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Finland’s Formula for School Success (Education Everywhere Series)

>>Pasi: If you look at the
15-year-olds, or 16-year-old Fins who are leaving the basic
school, most of them have been in special education
throughout their schooling. Which means that special education
is actually nothing special. So it’s you are a special child
or student if you haven’t been, if you haven’t ever
used special services.>>Pasi: We are putting a lot of
emphasis on the early detection of any difficulties and problems that
the students in our schools may have. And this is a very different
policy to many other countries where these measures are designed in
a way that they are implemented only when the problems have
emerged and are too visible. But we don’t’ think
like this in Finland. I think we believe in this early
intervention to make sure that those who are likely to be in trouble
will be recognized early, and provided help and support
as quickly as possible.>>Olli: We as subject teachers
cooperate with the special teacher in cases where we see that an individual student has
problems with their studies. It might be problems with
concentrating on a theme. It might be reading and
listening difficulties, especially in languages and math. What we do is that we
contact the special teacher at the very early moment. We call it the first intervention. We talk with the special teacher,
and try to arrange a time that she or he could be able to come and
join me as a subject teacher to my classroom, and then
focus on the problem.>>Olli: The special teacher is
available for a couple of hours. And then she picks the
student to a separate classroom and helps him or her there. And we also make an
individual learning plan for that individual student. And by taking these
measures, we try to guarantee that no one is lagging behind.>>Olli: The student welfare
team gathers on a weekly basis, and subject teachers inform
the group with different cases. They might be bullying, they
might be skipping classes, they might be learning difficulties, it might behavioral
problems, all kinds of things.>>Olli: And then these individual
problems are dealt with case-by-case in this weekly meeting that
every school in Finland has.>>Merja: Well, a student welfare
group deals with any kinds of problems that we see in a school
having to do with problems at home or at learning disabilities,
multi-cultural problems. The main value of our student
welfare group is to interrupt as soon as possible, problems involved.>>Pasi: With this policy, we are
trying to really make it easy for everybody to say, “Yes, I have
some areas where I need help now. Is there anybody who can help?” rather than trying
to hide these things. And in many cases, when you do this
in the later years they will come and accumulate even
more difficult problems. So I think with this, we have been
able to positively affect both the- the equity of the system, and
also the quality of the system.

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