- Starting school
- English-language schools and other teaching in different languages
- Different schools
- School day and studying
- Preparatory education
- Native language instruction
- Basic education for adults
- Messages between the home and school
- Parents’ evenings
- Student support
- Preparatory education for programmes leading to an upper secondary qualification (TUVA)
In general, children and young people receive comprehensive education in comprehensive school. A child usually starts school in the year when he/she turns 7. Comprehensive school usually lasts nine years. Comprehensive school is free for everyone.
At the beginning of the year, you will receive a notice regarding your child’s compulsory education. It can come in the post or in the Wilma service if you are already using Wilma. Read more about Wilma in the section Messages between the home and school on this page.
You will receive instructions for enrolling your child in school. It usually has to be done in January. In many municipalities, you can do it in Wilma. Municipalities have different ways of enrolling a child in school. For more information, please ask your municipality.
Enrol your child in the local school (lähikoulu). The local school is usually the school that is the closest to your home. You can also apply for a place in another school for your child. However, it is not always possible to get your child a place in any school other than the local school.
English-language schools and other teaching in different languages
The largest cities have international schools and schools where the language of instruction is English. There are also private schools in Finland where the language of instruction is German, French or Russian.
You can usually find information on these schools on the city’s website.
Your child may also attend a school that is specialised in a certain subject. Sometimes these schools are private schools. A school may specialise, among others, in the following things:
- Physical education
- Special pedagogy (for example, Steiner pedagogy)
School day and studying
School begins in August and ends in late May or early June. School is out for the summer during June and July.
The length of school days varies between grades. In primary school, the days are shorter than in secondary school. Individual classes usually take 45 minutes. In between classes, children go outside into the school playground. Teachers supervise the children. A school week usually comprises approximately 20 classes.
Children have a single hot meal in school. It is free-of-charge. If your child has a special diet, please inform a teacher.
In comprehensive school, children study many compulsory subjects. In the final grades of primary school and in secondary school, they can also choose optional subjects.
In school, all children can receive education in their own religion or in ethics. Education in a particular religion must be arranged when a municipality contains at least three children of that religion.
Some schools have separate classes for students with talent in music or visual arts, for example. These classes normally require separate application.
Ministry of Education and CultureInformation on basic educationLink redirects to another website
Finnish National Agency for EducationInformation on basic educationLink redirects to another website
A child or young person may receive preparatory education for basic education, during which he or she will study Finnish (or Swedish) and some other subjects. Preparatory education is intended for all immigrant children whose skills are not yet good enough to attend basic education in a group. Preparatory education usually takes one year. After this, the student is transferred to a normal class.
Children who participate in preparatory education get individual learning plan. The plan includes the subjects and the pace at which the child will study. The plan is prepared by the school’s student counsellor, class teacher, special needs teacher or a Finnish as a second language teacher. They can also prepare it together. They take into account the children’s skills and what they have studied in the past.
Native language instruction
If the child’s native language is not Finnish or Swedish, the municipality can arrange for education in the language in question. This allows the child to study Finnish or Swedish as a second language, i.e. S2 language (S2-kieli). A student will study Finnish (or Swedish) as a second language, if his or her Finnish or Swedish skills are not at a native level.
Basic education for adults
General upper secondary schools for adults organise basic education for adult immigrants who do not have a comprehensive school leaving certificate from their native country. Ask for more information at the counselling services of your municipality or at the nearest general upper secondary school for adults. You can search for the contact information of general upper secondary schools for adults through online search engines.
Messages between the home and school
In many municipalities, the school uses the Wilma online service to communicate about important matters. The school gives the child’s parents a username and password for the service. Through Wilma, you can stay in touch with your child’s teachers and receive information about your child’s learning, exams and absences as well as school events and holidays. If your child must be absent from school, for example due to illness, inform the school through Wilma that morning.
It is important to monitor Wilma regularly. If you need help with using Wilma, ask the school for guidance.
In Finland, schools organise joint parents’ evenings for the parents of pupils. They are meant for all parents. At parents’ evenings, you will get to know your child’s school, teacher and other parents. You will also obtain information about your child’s schooling and what takes place at school. When you are familiar with your child’s studies and school matters, you will be able to help and support your child better.
Comprehensive school students are supported in their school work. Student counsellors talk to students about study methods and further education. They also provide career selection guidance.
Student psychologists and school social workers help students in problematic situations. Teachers can provide children with short-term remedial education.
Children who have difficulty learning and concentrating receive special needs education. Special needs groups are smaller than regular classes.
Teachers maintain contact with parents. They arrange meetings with parents and give parents information on their children’s studies. Many schools keep in contact with parents through online systems.
Preparatory education for programmes leading to an upper secondary qualification (TUVA)
Preparatory education for programmes leading to an upper secondary qualification (TUVA) is a good option if you have completed basic education and do not yet know which field you would like to apply for. During TUVA training, you can improve your basic education grades and also improve your Finnish language skills. Read more about TUVA education on the InfoFinland page General upper secondary school and Vocational education and training.