Monday, 17 June 2013


As England struggles with its education and learning framework, it is worth studying what is happening in Finland. According to Pasi Sahlberg, when he spoke at the NCTL Seizing Success Conference, the high-performing Finnish school system has the following features:
  • collaboration 
  • no competition within the school system 
  • no grading of pupils until fifth grade
  • no standardised tests 
  • creativity
  • individualisation
  • personalisation of learning
Interestingly, Pasi Sahlberg stressed that none of the highest-performing nations do any of the following:
  • encourage privatisation of education
  • have an over-prescribed curriculum aligned to standardised testing
  • have punitive accountability frameworks
The Finnish system recognizes that talented teachers are everywhere and they are committed to ensuring that every teacher’s talent is celebrated and developed. They use research, innovation and ideas working closely with universities and businesses. Teacher instruction is reduced to a minimum and there is considerable coaching, interaction and discussion between teacher and students recognizing that real learning only comes when the learner takes personal responsibility. Skills and competencies lie at the heart of the learning process. Students are not taught but discover it for themselves. Innovation and creativity are to be found in every classroom. Students are challenged to be global citizens and leaders. They work in teams on challenges and entrepreneurial projects, and many run businesses at the same time as being in school. 

Most importantly, throughout the Finnish Education System there is recognition that every child has talent and everyone is committed to ensuring that every child’s talent is recognised and developed. Pasi Sahlberg believed that Britain would get there eventually because he believes we will do the right thing. He summarised the pathway to success as less testing, more trusting, more prevention and less repair, more evidence-based policies and less experimentation with children.

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