100 Reasons To Visit Suomi

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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Should we spread our ideas like viral margarine?

Education is massively collaborative and being an outward looking teacher regularly involves poking your nose into other schools and classrooms. To have an approach to lifelong learning, it works both ways and an open door policy means we welcome others in to ‘our’ space so we can all share what we are doing.

Nipping into another school in another country is now easier than ever and I often make visits without it costing a penny. I go to Suomi (Finland) a lot because I’m always interested in what the fantastic Finns are up to. No carbon footprint involved – I just head for project HundrED which is a non-profit website and an official part of Finland’s 100 year independence celebrations.

We – or should I say Ross McGill – who has also been reading the book – was invited to celebrate the HundrED work at the Finnish Embassy, London in January.

Together with Finnish schools, HundrED develops, implements, and studies one hundred Finnish innovations in the field of learning and tests them in practice for one academic year. It also looks at the world’s best education innovations and the results obtained are distributed to the whole world – gratis. Take a look at the video.

“We seek exciting innovations in education from all over the globe. We then share them with the world for free.”

Why Finland? The learning gap is one of the narrowest in the world, it boasts forward-looking learning methods with interdisciplinary learning across subjects and 100% of Finnish teachers hold a Master’s degree – we can learn a lot from them. According to writer Tim Walker, the strength of Finnish education is SIMPLE:

  • Sensible,
  • Independent,
  • Modest,
  • Playful,
  • Low-stress and
  • Equitable.

A Picture Of Health!

With all the focus on health and well-being here in the UK, I was curious what Finnish schools are doing. One project from ‘100 Finland’ that caught my eye was ‘The Body, Health Education and Personalised Learning’, an innovative experiment being planned at Schildt Upper Secondary.

The idea of this project is to create a health and well-being lab where students can go during classes and free periods to measure vital health stats with various devices and applications. The data collected then feeds into lessons and the aim is to “create an operational model for well-being in which students are encouraged to use scientific methods to promote health and well-being in different school subjects.”

The whole point of the project is deliberately ambitious and its goal is so that pupils can personalise learning by researching and understanding their own bodies “creating engrams in the learning experience”. This exciting experiment aims to develop new learning models by linking studies with the real world and by making learning bespoke.

Finland Calling?

The Sports, Science and Health Lab is just one dynamic project that can inspire us all into thinking about what we could do in our schools. Other projects on the 100 list include:

  • The world’s largest parents’ evening
  • Sustainable development
  • Teaching emotional skills and self- awareness
  • Modern craftsmanship
  • A leadership tool for creating open communities in schools
  • A school day for members of parliament
  • Learning school development
  • Adventure pedagogy
  • The gaming room

The 100 Experiments project is another initiative where 100 pieces of educational research from around the world will be collected together; perhaps so that we can all share in the finest studies and learn from what works best? Now, wouldn’t that be something we could achieve here in the UK?


HundrED is a unique offering and we should dip into it and take from it unashamedly to inspire projects of our own. In fact, we don’t need to be coy about it, the Finns have invited us in as they know the true meaning of ‘together’; it is in their blood.

Global communication, learning, cooperation and understanding have never been so obviously needed, and tapping into each other’s rich experiences is essential. Finland isn’t a utopia, but it does have a remarkable track record and to say it is only a century old, it has a lot to share with the rest of the world.

Congratulations on your centenary Finland, and thank you!

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