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To quality through equity in a Finnish way Pirjo Sinko, FNBE, Finland Bridging Divides, 2009 AATE & ALEA TASMANIA, HOBART 2009 Kirjoittajan nimi Tilaisuuden.

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Presentation on theme: "To quality through equity in a Finnish way Pirjo Sinko, FNBE, Finland Bridging Divides, 2009 AATE & ALEA TASMANIA, HOBART 2009 Kirjoittajan nimi Tilaisuuden."— Presentation transcript:

1 To quality through equity in a Finnish way Pirjo Sinko, FNBE, Finland Bridging Divides, 2009 AATE & ALEA TASMANIA, HOBART 2009 Kirjoittajan nimi Tilaisuuden nimi Päiväys/

2 Finland – a land of forests, snow, lakes and - high technology and good readers


4 Finland´s Position in International Comparisons; Reading Literacy 1991 IEA Reading Literacy Study Finland was first 1998 OECD Adult Literacy Survey Finland was first 2001 Pisa Finland was first 2003 Pisa Finland was first 2006 PISA: Finland was second

5 Finland's Position in International Comparisons: Reading Literacy and Mathematics and Science PISA SURVEY 2006 1.Finland, with an average of 563 score points, was the highest-performing country on the PISA 2006 science scale. 2.Finland was second in Reading Literacy among all participating countries 3.Finland was second (after Taipei, China) in mathematical among OECD countries 4.Finland was first in problem-solving among OECD countries (Survey 2003)

6 PISA 2006 - reading Korea, with 556 score points, was the highest-performing country in reading. Finland followed second with 547 points and the partner economy Hong Kong-China third with 536 points. Canada and New Zealand had mean reading scores between 520 and 530, and the following countries still scored significantly above the OECD average of 492 score points: Ireland, Australia, Poland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland, and the partner countries Liechtenstein, Estonia and Slovenia.

7 PISA 2006 Korea increased its reading performance between PISA 2000 and PISA 2006 by 31 score points, mainly by raising performance standards among the better performing students. Good results of Finnish students are particularly due to relatively good achievements of the weakest quarter. There are vast differences between individuals but the results of learning outcomes between schools and regions are small (among the OECD countries we have smallest differences in learning results between schools and areas).


9 FINLAND AT A GLANCE independent since 1917, member of the European Union since 1995 total area 338,000 km 2, population 5.2 million (17 inhabitants / km 2 ) two official languages: Finnish 92 %, Swedish 6 %, (Sami 0,03%) religions: Lutheran (85 %), Orthodox (1 %) immigrants: 2 % of population main exports: electronics, metal and engineering, forest industry GNP (61,598 AUD) and HDI (0.952) about par with Australia

10 Background: The language situation of Finland Finland is OFFICIALLY bilingual country Two national languages: Finnish and Swedish The Swedish speaking minority is small – only 6 % - but they have full rights to the usage of their own language. The second national language is an obligatory subject at school (Swedish to Finnish speakers, Finnish to Swedish). There are moreover two tiny ingenious language groups: Sami (0,03 %) and Romany Immigrants only 2,5 %– rapidly increasing

11 Many mother tongue syllabi Finnish and Swedish (official languages) There is a personal right to study Finnish, Swedish, Sami (only in the Sami region), Romany and Finnish sign language as a mother tongue. The importance of learning to read and write with own mother tongue.

12 Characteristics of the Finnish education Excellent learning outcomes 1.PISA 2000, 2003 and 2006 2.drop-out during compulsory education less than 0.5 % 3.class repetition only 2 % 4.more than 96 % moves to upper secondary level 5.small between-school differences Effective use of resources 1.190 school days per year, 4 -7 hours per day 2.moderate amount of homework, no private lessons after school 3.6 % of GDP goes to education

13 Source: Osaaminen kestävällä pohjalla, PISA 2003 Suomessa, Koulutuksen tutkimuslaitos 2006 Class repetition percentages in OECD countries

14 Quest for success? Do the Finnish teachers perform magic tricks? Could the reason for Finland’s success simply be hidden in healthy (and free of charge) school meals which improve the brain capacity? Both assumptions may be right but it is better not to draw hasty conclusions before looking more closely into the Finnish school. Unfortunately there is no clear evidence available on the cause-effect relationship.

15 How are we coping? Indeed it seems possible to have within one educational system both equal opportunities for education and good results. What are the factors behind good results? 1.Finnish school system itself 2.High status of reading culture and learning mother tongue 3.Effective education administration and partnerships

16 Is the Finnish school somehow special? Equal opportunities for education irrespective of domicile, sex, economic situation or mother tongue Education totally free of charge Near to home (every school has its own catchment area) Comprehensive, non-selective basic education Supportive and flexible administration - centralized steering of the whole, local implementation by responsible municipalities Interactive, co-operative way of working at all levels - idea of partnership ”Culture of equity and trust”

17 Education for all  Practically no ”elite schools”: any school can afford good teachers from Helsinki to Lapland  Flexible structure of the system – no dead-ends  Comprehensive, inclusive policy – no streaming  System is consistent and coherent  common values, goals and high expectations  central monitoring and support  local implementation and responsibility

18 Flexibility Flexibility and school/teacher autonomy in curriculum implementation: allocating goals, contents, time and resources, selecting methods and materials and forming study groups Importance of goals which can be reached by means of different contents, methods and materials Goals and criteria for good performance are expressed mainly as competencies, not as detailed knowledge Teachers are encouraged to take into account the various needs of their students and to emphasize good basic competencies

19 In mother tongue instruction this means: Teachers are free to  design school’s own curriculum;  make their own materials or choose the “best” text book;  choose the reading materials with their students; and  devise own tests for their classes.

20 “Soft” evaluation Development-oriented evaluation and student assessment  No inspections  No ranking lists (league tables) of schools  In basic education only sample-based national evaluation of learning outcomes; national matriculation examination at the end of general upper secondary education  Supportive student assessment promotes learning and learning-to-learn abilities

21 Importance of early learning and intervention  Pre-school education for 6-year-olds (since 2000)  promoting children’s favourable growth and learning, healthy sense of self-esteem and readiness for studies through play and other child-centred activities  Early intervention during pre-school and basic education  recognizing learning, linguistic and developmental problems and organizing individual support as soon as possible  Children with special needs are allowed to start a year earlier  Multi-professional and community approach  Parents are actively involved in planning processes of individual goals and support

22 Emerging literacy at pre-school pre-school year lays the foundation for learning to read and write a learning environment where to develop the phonological awareness, vocabulary and literacy and where to get experencies of different text types and genres half of the pre-school pupils learn to read as if by chance (earlier one third of seven-year-olds knew how to read when entering the school) a ”flying start” for a reader because of the shallow orthography of the Finnish language long childhood – the compulsory school begins at the age of 7.

23 Strong support for weak readers and writers – we need everybody aboard! Our weak learners are better in basic skills than in other OECD countries. The underlying ethos is a strong sense of equality. Every pupil has a right to get special needs education: part-time or full-time + remedial (additional) teaching. 37 % of first-graders get additional support. Early intervention is emphasized. Diagnosis and rehabilitation as early as possible Intensive cooperation between parents, teachers and other experts. All class teachers and special needs teachers have knowledge and expertise concerning learning difficulties. The philosophy of inclusion is strong.

24 Äidinkieli ja kirjallisuus The Holy Grail of Mother tongue teaching?  Changing the name to Mother tongue and literature  Broad concept of text; i.e. all kinds of texts  Competence-based curriculum  Emphasis on meta-cognitive and strategic skills  Focus on the mastery of genres and text types  Reading and writing seen as a process  Enforcing the motivation to read  No canon of books, free choice of reading  Problems to find a balance on teaching grammar and skills (strong grammar tradition, starts too early)


26 New structure of mother tongue syllabus – better intra-subject integration Structured in 3 phases with their respective objectives, core contents, and descriptions of good performance (credit 8) after the 2 nd. 5 th and 9 th school year. The objectives: The pupil´s 1.interaction skills will increase 2.skills in interpreting and utilizing various texts will develop 3.skills on producing texts and utilizing them for the different purposes will develop 4.relationship with language, literature, and other culture will deepen

27 Finnish matriculation examination Two parts (one day allocated to each) -Text competence (tasks to analyze and interpret texts: fiction, factual texts, media texts, adds (picture + words), figures, statistics... -Essay writing (material based or title or an assignement) -No oral test

28 Are Finnish mother tongue teachers somehow special?  Dedicated professionals:  participating on their leisure time to in-service training  regardless of reduced lesson hours their weekly workload is highest (due to endless homework)  often “therapists”  “Cultural commissars” of schools and community  One out of twenty are males only

29 Teacher profession in Finland in general The profession is valued high in society. High quality of teacher education: university level teacher training for all teachers Class teachers have the same length of academic training as the subject teachers Kindergarten teachers have at least Bachelor’s Degree and school teachers at least Master’s Degree Class teacher training is attractive: talented young, especially girls, choose teaching career. Teacher profession is popular, only 10-12 % can be admitted.

30 Finnish society supports reading Most families subscribe home a daily newspaper One of the world´s best library systems Number of books published or borrowed annually from a public library is high Especially women are keen readers and they understand the importance of reading Foreign tv programmes have subtitles instead of dubbing – improves children’s reading routine

31 Effective co-operation Good results in reading literacy call for a strong co-operation between homes, schools and in the whole society. Interactive, co-operative way of working at all levels in partnership Education Administration Research Other stakeholders -Media -Libraries Other stakeholders -Media -Libraries Schools Parents

32 National Core Curriculum Government’s Decree on the General National Objectives and Distribution of lesson hours Education Act and Decree Municipalstrategies MUNICIPAL CURRICULUM SCHOOL CURRICULUM Teacher education Study material Finnish Monitoring System 2008 Irmeli Halinen 2008

33 Ongoing work for literacy: The READING FINLAND project The objectives were to improve the reading and writing skills of the pupils in basic and general upper secondary education to increase their knowledge of literature.

34 Current concerns of Finnish mother tongue teachers low number of lesson hours when subject teachers get the students overly expanded syllabi – the area mother tongue teachers are responsible for is continuously growing (media literacy, information literacy, internet based work, new sources of information, new tools for writing etc.) poor school libraries: lack of topical reading materials at school book reading is reducing among youngsters deep gender gap in reading and writing skills: girls much better than boys the national recommendation for the usage of state funding e.g. to group sizes not binding to municipalities English language (1 st foreign language) as a subject is more popular than mother tongue lessons among pupils

35 Gender gap in reading literacy The largest gender gap among school subjects in Finland is in writing (and reading) In all OECD countries in PISA 2006, girls performed better in reading on average than boys. In twelve countries, the gap was at least 50 score points. In Greece and Finland, girls were 57 and 51 points ahead respectively, and the gap was 50 to 66 points in the partner countries Qatar, Bulgaria, Jordan, Thailand, Argentina, Slovenia, Lithuania, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia and Croatia.

36 Recapping: The main factors behind good learning results? Finnish school system itself Curriculum and curriculum design process Teacher education system Status of teachers’ in the society Ongoing development work Whole culture which values education and learnedness – teachers are not alone

37 Links:

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