Finland; few countries are more regularly cited in the UK as places to look for the ideal education system. High results in international tests, a teaching profession that allegedly commands the same respect as doctors, these are just a few of the many examples given as to why we should look to this country for the answers to some of the tricky questions about how to make modern education work in practice.
On Tuesday I am travelling to Finland, accompanying a group of Plymouth students who will be undertaking a teaching practice in schools out there. They will be spending many weeks taking in the Finnish culture and learning from their learning. I am there for just two, but in that time we will be visiting Helsinki, before travelling north to Oulu and then Rovaniemi. We travel a good two thirds of the country, and spend time in a number of schools and a University as well as having an introduction to Finnish culture from our hosts.
I am looking forward to learning from this experience, I have always suspected that the success story of the Finnish education system must have as much to do with cultural factors as the actual curriculum and pedagogy of the schools, and this trip offers the opportunity to find out more about this. What I have heard from those who have visited schools in the country paints a complex picture, and I am looking forward to exploring how things work for myself.