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What can we learn from Finland?

James is a Primary Teacher working through Protocol Education Nottingham. Finland is ranked number one when it comes to education - today James asks what aspects of their education system are worth emmulating. 

What can we learn from Finland?

Finland! A Nordic country famous for Lapland, its Viking heritage and for being the country that gave the world Angry Birds. Until today, however, I was unaware that the country that Santa calls home is also the worlds’ best when it comes to education.

Each year, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reports on educational standards across the developed world, scoring students in math, reading and science. For the past few years Finland has been either number two or three in the rankings behind South Korea. This year, Finland is placed at the top of the pile at number one, while countries such as the USA and UK continue to fall.

So why is this little-known Nordic country outperforming the more obvious choices for this number one spot and what can the UK learn from Finland? Surprisingly, children in Finland do not start school until the age of 7. The country feels that children need to enjoy as much childhood play and exploration as possible before settling into a formal learning environment. Their education system is set up for problem-solving and discovery, instead of constant testing and examinations. Their schools come before virtually everything else when it comes to funding and, interestingly, Finland hand-picks the top 10% of university graduates to offer potential masters funding and generous incentive packages.

Put simply, Finland challenges the concept that the more time children spend in schools, the more children will learn. They hire the best-of-the-best minds and avoid the ‘teaching to the test’ mentality of many developed countries.

I would like to hear the thoughts of other UK teachers on whether they think a later starting age in schools would work. Would that extra 2-3 years of play and learning outside a school setting prepare the minds of children better for the future? Should the UK be more selective when accepting students on to teaching courses? Maybe the UK can’t afford to be more selective given the current teacher shortages? One thing is for certain though, Finland is clearly doing something right!

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Tags: James, Secondary Teacher, Education System, Finland, PISA, Protocol Education

Category: Australian Teachers

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