23 SES 02 B, Re-designing Education
Parallel Paper Session
To Finland’s former conservative government’s 4-year policy (2008-2011) there was included a program for improvement of the quality of Finnish basic education. As a part of that larger aim the government initiated a reform, which was targeted to the development of special education strategies. In 2007 a policy document, the Special education strategy, SPES (The Ministry of Education 2007), was launched to guide the reform. The recent education change is in line with international education trends and it reflects the same educational ideas, like differentiated teaching, importance inclusive education and teacher cooperation, that have been current eg. in Ontario, Canada.
Nationwide improvement initiative was established in 2008 to support the implementation of SPES. Today, changes have been made to the legislation and National Co-curriculum; hence every municipality and school is now obligated to make the needed rearrangements. Finnish educational system is such that the municipalities are quite autonomous in deciding how to put the National Co-curriculum in practice to meet the local characteristics and in answering for their own educational arrangements. In addition, the Constitution of Finland obliges education in comprehensive school to be free for everyone, and the funding comes from both the state and the municipalities.
The new government (2011-2014), in which the right and left wing parties have now the broadest voice, continues with the definition of policy set by the former government. Considered from the change process’ aspect Finnish basic education has gone through the reform’s implementation phase and is now moving towards institutionalization (cf. Fullan 2007). Thus, the aim is to strengthen the already ongoing processes and create sustainability.
At the moment the Centre for Educational Assessment (University of Helsinki) is starting a nationwide follow-up study, funded by Ministry of Education, in which various data will be gathered from Finnish municipalities. The aim is to formulate an overall view on the different aspects of the actual changes that are and have been taking place around Finland, thus, to understand how municipalities have realized the changes introduced in the SPES and prescribed by legislative changes. The study considers how the pupils’ overall right to get the appropriate individual support is fulfilled in the schools’ daily activities in various municipalities. In addition, the aspect of Finnish inclusive education will be defined and evaluated.
This paper introduces one section of the study, which consists of interviews of municipal representatives around the country. The interviews will focus on following themes: Is the principle of equity being fulfilled in the Finnish basic education? How to secure every pupil’s right to get quality basic education? To which direction should Finnish basic education be developed in the Future?
The theoretical framework will be founded on both theories of governance (Rinne ym. 2011; Ball 2006: 2007) and theories-of-action in change (Fullan 2007; Hargreaves & Fullan 2009; Hargreaves & Shirley 2009, Sahlberg 2011). Theoretical framework will build understanding of different aspects and different phases of educational change.
Ball, S.J. 2006. Education Policy and Social Class. The Selected Works of Stephen J.Ball. Ball. Routledge. Oxon. Ball, S. J. 2007. Education plc. Understanding private sector participation in public sector education. Routledge. London. Creswell, J.W. & Plano Clark, V.L. 2011. Deigning and conducting mixed methods research. Sage. Thousand Oaks. Education for All. 2005. The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Students With Special Education Needs, Kindergarten to Grade 6. Fullan, M. (2007). The New Meaning of Educational Change. (4th ed.). London: Routledge. Hargreaves, A. & Fullan, M. 2009. (eds.) Change Wars. Solution-Tree. Bloomington. Hargeaves, A. & Fullan, M. 2009. (toim.) Change wars. Solution Tree. Bloomington. Hargreaves, A. & Shirely, D. 2009. The Fourth Way. The Inspiring Future for Educational Change. Corwin. Thousand Oakes. The Ministry of Education. (2007). Special education strategy. Reports of the Ministry of Education 2007:47. Finland. Rinne, R., Simola, H., Mäkinen-Streng, M., Silmäri-Salo, S. & Varjo, J. 2011. Arvioinnin arvo. Suomalaisen perusopetuksen laadunarviointi rehtoreiden ja opettajien kokemana. Suomen kasvatustieteellinen seura. Kasvatusalan tutkimuksia 56. Jyväskylä. Sahlberg, P. 2011. Finnish Lessons. What can the world earn from educational change in Finland? Teacher College Press. New York.
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