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27-09-2012

If you look at the Finns 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. Early intervention and sustained individual support for every student are keys to educating the whole child in Finnish schools.

The Constitution of Finland stipulates that no one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the grounds of health, disability or any other reason that concerns his or her self.

Finland has also committed to international agreements, programmes and declarations which require provision of education so as to guarantee learning for children and young people at a common school for all.

Education must be provided according to pupils’ capabilities so as to promote their healthy growth and development.

Innovative approach to special needs

Finland's innovative approach to special needs is summarised in a short video available on Edutopia.

Teachers explain their approach which includes obligatory weekly meetings for all teachers, an extensive student welfare service and as early intervention as possible. Key concerns and drivers of the Finnish system are equity and quality.


 

Special-needs education in Finland

All pupils of compulsory school age have the right to general support, that is, high-quality education as well as guidance and support in learning and other schoolwork as soon as need arises. A pupil who is temporarily fallen behind in studies or otherwise needs short-term support in learning has a right for remedial teaching. A pupil who has difficulties in learning or other schoolwork has a right for part-time special-needs education in connection with other teaching.

Intensified support must be given to those pupils who need regular support measures or several forms of support at the same time. The aim is to prevent existing problems from becoming more serious or expansive. Intensified support in accordance with a learning plan devised for the pupil based on the pupil’s own assessment or the teacher’s or several teachers’ pedagogical assessment.

If children cannot adequately cope with mainstream education in spite of general or intensified form of support, they must be given special support. This may come into question in case of disability, illness, delayed development, emotional disorder or some other similar reason. The main purpose of special support is to provide pupils with broadly based and systematic help so that they can complete compulsory education and be eligible for upper secondary education.Special needs education is provided, taking into consideration the interests of the pupil and the facilities for providing education, in conjunction with mainstream instruction or in a special-needs classroom or some other appropriate facility.

In vocational education and training, students with special educational needs are integrated in the mainstream education if possible, or in special needs groups or both. In the case of students with severe disabilities, vocational special education institutions provide training and rehabilitative instruction and guidance. Vocational special needs education can be also provided through apprenticeship training.

In vocational education and training, students in need of special educational or student welfare services are provided with instruction in the form of special needs education and training. An individual education plan (IEP) is to be drawn up for each student receiving special needs education and training.

Pupil welfare services in Finland

Pupil welfare services mean different forms of support to pupils' learning, mental and physical health and social well-being.

In pre-primary and basic education, pupils are entitled to the welfare services they need to be able to follow teaching. These include services recorded in the curriculum, health care under the Public Health Act, and support to child-rearing under the Child Welfare Act.

In upper secondary schools and in vocational education and training, the education provider must see to it that the students know about the health and welfare services available to them and that they use the services when needed.

Further information on Eurybase:


 

Mainpage Webnews Educational Support and Guidance in Finland