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16 surprising facts about Finland’s unorthodox education system

Here’s what makes Finland’s system so different from other western states.

SINCE IT implemented huge education reforms 40 years ago, Finland’s school system has consistently come at the top of international rankings for education systems.

So how do they do it?

It’s simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralised model that much of the Western world uses.

16 surprising facts about Finland’s unorthodox education system
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  • 1. Finnish children don't start school until they are 7.

    (Image: mckaysavage on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 2. They rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens. The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.

    (Image: spiritinme on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 3. There is only one mandatory standardised test in Finland, taken when children are 16.

    (Image: comedy_nose on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 4. Finland spends around 30 per cent less per student than the US. All children, regardless of ability, are taught in the same classrooms.

    (Image: martinhoward on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 5. Thirty per cent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.

    (Image: Sh4rp_i on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 6. Sixty-six per cent of students go to college.

    (Image: James Sarmiento (old account) on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 7. The difference between the weakest and strongest students in the smallest in the world.

    (Image: MinimalistPhotography101.com on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 8. Ninety-three per cent of Finns graduate from high school.

    (Image: j.o.h.n. walker on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 9. Forty-three per cent of Finnish second-level students go to vocational schools.

    (Image: Iago Laz on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 10. Teachers only spend four hours a day in the classroom, and take two hours a week for "professional development".

    (Image: Laineys Repertoire/Creative Commons)
  • 11. The school system is 100% state funded.

    (Image: Harry Brignull on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 12. The national curriculum is only a broad guideline.

    (Image: n0rthw1nd on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 13. All teachers in Finland must have a masters degree, which is fully subsidised.

    (Image: Apuch on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 14. Teachers are selected from the top 10 per cent of graduates and their average starting salary in 2008 was ,235. Last year, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training positions.

    (Image: nate steiner/Creative Commons)
  • 15. High school teachers with 15 years of experience earn 102 per cent more than other college graduates.

    (Image: mrstg on Flickr via Creative Commons)
  • 16. In an international standardised measurement in 2001, Finnish children came top or very close to the top for science, reading and maths.

    (Image: Dvortygirl on Flickr via Creative Commons)

Read more articles by Adam Taylor on BusinessInsider.com >

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