This site contains basic information about the Finnish comprehensive school system.
What is a comprehensive school? section provides you with the basics of Finnish comprehensive school education.
Learning section contains information on the curriculum, transversal competence and multidisciplinary learning modules.
Support in learning and school attendance section explains what is meant by general, intensified and special support.
Participation section elaborates how children learn to express themselves at school and what are their opportunities to influence matters regarding school life.
Assessment section talks about how pupils are assessed at school and what is the purpose of the assessment.
Cooperation between guardians and school explains how you can participate in your children’s schoolwork.
Student welfare services explain what services are available for children at school.
Safety section describes briefly what is being done to maintain safety at school.
Working life competence explains how working life skills are taught at school.
Basic education comprises nine years of comprehensive school free of charge. Teaching is organised in a local school or another suitable location, ensuring that school journeys are as safe and short as possible. Pupils have the right to receive sufficient support to assist in learning and in school attendance as soon as the need for support is detected. Teaching staff must work in cooperation with the home.
Local authorities and the State are responsible for organising basic education. Teaching and teaching equipment are available to pupils free of charge. Additionally, pupils are provided a warm meal every day at school.
- Basic education (Finnish National Agency for Education – EDUFI)
- Basic education (Ministry of Education and Culture)
- Schools in Finland - This works! (Technology Industries of Finland)
- New national core curriculum for basic education
- Basic education in Oulu
Four Facts about Finnish Basic Education (in English)
Video is also available in Finnish, Somali, Kurdish, Arabic and Russian on City of Oulu’s YouTube playlist
Basic Education Rules magazine
Peruskoulu on parasta (The Basic Education Rules magazine) contains practical and interesting interviews about the everyday life at today’s Finnish schools. The articles in the magazine are written mainly in Finnish and Swedish. However, there are some articles also in English, Russian, Estonian, Arabic and Somali. The magazine was distributed to the homes of fifth and seventh graders in Oulu, Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Turku and Tampere in 2021.
The national core curriculum provides a uniform foundation for local curricula, thus enhancing equality in education throughout the country. The curricula of each municipality and school steer instruction and schoolwork in more detail, taking local needs and perspectives into consideration.
The national core curriculum is mostly comprised of the objectives and contents described for different subjects, which are connected to the description of the policies on underlying values, conception of learning and school culture. The purpose of the curriculum is to enable a reform of school culture and school pedagogy, which will improve the quality of the learning process and enhance learning outcomes.
The objective of comprehensive schools is to
- strengthen the activity of the pupils
- offer feelings of achievement
- support every pupil
- guide the pupils to set goals, solve problems and assess their competencies.
The teacher’s job is to teach and guide the students to lifelong learning by taking individual needs and ways of learning into account.
National core curriculum for basic education (Finnish National Agency for Education)
Transversal competences as part of every subject (Finnish National Agency for Education)
Learning for Life (in English)
Many children need support in learning. All children are entitled to guidance counselling and sufficient support in learning and school attendance throughout the comprehensive school. Schools must provide support as soon as the children need it.
Everybody Has The Right to Support for Learning (Finnish National Agency for Education)
The three levels of support are
- Intensified and
- Special support.
General support: individual pedagogical solutions as well as guidance and early intervention support measures provided as a part of the daily school life.
Intensified support: more continuous, intense and individual support for learning and school attendance.
Special support: special needs education and other required support.
A pupil can only receive one level of support at a time. The different forms of support are remedial instruction, part-time special needs education, school assistant services and special aids. Except for special needs education based on a decision for special needs education, all the different types of support can each be used at all three levels of support.
Support for Learning and School Attendance (Ministry of Education and Culture)
Support in Learning and School Attendance (Finnish National Agency for Education)
Participation is one of the key principles of the curriculum. Children learn how to express their own opinions, how to work together with other people and how to make compromises. The day-to-day methods of participation are developed in schools and in cooperation with the students.
Oulu participates in the Lapsiystävällinen kunta (Child Friendly Municipality) initiative of UNICEF. With their work, the entire staff of the city of Oulu supports the participation of young children and adolescents.
Learning how to participate starts already at early childhood education and care centres, continues at student associations at comprehensive schools and in regional student councils. Oulu also has a its own youth council, called ONE.
In Oulu, children and adolescents are included in brainstorming ideas, planning, implementation and evaluation. Everyone can say their opinion.
Assessment is based on the pupil’s competence, schoolwork and behaviour. The teacher monitors all these areas in a comprehensive manner. The purpose of the assessment is to guide and encourage learning and develop the pupil’s abilities to self-assessment.
Comprehensive schools cooperate closely with the child’s guardians. Thanks to this cooperation, every pupil receives teaching, guidance and support consistent with their individual needs. The cooperation also promotes healthy growth and development of children. The participation of guardians and the possibility to interact with the schoolwork and its development is an integral part of the school’s culture.
Pupils in comprehensive schools have the right to welfare services. These include healthcare services as well as the services of psychologists and school social workers. Pupil welfare is primarily preventive welfare that supports the school community. In the school community, this means an institutional culture that includes collaborative activities and cooperation between the school and home as well as measures that promote safety.
Pupil and student welfare (Ministry of Education and Culture)
The comprehensive schools’ curriculum includes emotional and safety skills education. Every child has the right to equal opportunities for emotional and safety skills education in their own living area.
Emotional and safety skills education is also included in the city of Oulu’s plan against bullying, harassment and violence.
The teachers at the comprehensive schools in Oulu have been trained in emotional and safety skills education. Emotional and safety skills education increases children’s resources and survival skills. Emotional and safety skills education classes strengthen self-esteem, sense of self-worth and confidence. They also teach emotional and communication skills and promote digital safety skills as well as good relationships.
Safety skills (the Family Fedaration of Finland)
Emotional and safety skills education (Oulu International School)
Comprehensive schools strengthen the pupils’ working life competences. Working life, different occupations, entrepreneurship and possibilities for further studies become familiar at different grades.
Schools aim at teaching skills, abilities and a positive attitude towards studying, working and success in life. The skills and knowledge are increased through cooperation with companies, entrepreneurial competence classes, multi-disciplinary courses, working life orientation days, the Yrityskylä (Entrepreneur Village) learning environment and at different skills events.