Secrets of an empowered Finnish School
Placing joyful and meaningful learning at the heart of our story.
Why should we empower schools
Fast-forwarding across our years of experience and research, we have realised that internationally, there is no single definition of what it means to be a Finnish School.
However, we have absolutely learned that the best approach to creating a successful Finnish school abroad is for Finnish education experts to empower and entrust local counterparts. In doing so, we lay the foundation for a balanced collaboration that can go on to build a joyful and meaningful Finland International School.
We approach building such an empowered school based on Four key principles.
School operators possess vital knowledge of their locality. We see our role as one of guidance, not governance and to usher management toward their goal of building a Finnish-inspired school that works best for their environment.
Our method of adapting Finnish curricula and pedagogy honor the local culture, community and context. It is the key to building schools that remain purposeful across time and leave a resonating impact.
We believe in nurturing a larger learning community, - made up of students, teachers, parents and society -all interconnected collaborators that cooperate to bring joy and meaning to each other.
We continue to build a wealth of knowledge in research through every new experience of sharing our expertise. This learning-first philosophy allows us to be reflective and deliver an attuned service for each school within its own unique environment.
BUILDING KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL
The foundation of our Principles
To understand our Principles, we need to learn a little about the
History behind Finland's Education System.
The Finnish education system came into global spotlight during the early 2000s when Finnish students began consistently scoring exceptionally well across all domains of the OECD's PISA rankings.
While there isn't a straightforward explanation as to why this happened, learning the history of the Finnish education system can certainly help us understand these results better.
DECADES OF REFORMS
The success of Finland’s education system is not a recent phenomenon. In view of the extensive education reforms introduced by Finland in the early 1970s, it can be said that the foundations for Finnish students’ success in PISA were already in place when the parents of the PISA generation began their schooling years.
ADOPTION OF COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION
In Finland, all children and young people receive comprehensive education up to year 9 in comprehensive schools making it an inclusive right for everyone. Unlike other countries, students in Finland who complete comprehensive education do not sit for a standardized examination at the end of 9 years.
FLEXIBLE AND DIVERSE SYSTEM
Finland made a decisive decision to move away from the Western model that put standardisation, emphasis on literacy and numeracy, and consequential accountability as the core focus of education. Instead, they adopted a more flexible, diverse system that put emphasis on broad knowledge.
Finnish universities trained highly competent professionals as teachers and school leaders who in turn were given autonomy and were trusted by authorities to decide on what is best for their schools and students.
What can other countries learn from Finland?
While much can be said about Finland’s world-class education, by and large, the story has been firmly rooted in the country’s history, society and public policies that spanned over decades.
The exact formula credited with their enviable success cannot be replicated as-is in a foreign country as its history and culture surrounding education will be different.
Therefore, emulating the success of a Finnish school elsewhere requires a versatile yet precise hand that can mould a localized International School with cherished Finnish values at its core.
Moving away from blanket standardized testing in basic education
Trust in teachers to do their best
Cooperation, not competition when it comes to education
Getting the basics right - health and well-being
Letting children be children in school
Valuing vocational and professional development equally as academics
Finland International School in Maldives
Finland International School Maldives was founded in 2019. The school was the first in South Asia to introduce the Finnish National Core Curriculum. The school is owned by Educonnect Asia and managed in collaboration with Educonnect Global.
Over the past 4 years, the school adopted the most innovative building blocks from Finnish education system - an approach that celebrates joy of learning, empower teams of teachers supported by Finnish curriculum with cross-curricular themes. Hence, our approach has crafted a school that is uniquely attuned to Maldivian culture and customs.
A Transformative School
By investing in capacity building, curriculum development and re-modeling of entire school operation around concept of joy of learning, Finland International School was able to come up with Finnish-inspired pedagogical practices and a learning environment that transformed the traditional outlook of schooling in the Maldives.
Below are some of the key transformative practices that was introduced for the first time in the country, placing the school in a class of its own in Maldives and in the South Asian region.
Open learning environment
Hubs with 50 students
Slight amount of homework
A research paper on the launch of Finland International School Maldives published on Academia.
Launching an International School following Finnish School Model: An ethnographic study of the start-up process of an international school from teacher's perspective
Researchers - Dr.Eija Valanne and Tommi Eranpalo
The learning was executed in a large group learning environment setting based on full-time team teaching, concluding that the situation was exquisite for both local and Finnish teachers. Teachers reflected on their fortnightly adaptations to the new school culture and curriculum implementation based on the Finnish school model. The Finnish teachers also evaluated their adaptation to a new living environment and culture. A modified typology of school cultures (Stoll, 2000; Stoll & Flink 1996) was used as a reflection structure. The model evaluates the school's current effectiveness-ineffectiveness dimensions and at least partially mirrors these factors against the accreditation conditions of the Finnish school model.
A deeper dive into Finland International School reveals what is at the very core of the operational model that facilitate a world-class Finnish education in an international destination.
OF THE VISION
Finland International School (FISM) was founded in 2019 by Educonnect Asia in the Maldives. The owners of the school worked hand in hand at ground level with Finnish experts to ensure that their collective vision was transformed into a reality from the moment of conception.
FISM has become a thriving learning community of Finnish and local teachers collaborating and refining the practice of team teaching. Teachers at FISM are empowered and given autonomy to craft the best learning experiences for students.
Finnish teachers alongside local teachers work in teams to implement the Finnish national core curriculum with cross-curricular themes adapted to the local environment. This approach offers a more sustainable model of learning and teaching that is meaningful and purposeful for students in the Maldives.
All class teachers are allocated ample time to plan every single day. Trust and autonomy are given to teaching teams to create their own plans to best fit the needs of the class of students. This allows learning to be relevant and meaningful for each and every child as well as the entire class.
The learning community at FISM is mentored and developed by its own School Leadership Team. All members of the leadership team teach and are thus involved with students' learning and are acutely aware of what happens inside classrooms.
The school's unique adaptation of the Finnish education model has attracted international attention. The model has been studied and researched by several Universities and Doctoral students over the past years. This wealth of knowledge is used to refine our approach in building finnish international schools.