Sweden’s education system used to attract the most attention from UK educators but the ground has shifted as Sweden’s relative performance has failed to improve significantly in recent years. Sweden also espouses ‘free schools’ which many on the left reject out of hand. Finland though is different. In Pisa tables, Finland rates highly on both performance and equity metrics. It also administers a comprehensive school system, (ie no selection) with teaching, demonstrably, a high status profession.
And, interestingly, it accepts just how important careers advice and guidance is. Careers guidance and counselling is, in fact, part of the curriculum in every school. In principle, pupils have three options after compulsory schooling (Lower Secondary). Continue to upper secondary schooling (51%). Go the upper secondary vocational route (42%), or find employment. High quality careers guidance quickly became a cornerstone of lower and upper secondary school. Pasi Sahlberg, the well- known commentator on Finland’s education system, says that good careers guidance and counselling in schools ‘have been an important factor in explaining low grade repetition and drop-out rates in Finland’. Sahlberg adds that ‘Careers guidance has also acted as an important bridge between formal education and the world of work. As part of the overall career guidance curriculum each student in peruskolou spends at least two weeks in a selected work place’
Do we have anything to learn from Finland’s system? I think so.
In the Finnish school system Persuskolou is the 9-year period spent in comprehensive school. starting aged 7 years.