Finland has reinvented itself in just one short century – and we’re still at it. Our national character and Northern heritage have boosted us to the top of many kinds of country rankings. As there are so few of us, we can’t afford to leave anyone behind. That’s why world-class education is available for all.
Finland’s high level of education and expertise is based on high-quality teacher education. Teachers in Finland are highly educated and respected professionals. Teaching is a popular profession and universities can select the most motivated and talented applicants. The profession has high status and teachers are autonomous in their work, as the system is based on trust rather than control.
OF TEACHER EDUCATION
Teachers are required to have a Master’s degree, including pedagogical studies and teaching practice. In addition to broad expertise in learning and teaching, the teacher qualification covers social, ethical and moral skills. Teacher education is based on research, which provides teachers with the expertise and ability to develop their own work. Higher education institutions independently decide on student admissions and the contents of teacher education.
Teachers are autonomous professionals, with a great deal of professional freedom and opportunities to impact on their work and work community. They decide on their own teaching methods, teaching materials and student assessment. Most teachers also participate in joint decision-making, thedrawing up of local curricula and acquisitions.
Teachers can influence the development of Finnish education at national level. They are generally represented on expert groups preparing education reforms and new initiatives. Trade Union of Education in Finland, which represents 95 per cent of Finnish teachers, is a key stakeholder in Finnish education.
The Finnish system is based on trust. Thus, there is no national evaluation or registration of teachers. The principals of institutions are pedagogical heads and teaching quality is their responsibility. Education providers are responsible for recruiting their own teaching staff in an open process.
BUT A HAPPY PROFESSION
Teaching is an attractive career choice in Finland. The intake for class teacher education is only 10 percent of all applicants.
According to OECD studies, over 90% of teachers in primary, upper secondary and vocational schools in Finland like their job. Only 2% of teachers in secondary education regret having become a teacher. These figures demonstrate remarkable satisfaction and motivation in international comparisons.
Teaching duties vary between 16 and 24 weekly 45-minute lessons, depending on the type of institution and subject. In international comparisons, the number of teaching hours in Finland is below the OECD average. There are 185–195 school days in each year.
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