reformer in Education”

  1. Having holidayed in Finland several times, and having worked with three different Finnish primary schools on a variety of projects since 2007, I find there is a lot to learn from the Finnish system and the Finns themselves. There are some very interesting points in this video, some of which I have observed directly which visiting schools there.
    1) Finnish teachers are highly trained. They are also far more literate than many teachers here.
    2)It’s very noticeable that in the primary classes I have been in (and in the vast majority of those shown here) all desks face forwards to the board and the teacher. Children rarely work at desks set out in groups.
    3) The high number of Finnish childen that have received some sort of extra help as they progress through school- there’s no label attached to requiring support for learning.

    It’s clear that there is lots of investment in the system- probably more than in our country. Probably through higher taxes 🙂

    I’m taking my primary 7 class from Yester to their link school near Varkaus in Finland during the February break, so it’ll be very interesting to see how our students perceive the way learning takes place there.

  2. Thanks Michael,

    I must admit, I did notice the arrangement of the desks in the classrooms…I was quite surprised they were all arranged facing the front – apart from the small groups of younger children.

    That doesn’t mean to say our children shouldn’t be working collaboratively however. It’s an interesting difference that I think would benefit from closer research.

    – Although they are a high performer in PISA does this correlate with pedagogy at this level?
    – Are there other outcomes, not captured by PISA, which might arise from collaborative learning?
    – Might the introduction of collaborative learning increase their performance in PISA even further?

    I’d love to hear how you get on in February and what your pupils think. Are you planning to make a video of your trip which you could maybe share on here also?

  3. Oops- having re-read my original comment, I see I made a mistake in my typing- perhaps my own literacy needs re-assessed! 😉

    Yes, Feargal, I don’t doubt that children in Finnish primaries do work collaboratively- but it has been something I have found interesting when teachers (and pupils) we have worked with have made comments about our desk arrangements if we have posted photos or videos to our shared blogs.
    And you may be right- perhaps their results could be even higher with more obvious collaborative learning. However, perhaps they learn collaboratively in ways that differ from our perceptions. Certainly, it’s worth further investigation…

    I do intend to take some video footage of our visit, so I’ll see if I can post it here afterwards.

  4. Thanks Michael,

    I did realise after I’d posted that they way I had written that made it sound as if I thought there was no collaborative learning going on – which I’m sure is not the case at all.


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