As a way to welcome in the New Year, StudentVoice have decided to profile a variety of European educational systems. StudentVoice is an organisation that is interested in new forms of education in order to find ways that the UK could increase its quality of education, therefore it makes sense to look to our neighbours to see their successes and what we can learn from them.

Finland is the first country we are going to look at in this series. Politicians in this country often use its education system as a point of comparison in order to highlight the weaknesses in our own education system but why is this? What is fundamentally different between Finland’s education system and ours?

1.   Finland starts elementary school at seven

2.   Official exams do not take place until 14/15

3.   They do not have grammar schools, private schools or religious schools meaning that every child has the same opportunities

4.   There is not much homework set for students

5.   Teachers have masters degrees and are qualified as Doctors meaning it is a profession that has a lot of respect

6.   Education is free until university level

7.   The curriculum is flexible and not centralised; it is democratically created as the teachers’ can change it in order to meet the needs of the students

8.   All children have free school meals

These methods have transformed the Finnish education system into one that many countries strive to be like. This flexibility to the system has created a very successful structure that results in a high graduation rate and one that has many students going onto Further Education. Inequality is not embedded in the very outline of education, as streaming and privately funded schools are not allowed.  Dialogue and democracy are a fundamental part of its success so why is this something that the UK does not acknowledge? Why is the UK instead striving for a longer school day and more examinations?

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