13th September 2018
During the summer holidays four of our teachers, Mr Mannion, Mr Donlon, Mr Kelly and Mr Callanan were busy building up their continuous professional development as they successfully completed an Erasmus KA1+ course entitled ‘How we avoid dropouts in schools-the way of Finland’. This course was held over the first week in July in Joensuu in Eastern Finland, funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the EU. This course is the fourth successful Erasmus KA1+ experience that teachers at our school have participated in over the last year.
Over the course of the week, the teachers engaged in a series of educational workshops, on-site educational visits and cultural experiences. About 99.7 % of pupils in Finland go through the basic compulsory education starting school at the age of 7. Hence, course participants were eager to learn and experience how Finland achieves this rate.
The course involved learning about and witnessing several of the services that are available to students in Finland, as schools work together with social and health care services to handle difficult situations for pupils (e.g. violence, drugs, antisocial behaviour, crimes etc). On the first morning a plenary session explained how, in the Finnish education system, no student is left behind and students with additional educational needs are supported extensively to achieve to the best of their ability in their schooling. The first site visit of the week was to a Kindergarten where course participants saw the experimental learning that is afforded to pre-school learners in Finland. The Finnish education system recognises the parent as the child’s primary educator, through which the logic of keeping children at home for longer than Ireland is well justified. Participants also visited a hospital school, where students who are hospitalised have the opportunity to continue their education whilst being treated for their illness. This visit was proof of the extent to which ‘no child is left behind’ in the Finish education system.
In the classroom, course participants took part in a seminar designed at explaining how the Finnish system integrates immigrant students into their education system. The Finnish language can be a major barrier to the successful integration of immigrant students and so this has resulted in them offering a one-year course in the language to new immigrant students. The system offers different paths of education to immigrants and realises that they do not necessarily need to integrate into the mainstream system to be successful in their education. Participants also visited the OHJAAMO 2.0 project, a very worthwhile service that assists young people in finding employment upon finishing their education.
In Finland, school care teams aim to make the whole school a better learning environment for all and so the psychological support services provided to students was outlined. The Finnish Law of Student Welfare recognises student welfare as a part of learning and offers both communal and individual student supports. One example of this is making the school yard an enjoyable and comfortable areas where students will want to be. The engaging course drew to a close with an excursion to the Loli National Park where the natural beauty of Finland’s forests and lakes must be seen to be believed as a written description simply cannot do it justice.
Overall, a very educational course and a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all. Finland is renowned for its high educational standards and it was a wonderful opportunity for our teachers to experience this first hand. The teachers on this course look forward to sharing the knowledge and skills they acquired with management and teaching staff in Roscommon Community College over the coming months.