Finnish schools and why they are an inspiring model to emulate has been discussed on Local Schools Network many times before, but it is worth thinking about them again.
Posts on this site about the recent speeches and "initiaves" by Gove and Clegg claiming to prove the coalition's commitment to social mobility and cohesion have prompted debate once again about the amazing results of Finnish schools. The fact is, their superior system was possible because the economic inequality in Finland was virtually done away with. Arguments that the Finnish model is contained and cannot be adopted and adapted in America or England focus on the fact that Finland is a small country, that immigration is low, there is little poverty and ethnic diversity and teachers overqualified and overtrained.
Supporters of Gove-ian ideology of discipline, segregation, selection, teaching to the test and punitive measures ignore the fact that Finland's schools success is intertwined with social cohesion and equality. These are not qualities that spring to mind when one looks at the impact of the coalition's policies in this country.
For anyone who doubts that Finland has closed the income gap between rich and poor and that the Finnish school policy can be scaled up, adapted and emulated, read this excellent article in THE ATLANTIC. It concludes that:
"It is possible to create equality. And perhaps even more important -- as a challenge to the American way of thinking about education reform -- Finland's experience shows that it is possible to achieve excellence by focusing not on competition, but on cooperation, and not on choice, but on equity.
The problem facing education in America isn't the ethnic diversity of the population but the economic inequality of society, and this is precisely the problem that Finnish education reform addressed. More equity at home might just be what America needs to be more competitive abroad."
For America, read the UK.
THE ATLANTIC: What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success