Lessons from Finland … and how we might apply them in Britain

In March 2014 the NUT sent a delegation to Finland to meet with educators, politicians and the OAJ teachers' union. The objective was to examine the reasons for the success of Finland’s education system and to consider what Britain could learn from the Finnish approach to education.

“Lessons from Finland” is the official report of the delegation, setting out the observations of the delegation and their key conclusions and lessons for Britain’s education system.

Finland is widely recognised as having one of the best education systems in the world. It is consistently ranked at or close to the top in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tables and other international education league tables, a fact which has made it a focus for educationalists all over the world who want to study the secrets of its success.

In March 2014, the NUT sent a delegation to Finland to meet with educators, politicians and the OAJ teachers' union. The objective was to examine the reasons for the success of Finland’s education system and to consider what Britain could learn from the Finnish approach to education. “Lessons from Finland” is the official report of this delegation. It presents a detailed overview of the Finnish system and sets out some key conclusions and lessons for Britain.

As the NUT Ex-President Beth Davies notes in her foreword, the Finnish system is one that places the child “at the heart of the process”. The Finnish approach is characterised by co-operation, collaboration and trust between all stakeholders. It is also a system that is built on a commitment to high quality teacher education, with most teachers qualified to Masters level or above, and a respect for teacher professionalism and autonomy.

While it would be unrealistic to think that we can simply recreate Finland’s education system in Britain, some approaches could easily be adopted, given the political will to do so. Other measures, though requiring more long term development, are equally relevant to the British context and could be applied here if there were commitment to seriously consider the long term benefits they would bring about and how they could best be applied to our education system over a longer time scale.

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© Jerkka Laakkonen
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