Finns and Education

  • Finnish education has recently gained substantial interest among British politics and education experts, as well as the general public, mainly due to its top rankings in the OECD's PISA (Programme for International Students Assessment) studies. In the PISA study Finland is ahead of Britain in average learning outcomes of comprehensive education. Interestingly, Finland's success seems to be based on principles that differ from the ideals of the British education. Major differences can be found, for example, in the emphasis on evaluation and competition between both students and schools and in education and the role of teachers.

    But what are the sources of the Finnish success in education? Can these elements be adopted to the UK or are the states and their cultures just too different? Is there a real political will to adopt these elements and if yes, how to make this change happen? The Finnish Institute in London and the Embassy of Finland in London are organising together with various partners a series of independent events in spring 2012. This event series goes beyond the obvious discussion about the success of Finnish education and lessons for the UK education sector. The series includes events targeted at different audiences, examining the education challenges and the lessons learned from the Finnish model from various perspectives.

    Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from the educational change in Finland?
    17 May 2012

    Dr Pasi Sahlberg, the Director General of CIMO, lectures at the Houses of Parliament. The event is hosted by Lisa Nandy, MP and a member of the Education Select Committee. Gillian Hargreaves, BBC Education Correspondent, will moderate the discussion.

    6-8 pm, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
    The event is open for public.
    To attend, please contact Heli Ristolainen: heli.ristolainen(a)

    Lessons from the North? Education, Teaching and Schools
    30 March 2012

    UK's interest in the Nordic region's education systems remain strong. This seminar, organised as a part of "Nordic and Baltic States in the European Political Imagination" seminar series by the UCL Nordic/Baltic group, takes education policy as a case study for an examination of the transfer of policy ideas, and the adoption of foreign models in the UK. The seminar consists of three panel discussions with radiant panelists: "Education In Diverse Societies", "Nordic and British School Models" and "Teachers - Academics Or Practitioners?"

    The event is free of charge, but seats are limited. Please register by 15 March here. The seminar programme can be downloaded here. Materials from the seminar can be downloaded here.

    In Teachers We Trust – Explaining the Finnish Miracle
    29 March 2012

    Finland has often been praised as having one of the most successful education systems in the world. Organised at the Institute of Education, this seminar presents esteemed keynote speeches and a lively panel discussion, which will tackle the Finnish example and make comparisons between English and Finnish experiences of recent education reforms and teacher training. The seminar also includes the launch of a novel book "Miracle of Education: The Principles and Practises of Teaching and Learning in Finnish Schools".

    The event is free of charge, but seats are limited. Please register by 15 Marchhere. The seminar programme can be downloaded here. Materials from the seminar can be downloaded here.
    Other events will be announced later.

    Materials from Education Seminars held in March

    The education seminars held in March excited a lot of interest. Therefore, due to popular demand, we will share the slides used in the presentations of the speakers here.

    For more discussion on education, follow also Finnish Institute's blog. The series of blog texts titled "Notes from the Education Seminars" will tackle and elaborate on key perspectives that were discussed in the seminars.

    In Teachers We Trust – Explaining the Finnish Miracle
    29 March 2012

    Auli Toom: The Idea of Finnish Comprehensive School – Grounding Principles and Future Challenges
    Geoff Whitty: National and Local Professionalisms in English Teacher Education
    Hannele Niemi: Between Success and Challenges – The Finnish Educational System and Teacher Education

    Lessons from the North? Education, Teaching and Schools
    30 March 2012

    Arto Kallioniemi: Education in Diverse Societies – A Short Finnish Perspective
    Olga Cara: Dealing with Multiple Cultures and Languages: Education in Latvia
    Stephen Ball: Swedish Free Schools, Global Education Policy and Post-National Education Systems?
    Kristiina Kumpulainen: The Finnish School Model in the 21st Century<
    Auli Toom: Academically Educated Teachers at School: The Case of Finland
    Riikka Koistinen: Academics or Practitioners
    Bernie Youens: Teachers – Academics or Practitioners?
    Håkan Forsberg: Presentation from Panel II "Nordic and British School Models"