The Malta Independent 30 November 2022, Wednesday
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Study tour programme for Maltese educators in Finland

Tuesday, 20 September 2022, 09:30 Last update: about 3 months ago

Ellimaija Ahonen

Have you seen some excellent results coming from the Finnish education system and wondered what the secret ingredient is? In mid-August Learning Scoop was happy to run an educational study tour in Tampere, Finland for a group of educators from Malta. The study tour focused on Basic Education (K-9) and lasted for five days. This job-shadowing model gave Maltese teachers a great opportunity to get to know the secrets of Finnish education and its core principles. Finnish basic education is based on stressfree “less is more” approach and our study tour participants had a chance to witness for themselves how this top-quality education is carried out in practice.

Teachers have been increasingly looking for professional development opportunities. Developing education has also become more global. Teachers have realized that they can look for new ideas not only from experts in their own country, but from other countries as well. This is the core idea of the educational study tours by Learning Scoop. The aim is to provide development opportunities for participants but also learn from each other – scooping the best ideas and implementing them back at home on a classroom level.

The actual Study Tour programme started with an introduction to the Finnish education system and the cornerstones of it. One interesting topic is always curriculum and assessment – what are the principles behind assessment practices, what kind of testing Finnish schools apply and how is it done by the teachers? Educational support for children and collaboration practices with homes and families are topics that always raise a lot of discussion and questions. During the week the group visited some regular

Finnish comprehensive schools that are the core of the miracle of Finnish education. One of the highlights of the week was a visit to a daycare centre and a forest group. Forest is the learning environment for this group of three-to-five-year-olds – they do everything there: play, learn, eat and even sleep in hammocks or in a wooden hut – throughout the year, no matter the weather!

The group was very active and they had plenty of different kind of questions. As the whole study tour was guided by expert lecturers and hosts, it was possible to address these questions.

During the farewell lunch our wonderful study tour participants had some time to reflect and give feedback. What struck them the most was the freedom of teachers and trust among teachers, students and parents. Our visitors also noticed how peaceful and calm the teachers were no matter the stress or noise level in the classroom. Some guests also admired how independent the children are and that teachers are not handholding them all the time. They were also impressed with the flexibility to implement the curriculum. Mental wellbeing is on top of the priority list and all kind of skills are cherished, not just academic ones.

The overall feeling was that continuous improvement is important: when back at home one should focus on what can be changed for example on classroom level. Usually, individuals cannot change the education system but they can put many every day practices in use.

On behalf of the team Learning Scoop we would like to thank each and every participant for their contribution and openminded attitude. It was our pure joy to have you here!

This was the fifth group of teachers from Malta visiting Finland. Earlier, there were also visitors from several schools and institutions. This eye-opening learning journey has had participants from St Joseph

Mater Boni Consilii School, St Francis School Msida, St Francis School Birkirkara, St Francis School Cospicua, Gozo College and the Ministry of Education; a total of 60 participants throughout the years. This collaboration between Malta and Finland has been originated and coordinated by Dr Kenneth Vella, Ambassador of Malta to Estonia and Finland. Having Dr Vella as a local link in Malta is very easy for schools and educators to take the first step and get firsthand information about the practicalities and experiences. We would like to thank Dr Vella for his continuous support and enthusiastic “can do” attitude for the past five years!

Learning Scoop is an official member of the Education Finland cluster, which is a part of the Finnish National Agency for Education. Learning Scoop has organised face-to-face training events and programmes, handson workshops, professional congresses, educational fairs, professional study tours for teachers and education experts since 2014. During the last eight years they have had the joy to have customers from over 60 different countries and their authentic Study Tours have been awarded the Best Educational Travel Product in Finland.

Maltese educators can obtain more information from Dr Vella by sending an email on [email protected]

Ellimaija Ahonen is CEO of Learning Scoop Finland
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